Discus are a difficult fish to raise at the best of times, but when it comes to helping them to breed and rearing their young things tend to get even trickier. Raising discus fry is only something you should attempt if you already have some good experience either keeping other species of fish or your discus may die.
Firstly in order to be able to have a go at raising discus fry you will need a fish of each gender. If they are kept in the same aquarium then naturally they will begin to breed. However it is important that the environment be correct, so ensure that your aquarium is at least 36’’ x 18’’ x 18’’ and that the temperature is at least 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Another way to set the ‘mood’ for your fish is to keep the temperature at around 6.5 PH. Ensure you perform constant water changes and monitor the temperature, nitrate and acidity of your aquarium regularly. This will become even more important once you are raising the discus fry which will be very susceptible to harm.
Finally, ensure that your discus have a good amount of protein in their diet (the best source is beef heart, though spinach or bloodworms will also work). If you’ve done all this correctly then you should find that your discus will section off an area of the aquarium for the breading process. This is the critical period so ensure you keep the conditions just right.
Within their sectioned off area the female discus will choose a ‘spawning site’ where she will deposit her eggs in rows, before the male will swim behind and fertilise them. Again, keep the water at around 6.5 PH – any higher and the eggs won’t be able to be fertilized and later on can prevent the fry from hatching. From here the discus will protect and care for their eggs and will fan fresh water across them to provide oxygen. They will also dispose of unfertilized eggs which can otherwise attract bacteria. Within 48 hours the fry should hatch, and they will then remain with their parents for around 12 hours. From this point onwards the discus will find places to ‘hide’ their young, so ensure that they have some shelter and other ‘hidden’ areas available. The adult discus will then secrete food for the fry from their scales – remember that this is produced by the adults reprocessing the food you give them, so make sure you keep their diet well maintained throughout this period.
Once your fry are a bit older they will begin to eat food away from their parents. A great thing to feed them when you are raising discus fry is hatched brine shrimp. Alternatively they will also eat powdered flake food and beef heart. To feed your fry beef heart however it will need to be first liquidized in a blender to prevent it from being too large for them.
If you do all this correctly and are vigilant in raising discus fry, they should be around 2 inches across by 12 weeks. At this point you may then treat them as adult discus, and they are old enough to be sold in pet shops or elsewhere.