THE PROS AND CONS
OF ARTIFICIALLY HATCHING
AND FEEDING OF DISCUS FISHES
By Jim E. Quarles
Few other subjects about discus culturing brings about more interest
from the small or hobbyist breeder. Some are 100 % sure itís the only
way to go and others are 100% sure it is a bad idea. Both have their
reasons for taking each position. The purpose of this article is to expose
the subject to the light of reasoning and not unfounded passion one way or
Why itís not a good idea
When this subject comes up most of the time the less then informed will
offer totally non-scientific statements like. " If you do this then
the fry will not be able to side feed or feed normally after a few
generations! Well letís take a scientific look at that augment.
To be at all reasonable we must assume that discus fish are also
subject to Mendels laws of genetics. If your not willing to accept this
quit reading for you will not understand or like what follows.
Mendelís work shows that.
- Each parent contributes one factor of each trait shown in the
- The two members of each pair of factors segregate from each other
during gamete formation.
- Males and females contribute equally to the traits in their
- The Blending theory of inheritance was discounted.
- Acquired traits are not inherited.
The last law was high lighted and put in italic for a reason since this
law of nature goes right to the false argument that if the fry donít
learn to side feed from the adults this trait will not be passed on to
their offspring. If this were so then Mendel's law would not be true. Side
feeding is an acquired trait. It is a learned behavior pattern, and
therefore can not be passed by genetic method.
THE PASSAGE OF GENETIC TRAITS THROUGH FEEDING
IS TOTALLY UNFOUNDED AND CAN NOT BE
THE STATED POSITION THAT SPAWNING DISCUS CAN TELL GOOD
FROM BAD GENETICS IN ANY GIVE SPAWNING IS ALSO NOT SCIENTIFICALLY
The statement sometimes made that adult spawning discus sometimes eat
their eggs or fry because they know them to be genetically defective is
also rather foolish no such factors can be demonstrated as factual. This
statement must fall under the heading of " the old wives tale "
type of thing. While it might be possible for spawning fish to react to
strange or injury movements among a group of fry this is highly unlikely
and can not be supported by the frequency of such events. Other disturbing
factors are far more likely to trigger such actions such as water
conditions or other physical events in or near the spawning site.
THE ON BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NATURAL WAY OF FEEDING
AND THE ARTIFICIAL WAY OF HATCHING AND FEEDING MUST BE JUDGED SOLELY ON
THE BASES OF NUMBERS OF FRY THAT RESULT.
With the proper use of artificial hatching and fry feeding you can
expect to see a very much larger number of fry that can be kept alive and
growing to the stage of any culling that might need to be done. In fact by
using artificial feeding you can expect to see about an eight five to ninety
five percent increase rate that live as opposed to perhaps an average rate
of forty percent if you allow the parents to hatch and feed the young fry.
This brings us to the sometimes offered statement that with natural
hatching and feeding the weak and less desirable fry fail to feed and are
lost. I have been asked to believe that somehow the good ones have a
better chance of finding the feeding surface of the adults. This might be
true if we only consider the physically weak or deformed fish with defects
in their swimming abilities but does not prove that just as many perfect
fry are also lost during the natural feeding process for one reason or
another. I donít think you can place much faith in the process of
natural selection when it is applied to a captured breeding process. There
are far too many other factors that can explain these losses, nor do I
believe you can show that they are selective to poor fry.
SO WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES
TO ARTIFICIALLY FEEDING FRY?
The answer to this question bags another question. To what purpose are
you breeding the fish? Is it to obtain the highest number of fry so that
you can select from a larger number, which increases you, genetic pool?
(Experimentation) Are you breeding to increase the total number of fry to
select for sale? (Commercial Production) Perhaps you are spawning the fish
just for the fun of doing so (strictly a hobby effort) with no need to
consider numbers in the make up of the result?
As one who has produced fish in large numbers both ways over a long
period of time I can state that there is no scientific reason why
artificially fed fry should not be just as good at natural feeding later
in their lives then those that were feed the natural way. Also I see no
scientific reason why this aspect of discus culture should not be
practiced by anyone who is looking to increase the total number of fry
they can produce to use for any other purpose in the trade or hobby.
So for the present you can regulate all the stories you hear about this
changing the genetic make up of the fish to the category of an " AN
OLD WIVES TALE TOLD BY THE UNINFORMED."