Breeding Discus Fish

Discus Fish

Description : Discus is the king of fresh water aquariums. And breeding them can be one of the most rewarding hobby both for fun and income.

Type: Freshwater

Size: Up to 17 cm (6.5″)

Difficulty Rating: Moderate

Breeding Difficulty: Difficult

Temperature: 27-31°C (80-88°F)

Water pH: 6.0-7.0

Water Hardness: 1 – 8 dH

Water Cleanliness : Since they are very sensitive for the cleanliness of water, ammonia must be 0 ppm, nitrite must be very low (0 ppm) and nitrate must be <20 ppm. To keep the water clean, you must make a regular water change. 30-50% per day and 90% per week could keep the water parameters in an acceptable level.

Breeding Temperature : 27°C (80°F)

Breeding Tank : Minimum 120 liters (30 Gallons) equipped with sponge filter, heater, breeding cone, thermometer. Instead of breeding cone, you use PVC pipe, clay flower pot or other suitable spawning surfaces. Minimum depth must be 45 cm (16 inches). It is better to consider the heating of whole room for bigger production sizes and more breeding tanks, instead of heating each tank. 60 x 50 x 50 cm (24 x 20 x 20 inches) could be good size.

Breeding Water Parameters : Water must be 6-6.5 pH, conductivity must be between 60-100 micro Siemens. With higher pH and conductivity values, you may have eggs and fry but successful breeding can not be guarantied. Normally aquarists use reverse osmosis water and tap water mixture to have the values. Also, it could be useful to have an electronic conductivity meter. Very low conductivity may result sudden changes on water pH, because of that minimum 40-50 micro Siemens must also be a threshold value.

Discus Egg In Community Aquarium
Discus Egg In Community Aquarium

Breeding Parent : 1 male to 1 females, approximately on the same size. Healthy, male with bright colors and both with good body form. Discus select its partner by itself. Forcing for pairing mostly will not be successful. Better way to have a pair to buy 6-8 small discus and grow them together. Then among them you can see pairs are swimming and playing together. Sometimes they can lay eggs on your main aquarium. Another option is to buy a known pair from an aquarium shop or from an aquarist. A good pair of discus usually mates for life.

It is almost impossible to distinguish male Discus from females. As spawning time comes, the female’s abdomen becomes slightly enlarged because of the eggs. A few days before she lays her eggs, she develops a short tube in front of her anal fin.

Feeding Discus : Discus needs live foods like mosquito larvae, adult brine shrimp, white worms as nutrition for successful breeding. Also, beef heart and flake foods rich on animal protein must be included for their feeding.

Number of fry per Spawn : 50-300 (depends on size and age of female)

Breeding Efficiency: Females start to lay first eggs 9-12 months of age. They can have spawn every 3 weeks, 5-6 times per year.

Process : Before adding parents to breeding tank, feed them with high quality, highly nutritious food especially live food for conditioning.

Discus Breeding Cone
Discus Breeding Cone

Place the spawning medium in the center of the aquarium. The discus will spawn eggs on one side or part of the cone.

Before spawning the pair will begin to clean the breeding surface. First female will pass through spawning area and lays the eggs and then male will pass and will fertilize the eggs. It will repeat for many times.

After spawning both parents will protect and aerate the eggs. Non fertilized eggs will turn to white color and parents will clean them by eating. Sometimes parents can eat the eggs. In such case, in order to protect eggs from parents you may and a mesh around eggs.

Eggs will start to hatch after 48-56 hours and small moving tails on the cone will be visible. These small wigglers will be attached to cone with their heads. Parents will collect the falling wigglers back to the nest.

2-3 days later fry start to swim freely and start to attach parent’s skin. Before free swimming it could

Discus Fish Breeding
Discus Fish Breeding

be good to decrease the water level to 15 cm (6 inches). Also, you must not keep dark objects around the aquarium. Babies will try to find parents and will be started feeding from parent’s skin mucus. After babies starting to feed by parents, you may slowly increase the water level to normal and also you may start to add normal water to tank. Low conductivity and low pH only necessary till this stage.

Feeding the Fry : After fry start to swim parent’s skin mucus will be first and only food for them. After 7-8 days you may start to give live baby brine shrimp. After 2 weeks of free swimming, babies can be separated from breeding aquarium.

The fry should be fed three to five times daily, amount must be just enough to consume all within 5 minutes. Never let excess food to stay on the tank.

Additional Sources :

Egg laying:

Discus Fry First Day Free Swimming:

Discus Fry Feeding On Parents:


Discus Fry Feeding With Brine Shrimps:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.