Feeding baby discus

Breeding Discus Fish | Plymouth Discus

Many Hobbyists discus breeders in the UK have tried to breed discus and had very little or no luck with their venture. Many give up and blame the fish, saying they can’t be bred and very hard to breed. Yes they can be tricky, but the two main things to take on board first is understanding the needs of the fish and the biggest issue, water. In the Far East the fish farms change 90% of the water every day and it is pumped from underground springs or wells after filtering through rice fields etc. Large water changes from a supply such as this will not harm the filters or fish, as it will not contain chorine and many more harmful additives as ours do here in the UK.

Conflicting Advise

Another problem is conflicting advice on the internet, where everyone are top experts!! The new comer gets confused, gets everything wrong, the fish suffer and gives up (keeper as well). Right or and in many cases wrong, anybody can give an opinion and post it on the open internet and new comers to the hobby take it as gospel. The internet can be great for finding out information, and meeting other like-minded people. But is to a certain extent un-policed as many forums are with many comments being posted up, which are simply not correct. I have lost count of how many people that have contacted me over the years because they have read the wrong information on the net, and completely puzzled. The internet is a fairly new tool compared to books that have been around for thousands of years. The best advice I can give is to find a good book from a well know discus breeder, discus keeper or discus trader, and follow that. This way you won’t have to make, or pay for the mistakes that have already been learnt. I have now kept many types of tropical fish for over forty years now, and when I first started breeding discus. This is why we have libraries, Amazon book stores and so on, or am I missing something here.

Me Too!

I too was confused with all the advice available when I first started out keeping these great fish. I tried all the ways available and stayed with the best ways that worked best for me. But with many mistakes made over the years. This path took me into writing for Tropical fish magazine for nine years, also there discus questions and answer discus doctor on the readers problem pages, being asked to do talks at the local tropical fish clubs throughout the South West, and publish a book. So I must be doing something right after all these years. All learnt by practical common sense, hands on keeping and breeding long before the internet was even common in most homes.


Also being a tropical country, heating the water is also easy with a simple heater taking the water up just a few degrees. This alone we could not do here in the UK, or could we Since my visits to the Far East fish farms I have taken some of the ideas on board back here in my own discus fish rooms here in Plymouth. I have replicated the large water changes by using a HMA unit to purify the water before adding it to my last chambers of the sump filter, not everyone could do this, as we are very lucky in the Southwest to have soft water with a GH of 3. Because the water has been passed through the HMA unit there is no chorine or any other nasties in the water, so apart from one thing, (temperature) I can now do 90% water changes as the Far East do. This makes working with my discus easy as I have two thousand and one things to do every day. I trickle the HMA water into the last chambers of the main filter sump before it is pumped back to all the tanks on the centralised filter system. This method works best as it will not shock the fish and they do love the large water changes. Although a different way of working, the end results are the same as our Far East cousins. I added two large heaterstats to the last filter chambers, the same chambers that the HMA water is added. This heats up the new water added to the system and pumps new water with old water back to all the tanks. Flushing the tanks through this way has made a great improvement to water quality and made things much easier for tank management, also hitting the target of 90% water changes without stressing the filtration system or the fish. I would only recommend this way if growing on discus, and not if you are just keeping them as pets. When growing on babies, they will grow faster if heavily fed, and the water is changed a lot.

Understanding Filltration

Although in the Far East filtration is not relied on as much as we do in the UK, they still use sponge filters to keep oxygen levels up and to help keep down ammonia in between the large water changes that take place every day. Many books tell us to clean out the sponges in aquarium water, because tap water can kill off the beneficial bacteria colonised in the sponge and aquarium water will not. But the problem here is that every time the sponge is cleaned out even in aquarium water, you wash out up to 95% of the beneficial bacteria with all the waste the sponge have also collected. My way was to keep L plec cat fish in the tanks and they clean off the waste on the surface of the sponge, making maintence of the sponges, less. I noticed on many of the fish farms in the Far East they were just squashing out the sponges still in place in the tanks. All the chocolate colour waste was coming out into the water and at first I wondered what was the point of this. Upon closer inspection and a lot of hanging around waiting to see why, I noticed the water cleared after a short time with all the waste from the sponge settling on the floor of the tank. A siphon tube was brought in to clear away the waste settlement, and all the beneficial bacteria that were washed out of the sponge and into the tank water had been air lifted back into the sponge fully loaded with the same bacteria that was washed out, with the waste settling to the bottom of the tanks. Fantastic I thought and sponge filter cleaned and maintained, this I though was a great top tip to bring back with me to the UK. Why all the excitement over this some may ask Sponge filters are great filters to use for breeding discus and controlling good water quality. Also the discus fry cannot get into the filter and die, so you get bigger production numbers of fry. And if you maintain your sponge filters this way, they will work 100% efficiently.

