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Breeding Discus

Breeding discus can be a very rewarding experience both financially and in other non financial ways. Just raising baby discus until they are of the breeding age can be a challenge in itself. If you actually manage to raise a group of discus, get some of the to pair off, and then successfully mate, you can safely call yourself a master in the fish keeping area.

Of course there is the financial aspect of it all as well. You will be able to sell baby discus at an age of about 12 weeks for anywhere from $20 to $35. Since female discus can lay anywhere up to 400 eggs at a time, if you can successfully care and nurture just half of them to sell them off, you have just made a cool $4,000 to $7,000. Of course successfully raising 200 baby discus is nigh impossible, as not that many eggs will successfully hatch, but you can expect to net $500 for each spawning.

Here are some things to consider in terms of breeding discus: Determining the sex of a discus, Mating Pairs and Spawning.

Determining the Sex of a Discus:

Some people still argue that it is possible to accurately determine the sex of a discus. However, even veteran discus breeders aren’t able to tell with 100% certainty what sex a discus is or isn’t. The good thing is, you aren’t really required to know the sex of a discus. The fish seem to be perfectly able to discern the difference between males and females amongst themselves, and that’s really the only important thing.

The only real foolproof way of discerning the sex of a discuss is spawning them yourself and then witnessing if they lay eggs or not.

Generally speaking, you may be able to discern the sex of a discus is by judging its size. Bigger discus will tend to be male and smaller discus will tend to be female.. But even that isn’t infallible.

So, save yourself some major headaches and don’t even try to discern the sex of a discus. Just let them go about their business.

Mating Pairs:

When buying your discus if you purchased between six to eight discus you will have a better chance of getting a mating pair. In fact, your chances are 88 percent better, than if you just purchase 2 discus, or even four discus. If you notice that there are two discus sort of paired off and separated from the group, and they act aggressively towards another discus that enters their space, then you may be witnessing the beginning of a mating pair coming into being.

Another sign that your discus may be paring off is if they do the special “discus dance”. This dance is really interesting to witness among discus. The discus dance is very involved, it starts with the discus approaching each other and sort of bobbing up and down in front of one another. The second phase of this dance is they turn away from one another and then circle back and repeat the bobbing process. To tell the difference between just normal bobbing around and the discus dance, simply look at the discus’ fins. If the fins seem to be changing to a bit of a darker shade, then you are probably witnessing the discus mating dance.

As it gets closer to breeding time, the skin on both discus will turn remarkably darker, and begin to cover with the nutrient rich slime, which the new baby discus will feed off of.


Generally anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before spawning, the discus will select a flat vertical surface to prepare as a spawning location. This flat surface could be many things in your discus aquarium such as; a cone, a piece of flat slate you have specifically put in the tank for the purpose, a flower pot, a plant leaf, and sometimes, when there is no other suitable place for spawning, a heater cord. If there isn’t a suitable spawning place to be found in the discus aquarium, some discus will even select the glass of the discus aquarium itself.

Once the discus have selected a spawning location, they will begin to meticulously clean the surface of the area by pecking away at the dirt on the surface. Even if the area looks clean to us, the discus have a much better vantage point and will clean away dirt that even we can’t see.

When it is finally time for the discus to spawn, the flurry of cleaning activity will intensify and the actions will become more frantic. Once the spawning location is suitable clean and prepared, the female discus will then place her vent against the flat surface, and begin the arduous task of laying her eggs.

The male discus can be fairly fickle. In ideal conditions, the male discus follows behind the female and immediately fertilizes each batch of eggs that she lays.

However, if the mood strikes him, and no one really knows why, he may just follow behind the female and eat the freshly laid eggs.

The egg eating behavior manifests itself equally among younger, inexperienced male discus, and older, more experienced discus.

The larger a female discus grows to be, the more eggs she will be able to lay once she reaches sexual maturity. So, good nutrition and constant feedings when discus are young, go a long way to help you breed discus successfully later on down the road.

The eggs which are going to make it to maturity will generally hatch within the first 60 hours of being laid by the female discus.

This period of time is a time of intense, hard labor for the soon be parents. Both the female and male discus will continually fan the eggs to keep water moving over them and once they hatch, they will worry over the spawn.

Try not to disturb the discus during this time, as any sudden disturbances could lead to the discus simply eating their eggs.

If the egg is healthy, you should see the development of an embryo in the discus eggs within the first 24 hours. If however the eggs are not healthy, and not going to hatch, they will remain white and be attacked by fungus in this 24 hour period.

After the 60 some odd hour incubation period, you will then see the tails of the new baby discus working madly to free themselves from the surface of the spawning surface. As they work themselves free the discus will take them up into their mouths and then spit them back out into the nursery area they have set up.

After a while, there will be too many discus in the nursery area, the discus will move them off to another secure location of their choosing.

As soon as the new baby discus are able to swim freely on their own, they will begin to feed off the slimy substance on their parents’ sides as mentioned earlier on in the guide.

Usually the discus will take turns for the feeding. They seem to have an intricate way of indicating when it is time for the other parent to switch off and continue the feeding process. This is either accomplished by them flapping their fins back and forth rapidly, or by them swimming up to the other partner rapidly to switch off.

The new baby discus will feed off of their parents for roughly a week, and then they will be ready to start eating regular discus food, such as freshly hatched brine shrimp.