Discus Fish Breeding

Discus Pairing and Spawning

If you are thinking about buying a breeding pair of Discus Fish you will be out a pretty penny. If you have a little bit of time on your hands and want the least expensive way of buying a breeding pair of Discus Fish then you should buy a group of juvenile (the since of a tennis ball) or even younger Discus. Then you simply let them grow up in your aquarium and hopefully at least one pair will form from the group. There is a chance that a pair won’t form and you will have to do it all over again. Whereas, if you buy a breeding pair straight away you can be sure that they are a breeding pair.

A Discus Fish Breeding Pair

At some point you will notice that a pair of Discus start to distance themselves from the group and the same two begin to feed together. That is a Discus Fish Breeding Pair. Hopefully you will soon find the same pair cleaning a spawning site and guarding a section of the aquarium. Once you see that it is only a matter of until you have little Discus Fry sailing around the aquarium.

Discus Spawning

The spawning ritual of the Discus is quite interesting to watch. The female will lay a few eggs in a row and the male will follow her to fertilize the eggs. After the laying the first row the female Discus will lay another row of eggs, again followed by the male. They keep doing this for about an hour and then all the eggs will be laid.

After all of the eggs are laid and fertilized in their neat little rows the parents will take turns guarding the eggs and fanning freshwater over them. You can expect the eggs to hatch within two days after being fertilized. When hatching begins the Discus parents will help their fry out of their shells and move them to another location in the aquarium.

Two days after hatching, the Discus fry will start to experiment with free swimming. The Discus parents will be darting around the aquarium corralling any fry that swims away from the group. You will see the parents suck the baby into their mouths, transport them back to the group and then spit them out. Eventually, so many Discus fry will be free swimming that it will be impossible for the parents to keep them all in line. At that point the fry will swim in a small school and feed from the sides of their parents. Unfortunately, sometimes a fry is not able to find its parents quickly enough when it is hungry and it will starve to death.

Discus Pairing – Common Problems

Not all Discus fish spawnings go as smoothly as I described above. You see, some fish will never want to breed (even with ideal conditions) and others will breed, but they fry will not last past the free swimming stage. Luckily, sometimes, there are things you can do improve the chances of a good spawning, but sometimes nothing helps. If you find yourself in the situation where you have tried everything to get a Discus Pair to breed, but they just will not then it might be time to just let them be. You can still enjoy them as gorgeous show specimens and perhaps work on a getting another Discus Fish Breeding Pair.

Discus Infertility

Infertility is a semi-common problem among many aquarium fish, not just Discus Fish. Many different things can bring on infertility and it can even just be temporary. Temporary infertility can be caused by Discus Disease, nutritional deficiencies, overmedication and over-spawning. You can cure temporary Discus infertility with appropriate disease treatment, lots of rest, time and a nutritious and varied diet.

A Discus Fish can also be permanently infertile which is much more serious. This can be caused by overuse of antibiotics or damage done by internal parasites.

The Female Discus Pair

Believe it or not, it is quite common for two female Discus Fish to become a couple even though there are suitable male Discus in the same aquarium. They will behave just like a heterosexual Discus Pair (ie/ guard a territory, feed together, prepare a spawning site and go through all the spawning rituals). This is all good and fine, but as you might have guessed, the eggs will not be fertilized and therefore to baby Discus. You will see the females either take turns laying eggs and fertilizing or they will both lay their eggs at the same time. The only solution is the break up the pair and introduce them to males. The best way to make a clean a break is put them in separate aquariums that way there won’t be an awkward moments when they swim past each other.

The Fighing Discus Pair

If the Discus Pair that you have is not playing nice then it could get in the way of spawning. Often the fighting is not very violent and the Discus Pair can be left to figure out their problems, but sometimes it can take a turn for the worst. There are times when you will have to be ready to separate the pair to make sure that no serious bodily injuries occur. After a few days of separation you can try putting them back together and see if things work out better.

A fighting Discus Pair, if they ever get to the point of spawning, will probably lose their fry. So if you were thinking of leaving the fighting pair alone because you do not want to sacrifice the potential fry, think again. You might end up with injured parents and dead fry. That’s not good for anyone.

Raising Discus Fry

In the beginning, the fry will feed exclusively from their parents. Your responsibility is to keep the parents well fed so that the fry have enough to eat. You will also have to do water changes regularly to keep the water quality high. When the fry are 4 to 5 days old you can introduce them to freshly hatched brine shrimp. Only give them really small amounts of food to keep the water quality high. In nature, the fry would keep eating from their parents for 2 to 3 weeks so the brine shrimp are only a supplement. The brine shrimp also represent the beginning of weaning the fry off the parents.

You do not want to let the fry feed off their parents for the full 2 to 3 weeks because every additional day the fry stay with their parents it increases the risk of the fry getting an internal parasite. Most breeders will only allow the Discus fry to feed from their parents for 7 to 10 days after becoming free swimming. At that point, they are usually able to survive without their parents in a separate fry-rearing tank.

Feed your Discus fry freshly hatched bring shrimp and throw in a few microworm every no and then to vary the diet. As the little fry grow, so their mouths and you start feeding them large foods. They will soon be able to swallow small mosquito larvae, daphnia and similar foods. Getting them to accept flake food can be a challenge and it is not recommended that you give it to them until they are at least 4 weeks old. Once your Discus Fry are the size of a 10 cent coin you will be able to give them frozen, grated beef heart. At first only give them one serving a day and gradually increase the multiple servings a day. Once you have trained your Discus Fry to eat frozen beef heart, flake food and frozen bloodworms, it is time to wean them off brine shrimp.

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