View Full Version : JULY 2015 Member Spotlight - William (Bill) Palumbo

07-25-2015, 11:36 AM
I'm pleased to present the July 2015 Spotlight Member, Bill Palumbo:

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Q - Please tell us all a little about yourself, what makes You tick? Single, married, attached? What do you do for a living? Other hobbies? Any significant non-discus achievements you want to brag about?

A - I’m 49 years old. I was born and raised in Chicago for 46 of those years. I bred off and on in the late 80’s, mostly Brown, and Powder Blue Discus, which did not sell well at the time. Adult Browns from the LFS were selling for only $50. At that time everyone was looking for the more colorful Discus that were hitting the market from overseas. I had 13 pairs of various Discus breeding at my highest point. From wilds to Stendkers…LOTS of Stendkers. Sadly because of job loss and no medical coverage I had to move up to Wisconsin to pursue work. For a period of a bit over a year, I had went Discus-less. Then I met my lovely fiancé Debra, and shortly after I began to set up Discus tanks I scared her! She actually got into it pretty heavy, and is very supportive. I have been in paper converting all my working life. I am a envelope manufacturer/mechanic. Sounds exciting I know, but someone has to do it…and it helps buy Discus! I am a big music fan and love playing guitar. I also paint and sculpt a bit, not as much anymore, but I find time for my true passion(other than Discus)fishing!

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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 - I got into Discus around 1984, totally by accident. I had a 10g community tank at the time and not much else. Was only into aquariums for a year if that long. Was Hartz product for me! My good buddy, was into Piranha, so he was always going to pick up feeder fish for them. He took me along on time, to the store and told me about the big, blue fish at this shop. Cool…I was looking for a larger tropical fish to put in my 4g desktop aquarium. TOTALLY clueless, I bought two silver dollar sized Discus, and put them in my freshly established 4g, gravel laden, under gravel filtered tank. Looking back I was either cursed, or bless…because the Discus did well, for about a week, until I bought a TFH Discus book and saw I had it ALL wrong! I bought 4 more of the same size, and a 30xh. Plenty of gravel, plastic plants, a canister filter, 2 feedings of strictly BH, and a 75% water change every week on Sunday night. The fish grew well, and as big as the petshop owners Discus. Those I had for over 8 years, until my buddy talked me out of them. Those first Discus came from Charles Gluts in Chicago. One of the few people raising fry artificially at the time. It had been said that Gluts was doing it before Wattley, and that Wattley actually visited his shop.

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 - Besides wild strains, I like the more “classic” strains like Red Turks. Love the Stendker Cobalts and Flachens. Love the Piwo Red Turks…but not have had any luck turning out like the ones in his pics. Those prime specimens seem to stay in Germany, or Asian buyers. As with the wilds, USA misses out. I’m not really working on anything right now. I do have a Heckle cross pair I am playing with, and crossed some German and Asian strains together for new blood, and trying to get a SLIGHTLY higher bodied Cobalt. I do have a 55g with select ones from past spawns that I held back for myself. I think most strains need work on their shape. Too many pointy Discus, Discus with bumpy(saddle nose)heads, and that weak chin, that is so popular, to the point of being Grand Champions. I have in the past, but don’t want to see any PB strains, and absolutely no albinos! I don’t think hobbyist breeders such as myself can actually develop anything “new”. All we can do is to just improve on color/shape/size, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’m seeing WAY too many hobbyist's crossing strains/fish that should not be bred together.

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Q - What do you feed your discus?

A - In the past I ran thru the gamut of everything. Live Blackworms to flakes. BH pretty much the staple. Since I moved, BH is a bit hard to come by, and I like to feed foods that my customers have easy access to, so It’s lots of flakes, Tetra Bit pellets, and of course, Discus crack(Al’s FDBW’s)

Q - What is your most exhilarating moment with discus?

A - Probably like most, the first successful spawn. Even to this day, it still excites me. It never gets old no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

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Q - What is your most frustrating moment with discus?