What To Do With A Great Pair

Here in UK, breeders have always been told to obtain a breeding pair of discus, either as a true breeding pair already proven. Or to buy at least six or more young discus and grow them on, let them pair off and use these as your breeder stock fish. Then your pair is placed into a tank of there own, around 20 gallons, no less and no more than 30 gallons. The pair spawn and are kept with the eggs that has been laid on the spawning area provided, usually a discus spawning cone. After the young have hatched we start counting the days of age from here. After seven days we start feeding the young discus fry and up until this time they have been living on their yoke sack and eating the mucus from the parents for nourishment. We then leave the young fry with parents for as long as we can, believing that the longer they eat the mucus off the sides of the parent fish, they will build up an emuatiy to decease. This is normally about three to four weeks and by this time the fry are about thumb nail size already, and with mouths that are sized to matched. At this point the parents are getting a little fed up with being eaten, and the constant mucus being pecked off the sides by the fry is starting to hurt the parent fish. At this point it a good time to remove the fry to grow on in another tank.

The Four Week Syndrome

This is the point where you need to start treating the young discus tank water to protect them from gill flukes etc, or they will drop off one by one until most are all gone. This has been named the four-week syndrome. I use aquaflavin and wormer plus to help protect them at this time. The Far East breeders use a different method of breeding. They place many good quality parent fish in large deep tanks (6-8 x 2 x 2.5) and let the discus pair off between them self’s. When a pair has paired off and is showing signs that they are going to spawn i.e. spawning tubes showing, the pair is moved to a small breeding tank to breed. When the pair has laid their eggs and they have hatched, after just three days from free swimming the fry are moved away from the parents and raised on their own. The water is treated with formalin at half a dose to protect the young fry from flukes etc. This treatment is used until the fry are approx. 1.5 long. This way the fry do not get relent on the protective mucus from the parents, thus not suffering with the four-week syndrome as they do with the way we breed them here in the UK. I noticed when I was in the Far East; many breeders make up their own mix of high protein food to make the fry grow as quickly as possible. After all, the quicker they grow, the quicker they go and you get paid. The most common of mixes is a 70% mix of blended beef heart mixed with 30% blended shrimps or prawns. The mix is blended together with garlic and a vitamin supplement and placed in polythene bags and squashed down to approx. 6mm  thick slabs and frozen. To use they just snap a peace off and feed direct to the baby discus fry when they are two weeks old. They seem to love it. Just a few tips from the Far East, but very valuable ones and ones that will make a big difference to our ways of working and breeding the king of fish, the discus.

Some Tips And Tricks

  • Adding garlic to your discus beef heart or any discus food will make even the most difficult feeders feed. It is like blood to a shark to discus.
  • A HMA unit will go a long way to providing the correct water for breeding discus. It will not only take out the chlorine, but dissolved heavy metals and a host of additives the water board has added to make it safe for humans, but in large quantities, deadly to our fish.
  • Only feed newly brine shrimps after the first week for just one week only, then feed with the beef heart, garlic, vitamins and shrimp mix.
  • Many Far East breeders only spawn one pair of discus six times and sell the fish on and start all over again. I never did get an answer to this question, but I think that because of the way they breed with such a quick turnaround, this is why I think the fish are only bred just six times.
  • If you are lucky enough to see the spawning of your pair of discus, wait until one hour after they have finished laying the eggs, and then add half a dose of myaxzin to the water containing the eggs. This will protect the eggs against fungus and bacteria that may turn them white, and white eggs will not hatch, as they are dead eggs.

