I've kept discus for 3 years (switched from African cichlids). Adults cost allot so I've been getting discus between 1 inch up to 4 inches but none of them grow. I've been told that it's just bad luck, that I should feed blood worms, that I should feed frequently. I've read about frequent water changes and I tried q 2 day changes for a few months without success. I've also tried subbing half of tap with RO (PH tap water varies from season to season between 7.5 and 8) and I have tried different "meal plans" including making beef heart recipes.

I recently read that there should be no substrate in the tank - is that true for all discus juveniles, even 4 inch sizes? Does that include decorations? I've never had nothing in the tank.

I'm about ready to throw in the towel - it's allot of work that's not working so far, plus it's expensive to keep failing. Any suggestions? I plan to try again (one more time!) with an empty 50 gallon tank. I have my stunted fish that have not grown over a year - do I start over? see if they will start growing? Optimal water changes? Frequency of feeding?

Water parameters are PH 7.8, ammonia and nitrite zero, nitrate about 5 ppm. I feed only with flakes and bug bites twice a day. Felt too discouraged to try the beef heart again and worried about diseases with blood worms.

Thank you for any advice.