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My Experience Raising And Keeping Discus
by Ryan Willimas

I started out back in 1998 wanting to get back into keeping cichlids again. I hadn’t kept a fish tank since I was a boy and I was looking for another hobby. Growing up, I had three tanks and many betta bowls. One of the fish I kept were a pair of wild caught brown Discus. They weren’t colorful, they didn’t have an attitude compared to my Oscars, and they didn’t spawn for me like many of my other fish, but they were the most graceful fish I had. They really caught my eye every time I looked into the tank. They loved to make eye contact with me it seemed and they were beautiful.

A couple of years ago my wife asking me to get another hobby because my computer hobby was costing way too much money. She felt that if she encouraged me to find another hobby, that I would stop spending so much money on my current hobby. Little did she know that I would get bit by the cichlid bug and start spending all kinds of money on fish and tanks. When I started thinking about getting back into this hobby I knew I wanted a large tank, Discus, and live plants. I did my homework when it came to Discus and knew that the recommendation was roughly ten gallons of water per adult size Discus. This was the first rule I didn’t pay attention to. I went out and bought a 65 gallon tank, spent way too much on it, waited two months to let it cycle, and then set out to find some Discus. The prices I found in the pet stores were a little high for me and I wanted to see the parents of whatever ones I was going to buy. I found a breeder that had his hatchery not too far from where my parents lived so I made a weekend out of it. I was amazed at this guy’s 200+ tank hatchery. I walked around for probably 45 minutes before I decided on six striated turquoise, 2 blue diamonds, and 2 golden dragons (clean pigeon bloods). Over the next year I managed to kill all but six of them. They just kept getting sick and I kept trying to treat them for one sickness and then another and another. All the rest ended up either becoming runts or stunted.

I felt that I was going to have to give up keeping Discus because it seemed that I was just not meant to have them. I talked to some other Discus keepers and told them my story. I learned that I was treating them incorrectly for sicknesses and that I probably started out with a bad batch of youngsters to begin with. By this point I had bought and setup three other tanks spread throughout my house. Things got old when it came to changing water, so I decided to make a 7’ by 14’ room in my basement into a fish room. It took a lot of badgering on my part to talk my wife into this one. After I got the room started, I wanted more Discus. So, I started my search for another breeder. This time, I was going to check the breeder out. I was going to talk to some of their customers and I was going to compare their operation to other breeders.

After about three months of checking out different breeders, I selected one in San Francisco called Universal Discus. I talked to the breeder a couple times on the phone and he gave me the impression that he was still a hobbyist and not a businessman. I talked to about a dozen of his customers over email or on the phone and I didn’t find a single unsatisfied customer. As luck would have it, I needed to go to San Francisco on businessss, and so I made an appointment to see his hatchery. Samson and I sat and talked Discus for almost eight hours one night in his hatchery. I was amazed at all the different color varieties he had. He told me he had been keeping Discus for almost 40 years and had started out when he was a child in Hong Kong with a tank full of wild Discus. He admitted to me that he killed most if not all of them. I ended up coming home from that trip with 11 Discus. Six Angel Blue Diamonds, 3 clean pigeon bloods, and a pair of a turquoise variety that were dancing for each other in a tank. They weren’t a proven pair Samson told me but he had high hopes for them. The male was the biggest Discus I had ever seen and I instantly knew I had to have him. I came home, got these guys setup in a couple different tanks and have been trying to figure out how to get more Discus ever since.

Now, I did say this was going to be an article on raising Discus and I think I have just given my experience with Discus and not a lot of information on how to raise them. For that information I think you should read some of the books available out there, read a lot of what’s on the Internet, and talk to people like myself when you have questions. What I’ve found is that most Discus hobbyists are all too eager to talk about and show off their fish. I would also recommend visiting some breeders and hobbyists if you’re new to Discus and see what they’re doing. After you’ve researched the many options for keeping and breeding Discus, you develop your own method that works for you or follow a proven method that works for someone else. □

 

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