My first discus breeding story

I set up my dream discus tank, and made the perfect underwater world for my discus the same as many others. The once small discus has grown up into suburb fish and paired off, selected a spawning site and laid eggs!! Many discus keepers are happy when this happens and look forward to seeing tiny baby discus that have been hatched in their underwater world which they have created. All is well, the parent discus have done a good job of keeping all the other fish away from the eggs, which are now starting to hatch. Fantastic, new life being born and growing in front of your very eyes. This has happened many times since. So what happens next In my past experience, probably world war three!! What usually happens is two discus pair off in the main community tank and takes over part of the tank near a suitable spawning area. This could be a piece of bogwood, slate, rock, the side of the aquarium itself. Even the heaterstat which is not a clever idea has been used by not only discus, but many other egg laying fish as well. This has happened in my own tanks since, which is annoying if you want to breed the pair that has done this. It has been witnessed by many of my customers who have found this very amusing in my shop. This was because I had a pair here in my shop in Plymouth that used to lay eggs on the heater, and the male used to take them off one at a time and place them on a breeding cone. Then the female came over, took the same eggs off, and placed them back on the heater. This went on for a long time with a fight usually breaking out when the female was getting clearly angry by the males involvement. I hear some sexist minds ticking over here, and I will make no comment, or get involved. Once a suitable egg laying site has been found, the pair will chase any other discus or fish that comes near it. This territory is now out of bounds to any of the other tank mates that live in it. The pair will then clean off the area they have chosen to lay their eggs. They eat any algae, or any other debris that is present until the site is clean. The pair will then tail slap and shimmy and shake alongside each other. Then the female will have a few, or sometimes many practises at laying the eggs moving up wards the spawning site. When she is happy, she will start to lay a line of eggs. The male then does the same fertilising milt over the eggs the female has just laid. This goes on for an hour or two depending on the age and strain of the discus pair. The bigger the fish, the more eggs you can expect to see. Some chasing off of other discus or fish coming to close will also be witnessed. The parents will stand guard over the eggs until they have hatched.

Fast Foods

It is at this point any tetras or any other fish that see the wriggling tasty looking baby discus fry will fly in with pin point precision and quickly eat them. This is when all the trouble will start, because the parents will try and stop this. They will have to be on the guard 24/7 to keep the clutch alive and intact. At the hatching stage the tails of the tiny fry can be seen shaking like a mass of jelly. This goes on for about another week until the fry break free from the eggs and swim around the parents. At this point of the free swimming stage the feathers really fly because then all hell breaks out as any other fish will try and eat the baby discus. The parents will be trying to keep them all together, as tetras and any other fast fish fly in to take the fry down. In an ideal world the answer is to set up a second tank for the happy family to be left in peace. The fry would then be able to feed on the mucus that the parent discus will excrete for the fry to eat. Breeders believe it is this mucus that gives the fry immunity against gill flukes that are a big problem with baby discus fry at the four week old stage of their life. Work here at the Plymouth University are looking at this to see if they can find any evidence to back this up. Which is why many believe that at the three to four week old stage when the fry are removed from the parents, that these pests cause so many problems. So it is wise to use a fluke treatment to help the young fry over this period. Sterazin can be used twice a week, or wormer plus every four days which usually does the trick. Once the fry are up to the 2 size all treatments can stop, and treat the young fish the same as any other discus. So you have now become hooked and want to have a go at letting the parents bring on the young family. If this is the way you wish to go, you will need more than just one tank, and take into account some other things as well.

So How Do We Do It

First of all you will need for starters a 20 gallon tank. The best size preferred seems to be an 18 cube tank for most breeders. I used when I was a breeder a standard 30 x 15 x 12 glass tanks and this done the job for the first four weeks. I only used this size because that was the standard size that was easily available at a sensible cost. But most 20 gallon tanks will suffice as long as they are no less than 15 deep. All that is then needed is a heaterstat, sponge filter, thermometer and a suitable spawning site such as a breeding cone. Breeding cones can be bought from many discus specialist, or good aquatic shops. They are the best for discus breeding because of the shape and colour which makes the eggs stand out from the clay colour that the clay pot is made from. A second sponge filter is a good idea, so that one at a time can be cleaned. This will always make sure that one is fully bacteria loaded to keep the dreaded Ammonia down. I mentioned that this is ok for the first four weeks. This is because at four weeks, the baby discus will be around thumb nail size, and should be quite a few of them. Water quality will be getting harder to look after, and they will be hurting the sides of the parents because their mouths will be getting bigger eating the mucus off the sides. So what is needed then is two, yes at least two 4 foot tanks to split the batch of fry in half to grow on ready for the shops. If you don’t, Mother Nature as always has an answer to most things and will take over with the weakest dying off first. It would also be unkind to keep so many growing discus in such a small tank. When I covered this subject one night at one of the discus talks I give at the fish clubs sometimes, some said can’t you use a single large tank This is a very good question, and in theory would answer a question of using so many tanks. But in larger tanks, the fry wonder off too far from the parents and die. The idea is to raise as many as you can to sell on and cover your hobby or business whatever the case may be.
We have talked about the baby discus fry feeding on the mucus that the parents produce on there skin. But you will need to also feed them a good source of food on top of that. The best first food to feed them on is newly hatched brine shrimp. They love it and they will grow very quickly on this. The best way to start it is to wait until the fry are five days old. Then start off the first brine shrimp hatchery. On the sixth day start off a second hatchery. Because depending on the temperature which is best kept at 80-86f, the shrimps will hatch out every two days. So it is best to have two on the go to give you a good constant supply of newly hatched shrimp food. Plus doing it this way, you will be feeding the baby discus after one week of free swimming which is right. For the first week, they will be still using their yolk sack up, and feeding on the parents mucus. After six weeks, start feeding them on crushed flake foods, and as they get bigger leave the flake larger. Many breeders make up a beef heart mix, finely blended with shrimps and prawns to give them a good high protein diet.

