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Breeding Flowerhorn Part 4

Last month we went over breeding tank set up, this month we will go over getting a pair. You will find that the triggers for getting Flowerhorn are pretty much the same as other Cichlids. Once they go into pre spawning mode, the fighting will decrease, but rough mating will start. The technique that works the best is hard for most of us aquarist to do, as it goes against everything we strive to accomplish with our aquariums. With that said, it works and does not hurt your Flowerhorn in the long run.

The best way to get a pair of Flowerhorn to spawn is to let their aquarium conditions become very poor for one to two weeks. This will include, taking the filter pads out of the filters and running them without the pads (they need to run to keep the water circulating), letting algae build up in the aquarium and letting the water level of the aquarium get low. Please make sure that you leave aeration in the tank so the water does not become oxygen depleted. I also recommend that you feed them at about ½ the normal amount during this time. Once the conditions in the aquarium have deteriorated to the point where it is becoming stressful, do a complete water change and cleaning of the tank. You will find that most pairs will spawn within one or two days (often within hours) of the completion of the cleaning.

Other techniques are:

• Change the water temperature to 72 degrees for a few days and then bring it up to 84 degrees over about 12 hours and then leave it at 84 degrees for the remainder of a week.

• Feed them heavily for a few days, then stop feeding them for two days, followed by […]


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Breeding Flowerhorn Part 3

Last month we went over how to keep a pair, this month we will go over breeding tank set up.

The first thing to be aware of is that mature Flowerhorn are very strong and no matter what you do, they will most likely completely rearrange the tank when they spawn. As part of the pre spawning courtship, they will move, pile, re-move and then pile again any gravel in the tank. They like to spawn on flat, horizontal surfaces. I always place several large pieces of slate to lay flat on the bottom of the tank. Flowerhorn can lay up to a thousand eggs at one spawning, so you need to make sure the pieces of slate are at least 8 x 8 inches.

With that said, it is my experience that they usually choose to remove all of the gravel from an area of the bottom of the tank and actually lay the eggs on the glass bottom of the tank.

Directly prior to spawning, the male sometimes will brutally hurt the female. During spawning, they will often get along fine. Directly after spawning, the female will become extremely protective of the eggs and I have seen her actually beat up and kill a male that just days before was abusing her. I mention this so you will know that it is extremely important for you to have plenty of hiding places in the tank during the entire breeding process. I usually try and put several 8 inch pieces of PCV pipe in the tank that are large enough for the female to go into, but small enough that the male, who is usually larger, cannot go into. This can be easily accomplished as PCV piping is sold in 2, 3, 4 and 6 inch diameter sizes. Also, […]


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Breeding Flowerhorn Part 2

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 […]


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Breeding Flowerhorn Part 1

We will be starting a new series of articles on how to breed Flowerhorn.

We will begin with sexing them. It is nearly impossible to sex Flowerhorn less than 3 inches. The only techniques that can be used at that size is the males will grow slightly faster and will usually be the most dominant fish in the tank of fry. With that said, there will be exceptions to both. At around 3-4 inches males will start to develop a KOK (hump). This hump is made up of fluid and fatty tissue and will actually increase and decrease in size depending on the conditions. When spawning, it will slightly increase in size. Males will also grow longer streamers from the Dorsal and Anal fins. Males will grow to be larger than females, often significantly larger. Females will have a more plump and rounded belly. When they become egg laden, this will become even more apparent. When mature their sexual organs will become visible. Directly before the anal fin will be the oviduct in the female.

It will be a round tube (for laying eggs) that in a mature female often be 1/16-1/8 inch long and about the width of a spaghetti noodle. Males will have a much smaller urogenital tube that will also be at the very front of the anal fin. It will look like a very small penis, but is not intended to ever be inserted into the female. Instead it helps them direct the spray of sperm onto the eggs that the female lays. Usually you cannot see it, but at spawning, it does become visible. The male urogenital tube will be about the width of a straight pin.


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Breeding Discus Part 9

This will conclude our series on breeding discus.

Growing out fry requires very little work on your part. The parents do all of the work for you. Discus fry eat the slime off the parent’s side for the first 10 days to two weeks. This slime is very high in protein and contains antibodies that help the babies fight off disease. Once the fry become free swimming, they will instinctively go to the sides of the parents to feed. They will go back and forth, usually in groups between the male and female parents. They do not show a preference for the father or mother. There is nothing more beautiful in the fish world than a pair of discus, in full spawning coloration, swimming with a school of small babies at their side.

