Another Fish Story

Another Fish Story


Another Fish Story
Michael Bauman
June. 10, 2000

It is the start of winter here in this beautiful tropical climate of Queensland and it is freezing, we are having a very cold snap for this time of year and the temp here is more like Adelaide where I used to live. The temp this morning is around the 6 degrees Celsius, which is very cold for us here, as it is usually 15 to 17c this time of year and up to 27c during the day. So it is to cold to venture out of the house, that is why I am on my PC and not out with the fish. I have been breeding the king of the aquarium, the Discus fish for more than 15 years and have had my ups and downs with them.

I started in S.A. in a place called Adelaide where the water is very hard, then moved to Townsville in the top of Queensland and the water there is the complete opposite, very soft with no carbonate hardness which made the water a problem to keep at a stable pH. Now I have moved again but only 40klm south of Townsville where there is no town water, we have to rely on a well that we have on our twenty-two and a half acre property. Before we purchased the property I took some water from the well and tested it for pH and Hardness. The water out of the well was great for the discus fish as it came out of the ground at a temp of 26 in the winter with the pH of 7.4 and the water was very soft. All I had to do was to drop the pH in the breeding tanks for good results.

Through our summer when the wet season starts and cyclones. We had over two metres of rain for the year and the year is only halfway through, further up the coast have had 4 metres of rain. I thought I would have to change my way of earning money for a while, so much water on the ground and the water table being so high it would be a good idea to grow rice and put Siamese Fighting fish in the fields. Our property is the only one that is raised off the road so we were luckier than others on our road; they had trouble driving though a meter deep of water to reach their house. It has been like this for more than 3 months and we have rain the last couple of days just to add to what is still laying in the fields, well rice is still looking good.

Well back to the fish article, the only thing I found with the well water is a brown staining in my tanks which is very hard to remove, plenty of elbow grease is needed to remove it. The problem is an iron bacterium so I found out and it is very hard to get rid of. I have placed two 5-micron filters inline with a worm farm full of Zeolite in all the compartments; this has helped a little however the filters only last about a month before being replaced. The filters look like they have been placed in a heap of red bull dust with water added; to keep the tanks clean from the red-brown muck is becoming expensive. In my shed I have 26 breeding pairs of discus and many young at various stages.

Breeding discus has been a very big challenge for the past 15 years plus with all the moves and different water qualities that I had to put up with, not to mention discus problems like fluke, discus disease and other problems that plague the beautiful fish. I have bred many different strains of discus with great success, some which really caught my eye and looked impressive while others were good but didn't appeal to me. Everyone to his or her own taste I suppose, the one that struck me the most was the sunrise discus which is a bright yellow to orange fish with little black on the fins. The black was bred out of these fish as like the red dragon and pigeon blood.

We make our own frozen fish food, which we sell to many shops all over Australia, called Feedit, the food has a colour enhancer, a plain beef heart mix and a Marinara mix. The colour enhancer works very well on the yellow to orange discus turning them into spectacular red fish in only four days of feeding the mixture. The fish do not go sterile like many people say, it is not a hormone like they use in Asia. I have fed my fish on the mix for more than 2 years with all my breeders producing good hatch rates. I was never one to use colour feed on my discus before, however now that I do I should have tried it on some fish years ago. It really makes a fish look great, everyone that has seen my fish are really impressed and would like their fish to be as stunning.The young fish will go red when started on the mix, so they have good colour when ready to sell.

When I first moved to Townsville Queensland there was only one shop that sold discus, they were all in terrible condition. First, fish were black and undernourished didn't look good. I told the shop owner that these fish needed a heater in the tank, his reply, we live in a tropical place and it is hot here. I tried to set him straight so his discus would stay alive, first yes we do live in a tropical climate however with the air conditioner on full blast to keep the shop at a temp way to cold for the discus. I told him to check the water as the temp in the shop was a mere 22c and the fish prefer 28 to 30c. This was one shop owner that didn't listen to me and lost the fish a week later.

This is how many people lose interest in fish, being told by shop owners that have no idea about the fish they are selling. Most shop owners are in for the money not the fish. The shop owner eventually turned up at my place to check out my set up and was amazed. He couldn't believe that discus were so colourful and so large, his remark was well if I was to sell these discus fish a heater is a must and a good diet, not just flake food. He was the first one to buy discus off me and slowly I introduced fish into nearly all the shops in Townsville, you could say I introduced discus into Townsville and kept them there. I have sold many a discus to shops and private as we set up tanks and trickle systems for people who want more than just a tank, we also have a fish tank rental and maintenance service where we keep large discus for people to see. Many people who see the fish for the first time think those discuses are a marine fish.

A friend of mine is also into discus and lives in town where the water is ideal for the discus; I have set his room up with banks of tanks that have trickle systems. He has just started out and has 6 tanks of young already. I am slowly going out of the beautiful fish and going into breeding gold fish something I thought I would never do.We have the room now for gold fish, as they need plenty of room to grow, so ponds are on the agenda and the fish room will be converted into housing the breeders for breeding and stripping. The fish room will have to be cooled instead of heating as gold fish are a cold water fish and breed in the spring when the weather starts to warm up. So if I can keep the breeders in cold water to condition up, then increase the temp. in the shed when I want them to spawn. After spawning the eggs can be placed into the ponds to hatch or in the shed to hatch and then release them into grow out ponds.

My friend will be happy to take some of my breeders and I will sell the rest and go halves with the young, I will supply him with the food and do all the sales and bagging of the fish. My friend just wants to breed the fish and leave me to do all the organising of sales of the young. I will most probably miss the discus in my shed and maybe I will see discus back in the shed some day. To me the discus fish is one of the more difficult fish to breed and raise, out of all the ornamental fish I have bred. They take just that little more time when raising the young and when you think everything is right something will happen, if you are not on your toes you can lose the lot. The water quality is very important to all fish however just a little more important for the discus fish. If the water is of poor quality etc: temp of the water, pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrite or even nitrate can cause trouble for discus. Well I better go out into the cold and feed the poor fish.

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