Discus Breeding

Some Basic Information on Discus Breeding

Having noticed that a lot of people are posting questions about how to tell when you have a pair, even when there is the same post on the same page just written by someone else, I gathered there was a need for some solid information in the one section. I have searched through a large amount of pages on this forum and from google and collaborated all the basic tips regarding discus breeding.

What age and size do discus breed?

Generally 12-18 months, but discus can breed as young as 7-8 months. They generally have to be about 4 inches (~10cm) to breed, however this varies as discus that have been raised in less then ideal water may have stunted growth where they remain smaller then normal but their internal organs still mature.

How do you encourage breeding?

To stimulate spawning in the tank, you need to do daily water changes of about 50% with slightly cooler water than normal. Even a drop of 1 – 2 degrees will help. The quality and variety of their food also needs to be increased, so try frozen brine shrimp, frozen beef heart mix and dry pellets as well as blood worms. If you can get live brine shrimp or mossie wrigglers, so much the better.

How to tell male/female?

The only SURE sign is to watch them spawning, and observe the shape of the genital papillae. The female has a blunt round tube similar to a U, whereas the male’s is more a V shape.

Having said that, there are other signs that you can look for:

  • Elongation of the dorsal and anal fin on mature males.
  • A more rounded dorsal and anal fin on females.
  • Larger body size, and more intense overall colour in the male.
  • Broader head on the male when observed from the front.

Even then once again the only sure way is to observe the genetil papillae.

How to tell if you have a “pair”?

Signs of a breeding pair are;

  • Fast shimmering or shaking of the body.
  • Pecking at a surface in the tank. eg a clay pot, spawning cone or plant leaf.
  • Two fish becoming aggressive towards all the others.
  • Two fish guarding a corner of the tank.

Fish ‘bowing’ towards each other (Could be better described as the fish turning on their sides or learning forward towards each other)

This is the general order in which the events take place.

The first sign of pairing off will be that the pair begin to hang out together and swim together, they may begin to guard a selected corner of the tank, keeping all other fish away. Bowing is another behaviour often observed. They will swim toward each other and perform a slow bow to each other.

Then having selected a site, you will see them shimmy to each other, a quick shaking of the fins and body, usually while facing the object they have selected for spawning. Next comes cleaning the site, starting gently and becoming more vigorous as they get closer to spawning and finally trial runs over the site and then actual egg laying.

Depending on the pair, this behaviour can go on for days before the actual spawning.

Hope this helps everyone.