Some More Tips And Tricks!

  • The local papers or free ads are the best place to find some cheap second hand tanks, which are good enough for breeding.
  • Brine shrimp hatching is time consuming, and expensive. Try using made baby fish foods such as tetra baby food for all baby fish, or discus delights baby fish food which is a mix of several foods in one.
  • When discus have bred in a community tank, some hobbyists have used a separator which will help. But the tiny discus fry will be able to get through and slowly be eaten. A second tank is the only proper way to give the parents a fair chance of raising a family.
  • Sometimes the parents can be egg eaters, which is annoying. Some egg laying cones come with fitted cone guards to stop the adults eating their own eggs. These can be bought from many discus outlets or good aquatic shops.
  • It will take between 3 and half months, to four months to bring on a single batch of baby discus to grow to a sellable size of 2.5.

Breeding Discus On A Larger Scale!

Discus breeding on a large scale is how it all started for me and Plymouth discus. Breeding one pair of discus is considered a challenge, but how do you do it on a large scale This is my experiences of breeding the king of the aquarium, for profit and on a large scale. Things to consider when breeding discus on a large scale firstly have you the time, commitment, the money, the room, space and a very understanding wife or partner A lot of time will need to be spent attending to many needs of the project which I was warned about when I considered breeding discus many years ago. Also the holidays to Ibiza and the like, forget it. I thought, yes I can handle it. After all I have bred nearly everything else under the sun in the time I have kept tropical fish. With that decided and all the boxes ticked we consider the fish room which the discus are to be bred. The area needs to the size of at least a large shed or garage or even larger. Many breeders have successfully used a spare ground floor spare room or cellar with good effect. With the room area planned for your project it will need to be insulated. In the Far East breeders don’t have to worry about this, and this is where the first obstacle arises in the UK, heating. Heating is very expensive in this country and this is one saving that our Asian breeders don’t have to concern themselves over. In fact many of the discus farms over there will look at you with a blank face if you start taking about heating and filtration. Simply to an extent, they don’t have to worry about both. Because they carry out much larger water changes than us, they don’t seem to relay on filtration so much as we have to here. Also water does not have to be heated. So you now begin to understand what we are all up against breeding discus in the UK. But it can still be done; I have done it for many years and made enough money from it to buy some extra pairs for my collection and some foods, equipment etc. before I turned retailor.
But to make a living 100% purely breeding discus in this country has still yet to be witnessed and seen and achieved. Don’t get me wrong, I have made good money breeding discus and using the profit to plough back in and pay for the hobby. But you will always get setbacks. Setbacks in this game come in many forms, the first one being they won’t breed. How frustrating is that With all you’re precious hard earned cash spent on all the setting up and all the months of hard work, and they won’t breed. Experience will determine how to get over this one.

It’s All Gone Pete Tong!!

Diseases is the second, even if you can’t see what is wrong externally they may have an internal problem and still won’t breed. You assume everything is okay with the fish looking fine, but no eggs. Again time and experience will get you through this. In the past discus breeding has been shrouded in mystery. Partly because breeders didn’t want every one knowing how to breed them. With fear of everyone knowing the secrets and the market flooded with expensive fish. Now days things are far more relaxed, because many discus are bred abroad. With cost cheaper than the UK even with shipping occurred, many breeders are now papered to share closely regarded secrets. With the focus still on setting up a breeding farm in the UK the room must be insulated to make the whole project profitable. Secondly you will get a lot of condensation; this loss of heat will hamper your project. An example of this was recently when a customer asked if I could go around and see what he was doing wrong. All has fish wouldn’t eat let alone breed, and he was puzzled. As I walked through the door way and I was hit by a few pints of water dripping from the ceiling, and with a few more pints of water falling into the open topped tanks without condensation trays. Water running over treated wood and concrete and then into the tanks is not the best start to even keeping discus or any fish come to think about that, let alone breed them.

Some Like It Hot!

