View Full Version : AUGUST 2005 SPOTLIGHT - ANDREW SOH

08-23-2005, 09:33 AM
Q - Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today. Let's start with a little bit about you. Please tell us as much as possible about yout background what you do for a living. Please also tell us anything you can about your family and your life in general.

A - My name is Andrew Soh and am 50 year old. I am trying to retire after years of working 17 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the age of 26, I started my own building construction business. It was a very lucrative venture but was caught off-guard during the 1987 October financial crisis. This lead to heavy losses and I almost wanted to commit suicide. I even thought of becoming a monk. But because I could not leave my family behind and the fighting spirit in me kept telling me never to give up and that everything is possible, I did not take up that escape route.

In 1989, I converted my discus hobby since the age 19 into a business venture by opening an aquarium shop specializing in only discus. In 1994, acquired 1.9 hectre of land to expand to ornamental fish production and export. My companys main interest is in research and development and is known as Associates Aquarium Pte Ltd. In my 1.9 hectre farm, I had more than 1000 discus tanks including 300 breeders tanks while the rest is for grow-out. We did a more than 1.0 million dollar project on a Water Recycling System for Intensive Culture of Discus and the Grow-out Production of Artemia. It was a project in collaboration with the Government, the University and a technical institution. My company is the principle investor. Part of the project information is revealed in my book, Discus, The Naked Truth.

I have a very caring wife, Helen, who is now working as a chauffeur….my children’s, not mine - driving them to Army or school and is on 24 hours standby. I have 2 sons and they are taller than me but not as handsome as me. The eldest, Dominick, is serving out his national service in the Army and will be going to Stanford University next year under scholarship while my second son, Benedict, is taking his University entry examination this year after which will serve 2 years national service in the army before going to University. The third is the jewel of my heart, my daughter Sabrina. She is still in high school 2nd year and is trying to run for Student union president. Their ages are 20, 18 and 14 accordingly. They are all my investments as well, but are definitely investments that will never get my money back. Only spiritual fulfillment I guess.

Q - Do you have any other hobbies or activities? It sounds like you don't have any time for anything else!

A - My hobbies from young to old include Bowling (180 average), Archery (bulleyes once in a while), Shooting (marksman), Ice-skating (hockey team once and the best place to woo girls), Karate (black belt and best student), Parachuting (best jumper in Academy), Cooking (best in Singapore - I think anyway!) and the one that take up most of my time and occupied most part of my life is Discus (still learning). It is in my blood. There is a phase in my life where I spent more time looking at discus than looking at my wife, but don’t tell her that!

Q - Andrew, I keep hearing about your book. I haven't had the opportunity to see it, but I have heard very good things. Please tell us a little bit about how it came about and what is in the book. Also, please forgive me if I am completely ignorant about you and the contents of your book, since I haven't read it.

A - After years of experience and romancing with discus, I kept hearing excuses and ‘Blame-pushing’ (In chinese terms, we call it ‘Tai Chi’). In another word, ‘Finger-pointing’. Many dealers gave stupid excuses whenever the discus they sold were sub-standard. Whenever they sell you sick discus, they always say “They were good when you were here. It could be your water.” And when you proved that the perameters were the same as theirs, they finger-pointed the diet. “Oh! You shouldn’t feed with beefheart for the first few weeks - this will cause constipation or that the feed you are using was wrong. They would then start recommending new things to earn extra money. During those years when exporting discus was a major part of my business, I made sure that discus were 99% healthy through a good quarantine program, thus I was able to give a 2 week guarantee to overseas customers, promising that the fish not fall sick during that time and also promising a zero mortality in shipments. Any shipment that fall sick within the 2 weeks of arrival would be replaced or payment reimbursed. Even customers in Japan were so happy because they could sell my discus within the first week of arrival without quarantine with no complaints from customers. By the way, I am not now a major discus exporter so this is not an advertisement for my company.

Anyway, for years I wanted to tell the world the naked truth about discus and expose all the excuses. I didn’t have a chance as I was very much involved in the discus business until now. Whether readers agreed with me or not or dealers in discus all over the world like me or not, I feel the need to set the standard of discus straight. The title of my book ‘Discus, The Naked Truth’ simply means just that - THE TRUTH! I am sure that those who read my book know that I am telling the truth to the best of my knowledge. I know some breeders or dealers in discus do not want to promote my book. The possible reasons I can think of are maybe the price as printing cost in Singapore is expensive or the fact that the TRUTH in the book might affect their business. To many, the less people that know the TRUTH, the better. That way at least junk discus will still have customers.

If you read the book, you will understand how bigger hatcheries work and how to solve discus disease objectively to save your discus. To me, the most interesting part is the ‘Frequently Asked Question’ section.

