The Discus Syndrome

The Discus Syndrome


Synopsis of the Discus Syndrome in Seremban, NSDK, Malaysia
Stephen Soo

It all started in the early sixties with Dr. Chong Kim Choy and his wife Dr. Molly Chong. They were the pioneers of discus breeding in Seremban and at that time mostly brown discus and the turquoise were available. Dr. Chong and his wife obtained some wild strains like the brown discus, the blue and green turquoise to start off his breeding and I supplied him the live food for his discus. Thus I started as a supplier of discus food to a discus breeder and in the process I learned the finer points of keeping and raising discus. The Chongs had taught me a lot and shared with me their experiences in the care and breeding of the wild discus. However their breeding is mostly for leisure as discus keeping then was not very popular due in part to the belief that discus keeping is difficult and good discus were hard to come by.

The breeding methods of the Chongs for the wilds were as follows:

The water temperature in the tank is kept warm. (30 - 32C)
The discus were not fed for three days.
The pairs were taken out and placed in smaller aquarium with the same temperature.
They then lower the temperature with the addition of ice.
With their method they had succeeded in breeding the wild discus.

Discus keeping slowly picked up as breeders in other States in Malaysia started to raise these fishes. Penang Island breeders became forerunners in discus keeping partly due to the very good quality water which they had. As the discus keeping hobby caught on, an industry was slowly created. Then in the eighties, the discus trade in Penang boomed, becoming a multi million dollar industry. This prompted one of Malaysia's largest companies, Guthrie Plantations & Research Center, to venture into the discus trade. Substantial investments were made by the company where a factory with many tanks was set up to breed and export discus in the mid 1980's.

The Guthrie discus project was under the charge of Dr. Lau who is a close personal friend of mine. Dr. Lau is a graduate of Tokyo University in Japan and he holds a doctor of philosophy in fisheries. However, buying good grade discus at that time was quite a big problem as most breeders were very secretive about their stocks and if they would sell it will be at a very high price. Then too most breeders will not sell to strangers or other breeders whom they considered their rivals.

I was approached by Dr. Lau to source for good quality discus, firstly because I have intimate knowledge of discus and secondly I have two cousin brothers in Penang who are breeding good quality discus. Since I was also from Penang and with my interest in discus, I soon developed good, close relationships with many top Penang discus breeders. I bought top quality discus for Dr. Lau from discus breeders with locations in Air Hitam, Tanjung Bungah, Telok Bahang, Balik Pulau, Batu Muang and Paya Terubung, all in Penang. At that period of time the most popular stains were the different colored forms of turquoise, that is the red, blue & green turquoise and Wattley Discus. The Red Alenquer and their crosses were also entering into the discus scene and making their presence felt.

Dr. Lau went on to breed and experimented with a lot of crosses. He paired the Red Turquoise with the Red Alenquer and he came out with strains which he named Guthrie Reds, Ruby Red, Red Princess and Evening Glow. Later when the Pigen Blood came into the picture, he crossed them with his best Red Alenquer in the hope to produce orange colored strains but he was not successful in that area.

All these offsprings were exported overseas to countries like Japan, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and the US. Unfortunately the company decided to cease the discus breeding unit and that ended the large scale breeding of discus in Seremban. If there are people who had imported discus from Guthrie Plantations & Research Center in Seremban and are interested to order very high quality discus please email me.

With the closing of the breeding facility at Guthrie, I decided to go alone with the discus breeding and trade. In 1990 I opened up an outlet for discus trade in my house with 60 tanks of 18" X 18" X 48". I carried on the breeding and paired off my Pigeon with the Ghost which was creating some sensation then. From this crossing I got the Red Jackets which possess very strong striations all over the body in straight horizontal lines. At around this time the Cobalt Blues were also gaining popularity. Some of the blue based discus were given names like Electric Blue, Metallic Blue and High Fin Blue!

In the early 90's, discus fever in Malaysia was running high. 1990 was the year Singapore Aquarama first started following the discus show in Penang at the Glugor site. Much publicity was created with feature articles on the discus hobby appearing frequently in the local newspapers. The aquarists in Seremban became excited and I could not produce enough to cater for the local demand!! I started to collect discus from other breeders but I only collect very high quality stuff as my earlier exposures had instilled in me a very high standard in my taste for discus quality. Soon buyers started to flock to my place and I have buyers from Singapore who buy from me to re-export.

Unable to cope with the demand or to increase production, I went into partnership with a few good breeders and thus Aquadis Discus was created. Now at any one time we can supply several hundreds of discus from 2" plus per order of the various strains.

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