Art Hayley's Shoe
Box For Artificially Feeding Discus Fry.
By Jim E. Quarles
Recently I had the pleasure of talking to Samson Chung who owns
Universal Discus located in San Francisco.
Samson, I might say at the start of this article, is one of the best if
not the best discus suppliers in the business today in America. He has a
wide selection of different hybrid strains of discus, healthy and very
One other thing you should know about Samson's discus operation he is
not one to use what I refer to as " Discus Soup " in his
hatcheries, ( he has three). ( Discus soup=Chemicals and Antibiotics,
mixed or separate).
The success I see in his operation is pure and simple yet beautifully
knowledgeable on how to keep his discus growing and healthy without trying
to build a better fish through chemistry. He uses frequent water changes
on a massive scale, good food and very rigid culling at different stages
of growth. He also, I might add, starts with the best fish money can buy
out of Asia. He does not dicker on price, but buys the best from the best.
He and I both agree you can not make a good fish out of a bad fish or
change a sow's ear into a silk purse!
Samson is from Hong Kong, he moved to America in 1987. His primary
business in importing major household items from China.
I find it interesting that Samson, Bing Seto, Herbert Chin, all super
discus breeders, came here from Hong Kong. Perhaps those of us here in
America should consider a five year sabbatical to Hong Kong or China?
Maybe we too could reach the success with discus these people have.
While I was talking with Samson the subject of artificially rearing
discus fry came up. And I am always being asked how this is done. So I
have decided to show you here an easier way to artificially feed fry
without the messy time consuming bowl method most currently used.
But first a little discus history is in order (it will be short and
painless). Back in 1979 a gentleman by the name of Art Hayley developed a
floating shoe box method to feed discus from day one until they were ready
for independent grow-out tanks.
I am not sure the basic idea was Art's or something he improved upon
after seeing it some where else. But since his invention is the first
recorded record of the device we must give him full credit for the method.
I have built and fiddled around with this device a few times in the
past and even was able to make a few small improvements on it. But frankly
I was never one to care much for doing the artificial feeding bit, so I
stopped playing with it a long time ago.
In my interview with Samson he showed me how he uses the same principle
only with far more improvements than I made. His version works remarkably
well, yet is just as simple as Mr. Hayley's first shoe box feeder.
Samson has increased the size of the box slightly. He cuts out a
section of the bottom and a section of the plastic box at both ends. These
he covers by folding double fine mesh plastic window screening the smaller
the mesh size the better. He sews the folded mesh together to prevent air
gaps between the layers. He then uses aquarium cement to fasten them to
the bottom, covering the hole he cut. The same is applied to the two ends
that were cut out. The end slots are made about half way down the sides of
the shoe box. He then drills four holes near the top of the box about 1/4
inch in size, these are used later to push wooden 1/4 inch dowels though
that mounts the entire box so that in floats at the right height in the
The next thing is to use sandpaper to rough up the sides of the plastic
box on the inside to hold the egg yoke in place, without doing this the
fry food tends to slip off and is lost to the fry to soon. He makes his
feedings about a half inch wide all around the inside of the box.
When ready to use he applies the egg yoke mixture as fine as he can get
it applied to the full sanded area and lets it dry for a few hours to set.
When ready to install in the tank, he mounts a air operated lift tube with
a sponge filter on the bottom end. This brings clean water out of the tank
into the feeding box and the volume can be regulated with an air valve.
The beauty of this new improved box is that as the food that is uneaten
and any fish waste goes to the bottom it starts to clog the screen on the
bottom and the water starts to slowly rise in the box, this brings a new
line of dried food to the water line for the fry. The water can only rise
to the level of the two screens that have been cut into the ends of the
box. The over flow out of the feeding box is maintained until the next
change of the setup.
With these changes you need not worry about Styrofoam floats or any
other way to float the feeding box. It is held at the proper level in the
tank by the wooden dowels that position it in the tank.
You can use this method that allows good feeding and good quality water
for up to 10 to 14 hours before you need make any changes to the feeding
system. This sure beats changing bowls and water every two to four hours
as is needed in most other methods of artificial feeding setups.
The only thing I would change after seeing Samson's method is to
increase the size of the feeding box once again. His box is approx. 10
inches by 5 inches. I would increase that to 10 inches by 12 inches, and
that would allow longer feeding times plus an increase in water flow into
and out of the box through a larger sponge filter.
For those of you who are having problems with side feeding your hatch,
this maybe the best way to change your hatchery. With side feeding I have
found you lose far to many fry. The plastic feeder box will allow you a
far greater hatch and give you a lot more babies to grow out later.