Things you should remember. First, these babies will be very small and weak, so you will need to turn off all filtration, except for a sponge filter. The biggest mistake that you can make is to do a water change in this aquarium with water that is not EXACTLY the same temperature. Discus fry are extremely sensitive to temperature shock and will die if you do a water change with water that is more than a few degrees different in temperature. With that said, discus fry are also very sensitive to ammonia burn, so you will need to do daily partial water changes. We like to keep our grow out discus tanks, until they reach about 1.5 inches, at a temperature of 88 degrees, as the high temperature increases their metabolism and speeds up growth.

After 10 days, start adding a small amount of live baby brine shrimp to the tank. By the end of one month, they will be about ½ inch and will be eating […]


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Breeding Discus Part 8

Previously we went over how to artificially raise the fry. Now we will go over raising the fry naturally. Next we will go over growing out the baby discus.

Growing out fry requires very little work on your part. The parents do all of the work for you. Unfortunately, it is very common for the parents to eat the babies, so most breeders artificially raise the fry. There are advantages to naturally raising the fry over and above that it is much easier. Discus fry eat the slime off the parent’s side for the first 10 days to two weeks. This slime is very high in protein and contains antibodies that help the babies fight off disease. Naturally raised fry will grow much faster at first and will have more resistance to disease throughout their lives.

Once the fry become free swimming, they will instinctively go to the sides of the parents to feed. They will go back and forth, usually in groups between the male and female parents. They do not show a preference for father or mother. There is nothing more beautiful in the fish world than a pair of discus, in full spawning coloration, swimming with a school of small babies at their side.

Things you should remember. First, these babies will be very small and weak, so you will need to turn off all filtration, except for a sponge filter. The biggest mistake that you can make is to do a water change in this aquarium with water that is not EXACTLY the same temperature. Discus fry are extremely sensitive to temperature shock and will die if you do a water change with water that is more than a few degrees different in temperature. With that said, discus fry are also very sensitive to ammonia burn, […]


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Breeding Discus Part 7

Previously we went over your options with raising the fry once they become free swimming. Now we will go over how to artificially raise the fry. Next we will go over raising the fry naturally.

The secrets to artificially raising the fry are what you have all been waiting for. This is where the few who have gotten to this point successfully will usually fail.

There are two keys to raising the fry artificially: Cleanliness is one, changing the water with water that is the same temperature is the other.

Step 1: Using a 1 gallon glass jar, fill it with the tank water the parents (& eggs) are in. Put the eggs, and what they were laid on, in the jar (quickly and calmly). Step 2: Place the jar in a small 5 gallon tank filled with water at 84f (50w heater is required). Also put a hydrosponge in the 5 gallon 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 3: 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 4: Add three drops of methylene blue. Three drops works well and allows you to observe the eggs. Step 5: Wait. They will begin hatching in two days. Step 6: Wait. They will start free swimming in three days. Step 7: 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 only a very small amount. Step 8: 4 hrs later remove the jar from the 5g tank and float a small Rubbermaid tub in […]


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Breeding Discus Part 6

Previously we went over fry prior to them becoming free swimming. Now we will go over what to do after they become free swimming. Next we will go over fry after they become free swimming.

Now the hardest part of discus breeding starts. This is where the few have gotten to this point successfully will usually fail. You now have to make a critical decision. Do you let the discus 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 Discus 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. 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. Fry that feed off the natural slime of their parents 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 every few hours, 24 hours a day. The positive side, your chances of getting the fry past this stage is greatly increased.


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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.


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Breeding Discus Part 4

We have previously gone over the problem of Discus eating their eggs while spawning, or shortly thereafter. We will now go over fertility. Next we will go over what happens once the eggs hatch, but before the fry are free swimming.

Fertility is an issue with Discus and will vary drastically between different pairs. Some pairs will be totally infertile; other pairs will be infertile at first and then will become fertile. On pairs that are fertile, the percentage of fertile eggs will range from just a few to, best case scenario, about 80% fertility.

There are three main causes of infertility in Discus. The first one is mechanical and is caused by the male not doing his job and fertilizing the eggs. The second and third are biological and are due to either the eggs or sperm being genetically or chemically infertile.

When Discus lay eggs, the male should follow the female on a fertilizing run as soon as she does an egg laying run. Some males only make the run after every two or three egg laying runs. It is my experience that these males tend to have a lower fertility rate. Some males will not fertilize at all. These tend to be the males that also are most aggressive on eating the eggs. There is very little you can do to change these males.

Some Discus are infertile due to water chemistry. To optimize fertility, water temps should be kept constant between 84 and 88 degrees. Ph should be kept constant at 6.5. Heavy filtration, if possible, is a big plus. I try and avoid doing water changes at this time.

Discus that are genetically infertile will never be fertile. Please note that keeping water temperatures above 96 degrees for over a week will usually result in […]


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