Beside the book, I am also selling some new inventions like Pro-more and Pro-growth. There are a few discus retailers who bought it for their own use but refuse to recommend to hobbyists, especially the Pro-more which will help the breeders to produce more quality milt and eggs, thus resulting in higher fertilization and yield. It is a product that definitely works for all fishes. Why are they not recommending these products? You know why.

Q - So how did you first get into discus? How did your first discus keeping experience work out?

A - Why did I start keeping discus? Well, at the age of 19, group interest was the call of the day. Though I had been keeping fishes since six, I couldn’t afford to buy discus as they were of premium price and I come from a poor family. But one day, after following my two friends to a discus hobbyists home I got stung by the discus bug, got a fever and with the cheap breeder’s price (only US $1.50) offered I could not resist buying 10 pieces of the brown discus while each of my friends bought 20 pieces.

That was the start of my discus hobby. But since I had no experience, I fed them with worms (Tubiflex and bloodworm). After about a month, went to my friends’ place and was shock to see that their discus were growing faster than mine. How could that be? I had less discus to tend to. This drove me to analyze the situation and finally came up with a plan. I believed that by feeding more and making more water changes per day and bringing up the temperature one hour before each feeding would help my fish to grow faster. I tried it, and it did!!! After one and a half montha, my discus got bigger than theirs! What an achievement! My confidence in raising discus was reinforced.

Needless to say, as time passed, having Browns only was not satisfying anymore and I slowly graduated to other expensive strains. I remembered one incident years later. I used more than a month’s salary to buy a pair of adult discus (US$1000). Overwhelmed, I pampered them by regularly switching on the heater to 30C which was what some books suggested then. Unfortunately, one week into the purchase, I came home from work to find my pair of discus cooked by the faulty heater. Just imagine the loss - US$1000 down the drain in just one week.

Q - Please tell us about your set-upfor discus. Please tell us all about it!

A - Actually, I do not deal much with discus now. But I may go back into it later when I am fully retired and might just take it as a hobby. One truth about this trade is there are no new strains in the market and too many breeders in the world. Do you think breeders are making huge profit or is it the traders? I will restart an extensive breeding program when I have successfully mutated a new strain. Read my book and you will understand. For the time being, I am writing a new book, also telling the truth.

Q - Please tell us what you are up to now and if you have any plans for breeding the fish yourself?

A - Honestly, I do have some discus that I have applied technology to try to mutate them - trying to play God you might say. I have nothing to show for it and not they are not beautiful at all at this stage. Hopefully in a year’s time or two. Not selling them at this point.

Q - What have been the biggest challenges for you as a keeper of discus?

A - In discus hobby, the challenge is to create your own discus. The passive side of this hobby is to keep them alive. The gene pool is so huge…creating new strains is not an impossible dream.

Q - What are your favorite fish? Tell us about them!

A - If you want to know the strain of discus that helped me grow my business? It is the strain known globally as ‘Babyface discus’. Heard of it before? In my time, 1990, that was the best!

Q - Can you think of anything that was done when you first started that would help discus keepers?

A - To all Simply Discus readers, know that discus is an interesting yet demanding fish. If you want to be successful in discus keeping sometimes you have to move away from the norm suggested by many books of the past and discover your own strength and discover new possibilities. We must understand that many recommendations in certain books carry with them the invested interest to sell a product. I am not saying this is wrong but there is a tendency for hobbyists to over-react or overdo and without thorough understanding of fish pathology because of a fear of failure. These books can feed these problems. Instead of solving them, they move deeper into confusion. This is very common.

Q - Is there anything else you would like to add about discus, the website or anything else?

A - I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who voted for me and those that would have but did not need to vote, as there were already sufficient votes to throw me into the spot.

Here are a few tips. To be a successful breeder, you need to-

a) Select the best and healthiest discus to start with. Do not be deceived by just the phenotype of the discus or the extreme brightness or artificial glow of the fish. Health is more important than strain or color.

b) Give your discus good water quality not only by monitoring the perameters of the water but also by adding new water regularly. Whether it is ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, all these retard growth.

c) Give your fish a well balanced diet. This includes a good mix of vitamins, protein, immune-stimulants, fiber, minerals and trace elements. Some may be added to the water while others can be incorporated in beef-heart mix and so on.

d) A regular feeding schedule is very important. If you feed 3 times or 2 times per day at certain intervals, feed at the same time everyday. Do not feed one day at 7 am and am or 11am another day.

e) It is best not to feed your fish live aquatic animals from a freshwater source. Artemia is my choice and since it is from a saltwater source, parasites cannot be introduced.

f) Quarantine all new arrivals for at least 3 weeks before putting them together with the old.

g) Periodic prophylactic treatment once every two months is recommended.

h) All new plants must be treated with short bath of Hydrogen Peroxide (15 minutes) @ 10ml of 3% HP to 1 liter water after which you should rinse and put into tank.

i) Whenever you encounter a problem with your discus, don’t wait! Post your problem in the forum.

j) Lastly and most importantly, have my book by your side. You will not regret it!

