So many people love keeping discus fish in their home aquariums. It’s easy to see why since they’re such beautiful fish.
Not only are these fish gorgeous, but they’re also fun to observe. You’ll likely have a great time caring for these fish if you choose to get some.
If you love your discus fish you might want to have more of them for your home fish tanks. One way to do this is to breed them.
Below, you’ll learn about what it takes to breed these fish. After reading this guide you’ll have a thorough understanding of the basics of breeding discus fish at home.
Is It Hard to Breed Discus?
Breeding discus fish shouldn’t be all that tough once you know what you’re doing, but there are some issues that you might encounter. For example, many people don’t realize that it takes a while for discus fish to reach breeding maturity.
They take a bit longer than many other fish to reach sexual maturity. Many discus fish need to be well over a year old to be capable of breeding.
Some enthusiasts say that it’s likely that it will take two years for discus fish to start breeding. So you have to exercise patience.
Once the discus fish are sexually mature and old enough the breeding process is fairly straightforward. You just need to wait until the time is right.
Know that there will still be challenges along the way. Some people have a tough time getting the breeding process to go well, but this is because they approach things wrong.
Below, you’ll learn about what you’re supposed to be doing. This should help you to give the discus fish an appropriate environment where breeding will be as easy as possible.
How to Breed Them
Above, you learned that it takes a while for discus fish to reach breeding maturity. So before beginning you need to know that you need a male and a female discus fish that are the right age.
So ensure that you have one male and one female discus fish. Both fish need to be sexually mature before the breeding process can begin.
Make sure that the fish are kept in a large fish tank. Discus fish hate being in cramped environments and will not likely breed if you put them in a tank that’s too small.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a 75-gallon fish tank for this endeavor. If you don’t have room for a big tank it’s not likely a good idea to attempt to breed discus fish.
When you have the tank that you need, it’ll be time to begin. Keep the water quality very high and be sure to test the water regularly.
Maintain the usual water temperatures for these fish. It’s recommended to keep the aquarium set to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Change the water frequently. You want to do two 30% water changes per week when caring for these fish.
Make sure to clean the tank as well. If the water quality isn’t pristine it’ll be hard to get the fish to breed.
Feed the fish good foods during this time. Feeding the fish foods that are high in protein such as bloodworms and brine shrimp will be helpful.
Now you should add spawning zones to the tank. Many people simply use tall upturned flower pots for this purpose.
It’s also fine to use a breeding cone that you purchase at an aquarium store. These are convenient spots where the discus fish can lay their eggs.
Eventually, you should see the fish form mating pairs. Two fish might start hanging out in the corner of the tank and you’ll see them clearing off a spawning area so they can use it.
The discus fish might act more aggressive toward other discus in the tank during this time. This is normal spawning behavior.
Eventually, you’ll see that the fish will lay eggs in the spawning area. Sometimes discus fish simply lay eggs on the floor of the tank, though.
Breeding Tank Setup
Setting up a breeding tank isn’t that tough. If you’re keeping only discus fish in a tank you don’t necessarily have to set up a breeding tank if you don’t want to.
The fish will breed in the main tank if the conditions are right and they’re receiving optimal care. Of course, many people set up breeding tanks to make it easier to protect the eggs.
Just make sure that the breeding tank is cycled and that the water parameters are exactly right for the discus fish. Also, you want the tank to be large because these fish won’t breed when put into cramped spaces.
It’d be best to use a 75-gallon fish tank to breed these fish. You can use smaller tanks if you’re only trying to breed one pair at a time, but it still needs to be more than large enough for the two fish.
Put spawning spots in the tank using breeding cones or upturned flower pots. Do regular water changes, feed the fish well, and you should notice that the fish will eventually begin mating.
Mating behavior is pretty simple in discus fish. They don’t have elaborate mating rituals in comparison to other types of fish.
When two discus fish are forming a mating pair you’ll see them spending time together in the tank. They might isolate themselves in the corner of the tank together.
The mating ritual involves a little dance of sorts. The two fish get close to each other and make “bowing” motions before swimming up and circling back to the starting spot.
This might happen several times. It’s just something the fish do when they’re forming a mating pair.
Eventually, you’ll see the fish start clearing off a spawning location. They might also try to chase away other discus fish from the area.
Discus fish are known to act a bit more aggressive than usual when spawning. So it’ll be likely that they will act aggressively toward other discus fish when getting ready to mate.
How Long Does It Take for Discus Eggs to Hatch?
It takes discus fish eggs several days to hatch. Typically, the process is going to take between three and four days.
During these three or four days, the parent discus fish will guard the eggs. They’ll fan the eggs with their fins and clean them with their mouths.
They do this to protect the eggs from fungus and other types of problems. After the right amount of time has passed you should see the eggs hatch.
Why Are My Discus Eggs Not Hatching?
