For many, discus fish are considered the king of the aquarium due to their unique coloration, size, and shape. This South American Cichlid originates from the Amazon River basin, but most aquarium species are selectively bred for color variations by fellow aquarists and fish farms.

For many years now, discus have been part of my collection, but due to space constraints, I could not attempt to breed the species. In a way, my current breeding pair was an accidental pairing. While I set up my new fish room, three large adult discus fish were sharing a 75G tank. Two fish were recently acquired at an auction. Since I was unsure of their age, and they were of a smaller size, they were placed into a 55G community tank for growth before adding them to the rest of the group in the 75G tank.

Of the three in the 75G, it appeared that a pair had formed. Two of the three fish secluded themselves to one side of the tank, and the other fish were giving them space. Once this perceived pair started cleaning spots on the driftwood in the tank, I removed the one outcast discus to the 55G community tank. Still, many weeks later, this original pair has not spawned, but continue to perform their ‘mating dance.’ They swim together, and continue to clean the driftwood in the tank. I think they may both be of the same sex, because I have not seen any eggs in the tank.

Meanwhile, of the three fish in the 55G, another pair had formed and were guarding the eggs in one side of the tank. The 55G has since been divided, and the pair have spawned every ~5 days since. Each consecutive spawn has been more successful, and I attribute it to the new pair figuring out parenthood.

Here are some photos of the different locations my pair has utilized for their spawning site.

spawn 1
First spawning attempt
Second spawning attempt
Third spawning attempt

I have only noticed one or two surviving fry from these initial spawns. Simply Discus forum has many accounts that are similar, and I assume the pair just needs a bit more practice.

I’ll continue my account of the behavior with fry in the second part of this article. I just need to give nature more time, so that I am talking from experience and not expectations.

Current water parameters and feeding regiment is as follows:

  • Water changes are performed as often as I can ‘make’ RO water (~3-4 times a week)
  • Each water change is about 50% tank volume, and I do not change water while there are eggs, only when there are wigglers or fry. I always attempt to keep eggs/wigglers submerged.
  • pH is between 6-7; TDS on my meter reads ~50; temperature is consistent at 79 degrees F;
  • feed 2-3 times a day; mix of various flake, cichlid bits/granules, live blackworms


Reference: Discus(fish) on wikipedia

© Photos by the author

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