To all my friends out there, I am a perfectionist. Whatever I do and wish to learn, I always do my best to acquire whatever knowledge I can and if there is room for improvement, I will definitely find it and perfect it to the best of my ability. There is one thing I cannot bear and it is to preach quality but not deliver it.

Back in 1990, it was well known to hobbyists that when they were in my shop and theyt selected a discus that wasn't perfect I would refuse to sell it to them - then I would cull it and ask them to choose another.

There was a common saying that went like this ‘If you want cheap discus, don’t go to Associates Aquarium. But if you want quality, that is the place.’ Maybe that is why I am not a very rich man...

Q - Thank you, Andrew, for your time and your thoughts.

A - Thanks John! I finally did it! Wowwww...getting smarter....

08-23-2005, 09:57 AM
Good going Andrew and John. Now let's see lots of photo's :)

08-23-2005, 10:58 AM
Thanks Andrew and John! I'll read the book, when I can get it away from Tad. :mad:

But like Jeep said... let's see lots of pics!!


08-23-2005, 11:48 AM
Hey Andrew:

Good show! :), and we all hope to read more posts from you on this forum :)....


08-23-2005, 12:06 PM
very good read. i got to meet this man.

Barb Newell
08-23-2005, 01:38 PM
Thanks Andrew and John, great interview!


08-23-2005, 01:40 PM
Very interesting interview. Will have to get the book! Nice job guys!

08-23-2005, 02:08 PM
Andrew, great interview, I look foreward to reading your book.


08-23-2005, 06:12 PM
Thank-you and where can I find your book?

Andrew Soh
08-23-2005, 08:09 PM
Hi Jeep,

What photos would you like to see. Discus?...not nice and have explained, I am mutating them..using all different nice and ugly strains. Further to that, they are not hormone fed and are only lightly color-enhanced for selection. So, high quality, not very nice in photos. Will try to put up tomorrow...no promise

My photo? not that handsome actually....just a good discus specimen...fat and rounded as can be seen in my book. Some told me the discus photo on page 8 is nice...I have to agree...he!he!

As to the other good friends and supporters, thanks for your kind words. Will stay in Simply to learn and share....and maybe see some of you guys in the States next year ;)

Warmest regards,
Andrew :angel:

crimson cross
08-23-2005, 10:21 PM
Cooking(Best in S'pore) ?? When we see you in the Bay Area, you'll have your chance to prove it...lol..
Take care.

08-24-2005, 03:29 AM
Andrew thank you so much for making this an interesting read. John thank you for creating this spotlight idea that really lets us understand people better. The questions are well rounded and spot on.
Andrew I look foward to buying your book but that link you sent me to paypal didnt work. Could you please send it to me again... Thanks again and I am happy we got to know you a little better.

Yours Sincerely


08-24-2005, 07:36 AM
This is an absolutely great read!! Now I'm more than curious to know all in that book. Andrew and John, thanks for your time and interview. Questions were answered in full visual scope! That helps. I love the reply to question #9

(Q - Can you think of anything that was done when you first started that would help discus keepers?

A - To all Simply Discus readers, know that discus is an interesting yet demanding fish. If you want to be successful in discus keeping sometimes you have to move away from the norm suggested by many books of the past and discover your own strength and discover new possibilities. We must understand that many recommendations in certain books carry with them the invested interest to sell a product. I am not saying this is wrong but there is a tendency for hobbyists to over-react or overdo and without thorough understanding of fish pathology because of a fear of failure. These books can feed these problems. Instead of solving them, they move deeper into confusion. This is very common.

This is so true when I say I have practiced the above reply!! Sort of gave me definition instead of feeling rejected and lost. Stepping out and reflecting in any area of life does give one time to rethink and re-sort all they learned about. :)

Andrew, I'm shooting to get your book this week.

Thanks again!

08-24-2005, 04:18 PM
Great interview :thumbsup:

Andrew Soh
08-24-2005, 11:24 PM
Hi Jeep,
The PayPal account should work...

It is at

Soh Andrew

Try again Jeep.

BUt if you want the book without inscription...check it out with Ryan.

And thanks for all the kind works...they definitely brighten up my day!!

Take care my friends,

08-24-2005, 11:24 PM
Andrew and John,

Thanks for a "great" interview, Its great to learn more about Andrew and his life with discus. Im currently reading "The Naked Truth" and its an "excellent read"....Hope to see you Andrew when you visit Stanford,


08-27-2005, 06:47 AM
John -Thanks again for the work in putting these together! These interviews Take a bunch of your time and Its appreciated!

