Lights On, Nobody’s Home

Lights On, Nobody’s Home

In this article we look at the busy working person that is away from the project during the day or even longer. So how does the project run when no ones home? Chris explains how.

A Change Will Do You Good

Obviously water quality and maintenance should be on the top agenda for any fish keeper. But this area is the top key not only to the well being of the discus in our care, but to the fastest way to grow on your fry for selling.
If you have only one tank with one pair breeding, I don’t have to tell you how much time is spent looking after them and all the things you need to do for good production of youngsters. As discussed last month the best way I have found is to use a centralized system of tanks all linked up using a net work of pipe work.
This way all the water is all on one big sump filter and pumped back to all the tanks, making any changes in the water make up slow, due to the large volume of water on the system all mixing together.

This will not stress the fish so much (as long as precautions have been taken with sterilization) Also the biggest bonus with running everything this way is water changes can be made from the main sump and pumped to all the tanks on a drip feed. So the occupants will not even know that a water change is in fact taking place, making even less stress for them.
With pairs they will not be disturbed and can be left to do the business of looking after their new family and have the water changed with out them noticing. Not every breeder will use this method, but this is the way I have done it and still do when space allows.

Wiring Up The Equipment

The wiring up of any equipment, especially where electric and water is in close relation ship needs to be fitted by a qualified electrician. Or at the very least some one who knows what they are doing.
Laws in this are changing in this area of equipment and soon large breeders will need to comply with the BS 7671 regulations. In any case it would make sense to have your equipment as water proof as possible.
The thing to remember is in some cases you may not have a second chance if you make an electrical mistake and get electrocuted. One way around this is to use external connection boxes, these are fantastic to use and very cheap to buy. All the wires go into the box via a water proof washer which can be tightened up, so any splashes or water can not get to and terminals or connections.
External switches are a god send too if you can afford them, as these have a protective window over them also making it not only safe to stop water getting to them. But if you have wet hands and rush to turn off the lights etc, enough said.

Water Changes

Water changes are a top of the list job, so the easier this is the better. The way I do mine can not be done by every one because I am very lucky to live in a soft water area and our water is perfect for discus, (with a few adjust ments) My water goes through a HMA water purifier and goes direct to the end chamber of the sump.
This mixes with the filtered water, thus adding fresh water to the main system. With part fresh extra water being added to the main tanks the surplus needs to come out some where. So I have drilled a hole as an overflow to the first chamber of the sump filter to take away the extra purified water I have added. So water changes this way are very simple and you don’t have to be there to do It, making holidays and weekends away easy and stress free not only for the discus but for the keeper also.


Feeding is the second part to a successful operation. The more you feed along side the water changes the sooner they grow, the more they grow the sooner they go and you see a return on the work you have done.I use sinking cat fish tablets if I have to go away.
The best one I have found is the tetra sinking tablet for ground feeders. Although meant for cat fish and the like I have found this to be a good food for feeding while you are away for short periods, i.e. work etc You will not be feeding this as a main diet but this will well supplement the feeding until you can feed the newly hatch brine shrimp.Tetra baby food can also be used to bring on baby discus to a good size, okay this is not the fastest way to grow them, but if time is short feeding this way can be more conveniant.As time will be needed to hatch out the tiny brine shrimps, which will need to be organised to flow through a good supply ready for feeding. I find a two day cycle is enough, so I use two pop bottles to hatch the eggs in.
With two bottles on the go you can use one and at the end of the day and start off with more eggs in the second. The next day I use the second bottle giving enough time for the bottle you have started off today 48 hours to hatch out ready to feed. Sounds a lot of trouble but the best way of feeding discus fry for fast growth and you will soon get into the swing of it making this part of a routine every day.
With out a doubt the top way and the best way of normal feeding have to be newly hatched brine shrimp. Also the risk of introducing disease is very low using newly hatched brine shrimp this way, and just using the tablet foods when you are not there. So you can begin to see even if you are not at home all the time, it is possible to still breed discus on a large scale. Obviously it would be ideal to be at home more, but the object of this is to see if it is possible to run a large discus breeding project while working a full time job and can’t be home all of the time.

The Lights On But Nobody’s Home.

Any lighting can be on timers, making sure the lighting is on at the right time. This is a good thing to do any way as the discus do get used to night and day. this would be managed perfectly and for a few pounds it is well worthwhile. Also make sure you have a night light on, breeding discus will not like to be kept in the dark.If you do they will certainly eat any young and will be spooked when light is put upon them.

Keeping It real

Line breeding is used to fix a new strain.This has to be done breaking more rules of the book, what a good job discus can’t read! Years ago I tried to invent a new strain and i was going to call it thunder and lightning. This was to be achieved by cross breeding a snow white discus with a red royal. All the youngsters were grown on and with selective breeding, picked out all the ones with as much white but with red lines and showing as little blue as possible.
The idea was to grow these on and breed from these again, again watching the third generation to fix a discus that was white with red flashes or red lines through it hence thunder and lightning Line breeding should be done at this stage to fix new strains by putting the grand mother discus back to great grand son. In the past I have found this to be the best way to line breed but as always, breeding this way will mean more culls of lower quality fish.Once the new discus is made and the desired discus invented brother and sister can be bred and the best thunder and lightning discus be sold on as such, with the rest being sold on as simply as white variants.

Did You Know

Earthing probes are a good investment and only cost £12-£15, any electrical equipment shortening out will be taken care of.
Water proof switches are expensive, but could save your life.
Even in a clean bare breeding tank bristle worms can still be found, try silicone around the bottom of the spawning pot and let it dry on a plastic bag. When dry peel off and it will sit perfectly on the tank bottom, stopping bits of food getting stuck under the pot = no bristle worms.
To reduce cost try solar power, your heating bills may be halved running your fish house this way.
Keep the in side of your breeding tank glass clean, build ups of bacteria on it can kill newly layed discus eggs, making them turn white.

Chris Ingham

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