A - MANY!…from infertile spawns, egg and fry eating…to unknown illness, and the occasional jumper!

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Q - Do you have any future discus plans that you would like to share with us?

A - At this point not really. I have a couple Heckel crosses I am working with, and some grow outs from some crosses that I made, that I hope will be NADA quality. Tho some nice wilds would fit my plans nicely. I miss breeding the wilds.

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

A - After 30 years they don’t really care. They are use to my glorified “Bluegills” by now. My fiancé is into them, and helps a lot, so that’s all good.

Q - Do you have any funny, amusing or interesting discus stories to share with us?

A - 30+ years worth!

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

A - Sadly as I write this I see a big decline in aquarium keeping all together. The economy sucks for having any type of disposable income. I too, have had to cut back because water and electric is not cheap. So I would say less people. As far as strains go, I think we really topped out at what can genetically been done. I’ve seen several strain of the same type of fish, with just a different name. We all know about the name game. I’d like to see the Discus go back to their round shape, and larger size. Sadly it’s become acceptable to have Discus with dark, yellow, chipped or any other color than the accepted red eye of the past, along with the weak chins and lumpy heads.

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? Any one member of the forum that has helped you the most?

A - Most of my success came before the internet, or at least before I had access to it. Other local hobbyist/breeders were tight lipped back then.That was the way it was. Everything was a secret. Reading all I could get my hands on, and trying to decipher what would work for me was the way I learned. Back in the day, mail order Discus was a joke, to say the least. Getting ripped of, and sub-standard fish really made things almost impossible. But several years later when I was looking for new stock, I took a leap of faith ordering with Mike Beals, and I never looked back. Same later on with Hans Great suppliers like Mike Beals and Hans have made things for me so much easier. Start of with great stock…and the rest is easy. Reading advice on Simply from other members, and trying it out, and picking and choosing what works for you is always helpful. I got lots of tips and tricks from the members from Simply, who never knew it. Obviously the old timers I listened to the most, and to this day, when I log on Simply, I make it a point to read their posts, if nothing at all.

Q - If you were to give an aspiring discus keeper one piece of advice, what would it be?

A - Start out with quality stock, and remember less is more. Find out what works for you and your fish, and stick with it. Keep it simple.

Q - How has Simply Discus helped influence you in the hobby?

A - I love a hobby where I can constantly read up on it. Simply provides me with that, and in real-time. Simply keeps me motivated and interested in the hobby.

Q - How have you been a mentor to other discus hobbyists?

A - I have no problem answering questions. Nothing to hide, unlike when I was trying to learn early on. I met a lot of nice people from just having them stop by my fish room to chat.

Q - Can you think of anything I left out you would like to bring up - either personally or discus related?

A - You pretty much covered it!

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Q - How did you decide to take the plunge into breeding as a significant part of your fishkeeping?

A - I think breeding is the highest form of perfection. The first time I had an actual spawn in my tank I was so excited, that I HAD to breed them!

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Q - What were the major obstacles involved in setting up as a breeder? Any advice for aspiring breeders?

A - Just finding the room and tank space to raise up juvies to adult hood. Again, start with quality stock, keep them healthy and fed well and it all falls into place.

Q - Any tips on breeding or raising discus? Tricks or methods you use to encourage pairs to breed?

A - I guess nothing that has not been mentioned before. I have used peat extensively before, especially with wilds. Cold water changes on pairs…the feeding of live foods.

Q – Last question – We understand you’re a fisherman, and have heard that Wisconsin has many great fishing spots, in lakes, as well as rivers and streams, with many different kinds of fish.
Tell us what fish you like best, or that you fish for the most – and how is the Walleye fishing in your state – many of us love walleye !

A - The Walleye fishing is great up here. Plenty of water close by that hold them. Tho admittedly I don’t fish them much. I like my Crappie fishing. Big “slabs” up here. But my real passion is wading in the small spring fed creeks, fly fishing for the native Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout! Love the tussle of a wild Brookie on a hand made Bamboo fly rod.