The best way I have found to insulate the fish house is to use at least 2″ thick polystyrene on the walls, and at least four inches on the roof. Believe me this will pay off, and a few extra pounds spent now will pay back many times over in the long term. For breeding tanks 2 x 2 timbers are the cheapest way of racking out your fish house, and of course it will take the weight of the tanks. Metal framed stands have also been used to good effect. With any stands make sure you use polystyrene under each tank in case of any surfaces being unlevelled. A central system of tanks is best for a project of this size, because many tanks running on a system will be far more stable than one tank (i.e. the greater volume of water the better). And of course any changes water chemistry will be far slower than a closed system (single small tank). A central system of tanks are many tanks that over flow into a large sump filter. From here the tank water usually gets pumped to a UV steriliser and then pumped back to the tanks via a network of pipework. This without a shadow of a dought the best way to breed discus on a large scale. Plus if you are lucky as I am to live in a soft water area, a purifier can be set up to the main sump in the final chamber. With a slow trickle of water going into the end compartment before the return pump, being pumped back to the tanks, this will speed up the growth rate. But a drain overflow will need to be in place to take away surplus water added to the system.

High Protein Foods

Also good high protein foods should be fed and often to accelerate the growth rate. The sooner they grow the sooner they go, and you get paid for all your hard work. OH did I say your hard work, well here comes another secrete. We are not discus breeders, but purely water keepers. If the water conditions are right the discus will thrive and multiply on their own. The antennary list to set up a project like this is a good sized room with good insulation. A water pump to move at least four times the total volume of water around the system of tanks, every hour. A suitable sized UV steriliser, also two, three or more 300 watt heater stats in the sump to kept up the temperature.


Lighting is not so important over each tank. But a light cycle is important to determine night from day. So a timer or a reasonable good time keeper needs to be available. A night light will need to be fitted, as the discus should never be left in total darkness. The sump filter itself needs to be full of media with a volume to hold sufficient numbers of bacteria needed to break down ammonia in all the tanks. The mechanics of this is the water returns from all the tanks into a sediment chamber. From here it usually flows into an up and over type filter passing through the media to house the beneficial bacteria needed to sustain water quality. The sump filter is usually made of glass or acrylic, but may be made out of food grade plastic. Trickle towers which can be home made out of food grade plastic or glass is the best way to filter any tank, as it is more efficient. On my main system I use both, which works very well.

Yet More Tips And Tricks

  • If using a wooden shed, it is well worth not using the wooden floor that it comes with. Apart from heavy tanks on it the vibration from footsteps will spook the fish. Use a concrete base.
  • Ozone can be used and will raise the redox levels in your tanks; this is best fitted through a 2 air stone in the final sump filter compartment.
  • Higher redox levels will educe spawning and kill off bad bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water.
  • If your discus won’t breed test all water parameters first or has the discus spawned before If they have it may well be a case of waiting a while longer.
  • When racking up your tanks make sure you have allowed at least 6 – 8 inches above between the tanks for maintained and catching your fish.

An Absent Project

Now we look at the busy working person that is away from the project during the day or even longer. So how does the project run when no ones home Obviously water quality and maintenance should be on the top agenda for any fish keeper. But this area is the top key not only to the well being of the discus in our care, but to the fastest way to grow on your fry for selling. If you have only one tank with one pair breeding, I don’t have to tell you how much time is spent looking after them and all the things you need to do for good production of youngsters. As discussed last month the best way I have found is to use a centralized system of tanks all linked up using a network of pipe work. This way all the water is all on one big sump filter and pumped back to all the tanks, making any changes in the water make up slow, due to the large volume of water on the system all mixing together. This will not stress the fish so much (as long as precautions have been taken with sterilization) Also the biggest bonus with running everything this way is water changes can be made from the main sump and pumped to all the tanks on a drip feed. So the occupants will not even know that a water change is in fact taking place, making even less stress for them. With pairs they will not be disturbed and can be left to do the business of looking after their new family and have the water changed without them noticing. Not every breeder will use this method, but this is the way I have done it and still do when space allows.

Wiring Up The Equipment

The wiring up of any equipment, especially where electric and water is in close relationship needs to be fitted by a qualified electrician. Or at the very least someone who knows what they are doing. Laws in this are changing in this area of equipment and soon large breeders will need to comply with the BS 7671 regulations. In any case it would make sense to have your equipment as water proof as possible. The thing to remember is in some cases you may not have a second chance if you make an electrical mistake and get electrocuted. One way around this is to use external connection boxes, these are fantastic to use and very cheap to buy. All the wires go into the box via a water proof washer which can be tightened up, so any splashes or water cannot get to and terminals or connections. External switches are a god send too if you can afford them, as these have a protective window over them also making it not only safe to stop water getting to them. But if you have wet hands and rush to turn off the lights etc., enough said.

