12-10-2002, 01:15 PM
Here is the interview I recently conducted with Jimmy. I have to say, it was a pleasure. I am really looking forward to seeing how his new experiments turn out in breeding - the white fish crossed with some solids sounds pretty interesting to me! Thanks again Jimmy for the great interview and pics!


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

A - Fry attachment makes me tick. It is the most amazing behavior in nature. I grew up in Hong Kong. My parents saw no future for me being a nature lover who played with wild animals, birds and fish. They made the decision to send me away to Canada to stay away from the animals. Im presently working in Cardio-Respiratory and Anesthesia field in a hospital and also studying to be a Respirologist. I will be in-charge of our new Asthma and COPD Rehab. Center next April. I married my high school sweet heart from Hong Kong and we have a lovely daughter named Penny. Thats how I started in a new country with only pennies in my pocket. Christmas is a special time for me. I have Christmas gifts from patients recovered from life and death situation thanking me for saving their lives. Most of them came to the hospital by ambulance either had a Cardiac Arrest or Respiratory failure, unable to breathe and lifeless. I put a tube into the lungs, with a little massage on the heart and brought them back to life. I looked after them in the Intensive Care Unit on the Breathing machine and saw them walking out of the hospital are my significant achievements and Im really proud of myself able to bring happiness to their families.

Q - How did you get into discus? Where was the first discus you saw? How long had you been into fish first?

A - I hated city life in Hong Kong. I chose to stay with my grandfather who was a Herbalist in a village near the perimeter of the city where we found mountains, rivers, beaches and trees. I caught everything that can move, fry and swim. We had a river running beside the house with all kinds of fish can be found. I caught guppies, green swordtails and gouramis from the river. I started keeping them and sold them to other kids. One day, I found a stray German Shepard and brought him home. It was a guard dog belonging to a British Sargent from the expensive homes up on the mountain. He came and pick up the dog and saw some green swordtails I caught from the river, he gave me 5 brown discus and a tank as a reward. I didnt know what they were. All I knew they were rare and expensive and paid no attention to them. I left them on the balcony on the upper floor. They ate the insects that dropped in the tank at night. The daily afternoon downpour did all the water change. Didnt even know how they had babies in the tank cause the algae made it impossible to see inside the tank. Took them to the fish vendor. They were jumping for joy. Didnt even know why. It was 1965. Thats how I start keeping Discus, They were called 7 color Angels in Hong Kong.

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

A - I bought my first Discus in Canada in 1969. They were wild discus and it was a disaster. Information was almost impossible to get. Everybody treated it as top secret. I didnt even know the difference between hard and soft water. No heater and no water change. They were wiped out in a few months. It was so easy when I had them back home. It was the challenge to keep them alive drove me into discus. I kept killing them day after day for several years until I met Jack Wattley in Florida where I bought 6 Turquoise discus and that made a big difference in my fish keeping until today. Its just a hobby for me. I have no intention to breed professionally. Maybe when the government and my Professional College decide that Im too old and take away my license to practice, then, I may breed professionally.

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

A - Cost is a major obstacle in setting up as a breeder. Discus being a high maintenance fish that requires massive water changes and heating. Its quite hard to make a living out of it. I dont call myself a breeder. Im just a fellow hobbyist who happens to know how to breed them. From my experience of having too many fish and dont know where to put them. My advice for the aspiring breeders are dont try to breed professionally unless you have perfect water like Aprils and warm temperature that requires no heaters. Otherwise, forget it. Youre lucky if you can break even. The pet store knows you have to sell them and they will only offer you a few dollars each. It doesnt even enough to cover the hydro bills. Its not economical. I’ve seen quite a few hobbyists that turn breeder going bankrupt form it.

Q - How many pairs do you currently have producing? How many tanks? I know from previous posts that you have downscaled a great deal. What was your maximum quantity of fish?

