My discus have spawned five times
in the last 26 days. Both adults are very
attentive to the eggs and wigglers, but
when the fry become free-swimming they
do not attach themselves and feed on the
adults. After a few days the fry perish and
the pair spawn again. What could be the
cause? The adults don’t seem to want to
stay still and let the fry feed on them when
some try to.
Aiken, South Carolina
I’ve been reading TFH for quite some time
and your column is great! Would you foresee
any problems from me feeding my 2½-inch
discus nothing but frozen bloodworms? I
haven’t found any food that discus will eat
as much as bloodworms. I feed about 15
times a day, small portions.
photographs by Grzegorz Sewéryn
Jack Wattley is worldwide
the most recognized name in
discus breeding. Breeder, judge,
collector, scholar, Jack is the
foundation on which modern
discus keeping has been built.
He has been sharing his
experience and knowledge—
and the discus he breeds—with
aquarists throughout the world
for decades, and just one of
his many awards was his
recent Lifetime Achievement
award from the ACA. Long
past the age at which most
people retire, he still serves
as ambassador of discus and
goodwill across the planet.
I haven’t experienced a situation such as
yours, but let’s attempt to solve the problem.
Is it possible to reduce the wattage in your
overhead lighting? I’ve occasionally found
that too much lighting over the discus tanks
can cause the fish to be a bit jumpy at times.
You certainly don’t want your tank to look like
Times Square at night!
And with a 12-hour photo period in mind,
reduce the lighting at night to “total darkness.”
You may find that the tiny fry will, at that time,
find their way to the parents and not attempt to
stray. I like the idea of total darkness in discus
tanks at night for all of our discus.
Are you including any vitamins in your
discus feeding program? If not, you might
want to include vitamin B and magnesium
oxide or magnesium citrate in their diet. Both
vitamin B and magnesium provide anti-stress
properties, which in many cases can reduce
nervousness in cichlids. However, it might be
that your discus foods do include both the
magnesium and the vitamin B .
Is it possible your discus pair is not
producing sufficient protein “mucus” for their
fry to feed on? The pair may need vitamin E
and lecithin along with the magnesium and
the vitamin B . The lecithin and the vitamin
E help in the production of the protein for the
fry to feed on.
Your young, still-growing discus are being
fed approximately 15 times per day, nothing
but bloodworms. However, I would disengage
from having that be their one and only food,
and feed the worms only as a treat food,
perhaps only several times a week.
I believe you must provide other foods to
introduce other ingredients into their daily
diets. It’s not surprising they will not show
any interest in other foods at this time, but
you should begin a day-by-day program of
introducing new foods into their diets. How
do we do this? Certainly not by immediately
taking away their beloved worms.
Introduce a new food—about 10 percent new
food mixed into the worm feedings. Your fish
will probably refuse the new food, but within
several days they will at least inadvertently
consume some of it. When you see them eating
the new food, increase the new food percentage
to 20 to 25 percent. If things are progressing
as hoped and you see no uneatened new food
on the tank bottom, increase the new food to
a 50-percent ratio, after which you should be
able to feed the new food without having to
include any bloodworms. And in introducing a
second or third new food, the same procedure
would be applied.
Granulated and flake foods are, for me, the
best foods to introduce into a discus feeding
program. These granulated and flake foods
are available to discus keepers worldwide. The
very top quality foods have the proper multi-