View Full Version : June 2015 Member Spotlight - Nate and Jamie Elder -Spirits of the Amazon

06-20-2015, 09:43 AM
It gives me great pleasure to bring Nate & Jamie Elder of Arizona Discus to you as the June 2015 member spotlight !

Nate and I in Cancun fishing
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Q - Please tell us all a little about yourselves, what makes You tick? What do you do for a living? Other hobbies? Any significant non-discus achievements you want to brag about?

A - Nate and I are family people. We have four children that keep us pretty busy all on their own. Three girls and a boy. Jordan 17 Riley 13 Abigail 11 and Jax 3. Everything we do in life is essentially to provide a happy life for these little humans and keep our sanity as we go.

Ahhh the day jobs, Nate has worked for a family business in the mining industry for the past 10 years. He is the director of the metal forming department. I think it’s pretty neat that his job makes it really easy for us to design and build our racks and tank stands. I work part time as a safety director in the mining industry for the same company. We work with a great group of hard working fellas and I just try to keep them safe while working in some truly crazy environments. For the most part I am a stay at home mom. I home school my three oldest and make great attempts at keeping my 3 year old boy from destroying everything in his path.

Nate at work building tank stands :-)
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As for hobbies, most of mine revolve around fish. I have recently started getting a little more serious with the planted side of the hobby. I am confident in my fish keeping abilities, but am a self-admitted plant murderer, both aquatic and otherwise. I am learning and it’s been really rewarding having plants that actually grow and thrive for a change. I suppose my only other hobby would be that I am a chronic DIY gal and always have some sort of refinishing or refurbishing project going on.

Nate is a musician and plays guitar as often as he can. He is really into blues right now, but at heart I know he is and always will be an 80’s rock band geek. Can’t blame the guy for being in High School when hair bands were the in thing. Honestly I think he just appreciates a good guitarist. I think he’s a pretty darn good guitar player, but hey I’m his wife. Other than that it’s all about fish. He’s the water chemistry / plumbing geek and enjoys tinkering around with different filtration and water changing systems.

We are both big on camping and the outdoors. We would rather be in the pines than anywhere else.

Nate Out fishing in Cancun
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Q - How did you get into discus? Where was the first discus you saw? How long had you been into fish first?

A – Sure Nate and I had tiny aquariums growing up but it wasn't until we had children that our love for fish began, like so many others I have spoken to, with a gold fish won at a carnival by our oldest daughter. We left that carnival, goldfish bag in hand. When we arrived home, neither Nate or I had the heart to toss it in a bowl. So, obviously he and I stayed up half the night researching everything we could get our hands on and by the following day we had a new 55 gallon set up and cycling. The carnival goldfish was of course ill , who would a guessed right? It was too late, we were already hooked. We turned that tank into a community tank and fell in love with watching and learning. We had found something that we both loved and we had no idea how much trouble we were in. $$$$$$$

Within 6 months that community tank was passed on to our daughter (ok she was only 18 months old but we needed an excuse for more fish) and we had quite a few more tanks. I was particularly fond of my severums. Then in our research there they were, discus!!! We were totally done for. They were a must have, so we took a leap and have never looked back. Of course I kept my severum tank :-) When Nate and I research something or get hooked on something, it gets a little crazy. We have a tendency to want to know everything and totally geek out on information. We started out with cobalts and red turqs and they stayed with us for a few years and we continued to learn. Eventually as we grew in the hobby, those were passed on to friends tanks and we moved on to the wild side. We were and still are passionate about SA fish.

Back in the day when we imported wild from SA ... Arrows and Apistogramma baenschi
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Q - How did you eventually get into the business of commercially importing & supplying discus ? - tell us about it.

A - By 2009 our family had grown to 5. Nate and I often dreamed of opening an LFS, but honestly it never seemed quite right. I'm not sure how many customers one would have in a LFS that only sold discus, angels and Apistos So that year we started importing Apistos, Wild Discus and a few others from South America. We learned so much and had an absolute blast running our little home business. The natural progression was tank raised discus ...right? That was the ultimate goal after all and 3 years ago we decided it was time and I truly believe it was one of the best decisions we ever made (Other than the kids, but who "decides" to have kids anyway).