A - I just finished re-building all the stands in my fish room. It wasnt built properly in the first place. They were sagging as much as 2 inches in the middle and eventually cracked 2 tanks. I had to sell off most of the fish and dismantled the whole drip system to repair all the stands. I dont have too many at the present time. I kept some sub-adults and theyre pairing up and soon will be spawning. Ill say maybe 5 pairs are productive at the present. When I had a series of disasters and flooding from glass cracking and leaking all over the place 3 months ago. At the same time, the cost of electricity was double due to deregulation by the government. They went up from $300 to over $600 for 3 months. That was the time I decided to sell all the breeding adults and scaled down to just a few tanks. Now I only have 20 tanks with about 800-gal capacity. But Im only using 5 tanks and the rest of them are empty. I feel lonely without them…

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 - I like the Blue Diamond the best. The distinctive sky blue color are so pleasing to the eye and makes you feel soothed and comfortable looking at them. They are graceful and beautiful. They can cross with any strain of discus and the offspring will be nice and acceptable by most hobbyists. They turn navy blue when rearing fry and there is no problem with attachment. They are so versatile. I am not happy with the newer strain like the Snow White and San -Merah. They are so beautiful and yet so small. I have been looking for a sizable San-Merah for the last two years and still unable to find a large one that doesnt spawn at 3-4 inches.

Q - Actually one of the questions I have wanted to get a LOT of information from you on is genetics. Your Pigeon Blood (or was it Marlboro Red) x Blue Diamond threw some awesome crosses. Can you give us any other interesting crosses that have come out good or interesting? Any crossing information would be of great interest to me, and to a lot of others, I bet!

A - I like to cross most of my discus. The imported fish we get have been in-bred for so many generations to fix the line. Most of them had already shown signs of genetic defects. Quite a number of Pigeon Blood stain miss their food targets. We have no choice but to cross-breed them to improve the line. I was working on a dirty Red Spotted SS X MR for the last 2 years to produce a clean MR with red fins. We call them Red Melon. I was able to produce a solid yellow fish which we called Canary and then I use her to cross with a Golden and now I think I have a finished product. They are solid Tangerines. If I color enhance them with red color, they turn bright red. I kept 10 of them and they will be my next batch of breeders.

I also crossed a Wild green and a Blue Diamond and produced a bronze colored barless fish with green fins. They are beautiful as far as I am concerned. But when I posted the picture on the forum. People said it was a cull. She had been producing a lot of perfectly round Angel Diamonds for me. She is not a cull. To me she is priceless.

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

A - Preparation for breeding is the most important factor in breeding discus. You must de-fluke the parents and make sure they are free of external parasites and gill worms. That will save a lot of future problems that may cause frustration and heart breaking incidents down the road. I found out the easiest trick to induce spawning is to simply drop the pH and W/C with colder water at room temperature and the most effective way is to dump the siphoned water from your breeding tanks and put it in the potential breeders. They will immediately flash their fins and looking for a mate.

Q – Sounds like a neat trick! What do you feed your discus?

A - Mainly Beefheart mix, red wigglers and tetrabits. I also have Azoo and Krills on the minor scale. Discus can get by with just one meal a day with 100% BH plus tetrabits. That's what I fed them when I was in College. I didnt have enough time to sleep so mixing beefheart was out of a question. I let the fish tell me what they like best and feed them that on their last meal. In that way, they will clean up the left over from previous meals. It is important to have a balanced diet with lots of protein like red wrigglers. I drop the whole worm in the tank, let them have a tug of war and they also get their daily exercise with it. Each fish has their own preference. Forcing them to eat what you what them to is not a good idea. You end up having an unhappy and a sick fish.

Q - What is your most exhilarating moment with discus?

