Discus Breeding the Easy Way - A complete Guide
I knew I wanted to breed discus from that first moment I stepped into an aquarium shop and laid eyes on a couple of adult fish, looking back they were not the best examples in regards to shape and were well under condition as seen in so many shops but i knew no better back then and pushed on ahead determined to breed these amazing fish.
I read everything I could, sifted through forum threads and tried to absorb as much information as i could find. Everything said the same thing aroundabout though-
- Change water everyday.
- Soften the water.
- Keep them in PH of 6.5.
- Keep water at 30 degrees celcius.
- Vacuum the bottom of the tank daily.
- Feed the fish as often as possible.
- Keep them in a quiet room
- etc etc etc....
Sounds easy enough right? I am sure you have all read similar stuff yes? But if youre here reading this is it all working well for you? Are you breeding many batches of discus with reasonable success? I doubt it because it didnt really work for me either.... After about 5 years of getting batch after batch of failed batches of eggs that either got eaten or turned white I was at the point of being ready to give it all away and I am sure for many of you this sounds familiar.
So whats the secret to breeding discus then? To understand fully though we should probably look at how the pairs are formed and the process of rearing the fry.
Discus are quite easy to pair up, in a group of 6 mature fish you would be very unlucky to not have a pair form and chances are high that you may get 2 pairs even. Pairing is easily observed as the fish will become quite inseparable and start to defend an area in the aquarium, once a spawning site is selected(generally a flat verticle surface) the pair will start cleaning the area they want to lay the eggs. The sexes of each fish will be easily distinguished now as the spawning tube will begin to be visible, the females tube will be approx 3mm long and blunt and the male will be more pointed and around 1-2mm. The female will begin to make test runs along the spawning area in preparation for laying eggs, its imperative that the male doesnt get distracted at this point. Once the female begins to lay eggs the male will follow along behind her to fertilise the eggs. This process can take quite some time with some pairs with some pairs taking their time preparing to lay while others are quite quick off the mark. It takes approx 60 hrs for the eggs to hatch and another 60 before the fry begin to swim away from the breeding site and hopefully towards the parents. All going well the fry will begin to feed on the slime excreted from the parents sides.
So whats so hard about that? The fish do all the work right? Well yeah they do, but what we do effects their natural instinctual habits and here is how.
We all know discus originate from South America in the Amazon river and its tributaries, an area of the world that has has opposite extremes of weather, just two seasons....Wet and Dry. During the dry season the discus are often stuck in smaller pools of water that become quite stagnate and low in PH, the water will also be rich in tannins rom the decaying leaf litter.
The first rain signals the wet season is nearing and it also signals the discus that its time to spawn, hence why a water change to their aquarium will often spur the fish to lay eggs. But what would happen if it were to rain again? Heavily within the next day or so? The waters would rise and the fish would sense that there is no way they could raise the batch of fry on their backs with millions upon millions of litres of water rushing past them so they will eat the batch of eggs or fry and try again under more favourable conditions. In these pools the water is more calm allowing the fry to feed from the parents easily and move on to the abundant microplankton sources available in the decaying vegetable matter.
By the time the wet season starts to ramp up these fry will now be old enough to fend for themselves, the water rises with the onset of heavy rains and the juvenile discus spend the rest of the wet season growing fast in the clean waters that come with it.
Now that we understand how it takes place in the wild we can now utilise these processes in our own aquariums to manipulate in our favour the breeding intincts of the fish.
In the next few days I will go into more detail how I use these processes in my breeding tanks. Keep checking back for more info to be added.