Tag Archives: Discus

Breeding Angelfish Part 11 –Raising the Fry Naturally

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 Angelfish.

Naturally raising the 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.  Angelfish fry will eat some slime off the parent’s side for the first few days.  Unlike Discus, they can survive without the slime and will immediately start eating other food.  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.

There is also the enjoyment of watching your Angelfish raise the fry. They will stay mostly around the parents for the first month and the parents will zealously guard them. When a baby strays to far, the parents will mouth it back to the main school.  This is done by both the males and females.  There is nothing more rewarding than watching your large Angelfish parents and the fry swimming around the tank as a loose school.  I find this fascinating and it has always been my favorite part or the hobby.

Things you should remember. These babies will be very small and weak, so you will need to turn off all filtration, except for a sponge filter.  You can also take the sponge from a sponge filter and put it around the intake tube of an over the side filter.  Canister filters are two powerful to put the sponge on their intake tube.  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.  Angelfish 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, Angelfish fry are also very sensitive to ammonia burn, so you will need to do daily partial water changes.

Start adding a small amount of live baby brine shrimp to the tank within 24 hours of them becoming free swimming. Drip it directly over where the fry are located. Be careful how much you add as if most is uneaten, it can foul the water and lead to ammonia burn.  After two weeks, slowly reduce the amount of baby brine shrimp you add and slowly start adding crumbled beef heart flake. After a month, they should be eating exclusively beef heart flake.  By the end of one month, they will be about ½ inch.  At this point they are much hardier and you are pretty much out of the woods.  They will reach the size of a dime in about three months.

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!