A - The most exhilarating moment when I found out how to stop a pair from eating eggs. I had a pair of CEESOB (I borrowed this term from a member of the forum, and it stands for Chronic Egg Eating SOB.) Blue Diamonds which had been eating the eggs as soon as the female finished spawning. This went on for over a year. One day, I found a white spot on the tail of the male in the breeding tank. I took him out and PP him for a 30 minutes in a cooler with an air hose inside. I had an emergency call from the hospital and had to leave right away. I came back after 4 hours and found the airhose on the floor and the Blue Diamond had turned green and was lying on his side barely moving his gills. He was breathing only 5 breath per minutes. I put him back with the female in the breeding tank and went back to the hospital. He survived the ordeal and righted himself the next day. When I came down to the fish room the following day, I didnt find him bagging for food which was his normal reaction when he saw me. I actually expected that he would be floating on the surface, so that wasn’t so bad! What I found was amazing. He was guarding a batch of eggs. The near death experience had turned him into the best breeder Ive ever had. From that day on. I disinfect and de-worm all the breeders before adjusting the water parameters. I had many graduates from the School of CEESOB for my friends discus just by simply doing the same thing.

Q – Wow. That is a great tip! What is your most frustrating moment with discus?

A - I had my share of disaster. I had one visitor accidentally knock over a jug of Muriatic Acid which had been sitting on top of the show tank with over 50 adults in it. He left without telling me about it. It was too late when I found out the cause of this catastrophe when I test the pH of the water. Not one single discus survived the incident. Thats frustrating, because I had no idea of what had caused the problem and when I finally figured it out, I was not happy! What we can learn from this incident is that you DON’T place any chemical or medication on top of the aquarium!

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

A - I am planning to get my hands wet on the wilds once again. I failed miserably many times on the wilds in the early years of discus keeping. I must have wiped out my stock completely at least 5 times and swore each time that I would not have discus for the rest of my life again. It must be the bug… After a cool off period for a year or two, I started buying them again. Information was not readily available in the early years. I had to find out the answers by trial and error with thousands of dollars down the drains. When I saw Dennis Hs Alenquer Curipera, I knew that some day I would have them in my tanks. Maybe as early as next year after I am done with Carys White Diamonds I won last New Years Day. They will be ready to spawn in the next few months. I will cross them with my solid yellow and solid red and see how they turn out.

Q – Sounds like an interesting project, please keep us up to date on it! How do those in your life feel about discus?

A - My wife is very supportive and understanding. She kept telling me to buy more discus so that she didnt feel guilty about spending all her money on useless things like designer apparel, jewelry and by matching a new painting in the living room by changing the furniture every year. As long as I stay in my fish room and dont bother her gossiping with her friends. She is OK with that.

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

A - Once in a while. I have some discus that swim upside down and sideways with ease. They have no problem negotiating bends and turns. I found them very acrobatic. I usually save them and try to breed them as a Chinese Acrobatic Discus Team. So far, all have died before they reached adulthood. Im working on one now. She spins around in circle for about a minute when the light turn-on in the morning. Then she swims upside down for a while before righting herself, then she is fine for the rest of the day. You cant tell the difference. She only does her acrobatic moves during feeding time. She has trouble eating Tetrabits on the surface when shes upside down. She may be a cull but I find her interesting. Wouldnt it be funny have a tank full of her babies swimming upside down and doing spins and turns all over the tank?

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 - I have learned a lot form a group of retired Asian Breeders who showed me the best way to keep discus and are willing to share their trade secrets with me over a few bottle of beer as bait. They choose to be anonymous and stay behind the discus spotlight. Their trade secrets are being passed on to the new generation of hobbyists unintentionally by some of their followers. We have meetings every Saturday morning over morning tea to talk about discus. That makes life more enjoyable for me. Discus keeping is very therapeutic for our heavy daily schedule.

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

A - I can see the standard of discus in North America will be a lot different in the next few years. Quality discus pictures keep showing up on our forum. It is no doubt the result of some unselfish hobbyists and breeders and the internet. They spend their precious time answering questions through forums, PM and e-mail. I can see our future of discus keeping will at least equal to the rest of the world.

