Category Archives: Discus

Breeding Angelfish Part 9 – How to raise the fry?

Previously we went over Angelfish fry prior to them becoming free swimming. Now we will go over your options as to how to raise the fry.

You now need to make a critical decision. Do you let the Angelfish raise their own fry naturally or do you artificially raise them.  Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages.  We will briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

The main advantage to letting the Angelfish raise their own fry is that it is MUCH less work. Other than keeping the water ultra clean via water changes, as you will not be able to run any filters except a sponge filter, there is not much to be done different to what you normally do.  If possible, please take any other fish out of the tank.  The huge disadvantage is that the parents will eat the fry a majority of the time.  They will do it very quickly, you will not know they are eating them and there is really nothing you can do to prevent it.  There is one other advantage to naturally raising the fry that most people tend to forget.  Angelfish fry will feed a little off the natural slime of their parents and in eating the slime they receive antibodies from their parents, thereby making them much more resistant to disease later in their life.

Conversely, the advantages and disadvantages to artificially raising the fry is just the opposite. There will be two to three weeks of caring for your fry several times a day.  The positive side, your chances of getting the Angelfish fry past this stage is greatly increased.  Generally speaking, more fry will survive when you artificially raise them.

As Angelfish are much easier to artificially raise that some other fish such as Discus, we recommend that you go with the artificial raising of them. In our next segment, we will go over artificially raising Angelfish.

Breeding Discus Part 5

Previously we went over Discus fertility. We will now go over the fry prior to them becoming free swimming. Next we will go over fry after they become free swimming.

This is the easiest part of spawning and is also one of the most fascinating.

After 48 to 72 hours, depending mainly on water temperature, the eggs will begin to hatch. Only the dark ones will hatch. They are dark because after about 36 hours, the eye starts to develop and will show through the egg sack. Most of the fry will stay attached to the surface where the eggs were laid via a small membrane on their head. A few will become detached and will fall to the bottom. At this point the fry will look like a small comma to the naked eye. Under magnification, they are quite ugly and will look like something straight out of a monster movie.

They will remain attached to the substrate for another 48 to 72 hours. There is not much to do at this point. They will have an egg sack and will live off of it during this entire time. There are only two real concerns. The first is the parents eating them. If you are going to artificially raise the fry, you will want to take the parents out. If you are not going to artificially raise the fry, you should cover them with a screen. The second concern is fungus. Adding Methylene Blue to the water will mostly solve this. If you are going to artificially raise them, and have taken the parents out of the tank, you should add aeration about one inch from the fry to keep the water moving around them. They will start to become free swimming about 2 to 3 days after hatching.

Breeding Discus Part 1

The first thing you need to understand is that you are not in total control. If Discus do not want to pair off, there is nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can do is provide the right conditions so that it is more likely that they will pair off.

If you have a sexed pair and they are the only discus in the tank, it is likely, about a 70% chance, that they will eventually pair off if left together for a long period of time.

To hurry our potential young lovers along, we provide conditions that are conducive for fishy love. We put seven mature Discus in a 125 gallon tank and let them acclimate to it for two weeks. We then start doing some sudden changes in the tank conditions to stimulate courtship. Some of the changes we make are

  • Change the water temperature to 78 degrees for a few days and then bring it up to 88 degrees over about 12 hours and then leave it at 88 degrees for the remainder of a week.
  • Let the tank get somewhat dirty, not doing the daily water changes for a few days and then doing a 80% water change.
  • Feed them heavily for a few days and then stop feeding them for two days, followed by feeding them live food for three days.
  • Do two 60% water changes four hours apart where the Ph goes from 6.5 to 7.0 at the first change and then from 7.0 to 7.5 at the second change.
  •  Leave the tank dark for two full days and then turn the lights on for two full days.

If we have tried all of the above and after two months they still have not paired off, we switch out four of those discus and start the process over again with four new discus along with three remaining.

