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Selecting Discus

(this article was taken from former Aquarticles - free aquarium articles)

by Beta Mahatvaraj

The King of Aquarium Fishes is an easy fish to keep in the home aquarium if some simple tips are followed.

Proper selection is the first step to success with discus. The quality of discus on sale in the Indian LFS is usually not too good. So it’s very important to make the right start to avoid future heartbreaks. Let’s see why this is the case: Firstly, the best discus go where the money is. Japan and Europe are some of the major markets for top quality discus, and then comes North America and so on. Most of the discus offered for sale in the Indian LFS are lower grade discus from farms in South East Asia. If you want good quality discus be prepared to pay for them! The import restrictions on ornamental fishes means that there are fewer options available to the hobbyist.

Enough of rambling let me get down to business!

Below are some general tips on how to select good discus:

- The first step is to observe the discus in your dealer’s tank. Make sure that they are active, curious and are not hiding in the corners. Discus which are stressed or sick turn dark (with the exception of pigeonbloods, ghosts, snow whites and goldens).

- Check for sick or dying fishes in the tank. If so, then avoid picking fishes from the tank.

- Presence of medication in the tank might mean the discus are sick, recovering from a disease outbreak or in quarantine.

- Check for wounds and lesions on the body.

- Make sure that the gill plates are not short or deformed - they should cover the gills completely. Look out for heavy breathing too

- The eyes should be clear. Discus with cloudy eyes and chipped eyes should be avoided.

- Avoid fishes with deformities of the spine.

- The discus should swim in an upright position. Fishes which struggle to do so could be suffering from swim bladder problems or other such ailments.

- Give a thorough check to see if there any external parasites attached to the body of the discus.

- Ask the dealer to feed the discus and observe if they have a healthy appetite. Make sure that the discus were not raised on Tubifex worms as food.

- Observe the feces of the discus. It should not be stringy or white in colour.

- Avoid discus with bellies which look thin or sunken. If so, this is could be due to long periods of starvation or presence of internal parasites. The same criteria applies to foreheads - a healthy discus would have a broad forehead.

- Avoid picking from tanks in which discus have peeling slime coat or the slime coat is absent.

- Ensure that the eye is not too big in proportion to the body. Large eyes could mean that the discus is stunted.

- The discus should have a round shape and should not be triangular or elongated.

- Lookout for hormone treated fish which have adult coloration in the juvenile stage. Juveniles with coloration on their caudal fins and on the tip of their noses are signs of hormone treatment.

- Avoid discus which keep their fins clamped, or with fins that are whitish and frayed.

Some tips which are strain specific:

Blue Diamonds: They shouldn’t show any stress bars on the body or along the eye. Pigeon Bloods: Avoid Pigeon Bloods with a lot of black specks on the body (peppering). They can be pretty unsightly. Turquoise: These are generally late colouring. Two inch juveniles with adult patterns usually mean that they are stunted.

Some more tips after you bring your discus home:

- Always quarantine your new discus.

- Avoid mixing discus which were bought from different sources to avoid disease transfer.

- Do not feed Tubifex worms!

- Young discus need to be fed several times a day to maintain good growth.

- Regular water changes help to keep your discus healthy.

- Avoid shotgun treatment for medicating your discus.

If you still have doubts or queries there are some excellent forums on the net where the top discus hobbyists and breeders hangout. They would be more than willing to clear all your doubts: a link to has been removed because the domain was parked on 6 March 2010 a link to has been removed because the domain didn't show any content on 6 March 2010 a link to has been removed because the domain didn't show any content on 6 March 2010

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