at times. I’ve found in the past that the problem
nearly always occurs in adult discus that are
long past their prime. Do you have an idea as to
how old your largest discus is?
I don’t believe your problem is due to the
phosphate level in the aquarium. If it was, then
all your discus would probably be affected.
How about the frequency and the percentage of
your aquarium water changes? If, by chance,
you have let the fish’s environmental conditions
slide a bit in the aquarium, then a bacterial
infection could quickly take place.
However, before introducing any form of
medication, I would make a 35- to 50-percent
water change, and at the same time replace
part of the filtering material—depending on
what type of filtration you use. I don’t believe
that garlic, which I believe to be a magical
tool in successful discus keeping, would be of
any help in your case.
If the problem is a bacterial infection of the
eye, then you can probably go in one of several
directions. You might want to try a broad
spectrum antibiotic—one that is supposed
to be effective against both gram-negative
and gram-positive bacteria, and follow the
directions on the container. Or you can take
several days to lower the aquarium pH to a
reading of 5.0—or lower, to a 4. 5 reading
if possible. If any of my fish had the popeye
problem, I would take the second route.
A wild-caught brown discus Symphysodon aequifasciatus.
I have just been through one of the most
exciting times of my life, followed by much
disappointment. Having kept three discus
over many years, and keeping the water as
much to their liking as was possible for me,
I watched them grow from one-inch babies
to adults of 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
Although I thought breeding was only
for the experts, I always hoped it might
happen. Imagine my excitement when I
saw one fish cleaning a vertical piece of an
ornament. She was also quivering when
approached by one of the other fish. At
this stage I was still guessing at their sex.
Then with no warning at all, she started
laying eggs on the cleaned site. You can
imagine my feelings as I watched her
standing on her tail and visibly laying
many, many eggs.
Almost at once, the other discus, which
I had assumed was the male, roughly
pushed her out of the way and proceeded
to eat the eggs. The female immediately
went to another site (uncleaned) and laid
more eggs, which were eaten by the other
fish. Have I got a pair of discus which
A pair of discus guard their clutch of eggs; often, when a female discus’s eggs are being eaten by
her presumed “mate,” the second fish turns out to be another female.
may breed in the future, or is there some tube, is visibly larger and thicker than the
incompatibility problem that I can’t see? tube of her mate.
David Bray If you find in time the two fish are both
Cohuna, Victoria, Australia females, then, what about the third fish? At
this point you do have several options, so
don’t despair. The second fish, the egg-eater,
can very well be a male. Many times the
confirmed male discus needs time to settle
down and fertilize the eggs. So please don’t
give up with that fish. If the second fish does
prove to be a male and eventually attempts
to fertilize the spawn, you may find either
that the eggs are infertile due to a faulty male
sperm count, or that the male is not in the
proper position to deposit his sperm. Perhaps
the third fish will prove to be the savior. But if
You ask if you now have a pair of discus
that may breed in the future. I’ll say that
I don’t know if you do have a pair of
discus, but we all do know you have a
female discus! I have seen many cases like
yours where the second fish (the egg-eating
culprit) was also a female. Have you seen
the spawning tubes of the two fish? The
male tube is much thinner and shorter than
that of the female. Her tube, the ovipositor