Symphysodon discus

by David Snell

Several years back, I acquired a number of young Discus. I was able to raise them up until I had a group of 4 nice blue Discus. After about 18 months I was very excited to see a pair spawning on a Discus-spawning cone. Unfortunately all the eggs that were laid fungused. Over the course of the next few months, I was able to see all four of my Discus lay eggs. They were all females. It was not until the November 2000 auction that I acquired Discus again.

I was given a pair of Discus from Joe Szelesi at the PVAS November 2000 Auction. The pair are a nice Orange Turquoise Discus. Joe informed me that they were a young pair and that they had spawned once before.

I did not have an empty tank available to keep them in, so I put them into my 75 gallon planted tetra tank until I could get a 20 gallon high setup for them. The 75-gallon tank’s temperature was about 78-80°F. I put another heater in the 75-gallon tank to up the temperature to 84°F. The Discus settled in with tetras very nicely. While in the 75-gallon tank I fed them a variety of foods including frozen bloodworms, baby brine shrimp, Cyclops-eeze, and occasionally blackworms.

In early December I noticed the Discus staying in the front right corner of the tank, then I noticed about 100+ eggs on the front glass. They had apparently finished spawning. In the span of about 3 minutes, I watched my Glowlight tetras consume every last egg.

At this point I decided to move the pair to the 20 gallon high I set up for them. The tank was a bare 20-gallon high with a large sponge filter, spawning cone, and two 50-watt heaters set to 84°F. I used RO water with a hardness of about 1DH. I started to feed the Discus heavily on live blackworms and frozen bloodworms.

In mid December, I noticed that the pair had laid about 150+ eggs on the spawning cone. The adults continued to watch over the eggs and to fan them. Any egg that fungused was removed by being eaten. Two or three days later, the eggs had hatched. For the next three days the wrigglers were watched closely by their parents. One morning I noticed that the pair moved the wrigglers half way around the spawning cone.

The 60+ remaining wrigglers began free swimming on the 6th day. Over the next week, the fry fed off the parents’ slime layer. I continued to feed the adults blackworms and bloodworms. Water changes were done once a week. I started to notice a few less fry. Since I didn’t have a spare rearing tank set up, I was not able to separate the adults from the fry. At about two weeks, the fry were eating newly hatched brine shrimp.

On Jan 1st or 2nd the adults ate all the fry.

Although I was upset that the parents ate the fry, I didn’t give up working with the Discus. On the very next day the adults spawned again, laying about another 150 eggs. Again, the adults watched over the eggs and ate any eggs that fungused. The eggs hatched by the 2nd or 3rd day. The fry again ate from the adults’ slime layer and quickly started growing. This time the adults did not eat the fry.

The fry ate from the slime layer for the first week or so, then I started to introduce baby brine shrimp. I continued to feed the fry mainly on newly hatched brine shrimp. By the 3rd week or so, the fry started take on their characteristic Discus shape. At about 4 weeks, I started to introduce the fry to very small pellet foods. At 6 weeks, in addition to the new hatched brine shrimp and the pellet foods, I noticed the fry were starting to eat bloodworms that I was continuing to feed to the adults. At this point, a few of the remaining 18 fry reached the size of a quarter dollar.

The fry continued to eat from the parents’ slime layer for about 6 to 7 weeks. At 8 weeks, I had 12 fry remaining. The largest fry was a bit bigger than a quarter dollar in size down to few that were still dime/nickel-size. The fry showed a little bit of color in the fringes of the fins.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 32, # 2