Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How to breed and raise Discus

Water quality is the most important element when it comes to the raising and breeding of Discus.

Water chemistry: Water quality is the most important element when it comes to the raising and breeding of Discus. Soft and acid is a must. PH should be 5.8 - 6.4. The softness can be measured with a hardness test kit. Unfortunately, there won't be much in the way of chemicals that you can use in order to make the water softer if it is reading too hard. (I've tried water softening pillows and chemicals with no success.) No problem, I figured out a way to create perfect Discus water without spending hundreds of dollars on a conditioning system that you have to hook up to the plumbing of your house! What is this secret water formula? Bottled distilled water that you buy by the gallon and mix with tap water! Distilled water PH is acid enough and since the water by being distilled is void of any minerals which would add hardness, it's soft as Charmin! Bottled spring water is usually of right quality also but you better test it first, just to be sure. As an added bonus, distilled and spring water doesn't have any chlorine in it! This water mixture is perfect for Discus right out of the bottle!

Mixing perfect Discus water: Mix one part spring water and one part distilled water. Use this mixture for all water changes!

Selecting breeders: Selecting Discus breeders is very similar to selecting Angelfish pairs.

What's the best way to pair Discus? The best way to pair Discus off is to place a dozen or so young adults with a body size of a silver dollar into a 75 gallon tank or larger, feed them three times a day with high quality fish food such as frozen blood worms, Tetramin flakes and live brine shrimp etc... for about 18 months.(Discus take a long time to reach maturity. They won't breed until they are at least two years old.) They will select their own mate buy this time and you will see them pair off. Just keep conditioning them with fine food until you see a pair acting territorial by protecting an area of the tank from the other fish.

Setting up the breeding tank: For the breeding tank you will only need a few basic things. A 30 gallon high tank, 150 watt aquarium heater, sponge filter (the kind that has suction cups that hold it to the side of the tank), small vibrator pump, lid(you don't want the fish jumping out) and a flat piece of slate which is placed at a 45 degree angle from the bottom of the tank to the one top side of the tank. If you can't find a flat piece of slate you could buy a big piece of PVC plumbing pipe (a pipe joint works great) and just stand it on the bottom of the tank. That's all you need for the pair. You don't need or want any gravel on the bottom so that you can make water changes, keep the tank clean etc...

Now that you have your breeding tank set up, pop your pair in there. A good idea would be to place the pair in a small tank (10 gallons) with the water from your pair off tank and then acclimate them to the breeding tank water by taking a quart out at a time over a period of an hour, replacing it with breeding tank water.

Now the process starts: It will take a month or so for the pair to get used to their breeding tank. Just keep feeding them three times a day with high quality fish food such as frozen blood worms, Tetramin flakes and live brine shrimp etc..

Now we will get these baby's to breed! To stimulate the pair to breed, start changing 10% of the water in the tank once a day. Keep the temperature at 82 degrees for two days. After two days increase the temperature to 84 degrees. The third day 86 degrees and the fourth day to 88.(Discus can take temperatures in the mid 90's so don't be worried that the water at 88 degrees F is too high) After the fourth day, lower the temperature 2 degrees per day down to 82 degrees, repeat the two day temperature changes from 82-88 degrees up and down. Keep changing 10% of the water until they lay eggs. If it is a pair, they are mature enough and are a male and female, they will breed! Once they have laid their eggs, keep the temperature stable at the point where the eggs were laid and keep it there!

You have eggs, now what? Eggs will not be taken away from the Discus parents to be artificially hatched. The fry need the parents to take care of them for one critical reason. When the fry start free swimming in about 10 days and have absorbed their egg sacks, the first food that they must eat in order survive is a sort of mothers milk that both the male and female parent secretes that is produced in their body slime. The fry feed on this slime on both parents for about three weeks before you can start feeding them live or frozen baby brine shrimp. You should make a special effort to supply them with live baby brine for the first week after they have absorbed their egg sacks. If you can't provide them with live shrimp, turn up an air stone to a medium slow bubble when feeding frozen baby brine in order to simulate them being live. Once the baby Discus accept the frozen brine, you are in good shape. After 4 weeks you can start feeding them high grade fine flake food. You are on your way!

For about 4 weeks, the fry will be constantly feeding of the slime of both parents and won't go anywhere on there own. Keep the fry with the parents for about 6 weeks or when the fry start wandering around the tank, far away from the parents. Then, you can transfer the parents into another tank for a rest or another set-up breeding tank. If the parents start bickering for any reason, separate them with a piece of glass. In three months you will have Discus fry the body size of a dime.

Other tips:
Keep Discus with Discus.
Do not place a light on the top of the tank.
No power filters or anything that makes the water move fast. (Discus like calm water)
Don't try to hatch eggs away from the parents, you'll fail.
No gravel or live plants, just the slate or PVC pipes.
Siphon as much dirt as you can from the bottom of the tank while making water changes.

by Jeff O' Corbett
Article Copyright 2007

Video of Discus Spawning