Water Changes

Water changes are a top of the list job, so the easier this is the better. The way I do mine cannot be done by everyone because I am very lucky to live in a soft water area and our water is perfect for discus, (with a few adjustments) My water goes through a GA water purifier and goes direct to the end chamber of the sump. This mixes with the filtered water, thus adding fresh water to the main system. With part fresh extra water being added to the main tanks the surplus needs to come out somewhere. So I have drilled a hole as an overflow to the first chamber of the sump filter to take away the extra purified water I have added. So water changes this way are very simple and you don’t have to be there to do It, making holidays and weekends away easy and stress free not only for the discus but for the keeper also.


Feeding is the second part to a successful operation. The more you feed alongside the water changes the sooner they grow, the more they grow the sooner they go and you see a return on the work you have done. I use sinking cat fish tablets if I have to go away. The best one I have found is the tetra sinking tablet for ground feeders. Although meant for cat fish and the like I have found this to be a good food for feeding while you are away for short periods, i.e. work etc. You will not be feeding this as a main diet but this will well supplement the feeding until you can feed the newly hatch brine shrimp. Tetra baby food can also be used to bring on baby discus to a good size, okay this is not the fastest way to grow them, but if time is short feeding this way can be more convenient. As time will be needed to hatch out the tiny brine shrimps, which will need to be organised to flow through a good supply ready for feeding. I find a two day cycle is enough, so I use two pop bottles to hatch the eggs in.

With two bottles on the go you can use one and at the end of the day and start off with more eggs in the second. The next day I use the second bottle giving enough time for the bottle you have started off today 48 hours to hatch out ready to feed. Sounds a lot of trouble but the best way of feeding discus fry for fast growth and you will soon get into the swing of it making this part of a routine every day. Without a doubt the top way and the best way of normal feeding have to be newly hatched brine shrimp. Also the risk of introducing disease is very low using newly hatched brine shrimp this way, and just using the tablet foods when you are not there. So you can begin to see even if you are not at home all the time, it is possible to still breed discus on a large scale. Obviously it would be ideal to be at home more, but the object of this is to see if it is possible to run a large discus breeding project while working a full time job and can’t be home all of the time.

The Lights Are On, But Nobodys Home

Any lighting can be on timers, making sure the lighting is on at the right time. This is a good thing to do any way as the discus do get used to night and day. This would be managed perfectly and for a few pounds it is well worthwhile. Also make sure you have a night light on, breeding discus will not like to be kept in the dark. If you do they will certainly eat any young and will be spooked when light is put upon them.

Yeap, Even More Tips And Tricks!

  • Earthing probes are a good investment and only cost £12-£15, any electrical equipment shortening out will be taken care of.
  • Water proof switches are expensive, but could save your life.
  • Even in a clean bare breeding tank bristle worms or planaria can still be found, try silicone around the bottom of the spawning pot and let it dry on a plastic bag. When dry peel off and it will sit perfectly on the tank bottom, stopping bits of food getting stuck under the pot = no bristle worms.
  • To reduce cost try solar power, your heating bills may be halved running your fish house this way.
  • Keep the inside of your breeding tank glass clean, build ups of bacteria on it can kill newly laid discus eggs, making them turn white.

Chris Ingham

Author of Discus World, the complete up to date manual for the discus keeper.

What to Feed Baby Discus Fish

This post may have affiliate links, which means we may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).

Feeding the Discus:

The best initial food to feed baby discus fish is newly hatched brine shrimp.  The babies love it and they will grow very quickly on brine shrimp. The best way to start it is to wait until the fry is five days old. Then start feeding them first brine shrimp hatchery. Meanwhile, in their natural environment, discus fishes are very unfussy eaters. These fishes are omnivores; their diet varies from aquatic to bloodworm plants. Normally they eat five times a day to maintain good health and color. We can only wish that they were as easy to feed as Koi! After that, Discus fishes can be raised as easily as compared to other fishes in the tank.

One should investigate the retailer of the fishes, what they have been serving discus. Discus favor adhering to a uniform diet of similar meals. If for cost-effectiveness or any other possible reasons you prefer to serve them different diet, such as flakes, it is feasible to modify their menu: Just stop serving them several days before regularly starting the new diet.

Considerations Regarding the Diet Routine:

Feed them with little parts of food several times each day. At first, they will bolster off the layers of their progenitors, yet thereafter you should begin feeding them with the food nourishment, for example, shrimp. They additionally like grown-up plate fish, love meat heart. However, the large lumps you serve the grown-ups will be large for them to take. Rather liquidize it before releasing it into tub. A well-managed teenager will take one year to become an adult and mature in size. In the native environment, discus are not amazing hunters, so they are less meal-timing-routine as you might expect.