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07-25-2015, 01:30 PM
Very nice read Bill, we gonna have to have a chat over "cross's" at NADA. :)

07-25-2015, 04:02 PM
Great read Bill and I learn a great deal from your posts!

thanks, Joe

Second Hand Pat
07-25-2015, 05:35 PM
Nice read Bill and love catching the brookies. Use to do that in Colorado on the beaver dams. :D Catch brookies during the day, clean, cook and eat around the campfire...yum.

Keith Perkins
07-25-2015, 05:49 PM
I didn't have to wait long to see the name Gluts. :) Nice to read all the reminders.

Rick S
07-25-2015, 06:17 PM
Nice to here and see you again Bill, miss not being able to visit you on Troy. Hopefully I will see you at NADA next year.


07-25-2015, 06:32 PM
Bill, thanks for the interview, very interesting, enjoyed it a lot, and great photos! Paul, great job with the write-up!

07-25-2015, 07:05 PM
Hey Buddy,I recognize some of them pairs!

07-25-2015, 07:22 PM
Bill, great write up, did you ever get any of Joe Gargas's Blue Discus when he was in Chicago?


07-25-2015, 08:13 PM
Loved your write-up, Bill, as I told you earlier, and it was a pleasure working with you.
Guess you knew Walleyes (we call them Pickerel up here) were my favorite - caught a lot of them over the years here in Sask., Man., & N.W. Ont., but always wanted to try Wisc.! But have also caught a lot of Brook, Brown & Rainbows too.

07-25-2015, 10:36 PM
Great read.


Altum Nut
07-25-2015, 11:37 PM
Great read indeed Bill. Always loved the posts of discus you've kept over the years...especially the wilds that did great in your care. Did I read somewhere here that you like fishing..lol I think I found a new fishing buddy.
I think I will pack my fishing gear when heading to Nada.


07-26-2015, 12:31 AM
Excellent read... Thanks for sharing Bill.

07-26-2015, 01:20 AM
Great interview. Your wilds always look amazing.

William Palumbo
07-26-2015, 12:35 PM
Thanks everyone for liking it. It's pretty hard to put 30 years worth of Discus stories/experience in words. One knows that Discus people can talk for hours on end about their passion. Cliff I did meet Joe Gargas. I went to his home and purchased 5 adult Discus from him. Not sure about the Blues you mentioned, but he did have nice ones there. For the time, he had several pairs with fry, and tanks of juvies, which were pretty impressive. I also went to and purchased some Wattley juvies that were being bred and raised from another known breeder named Rich Annunziata, which were some of the best solid turks I had ever had, and bred well for me. Rich was also working with the Schmidt-Focke #7 strain(Striated)which I always regret not getting any from him...Bill

07-27-2015, 06:46 AM
Great interview! Good to see you doing well!


Arizona Discus
07-27-2015, 09:20 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing !

Carolina discus
07-27-2015, 09:33 AM
Hi Bill,
Great read! Enjoyed everything especially the fly fishing! I have some great spots in the mountains of NC and TN 3-5 hours away but just don't have the time to break away with everything going on.
Thanks again for the great read...hope to meet you at NADA if things work out.

07-27-2015, 12:21 PM
Thanks for the look into your Discus Past!:) Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading and learning more about you. Looking forward to meeting you face to face at NADA 2016:)

Paul, as always, nice job on the spotlight, I know these take alot of time and effort and I really appreciate the way you commit to these spotlights. Thank you!


07-27-2015, 02:31 PM
Good read glad to see your doing well!

07-27-2015, 05:55 PM
Definitely loved the interview. Very awesome. Laughed aloud with the "glorified blue gills" portion :P

07-30-2015, 05:06 PM
Good work Bill. I still remember the 1st batch of discus that we shipped together from Hans when it was on sale at $150 a piece. I think this was a batch where you hauled in a lot of babies..Good to hear that you still have a tank with the wilds. Best of luck.