For several years, I have kept hybrid
discus successfully (some of the best
hybrid discus I have came from Wattley’s).
However, I would very much like to obtain
some wild discus that are not hybrids.
I like some of the colorful hybrids,
especially the solid reds and blues, but
miss the original coloration and design
of the wild discus. I am wondering why
these are no longer readily available
and where I might be able to purchase
them. Nothing, in my opinion, is quite
as beautiful as a pair of Symphysodon
aequifasciatus. Am I in the minority?
I must say that I agree with you regarding
the beautiful coloring of wild-caught green
discus Symphysodon aequifasciatus. I have
caught many of them in waters near Coari
and Lago Tefé, Amazonas. But please keep in
mind that only about 15 to 20 percent of the
green discus I’ve caught look like the prized
specimens one sees in aquarium shops or in
magazines or books. As a matter of fact, many
wild green discus have virtually no vibrant
green coloring at all, with only a muddy green
coloring in the anal and dorsal fins.
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 have a problem unusual among most
discus hobbyists. I have very soft water
directly from my tap—it measures at about
77 to 82 microSiemens. I know that discus
need the minerals that are found in harder
water for proper health. Is it okay to keep
adult discus in water this soft? If not, what
can be done to raise the hardness level?
Also, what would be the ideal microSiemens
level for adult discus?
I was about to ask you to add some tap
water to increase the microSiemens count
in your aquarium, but I see that you have
already done that for your discus. With a
microSiemens reading of approximately 77 to
82, your tap water already has minerals in it.
Your email address doesn’t indicate your
locality, but wherever you live, you should
be aware that you probably have what looks
to me to be very ideal discus water—directly
from the tap! There are certain parts of
Bangkok, Thailand that have water with a
microSiemens reading of about 65 to 75, and
the commercial discus breeders in those parts
of the city all take advantage of their beautiful
and plentiful water.
Those Bangkok breeders use hoses with
an inside diameter of approximately 1 to 5
inches and drain the water out of their discus
tanks each day until the fish are jumping
and sliding about in the bottom of the tanks.
At that time, another worker is ready to
refill the tanks—all with that wonderful
soft water. In situations like this, there is
absolutely no need for water filtration of
any kind. One commercial discus breeder in
Penang, Malaysia took this system a giant
step further, and in using his local water, he
made two giant water changes each day. And
again, no need for any filtration.
In raising our young discus, however, I like
the microSiemens count to be higher than what
your water is. I believe that all young, growing
discus need the addition of more calcium and
magnesium in their water for proper tissue
and bone development. Calcium citrate and
magnesium citrate—in equal parts—are thus
added to the water.
I have been keeping tropical fish as a
hobby for over 30 years. Last year, I took
the plunge into raising discus fish, and
after several costly mistakes in buying