Discus Fry

Making Your Discus Fry Fly

Chris Ingham shares more secrets and explains how to grow on the young discus fry ready to sell on to the shops and pull back some of that money that has been spent on the project so far.

There are many ways, right or wrong to breed and raise discus, many new breeders in the UK are now breeding discus similar to our commercial cousins in the Far East. In China, Singapore etc they will look at you blank if you start talking about biological filtration systems. Because they simply have none. So why is this What are we doing differently in this country to them First of all heat! The discus rearing tanks in the Far East has approximately 90% of the water changed every day; they don’t have to worry about the cost of heating the water. With tropical temperatures perfect for keeping and breeding discus. They use bare bottom tanks with no filtration, only a spawning media or cone and a large air stone for aeration. This is the top key to breeding discus on a large scale. With no heating bills to pay and cost minimal. This is a fact that we find it hard to compete with over here. Coupled with the cost of living is far less than ours and even with shipping, taxes etc it is cost effective for the retailer to import in, rather than breed his own. Plus the time and space needed to grow on the youngsters to a sell-able size is not possible to many shop keeper and outlets. But many will buy in English bred discus off hobbyist to sell on; this is how it all started for me. But with electric being so expensive and equipment and foods pushing up the cost how can this be made into a profitable venture.

Self Financing

I started off with one pair of discus, they bred and I grew on the young. With everything going to plan the first time. This gave me the confidence to use the money I made on the first batch to buy a second pair of a different strain. This give me a choice of stock to offer the shops. With two pairs on the go really made things speed up and before I knew it I had paid for a complete fish house, just by breeding and selling on my own baby discus. Swapping them or trading them in to the local shops helped. They gave me a good deal on part exchange and with out having to spend out this paid for more equipment and fish needed to grow the breeding project.

As explained last month proper insulation will help to keep your heating bills down.Which helped a bit because I was changing my water all the time, the same way they do in the Far East. They feed the discus as much as they can feed all day and change the water. So the secret is feed and water change, feed and water change. Doing this will make your young discus grow very rapidly, and the soon they grow the sooner they go.You get paid and that’s the best way to do it.


The importance of sterilization in the tanks when breeding on a large scale is very important, as diseases will hamper any breeding project and can cause major upheavals. Leaving nothing to chance I use a UV sterilizer and an ozone unit.The benefit of the later is that ozone raises the redox level and encourages spawning apart from killing off any parasites, viruses and harmful bacteria that the UV may miss. Ozone is an unstable form of oxygen know as o3 (zero three) and can be harm full to humans if not used properly. Ozone can be used in many ways, I prefer to pump it through a 2 air stone and blast it through the final chamber in my sump filter. Any parasites or harmful bacteria will be killed off as they pass through the ozone bubbles before returning back to the tanks. Anything coming into contact with these deadly bubbles is killed. The only draw back is any air pumped through an ozone unit must not come in to contact with fish. The o3 will burn off the scales. So if you do use ozone directly into the tank make sure it passes through an air up lift or similar and the out let is above water level. This way the o3 is exposed to the air above the water line and can not harm the fish, and again any parasites, viruses and harmful bacteria are killed off as the water is lifted up the up lift before the filtered water drops back into the tank.

What A Nice Pair!

To obtain a good profic breeding pair you will need to ether buy at least six discus from different places and let them pair off them selves or buy a proven breeding pair. I have favoured buying young discus from many different out lets of asked if they are from different sources. Placed the group in a large tank and grown them on until they have paired off them selves. A pair will take over a spawning site and no other discus will be able to get any where near the cone or spawning area. After some tail slapping and a few practice runs as if they are laying eggs up the cone you know a pair are forming.
The best place to obtain a proven breeding pair is from a discus specialist or any good tropical fish retailer that knows his discus. The internet is another good place to find proven pairs and much help from breeders and members will help new comers to the hobby. The UK discus association or UKDA has such a web site, where breeders, retailers and hobbyist share views, help and advise on the forum. If you breed brother to sister expect to have a higher cull rate to unrelated pairs because you will find that fins or misshapen tails and bodies will be more evident when breeding this way. The best way to select your breeding stock is to visit as many out lets as possible and see who has pairs, ideally with young on them. This will give you a chance to see how good the parents are with the youngsters. This way you are in with a good chance of selecting a good pair that will work well for you. The last thing you want is a pair that will breed and then eat all the eggs, you then have the choice of splitting the pair or covering up the eggs with a guard until they are free swimming. The less complex it is, the easier it is going to be for you to produce.
Don’t miss the final part of this three part series, an absent project. When I look at the hobbyist that work all day and can not be there to work the fish room like the Far East. Don’t miss it.

Did you know.

  • Sinking cat fish tablets will feed your growing babies while you are away all day at work.
  • Newly hatched brine shrimp is the best first food for discus, but many preparatory foods are available and easy to use.
    Remember for every pair of discus you will need at least 2 – 4 four foot growing on tanks.
  • Expect to spend plenty of time with your discus when breeding on a large scale, easy for the single person or you could soon be single if you allow the hobby to take over.
  • Don’t feed your baby discus fish for the first week after they are free swimming, let them use up the yoke sack and feed on the mucus that the parents are making.

Chris Ingham

Author of Discus World, the complete up to date manual for the discus keeper.