We started out just sourcing discus from the US and doing the resale thing. All the while following the great breeders overseas. We had been watching the breeders’ new strains and really enjoyed seeing show discus and following the competitions for years. It’s funny how we looked at guys like Tony, Ricky, Lawrence, Stendker etc. back then like they were discus rock stars. Well they kinda are huh? We wanted to import, but we wanted the right partner, we didn’t need to be discus rock stars, we just wanted to bring in quality discus and to be able to do something that we love. I know it probably sounds cheesy or fake, but honestly we just really do love working with discus and the amazing work breeders have done in designing these new strains is so exciting and beautiful…we just want to be a part of it.

Q - What strains are you the most happy with? Which do you think need some work? Are you working on anything new and exciting now? What strain/s do you like best, personally?

A - Nate and differ on our favorite strains. Nate is a huge fan of leopard strains, right now he is particularly obsessed with Golden face spotted leopard. Its impressive how much work has been done with the leopard strains, they have really changed and grown in recent years. I personally will always love me a heckel bar and I have a tendency to lean towards wild looks in strains. All these new heckel crosses are exciting for me! Right now I would have to say I am on the hunt for a red cover with a blue halo. I have this picture in my head, I will know it when I see it J

Q - What do you feed your discus?

A – I am all about feeding a wide variety of foods. I make a beef heart, fish, vegi mix for all the little fellas, FD Blackworm, very occasional bloodworm. We have stuck with Hikari discus and New Life spectrum on the pellets so far. We just feed a variety throughout the day.

Q - What is your most exhilarating moment with discus?

A – The first time we watched a successful spawn has to be the best. I am still amazed by discus as parents. Though there are always exceptions, once they get the hang of it, their rituals and care just blows my mind.

Q - What is your most frustrating moment with discus?

A - Other than unsuccessful spawns I would have to say anytime we see a poor quality discus being sold that is thin, tattered and suffering. Keeping quality bred fish in the market is the only way this hobby will continue to grow. The more hormone fed, stunted and sick discus sold and swimming in tanks, the more frustrated hobbyists are, they will get discouraged and give up. Sometimes it’s very frustrating trying to explain to a new discus hobbyist the importance of where you get your fish from. There are so many quality discus suppliers, there is just no need to buy poor quality discus.

Q - How do those others in your life feel about discus?

A - Our children were interested at first. Then Mom and Dad went way overboard in the hobby….. so now they just roll their eyes at us. There is still hope for the youngest. Family and friends are supportive, but like with any addict, they may be staging a future intervention. We have made many new fish friends in the past few years It’s nice to have friends that understand your passion.

Our Jax is our little helper and the only kid still interested :-)
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Q - Do you have any funny, amusing or interesting discus stories to share with us?

A - I was racking my brain for this question and then Nate reminded me of a story I almost forgot about. True story no lie. I know I posted about it on Facebook a year or so ago.

So this sweet lady calls me interested in discus. They had been looking at photos on our website and were in awe that they had never even heard of them before even though they had been in the hobby for many years. Her and her husband wanted to come and check them out, so we made an appointment for them to make the long drive from the other side of the Phoenix valley.

When they arrived, we stood and chatted for almost an hour as they asked the names of each strain and talked amongst themselves about which was their favorite. They weren’t asking questions, just trying to choose. I was rambling on about all the proper care, and feeding.

The woman then looks at me and says, “We want these” and points at out four good sized discus…. . I said ok, grabbed my cart and was ready to bag them up for her. Just as I’m reaching into the tank she asked me a question….. I kind of froze and looked at her, I’m sure I looked super confused. There is no way I heard that right. So I stopped and asked her to repeat the question. She says “ Oh I just wanted to be sure they would be ok with a tang” I said “ Ummmm like a salt water fish” …I probably sounded like an idiot, like is there another tang out there swimming around in the Amazon. She was pretty embarrassed when I told her they weren’t salt water fish. She couldn’t believe there were such big colorful fish in the freshwater side of the hobby. Now we always find a way to say freshwater in conversations with newbies.

Q - Do you have any thanks or credit to give for your success with discus? Any mentors or colleagues who you think deserve some applause?

A – Honestly the greatest help has been Simply Discus and all the crazy fish peeps that are members. Such a great source of information and support. Being able to access the wealth of information here is always a blessing.

Q - What do you see as the future of discus keeping? More/less people? Any cool ideas for strains?

A – I don’t know what the future holds. We can only hope for more education and information to be shared so that the future of discus stays focused on quality and health. The popularity of discus in the last 10 years has grown so much and unfortunately that has led to many people searching for discount discus. With more education and information I see only growth for the discus hobby.

Q - Did you begin your discus enterprise by starting to breed discus ?

