If just maintaining healthy Discus in an aquarium is a challenge successfully breeding them and keeping the fry alive is even more so. Discus are fussy about their mating partners so just throwing any two opposite gender fish in a tank won’t do it. They are selective.
Out of a group of eight Discus perhaps only two will pair up. A signal that the pair is ready to spawn is when you see them nipping the glass of the aquarium. Remove the pair to a breeding tank. A nearly vertical surface like a vertical tube or rock should be in the tank. The female will lay from 100 to 200 eggs on the vertical surface and the male will follow her fertilizing the eggs. Both the male and the female will guard the eggs not allowing other fish to come near. After 2-3 days the fry will hatch. Occasionally you will one or both of the parents nibbling at the eggs in an attempt to help the fry hatch.
The parents will move the fry to another area of the tank by mouthing them. They will attach the fry to this new area by sticky filaments. Baby Discus are not good swimmers. The fry feed on a mucous secreted by the parents skin, not exactly mother’s milk but it seems to work for the Discus. In 4 or 5 days the fry will be attached to the parents by the filaments and continue to feed off the secretion. In about 10 days the fry should be removed to their own tank and fed commercial food.
Discus can be fostered but it’s an involved process. After the eggs have been fertilized by the male, the surface and the eggs of course should be removed to a one gallon jar that is placed in a five gallon tank that has been filled with water from the breeding tank. The jar and the small tank should be exactly the same temperature as the breeding tank. The small tank should have filter and heater and maintain a temperature of 88 degrees F. The jar should have an air stone placed in it to maintain a current.
The eggs should hatch in 2 to 3 days and the babies start free swimming in 3 to 4 days. Now comes the challenge. The water must be changed and the fish fed every 4 to 6 hours. The water in the tank is used to change the water in the jar. The temperature of both the tank and the jar will be exactly the same. Clean water changes of 90% and the water at the same temperature is critical to the success of raising the fry.
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books and the novel Over Time, about Green Bay Football Money, love and football: All the Important Things in Life. She lives with Rose and Kate. Read their dogs blog