Discus Today

Review by: Rusty Luthe
Title: "Discus Today" or "Breeding Discus Today, A Yearbook"
Author: Bernd Degen & Jack Wattley
Published by T.F.H. & bede-Verlag GmbH
Year: 1995

Before I start, a quick warning, this book is published under two covers but it is identical. One is hard bound and the other is soft cover. I recommend the hard bound copy. The soft bound pages will fall out during the first read, it is not bound as well. They're both the same price.

A quick glance at the table of contents will give a good idea as to the topics covered in this 112 page book:

  • Introducing the Discus
  • Outfitting the Discus Aquarium
  • For the Advanced Discus Hobbyist: Breeding Techniques
  • Discus Nutrition: Vital Information for the Hobbyist
  • Rearing Discus: Getting the Most Out of Your Efforts
  • The World Scene: Commercial Discus Breeding in Asia
  • The Secrets of Breeding Discus by Jack Wattley

There is a profusion of photos in this book. Many of them covering various aspects of discus breeding and rearing. Being a t.f.h. publication, the photos are excellent. They are glossy of course and in glorious color.

In the first chapter Herr Degen gives a good discussion on tanks and tank setups. He offers several different ways of making a tank more appealing than the normal bare bottom tank. One method I found interesting was coating the bottom of the tank with a thick layer of silicon sealant, press in a layer of dry sand, and once the sealant is dry, dump out the remaining sand. The end product is a tank with a natural substrate that is easily cleaned. There is also a discussion about tank sizes vs. fish size and numbers along with what sort of furnishings and plantings are appropriate. There are some interesting photos of discus tanks that are heavily planted, with the greenery rising well above the tank. He continues with discussions on water and filtration for discus. Not much new here, but interesting nevertheless.

The next chapter gets into the selection of brood stock, but the real meat of the book is found here. Herr Degen goes into great detail about the initial act of egg-laying, getting the fry to the free swimming stage, and finally onto their parents backs. There are many photos of discus at these various stages of development and should prove fascinating to anyone who hasn't seen this first hand. Several times Herr Degen brings up the importance of water quality, an all important factor if one is to be successful at raising discus.

The chapter on nutrition is packed with interesting information. Of course there is the warning about feeding Tubifex worms and the pollutants that they may carry. An example of interesting tid-bits is his note that discus prefer food that is distinctly red. There are no food recipes offered, but he does go down the list of standard fare for discus.

The next chapter is short but important. It is a serious discussion on the pros and cons of artificial fry rearing. Further along Degen gives a recipe for a fry mixture and a short description of raising vinegar eels.

The chapter on the World Scene I found the most interesting. Herr Degen gives a a brief history of discus breeding in Asia. He follows that with a discussion on the differences between European and Asians breeders. Even if you only glance at this book in the store, be sure to see the photo of a breeding setup on page 83. It will make even the laziest of discus keepers feel a bit better about their husbandry techniques!

The final chapter is written by J. Wattley. The title of the chapter sums it up pretty well, "These are true secrets, The secrets of breeding discus". This is territory that has been covered in other publications but it is interesting to read. There is certainly excellent information here, and if you want to take the laborious path to discus raising, there is no better path to follow than this. The SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) images are absolutely fascinating! The chapter closes with a quick run-down of commercial products available to the North American discus keeper/breeder. It is brief and doesn't read too much like an advert.

In general I found this book to be clearly written and informative. There is repetition on some subjects but filler has been kept to a minimum. The photos are superb and provide a glimpse into the world of the breeding Discus. This book is more for the advancing hobbyist than the beginner, although the later will certainly benefit from what it offers.

*DISCLAIMER*: I have not tried any of the techniques described in this book, nor do I have any association with its author(s) or t.f.h. publications.

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