28 October 2013

11 : Turquoise Discus - Something Blue

Discus Eggs
Red Turquoise Discus guarding his eggs

In the world within my discus display tank nature rules.  The tank is located at the entrance of our home and the fish have to put up with strange humans madly dashing past, big and little, and occasionally stopping to stare at them.  They also have to deal with food falling from above at regular times throughout each day, rather than searching and foraging for themselves.  Their environment may not change much day after day, but their world is buzzing with activity with many species of fellow Amazonian fish.
The tank may look like a natural fish paradise to us, and for these discus it is, yet it is not quite the same as swimming in large shoals amongst twisted tree roots in a semi dark world where they would be naturally found in the rivers of the Amazon.  However, my discus get to experience for the first time in their lives swimming amongst submerged tree branches and aquatic plants, they have natural rocks and substrate on the base of their tank and best of all can hide from the world when they feel they need to. 

These fish are often kept by well meaning enthusiasts in bare bottomed plain tanks, on display at all times which goes against their natural instincts to hide, yet makes it easier for the aquarist to keep their tank in pristine conditions.  These fish don't get the opportunity to learn how to hide and to look for morsels of food hidden amongst the natural crevices of a tank, their tanks are vacuumed clean after each feed and their tank water can be changed from anywhere between 50 - 100% daily!
Although my tank cannot ever be truly like the amazon, the lighting is the biggest detriment.  If I kept the tank darker then I would miss out on the opportunity to be able to witness these magnificent creatures.  My discus are friendly and used to me and feed from my hand, they recognise me when I walk past their tank, I do try and keep their environment as natural as I can.  If I wanted to breed these majestic kings of the aquarium I would separate the pairs that have formed naturally as they grew, and move them to a much smaller bare bottomed aquarium with one single breeding cone in the tank for them to lay their eggs on.  In this environment they would be free to raise their babies without predators and I would have multiple discus fry to raise and to sell.
However, I do not want to do this.  I cannot justify taking my discus pairs from their home tank and causing them stress by removing them away from their natural environment.  I would dearly love them to be able to successfully breed in their display tank but the chances are remote.  There are simply too many other predators in their tank, including the other discus who love the taste of fresh discus fry and discus eggs.  Despite all this, my Discus do keep insisting on breeding and laying their precious eggs on natural tree branches or sometimes on the glass of the tank and guarding them fiercely.  None have made it much past the wiggler stage, but this is nature at its finest...

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