I GOT WIGGLER'S
NOW WHAT DO I DO?
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
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
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
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.