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How to choose the right discus?

Elvis Elvis

Discus fish are not mass-produced. However, every month several thousand young Discus fish are sold around the world, there are some basic rules must be observed by the potential purchasers.

Discus should be brought only where the purchaser can be sure that he receives the fish he is being offered. If he buys Turquoise offspring, Turquoise is what should be swimming in his tank a few months later. After all, there is no way of telling the potential colour of small Discus that is only six weeks old and 2 inches (5 cm) long.

It’s also worthwhile to if possible to catch one in a net and hold it up against the light. Take a good look at it. Even at this early age, the colour of the scales will already tell you what morph you have.

Even small Turquoise Discus must show shimmering greenish colour. The true Turquoise sheen must be visible right across the body. Not simply the head colour but the whole body must be examined.

This method also holds good for large discus. As lighting plays an important part in the brilliance of Discus colouring, the existing colours will be properly seen when the fish is removed from the water. In another tank, under better lighting, a previously unremarkable fish will display its full beauty. The time of day and the condition of the fish also play a part. The fish are particularly good in the evening hours. They will also put on their full finery if they are healthy and feel at home.

How to choose the right discus?

Discus fish must be round. The correct body shape must be visible even in the young fish. Drawn out Discus will have stunted growth. This impairment supports itself in the form of enlarged eyes. If the eyes seem too large compared with the rest of the body, the fish has not grown properly. This will indicate an illness at some time and refused to take food for a while. This damage is already beyond repair. Even when very well kept, damaged fish will not grow back into shape.

However, the defect fortunately is not inherited. All that distorted Discus fish pass on to their offspring are their natural, inborn features. Damage caused by human hands during raising and keeping is not passed on to the young. If the offspring are looked after well, they will attain the normal sturdy Discus shape and differ quite clearly from that of their parents.

When buying young fish, you must take particular care that they do not have knife-edge backs. Seen from the front or from above, the knife edge will be clearly visible. Young Discus whose head and back sections have receded in this way are beyond recovery and unsuited for subsequent breeding. Seen from the front and from above, the head section of a healthy Discus must be clearly rounded outwards, the shape of the head being round especially above the eyes.

Buying Discus takes time. An observer sitting quietly in front of a tank for several minutes will soon see what is wrong in it. Caution is necessary if the fish are timid and hide in a dark area of the aquarium. Healthy Discus also show their vertical stripes, as these are signals used during battles for territory.

Visible vertical stripes indicate that there is nothing wrong with the fish’s health. If, however, the fish are entirely dark and the colour does not quickly return to normal, it is better not to buy them. Healthy Discus produce reddish brown to black excrement, depending on the food. Large lumps of excrement in the water or hanging from the fish may be an indication of their health. Whitish, transparent, and gelatinous strings of faeces indicate an infestation with parasites. These parasites can certainly be dealt with, but the new owner must know how to go about it. Newcomers to Discus-keeping would do better to try their luck elsewhere.

Many Discus fish have small holes around the head. Why this should be so is difficult to say. As Hexamita has so far not been discovered in Discus, we must assume that the holes are the result of attacks by a Spiro nucleus or other causes. Small holes the size of a pinhead around the eyes may be regarded as harmless and normal; they are probably a sign of aging, although such holes are found even in yearlings. Larger crater-type holes, on the other hand, are more serious. Discus with large, unsightly holes may be suffering from hole-in-the-head disease. If white lumps or growths appear in the holes on the head, the fish should not be purchased.

A further point that requires the attention of a Discus purchaser is the gills of the fish. Discus are prone from gill worms and other gill parasites. Fish infested with parasites or worms commonly breathe on one side only. This means that only one gill cover is spread for breathing. The second cover is held close to the head. Rubbing of the gill area against items of aquarium furniture also indicates infestation.

Gill worms or parasites are a nuisance; they make life hard for the Discus. The problem can be cleared up with medications, but the new owner will have to spend some time treating the fish. This also presupposes that a quarantine tank is available, as the fish must first spend two weeks in quarantine before they can be put together with other fishes already present.

As the purchase price for Discus is generally quite high, the purchaser may be well advised to observe the fish at feeding time. The well-being of adult specimens, in particular, which may easily cost more than a week’s pay, must be checked in this way.

The fish should show interest in the food offered. They are peaceful eaters who like to take their time. If they are healthy they will select something from the food offered. However, they should not be fed too much before a potential move, as the water may then be polluted during the lengthy journey. They may disgorge food already taken when being caught.The fish can be transported without oxygen over short distances. However, the amount of water must be adjusted according to the length of the journey.

The longer the journey, the more water must be used. The safest way of transporting them is in a plastic bag that is placed in a carton. The cartons can be well padded with polystyrene or paper. Larger fish can make holes in plastic bags, so at least two bags should be used, one inside the other. Never carry unbagged Discus directly in polystyrene boxes or plastic buckets. The fish are timid and may easily be injured against the hard walls. Damage to the membranes of the eyes can be acute in such cases. Once damaged, eyes usually stay that way.

The pupil wastes away and remains small.Peroxide tablets should not be used because, if given in the wrong quantities, they may prove detrimental to the mucous membrane of the fish. Pure oxygen from a bottle is ideal. With pure oxygen, the fish can happily withstand 36 hours in insulated polystyrene packs.Transfer to your new home aquarium tank must be undertaken very carefully.

The tank water should be poured slowly into the carrier bag. The temperature and pH value should have adjusted within half an hour. The new fish can now be carefully removed with a net. The carrying water should be thrown away. Large Discus at first adapt very poorly to the aquarium. They sometimes even lie flat on the bottom. They breathe very heavily, and their eyes bulge from their sockets. These symptoms, however, are no cause for a major panic, since within an hour (all other things being equal, of course) the fish will have begun to feel much happier in their new home.