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

A - Keeping discus is an art. There is no absolute. Care and treatments are so variable with each individual fish depending on factors like locations and water conditions. Getting into argument over a fish is not worth it. Life is so short. I see life and death every day just separated by a split second. We should enjoy every minute of our life fully. Instead of fighting over some silly thing like who is right. I had PM and e-mail telling me I am full of it. That is fine with me. As long as my fish stay healthy and keep breeding . That is what counts. Thank you for wasting your time reading this and Have a Happy Xmas and Merry New Year!

Q: Thank you, Jimmy, for all of your insight and information! Not to mention your valuable time!

12-10-2002, 01:18 PM
Here's a really nice fish with a great metallic sheen.

12-10-2002, 01:19 PM
A nice snakeskin

12-10-2002, 01:20 PM
Here's a nice pair with fry.

12-10-2002, 01:22 PM
Some nice blue diamonds that are in the grow out phase.

12-10-2002, 01:31 PM
Some really pretty adult BD with great red eyes.

12-10-2002, 01:35 PM
Here is an assortment of aftican cichlids... How'd they get in here?

12-10-2002, 01:36 PM
Here is an impressive looking specimen. Nice orange spotted fish.

12-10-2002, 01:38 PM
This cat is apparently the boss/overlord of Jimmy's fishroom... He keeps the fish in line.

12-10-2002, 01:48 PM
I knew Jimmys interview would be outstanding. Im glad you guys nabbed him. Great tips Jimmy. We want more. Rich

12-10-2002, 01:48 PM
Thanks John for the great questions and taking the time to do this interview!!

And thanks Jimmy for giving us some insight into your experience and your life!!

Great interview and great pics!!



PS: Congrats on the new position as: COPD Rehab. Center next April!

12-10-2002, 01:49 PM
Nice cross here!

12-10-2002, 01:51 PM
I think that last one was one of Jimmy's BDxMR cross. I LOVE that fish!

This one is very golden and also impressive.

12-10-2002, 01:59 PM
Nice pattern on this discus.

12-10-2002, 02:01 PM
Fascinating! Great Interview! Thanks, Frank

12-10-2002, 02:03 PM
Nice job John and Jimmy.Now Jimmy all we need to do is figure out what Sat.you have free so my "road trip" partner (Gary) and I can come up for a visit.....We are only maybe 3 hrs away,down Buffalo way.


12-10-2002, 02:08 PM
Wow... :o Very Impressive Jimmy. I love your view's on life..

I will be trying the "Potential Breeder" tip tonight. 8)

Thanks so much for sharing such a great interview John, they just keep getting better and better.

Julz :)

12-10-2002, 02:36 PM
Nice interview John and Jimmy. Gorgeous fish. I love the expression on that cat!

12-10-2002, 02:49 PM
Cat? There was an image of a cat? ;)

hehe those Discus pics made me blind I suppose. ;D



12-10-2002, 03:15 PM
John, wonderful spotlight as usual. Jimmy, I loved reading all your responses. I think your last statement was my favorite. You do have beautiful fish. Oh, and I love the fact that you were spawning brown discus without even trying back in the 60s. I've found, even with my angelfish, that back when I was younger and I wasn't even trying, I had the most success. Now that my heart is set on it, I'm having a more difficult time than before. I guess that's the way things go :)


12-10-2002, 03:30 PM
Great interview!!! Thanks John for doing it.

Jimmy, nice fish and I like your cat!!!! Now if I can get to Toronto I would employ your bait and buy you a few beer's and pick your brain even more!!

12-10-2002, 03:38 PM

I thought that the breeding of discus on the balcony was classic. It reminded me of the time I spent 3-4 weeks without even seeing my fish - I had someone feeding lightly daily - and I returned to find fry in every single African cichlid tank!


Upper Canada
12-10-2002, 04:03 PM
I consider myself very fortuneate to have come to know Jimmy and some of his friends as a consequence of this hobby.

His knowledge is based on experience and not just on reading which, added to his personality makes him a great teacher and friend.

He has taught me a lot and the lessons continue.