A - We didn’t start out breeding discus. We have bred some, but quickly learned that we just don’t have time for breeding and raising fry. We will, for now, leave that to the experts. We are still hopeful that once we are empty nesters, and have time on our hands, our fishrooms will be full of breeders and fry.

Q - How many tanks do you have in operation for your discus business?

A – We are running 30 tanks at the moment. Adding tanks as fast as Nate can build us stands. Currently a little over 1000 gallons for stock.

Q - Tell us a bit about your relationship with your supplier - how it got started and started to flourish?

A – Our relationship is fairly new with Dexter. When we were searching for our new supplier, we were looking for quality and selection. Dexter was an obvious choice. He came highly recommended and we were and are amazed at his knowledge on discus genetics. Some called him a “Genetics Wizard” We spent many hours chatting with him and getting to know him. Such a great guy! He really cares about breeding a quality discus and obviously loves what he does. DXcus Discus has some truly unique and high quality discus. We are so impressed with Dex and his fish. We definitely look forward to seeing what this wizard comes up with next.

Texting between Nate and I on ordering discus
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Q - When is your next shipment expected and what strains do you expect it will contain ?

A – Our first order is due to arrive mid June 2015. We are expecting around 18 strains, including quite a few albino strains. We will share a list as soon as it’s available.

Q - Anything else you'd like to mention, or talk about ?

A – Just a big THANK YOU to everyone on Simply for the overwhelming support you have shown us.

06-20-2015, 10:30 AM
Great read!


06-20-2015, 11:20 AM
Good read, all the very best Nate and Jamie.

06-20-2015, 11:55 AM
Great read! You guys are my favorite because you have all the strains that I dearly love... heckel crosses, altum flora, albinos, red cover, etc. at great quality! Looking forward to many more purchases, but as of now I'l be patiently waiting for my heckel cross and the special red cover... she's a real beauty :D

Second Hand Pat
06-20-2015, 01:10 PM
Nate and Jamie, this is a great read. The passion you two have for family, each other and discus is so apparent in your spotlight. You two and Dex will do good here on SimplyDiscus. :D

Arizona Discus
06-20-2015, 01:47 PM
Thanks guys ;-)

06-20-2015, 06:01 PM
Good luck to your venture and please bring more top quality discus.

06-20-2015, 06:44 PM
A great story Nate and Jamie. I can relate to just about everything you wrote-except the four rug-rats!:D
Best of luck with your venture.


Arizona Discus
06-21-2015, 02:33 AM
I can loan ya my 4 rugrats for a few weeks so you can relate to that too if ya like ;-) haha

06-21-2015, 10:28 AM
Great read! I wish Nate and Jamie the best of luck with their new supplier and have no doubt they will become a fixture here on Simply!


06-22-2015, 12:57 AM
that was a great read, wish Nate and Jamie the best of luck. Cannot wait for your guys new shipment. I will surly be lurking around here.

06-22-2015, 02:50 PM
Awesome and interesting read! I really enjoyed it! Wish you all the best of luck here on simply and look forward to doing business in the future!!

Keith Perkins
06-22-2015, 03:16 PM
Fun read for sure. I particularly liked the story about the lady who thought discus were saltwater fish. I know a lot of non-fish people who visit my house think the same thing, but I've never heard of someone about to buy some thinking that. Too funny.

Arizona Discus
06-22-2015, 03:32 PM
Fun read for sure. I particularly liked the story about the lady who thought discus were saltwater fish. I know a lot of non-fish people who visit my house think the same thing, but I've never heard of someone about to buy some thinking that. Too funny.

Haha .... Ya I'm sure they felt silly .... but honestly , who goes to spend hundreds of dollars on fish ya know nothing about ? Lol

Arizona Discus
06-22-2015, 03:33 PM
Awesome and interesting read! I really enjoyed it! Wish you all the best of luck here on simply and look forward to doing business in the future!!

Thank You ..... our lives are even more entertaining up close haha

Arizona Discus
06-22-2015, 03:33 PM
that was a great read, wish Nate and Jamie the best of luck. Cannot wait for your guys new shipment. I will surly be lurking around here.

Definitely come lurk around ;-)

Arizona Discus
06-22-2015, 03:34 PM
Great read! I wish Nate and Jamie the best of luck with their new supplier and have no doubt they will become a fixture here on Simply!


Thank You Rick !!!!

06-23-2015, 06:47 AM
Thanks for taking the time to share your interesting stories and experiences!


06-30-2015, 07:05 AM
Ya, good Nate and Jamie Elder, Enjoy the days.