Brief Instructions to Artificially Raising Discus Fry

There are two keys to raising the fry artificially: Cleanliness is one, changing the water with WATER THAT IS THE SAME TEMP is the other.

Step 1:
Give the parents a 1.5-2″ PVC pipe 14-16″ long to let them spawn on. pH must be below 7 and water used throughout this process must be soft (around 100 ppm and uS around 120-180). This helps the eggs in sticking.

Step 2:
Make sure that the males is fertilizing the eggs, otherwise any attempt is futile.

Step 3:
Wait two hours after spawning is finished.

Step 4:
Using a 1 gallon glass jar, fill it with the tank water the parents (& eggs) are in. Put the PVC in the jar (quickly and calmly).

Step 5:
Place the jar in a small 5 gallon tank filled with water at 84f (50w heater is required). Also put a hydrospnge (by far my personal choice in sponge filters). in the tank and turn it on. This will keep the jar warm and allow the tank to cycle. I always have filters in my 5 gals so they are cycled.

Step 6:
Add an airstone to the jar. Turn it on medium so that there is a good current in the jar (don’t blast the eggs though).

Step 7:
Add three drops of methyl blue. Other people may recommend more, but I believe that it may cause fry loss. Three drops works well and allows you to observe the eggs.

Step 8:
Wait. They will begin hatching (if they are fertile and the correct water parameters/hardness/uS are present) in two days (about).

Step 9:
Wait. They will start free swimming in two-three days (mostly three). They will be clogged in a bunch on the bottom of the tub during this period and will untangle when good and ready.

Step 10:
As soon as they become free swimming, give them their first feeding. Use artificial plankton and rotifers (a.p.r.) used for feeding marine filter feeders. Add an amount the size of the winding screw on your watch (it was the only thing I could see around my desk of to relate how small MUST be (g)).

Step 11:
4 hrs later remove the jar from the 5g tank and float a small Rubbermaid tub in the 5g tank. Place the airstone in the tub (turn it off first). Use a baster to move the fry to the little tub. Fill the tub with the jar water 75% and 5g tank 25% until the tub is almost full. Turn the airstone on to a small blip…blip..blip….. enough to keep the surface of the water in the tub broken. Keep the tank with the tub covered to avoid cooling/evap/drafting on the tub.

Step 12:
Add the same small amount of food.

Step 13:
4 hrs. later do a fifty percent water change of tub water using the baster. I go from the baster to another small tub before I dump the water in case I suck up some fry (so I don’t dump them out). Replace the tub water with the tank water (Hey, notice the tank water is the same temp as the tub water!). Feed same small amount.

Step 14:
4-6 hrs later do a 90% change using the above method. (NOTE: eventually the 5g starts to get low. NEVER (REPEAT VERY LOUDLY, NEVER EVER) fill the 5g until the tub water has been changed and refilled. If you do fill the 5g tank prior to filling the tub, the temp may not be exactly the same and when you fill the tub afterwards you might watch the babies go into shock…they WILL NOT recover! (This cost me A LOT of fry to figure this out!).

Step 15:
Repeat 90% water change and feeding every 4-6 hrs. (8 at the most so you can sleep, I’ve gone 10 before, but don’t recommend it unless the is nothing you can do about it).

Step 16:
On the second day of free swimming, add a tiny amount (VERY TINY) amount of NEWLY HATCHED baby brine shrimp (b.b.s.) with every feeding. Don’t stop using the a.p.r. at this point. Continue performing step 15. a.p.r. shows grey bellies, b.b.s. shows pink bellies.

Step 17:
Continue feeding a.p.r. and b.b.s. for one week. All bellies should show pink by end of week.

Step 18:
Once all bellies show pink discontinue the a.p.r. and continue the b.b.s. Keep performing step 15.

Step 19:
One week later you should have lots of fry the size of baby Discus. Let them go into the 5g tank and feed them there from now on. Keep the tank clean and watch the water changing temp. A once a day water change is good enough. The rest is standard baby fish stuff!