Thanks for taking the time to write about your personal life. It was great to learn more about you. Good luck with the "mutations", Some day I hope to do the same.


Andrew Soh
08-28-2005, 09:07 PM
Thans Al,

Hopefully I am blessed with good result...a new discus in the market??? ;)

Take care,
Andrew :angel:

08-30-2005, 02:53 PM
Andrew: Great interview. Are babyface " Lo Foo Kow" or face of "Tiger dog".? All my fish that I bred had been crossed with them including the F3 wild strains.

Gold Mt Discus
09-01-2005, 01:15 AM
Great interview!!! You are way to Cool!!!

09-02-2005, 08:56 AM
Thank You, Andrew.
I appreciate your experiences and knowledge, and that you are so willing to help others. Brave and true= a good man!

09-02-2005, 02:41 PM
What do you mean for this;

Periodic prophylactic treatment once every two months is recommended.

09-04-2005, 03:59 PM
Just like to say, this book is better than any other I've read on discus.

If you get it, you won't be disappointed.



Andrew Soh
09-04-2005, 09:17 PM
Hi everone, Thanks for your compliments :) :) :)

Hi Jimmy, I don't know whether it is 'TigerHead' or not...but back in those years, 'Babyface' is sort after discus like the 'Leopard Snakeskin'. Many new hobbyists may not have heard of the discus in the 90's. Genetically, it is very round and yet can grow all the way up to 8ins in body length, not including the tail.

As for Tribalmush my friend, if you are very sure that you have not been feeding them frozen or live freshwater aquatic animal like bloodworm, tubiflex, mosquito larve, blackworm and so on ....and you confrimed that all your discus and system have gone through well controlled prophylactic treatment for both ecto and endoparasites before, you don't really need to do prophylactic treatment every 2 months...maybe no need to do at all.

But because of the inability to perfect the quarantine treatment and the pampering of discus with freshwater aquatic animal, a 2 month prophylactic treatment may deem necessary.

Thank you guys, did I tell you I am a good cook too?..he!he!

Take care,
Andrew :angel:

Andrew Soh
09-04-2005, 09:29 PM
Sorry my friends,

Forgot to thank Alan and those kind hearts for giving my book the highest rating ;) . I want to .... :cry: :cry: :cry: :heart2: :heart1: :heart2:

It makes my day...even if I don't make my million ;) .

Thanks again,

Warmest regards,
Andrew :angel:

09-18-2005, 01:44 PM
Well Done Guy's

Andrew we need to talk real soon about the Koi swords
I been messing with them for a year now they seem to throw more males then females. also my last spawn produced some albinos. anyways I'am just guessing but is the Koi a green x velvet cross?

Again Good job and great to have you aboard Good luck with Your new book
IMO its a good read!

Cary Gld!

Andrew Soh
09-19-2005, 09:02 PM
Hi Cary,

Thanks. The Koi swords as shown in my book started from Albinos. Those sold in the US and other parts of the world are further develpoments resulting in Black eyes and Tuxedos. But when these Swords inbreed, they will give some Albinos....because some still carry the recessive albino allele.

It is not a cross between a green and a velvet. It is from many outcrossings among the subspecies of the big Xiphophorus family.

Take care,
Andrew :angel:

10-07-2005, 08:35 AM
nice to read about you Andrew. Sounds like you have a very rich life..and successful rich in money or not..three great kids..who are doing well..still have a great love of discus..and kept going all those years..and wrote a book that everyone is impressed with..etc etc. oh..and a great cook. : )
Guess ill have to get the book.

10-07-2005, 12:07 PM
Well my parents met Andrew last week in Singapore and bought the book for me. I'll see it in December when I go home for XMAS, can't wait.

Andrew went and delivered the book at the Hotel they were staying at and they told me he was one HELL OF A NICE GUY to talk too.

Andrew i never got a chance to express myself but you my dear Sir are one Humble person with alot of experience and for that I take my hat off to you.

I will meet you someday cause singapore is like my second home. I look foward to reading this book and I am sure there is alot to learn from. I would encourage people to buy it simply because it helps an author get recognised and i hope some day it will be published and sold on the general market. I have heard alot about it and only good things so thanks again for the spotlight and more so.......

THANK YOU JOHN. this is an excellent contribution to any forum an dyou put alot into it.

Jason :)

11-25-2005, 03:02 PM
Great Interview!

I really enjoyed it


Gold Mt Discus
05-22-2006, 04:55 AM
Got your book Andrew. I like it! Well worth the money. Lots of good info.