If the discus eggs aren’t hatching there are a few things that could be happening. The first thing to consider is that some of the eggs might not have been fertilized properly.
Often, male fish will fertilize most of the eggs, but they might miss some of them. This is very common and it means that some of the eggs might not be viable.
Eggs that haven’t been fertilized won’t be capable of hatching. So not every egg that is laid by the female will hatch.
If that isn’t the issue, it’s possible that problems with the water could be to blame. It’s common for water hardness levels to cause discus fish eggs to not be able to hatch.
When the water hardness is higher than it should be it’ll cause issues. You need to keep the water hardness within recommended levels in the breeding tank for the safety of the eggs.
How to Raise Discus Fry
There are a few ways to approach raising discus fry. You can allow the parents to do it or you can try to do it yourself.
Often, the best course of action is to let the parents handle things. There will be some risk of the parents eating the fry or the eggs here and there.
Even so, when things go well the parent fish increase the survival rate of the discus fish fry. You won’t have to do as much if you let the parents help.
After four or five days of the discus fish fry swimming, you should start feeding them baby brine shrimp. Live baby brine shrimp will be best, but frozen shrimp can also work out okay.
At six weeks old, you can start feeding the fish a greater variety of food. They can generally be moved to their own tank away from the parent fish at this stage as well.
If raising the discus fry on your own, you’ll be moving the eggs to a new tank and keeping them away from the parent. When the fish hatch, you’ll be feeding them microscopic organisms known as rotifers.
These can be purchased from an aquarium store. Eventually, the discus fry will grow large enough to eat brine shrimp.
Why Are My Discus Fish Eating Their Eggs?
Sometimes you might notice discus fish eating their eggs. This is frustrating, but it’s something that many fish do.
Discus fish might eat their eggs for many different reasons. Sometimes fish do this when they feel like they need more energy.
It’s also speculated that discus fish will eat eggs that they don’t think are viable. So some eggs that aren’t going to hatch might get gobbled up by the parent fish.
Stress might cause discus fish to panic and eat their eggs, too. So try to keep the fish from experiencing too much stress so they won’t eat too many of their eggs.
What If Your Discus Fry Are Not Attaching to Their Parents
If you see that discus fry aren’t attaching to parents it’s likely that poor water quality is to blame. Poor water quality can make the fry too weak to attach to its parents.
Focus on maintaining high water quality when caring for discus fish. Even discus fish fry need high water quality to be able to survive.
How Often Do Discus Fish Lay Eggs?
Discus can lay eggs fairly often. When discus fish enter a spawning phase the female fish can lay eggs each week for up to fifteen weeks.
It’s common for discus fish to enter this breeding stage twice per year. So two times per year the fish will have a period of time where it lays eggs weekly.
This period will last for a maximum of fifteen weeks. It might end before this, but it’s not possible to determine exactly how long it will last.
How Old Do They Have to Be to Breed?
Discus fish need to be over a year old to be able to breed. Female discus fish take approximately one year to reach sexual maturity.
Male discus fish take slightly longer than that. It usually takes a male discus several more months to reach maturity.
So don’t expect to breed discus fish until they’re fourteen to fifteen months old. In some cases, it’s easier to wait until the fish are close to two years old to attempt to breed them.
Can They Breed in a Community Tank?
It is possible for discus to breed in a community tank. If the conditions are optimal and the tank is big this might occur.
However, the odds of survival for the discus fry will be much lower in a community tank. It’s very likely that the baby fish will get gobbled up by other fish in the tank.
So the chances of having a successful spawn in the tank will be rather low. It’s very likely that the eggs themselves will be eaten before many of the fish can hatch at all.
How Do Discus Lay Eggs?
Discus will lay eggs on spawning cones, upturned flower pots, or the floor of the tank. They generally clear the area and make sure it’s safe before laying their eggs.
Sometimes discus fish have been known to lay eggs on the vertical walls of the tank. This isn’t as common, but it can happen.
Can They Lay Eggs Without a Male?
Yes, discus fish can lay eggs without a male. A female might release its eggs even if there is no male present in the tank.
This is common for female fish and isn’t something to be concerned with. If a male isn’t present the eggs won’t hatch since they won’t be viable.
A male has to fertilize the eggs or they will simply be sterile. You can remove the eggs from the tank if no male fish is present.
How Many Eggs Can They Have?
Female discus fish can lay up to 400 eggs. Discus fish eggs are very small and they can be a bit hard to spot at first.
The larger the female is, the more eggs it will lay. So the largest female discus fish will lay many eggs at once.
Now you know everything you need to know about breeding discus fish. These fish are somewhat tough to breed for beginners, but they’re not that difficult once you know what to do.
You can find success breeding discus fish if you follow the advice above. Just make sure to get the tank conditions right and monitor the fish closely.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.