It is essential to provide feed daily in the beginning, but once Discus has achieved the grown-up size you have to constantly reduce the intake to feeding once per day. Provide your Discus with several types of foods. As a routine food, you can use flakes to feed them, fish pellets are another option available and fishes like them very much. Though specialists suggest that their nutrition should contain at least 40% protein, 55% is the favorable consumption. For attaining certain levels, it will require to give them live meals like shrimp and blood worm, and it is suggested you feed beef heart at least two times a week.

Live feed should be refrigerated for several purposes: refrigerating will kill bacteria and viruses that these live foods can transfer, it will protect its nutritious substances that are needed by Discus.

Experts Recommendations:

Experts recommend taking care of the environment of the Aquarium they are keeping for the discus. One should change the water of the tank frequently because discus doesn’t like dirty water, or it can harm their health as well. Discus fishes should not be overfed as it can pollute the water tank. Baby fishes should be started feeding after 4 to 5 days as they feed off their parents in those early days. Experts suggest feeding them frequently and less in amount, as it will be helpful and good for their wellbeing, growth, and nourishment.

Experts also suggest that at initial stages Discus should be fed with brine shrimp it helps them in their growth, and it is a food that they like very much. Afterward fish flakes, bloodworm and dry food for the adults. Discus parents are also found to be eating their babies if they don’t find much to eat. 

The water of the tank should be changed at the time of need but also one should make sure that the temperature of the water during the changing process should be checked, as the discus don’t like change in their environment. If all of the recommendations followed properly, it can help in good growth and health of the pet Discus fish.

It's very important to keep a Discus tank a constant temperature, so get the best heater that you can afford.  We also highly recommend a temperature controller to make sure your fish stay safe if your heater malfunctions.   

Discus, keeping conditions, food, spawning, discus feeding, juveniles, fry, discus crossing, color variations, aquarium fish

Discus inhabit the basin of the upper and middle reaches of the Amazon River. They keep in shady places of calm water bodies, especially near the coast with deposits of dead wood and roots of coastal plants that create reliable shelters. Body discoid, strongly flattened laterally. The head is quite small, the mouth is small. During the spawning period, the male has a pointed vas deferens, while the female has a cone-shaped, blunt ovipositor. nine0005

Peaceful , not very mobile fish, shy, stay in a group in the middle layer of water, like shady places, dissected lighting. It can be kept in a general, but better species aquarium, with a water column height of 40 cm, in some places thickets of plants with a shortened stem and large leaves growing upwards, floating plants, driftwood.

Water parameters: 28-31°C, dH up to 12°, pH 5.8-7.2. Pay special attention to the cleanliness of the soil and water. Some aquarists keep in an aquarium without soil. Mandatory weekly change of 1/5-1/4 of the volume of water (also produce a daily change of 1/10 of the volume). nine0005

Feeding: live and frozen foods, substitutes.

Spawning in pairs. A pair is formed from a group of 6-8 specimens. If there is a pair of known males and females, you can determine another fish by sex by placing it on this pair. The first indication of the couple's readiness for spawning is the cleaning of the substrate (a vertically located leaf of a plant, a stone, a snag, etc.) and the body trembling of the fish. It is better to remove the rest of the fish or transplant a pair into a spawning aquarium with a length of 90 cm with spawning substrate (preferably without soil). Water in the spawning area of ​​the following parameters: 29-31°C, dH 1-3°, KH 0°, pH 5.5-6.5.

The female lays up to 250 eggs on the substrate. The male takes care of the eggs, sometimes both fish, less often the female. During the period of caring for eggs and larvae, it is necessary to feed the fish in small portions so that all the food is eaten, because when removing the remains, the fish are worried and can eat eggs or larvae.

Discus Red Melon

The incubation period is 2-4 days, the fry swim in 3-4 days and for about a month they feed on special secretions on the skin of their parents, while cleaning one they are transplanted to another. There are times when fish lack these secretions, which leads to the death of offspring. Fry can be saved by giving artificial food in the form of thin 1 cm cakes made from egg powder mixed with water from a spawning aquarium. They are pressed against the wall so that they protrude somewhat above the surface of the water. After feeding, the fry are transferred to another, clean vessel. Each feeding takes 4 hours, fed 4 times a day. After 5 days, they switch to feeding with nauplii. True, fish fed by this method (the method was developed by Frisuol) do not have secretions on the skin and cannot feed their offspring. nine0005

Related article Discus

There are times when fish fight over the offspring of . In this case, Zhukov recommends dividing the aquarium with a partition that does not reach the bottom by 1 cm, so that the fry can swim from parent to parent, which are separated by this partition.

After 5-7 days fry begin to give live dust (preferably red, because in this case it is clear from the reddened belly of the fry that it takes food) and a daily change of 1/5-1/4 of the volume of water is made , saving its parameters. After the fish stop feeding the fry with secretions, they are removed. nine0005

Fish are capable of spawning at 2 years of age. All species interbreed. There are many color variations.

