Wigglers and now?

Wigglers and now?


By Jim E. Quarles

We all work very hard learning to just keep discus alive and healthy. But this seems to lead to wanting to spawn or reproduce the world's most beautiful fish.

For some this comes somewhat naturally. I call these people the "Wet thumb people" of discus keeping. The rest of us fight a battle trying to produce fry that proves to be harder than any other factor of discus keeping.

Once you have experienced the joy of seeing two of your fish pair bond and set up house keeping you can hardly wait for the next event.. Egg laying! Given normal conditions this is not far off once the pair have agreed to be mates.

The eggs are generally deposited in the early afternoon or evening, but not always, some discus seem to be morning spawners.

It is very important that your water conditions be as close to ideal as possible for the up coming event. Clean pure softwater. The tank should be as clean as possible with the insides of the glass wiped down to remove slime build up. No uneaten food on the bottom of the tank.

About 36 hours after the eggs are deposited the wigglers should start to appear, they will be attached by a thin thread like filament on the tops of their heads to the spawn surface.

At this point I would advice you to stop feeding the adults and stop your water changes for a bit. Once the eggs hatch and become wigglers, sometimes the pair will start to fight over who is to care for the baby fish. If this happens generally one or both will wind up attacking and eating the eggs or wigglers. If you should have a pair that does this simply remove the male or female to another tank and allow the remaining fish to care for the hatch.

In most cases one fish will provide enough slime to feed the fry when the time comes for them to move from the hatch site to the adult fish. You might have to remove the fry a little sooner than otherwise would be the case with both fish in the tank but generally this is not a real problem.

As the development of the wiggler progresses some will grow faster than others and will travel to the adult for feeding ahead of the others. This is normal and soon they will be joined by all their brothers and sisters on the back and sides of the adult.

At the age of about four days after they reach the sides of the adults you should hatch out some baby brine shrimp and get ready to teach the baby discus this is their new food. I just use an eye dropper and squirt a cloud of baby brine shrimp gently into the cloud of fry on the adults sides. Be careful and don't over feed. The last thing you want at this time is to pollute the tank. After they fry start eating the brine shrimp you will see a color change in their belly area, it will start to show pink and look stuffed if they are getting enough brine shrimp.

Once I get the fry to eat brine shrimp I wait until they are eight to ten days old and remove them to their own small tank, I use five and ten gallon tanks for the fist grow out stage. I retain them in these tanks until they start eating fresh flake foods along with the freshly hatched brine shrimp.

When the baby fish reach the size of a penny coin, I start culling the less than perfect ones. If you're doing it right and have good stock you will cull about 10 to 15% out of each hatch. Deformed fish are worthless and take up just as much time and effort as the better ones. Cull them heartlessly. After all, other than a few people will retain bad discus.

You should cull again at the size of a U.S. Quarter coin. Once they reach that size the change over to beefheart formula comes next. The fish should not be crowded together from this time forward. Give them as much room to grow as you can and change your tank water as frequently as you can at least 50% per week. Better in changes of 25% rather then one big 50% change.

When I first move the fry off the adults I use water out of their birth tank in the new setups of about 50% and the rest aged and conditioned water. Keep the Tanks at about 86 degrees at all times.

Good luck

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