Upper Canada Discus

12-10-2002, 04:12 PM
great interview, if not the best so far... :)

12-10-2002, 04:20 PM
Thanks again for a great Job John!

I truly wish I Lived closer to you. I would love to have Tea with you and your friends, and learn from you!

take care,

12-10-2002, 07:00 PM
Wow!!! :) Great interview, beautiful Discus. What a life Jimmy- I'm jealous ;) Thanks for taking the time, both John, and Jimmy. Thanks for sharing with us.

Hey! Who says that we Torontonians don't have beautiful Discus?! ;D

12-10-2002, 08:21 PM
Great interview!
Thank you for your time, Jimmy and John.

12-10-2002, 09:34 PM
Another great interview, thanks to John and JimmyL for making it all possible.

Don ;D

12-10-2002, 10:15 PM
Good interview. Thanks.


12-10-2002, 10:32 PM
Excellent interview!

Thanks Jimmy, I appreciate you sharing with us all.

Good job John!


12-10-2002, 10:33 PM
This was great interview. great questions. Jimmy......all I can say is that whenever I have had a problem you have provided me with a no-nonsense solution. I thank you. Call me for tea. I would be happy to drive 4 hour to have a chat with you.

Regards : Jim

12-10-2002, 10:55 PM
Thanks John and Jimmy,

Great interview, greater real life stories, sweet looking discus! As a newbie I have always have valued your practical (though somtimes unconventional) insight Jimmy.


12-10-2002, 10:55 PM
Cool Jimmy. now....if you can just come on over to vancouver and teach me how to keep discus.
i may have the water...but lots to learn. and not enough time.
one of these days i ought to come along with my sister as her bag carrier when she does a critical care workshop.
told you...you ought to go. tell her you know me. lol

12-11-2002, 01:28 AM
Great interview!! Thanks guys.

12-11-2002, 01:50 AM
Great Interview!
Nice of you to share your experiences with us... :)

12-11-2002, 02:24 AM
Thanks for sharing with us. When I come and visit my sister in Toronto, I'll be sure to come and look you up. Great interview.

12-11-2002, 03:27 AM
Hi all,
John, great job on the interview, as usual ;)
Jimmy, you sound like someone I would really like to meet. It was very nice hearing about your life and all. I would say to you to tell all those that sent you PM's and such, saying you are full of it, tell them EXACTLY where they can all go! (They're jealous!) It's just a shame that more people don't have your outlook on life(along with the things you've SEEN with your eyes) to really make them understand just HOW STUPID IT IS to argue, much less fight and KILL, over certain things in life(Brew, you know what I'm talking about!) Boy, can't we all take a few weeks off work or whatever and all meet somewhere to chat and have a great time and bond????????? Oh well, back to the daily grind tomorrow. It's nice to dream, though ;) Thanks again, Jimmy & John!


12-11-2002, 11:58 AM
When I first met Jimmy, I could tell right away his genuine love in discus and his sincerity in helping fellow hobbyist (even somebody like me who never had xperience in discus). Honestly, I would never jump in the hobby with both feet without his encouragement.

Great interview. John, you should have interviewed his cat as well. A very smart cat, I'll say.

12-11-2002, 06:49 PM
I was recently lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with Jimmy. Wow, did I learn a lot!

It was my first opportunity to see live fry with their parents. I don't know who was more excited by the sight -- me, seeing it for the first time, or Jimmy seeing it for the thousandth time.

Cheers to Jimmy.


12-11-2002, 11:25 PM
Thank you John and Jimmy for a great interview! I especially enjoyed reading about your life outside of discus, Jimmy, and how significant it is to the people with whom you come in contact in your work. You are an inspiration to all of us!



12-11-2002, 11:45 PM
Thanks for taking the time.
Very intersting life and very knowlegeable about discus.
You have some wonderful fish.
When I am sucessful breeding the curipera I will let you know and the first ones shipped will be sent to you.