Tags: fish, bony fish, perches, wrasses, cichlids, fish with the letter d, discus, South American fish, peaceful aquarium fish, spawning fish, freshwater fish

Equal-banded discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus) photo, keeping conditions, reproduction of discus, sexual dimorphism, spawning, starter food, fry, cichlids, food, aquarium fish

Equal-banded discus, or ) is a majestic and graceful fish highly valued by aquarists all over the world. It is one of the most beautiful aquarium fish. Sensitive to the purity of the aquarium water and the size of the aquarium. There are many color variations of discus. For one pair, an aquarium of 200 liters is required. nine0005

Blue Discus

Range: Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia.
Habitat: still or slow moving water along river banks. Discus live in the "black" water among the thickets of coastal shrubs. The bottom of the reservoirs is covered with a layer of rotten leaves. The water is very soft and quite acidic.
Description: laterally compressed disk-shaped body. The dorsal and anal fins are almost symmetrical, starting from the middle of the body and closing at the tail. The pectoral fins are thin and long. nine0031 Color: varies depending on the specific species and breeding form.
Size: 15-25 cm.
Lifespan: up to 10 years.

Blue Discus

Aquarium: species (height rather than bottom area).
Dimensions: from 200 l. for one couple.
Water: pH 6.0-7.0, dH 5-10°, continuous aeration, filtration (powerful external filter required), slow flow. Weekly change of up to 25-30% of the volume of water. Sudden changes in pH can cause irreversible damage to fish health. Discus bred in captivity are significantly less demanding on the chemical composition of water than wild ones. nine0005

Related article Discus

Temperature: 28-31°C. They easily tolerate water heating up to 34 ° C, and according to some reports even up to 38 ° C for 2-3 hours.
Lighting: diffused.
Ground: any.
Plants: heat-loving plants (echinodorus, anubias, cryptocorynes, ambulia, pinifolia, alternathera, eichhornia, aponogetones, vallisneria). Plants do not gnaw, do not dig the soil.
Design: rocky landscape - various shelters in the form of grottoes, caves, stones, snags with thickets of living plants that create shaded areas and free space for swimming.

Feeding: in nature feed on insects and their larvae, aquatic invertebrates. In aquariums, live or frozen foods are fed (brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, chopped beef heart, etc.). It is recommended to use specialized food for discus (AL Discus Mix, Tetra Diskus, Tetra Rubin, Sera Premium Discus Granules, etc.). Tubifex and bloodworm are very fond of, but it is not recommended to give them. Feed 2-3 times a day with the amount of food that will be eaten within 5 minutes. Discus feed slowly, and with more active neighbors, they may not have enough food. nine0005

Behavior: a peaceful schooling species of fish that prefers a community of at least 6 individuals of its own kind. Poorly tolerated neighborhood with scalars.
Personality: calm, shy, when working with the aquarium it is necessary to avoid sudden movements. An aquarium with discus should be in a quiet place.
Water zone: middle layer of water.
May be kept with: peaceful schooling fish capable of living in similar conditions and high temperatures (panaki, butterfly apistograms, characins, armored and loricariids, apistograms). nine0031 Do not keep with: aggressive and active fish.

Pidgeon Blood Discus

Fish breeding: pair spawning. Fish spawn on the side or back walls of the vessel, or on a smooth hollow brick. Spawning ground from 100 l (possible without soil and plants), not less than 45 cm high, T 28-31°C. Water parameters - pH 5.5-6.0, dH 3-10, the water is slightly peaty. Usually they breed up to 2.5-3 years.
Sex differences: sex can be recognized with certainty only during the spawning period. Males are characterized by a larger size than females, they are more foreheady. nine0031 Puberty: at 12-16 months (females earlier, males later). A group of young discus are kept in the same aquarium and over time the fish will pair up on their own.
Number of eggs: 40 to 400 eggs.

Related article Discus

Incubation period: 48-50 hours.
Offspring: after 60 hours, the fry begin to swim, adhering to the sides of the parents.
Growth rate: fast - reach adult size at one year of age. nine0031 Feeding of juveniles: the epidermis of the parents secretes a secret that serves as the fry's first food. After a few days, the fry begin to actively catch Artemia and Cyclops nauplii, Daphnia.
Seedlings from parents: a good pair feeds their offspring for up to a month and a half.

Discus "Turquoise rouge"

Comments: to prevent hexamitosis, it is recommended not to stress the fish once again, and once a month to feed them with medicated food containing metronidazole (500 mg per 500 g of feed mixture).

Learn more