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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

The discus

Find out more about this hot cichlid!
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - December 4, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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The discus

This cichlid traces its origins to South America, and ranges from the Putumayo River in Peru to the Amazon basin in Brazil. Four basic types are found in the wild. The green variety originates from the upper reaches of the Amazon River, while the brown variety is found closer to the river’s mouth. Reddish discus are found near the Amazonian town of Alenquer, while a bluish strain was discovered in the Amazonian tributaries of north-western Brazil.

Tank requirements
Discus fish are gregarious creatures that live in large groups in their native environment, and display advanced social behaviour. So if you intend to keep this species, make sure you get a few of them. Discus are best housed as a group in a single-species aquarium, but give them a large tank and an efficient filtration system, as they can grow up to a length of 20cm. Opt for a high tank rather than an elongated one, with a volume of at least 150 litres.

Discus are very shy creatures, and tend to hide when they feel stressed. So make it a point to put your tank in a quiet location, away from noise (especially loud and sudden noises) and strong light (like direct sunlight, for example). For good measure, adorn your tank with rocks and decorations, so that when your fish really need to hide, they can easily disappear into nooks and crannies.

Water & dietary requirements
The discus thrives in soft water that’s slightly acidic, kept at a temperature between 24 and 29 deg C.

Feed these fish a diet consisting of high-protein flakes or pellets, with an occasional treat of small live foods. They are known to be fussy eaters, so don’t be surprised to find them going on a hunger strike when you introduce new foods. Unless necessary, don’t vary their meals too drastically, especially for young fish, since they can ill afford to starve themselves while they are still maturing.

Breeding
Breeding pairs should be kept in a separate tank that contains rockwork, such as slate, on which the mating pair can spawn.

During this stage, raise the acidity of the water to the extent that the pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. Warmer water temperatures (at the high end of the recommended range) and live foods will contribute significantly to the success of breeding.

Discus often exhibit great parental instincts, and may been seen helping their fry hatch from their eggs.

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