12-12-2002, 12:18 AM
Thank you everyone at Simply. Thank you John.
Dennis: I just finish reading Oliver's input on Wilds. Now I realize how rare Curipera is . I never knew the things involved to ship one from the river to Canada. I thought you jkust go and pay the local people $5.00 and ship them here. I was so ignorant. I just hope you are the first person able to breed them and I'm the first to get the F1. I'll name them DH1, DH2, DH3 and so on. Thanks.

12-12-2002, 01:58 AM
Heh!!!! where do i fit in this plan??? i could be jimmys middle man....half way there...
ok Dennis..i really need some of those fry!!

12-12-2002, 10:03 AM
I found Jimmy about four months ago when I was looking for experienced Discus people in the Toronto area. As a result of that happy event (for me) - having access to such a deep pool of experience, I now feel confident enough to risk the time, effort, love and money to try to raise these beautiful fish. Because of Jimmy, I have a pair laying eggs right now. Soon fry...

Thanks Jimmy and I am glad that some of your personality came out in the interview. Too bad all of you folks couldn't know him personally. He is a very nice man.

Your student,

12-12-2002, 08:58 PM
Great interview. :thumbsup: I knew all along from his post and his fish he was class act.

12-13-2002, 02:22 AM
Hey Jimmy, looks like the electricity bill will go back down with the new 4.3 cent caps and a refund from this summer's high prices. Maybe more of your tanks will start to fill up again.

I do have to say that Jimmy's other cichlids are also really impressive. You saw them in the pics but they are even better in person.

12-13-2002, 02:36 AM
Sorry I've been so late to respond - busy week. Excellent article again John. I loved the pictures, but you left out the ones from the 70's this time . . .

JimmyL, we all benefit from your years of experience (and your tea drinking friends) Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Carol :heart1:

12-13-2002, 03:58 AM
Thanks, John and Jimmy... this interview is so great indeed.. ;D

P.S. I like the golden ;D


12-13-2002, 04:33 AM
Great interview and great discus :D :D :D .

Thank you very much for all the great tips you've given us Jimmy. You always response to any question we asked, no matter how dump it is. I will try to meet with you someday soon.

Thank you so much.


12-13-2002, 06:47 AM
Fantastic interview John & Jimmy. I so looked forward to this interview & I was not disapointed. I would also like to hook up with you next time I'm in TO ( once every 3 years lol), for a tea or beer and discus conversation. Great stuff ... thanks for sharing.

12-13-2002, 09:16 AM

12-13-2002, 12:41 PM
Great reading on someone with solid experience. Thanks, John and Jimmy :thumbsup:

12-15-2002, 01:28 AM
Great Interview! Thanks John! Thanks Jimmy! Thanks Simply!

12-17-2002, 12:17 AM
Great interview Jimmy!!!! ;D

12-17-2002, 12:41 AM

Thanks for sharing and giving us some great info and a look into your Discus & personal life. Your interview made for great reading!


12-18-2002, 09:17 AM
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

12-21-2002, 12:09 AM
Thanks John and Jimmy.


12-28-2002, 08:46 PM
Great interview. Jimmy, you have some awsome discus. Just love the pics of your BDs.

12-30-2002, 10:45 AM
Beautiful fish!!!!

Great interview!

Thank You both!


01-04-2003, 06:12 PM
Hey Jimmy and Johny!!

A wonderful insightful interview.

It is interesting that when you read about various members on the board, you can find many similarities. Like Jimmy, I was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Toronto, Canada when I was 9 yrs old. Although I live in Maryland now, I still have many friends, uncles, aunts, cousins that still live in and around Toronto. Who knows maybe Jimmy and I may have crossed paths once before?? It would be interesting to find out thought.

Regards, Lester

12-10-2009, 04:48 PM
Is there anybody can tell me how to contact Jimmy L at the moment?


12-10-2009, 06:14 PM
Is there anybody can tell me how to contact Jimmy L at the moment?



He logged on a while back but never posted, wish he'd bring his expertise back.