Last month we went over how to sex them, this month we will go over how to keep a pair.
Sexing Discus is not the end, it is actually just the start of the most difficult part of breeding Flowerhorn. The problem with breeding Flowerhorn is that the male will often kill the female, sometimes within hours of putting them together. Males can be relentless in attacking females (and other males). There are several ways to deal with this problem:
• Occasionally you will get a pair that are not overly aggressive towards each other. While this is rare, it can happen, and if you do get one of these pairs, count your blessings.
• The best way to get a pair that will be OK together is plan well in advance. If you by 6-10 of them at a very small size, usually they will grow up without becoming fatally aggressive. They will still be very aggressive, but not fatally, starting around 3 inches, so make sure you have many, many hiding places. Usually, the largest male will pair off with the largest female when they become mature. This pair can then be kept in a separate tank together. Once again, while they will not kill each other, they will still be aggressive, especially between spawning, so make sure there are plenty of hiding places. Often if you keep the ones left in a large tank, another pair will separate out after you take out the first pair.
• Another trick is to keep them in a divided tank. This will keep them from killing each other while they are not spawning. Once Flowerhorn start the process of spawning (we will go over this in a subsequent Newsletter), they will stop being so aggressive towards each other. The female will actually become the dominant one once the eggs are laid and will often chase the male off. Be careful with this technique as they will often go to great lengths to get together. I have experienced ripped screens, broken dividers, dislocated dividers, fish that tunnel under a divider and fish that will try and jump over a divider (often ending up on the floor).
• The last, but least effective technique is to keep the female alone in a tank until she becomes so egg bound that she lays the eggs even without the male present. The problem with this technique is that when you introduce the male, he is often so stressed by the new surroundings that he does not fertilize the eggs. The incidence of unfertilized eggs is much higher with this technique.