View Full Version : Apistomaster's Heckels

02-03-2007, 02:55 PM
Apistomaster's Heckels

I had a text for picture I'm going to upload, sent by Larry (Apistomaster):

"Hellow all of you who are intersted in what I have called "The Heckel Project". In brief it is attempt to provide a central clearinghouse of information to and from all who are interested in changing the Heckel Discus from being rarely bred to breeding them successfully and ultimately develop tank raised Heckels perhaps better adapted to life in captivity.
I can not cover every facet of what is going to be a very complicated multifaceted project on a time scale I expect will take many years.
In this installment Salvo Tatore, a skilled wild discus breeder, has offered to assist me post some photos I have taken of the ten Heckels I am working with and that includes some photos that help show how I have combined some of the benefits of the bare bottom method and the planted tank method of keeping discus. I previously raised ten turquoiserapidly to breeding adults so I had already established this as a viable method in which to keep discus.
First of all I aquired this group of Heckels in late May of 2006 as a group of ten three inch diameter fish. These were the smallest sized discus I have ever kept.The were described as "Rio Branco" Heckels. The Rio Branco is a tributary of the Rio Negro, the home range for most of the Heckels imported.They are all 4-1/2 to 5 inches in diameter at the time of this writing.
When I first received then they were quarantined one month all ten crowded into a 30 gallon tank. I feed them mainly blackworms during that period. I provided them with peat filtered RO water with a pH of 6.0, the total hardness of about 2 DGH and the temperatur was maintained at 88 to 90F.
They were move to their present home with the same water coditions but were gradually adapted to my local tapwater minus peat filtration until the pH was about 7.4 and 110 mg/L total hardness. I change about 70% of the water 2 to 5 times a week. The aquarium is a 75 gallon tank 48X18X20H in inches. The primary filter is a DIY wet/dry with a sump that contains an additional 25 to 30 gallons so the total volume of the system is 100 gallons thus meeting my goal of providing 10 gallons of water per fish. The wet/dry filter is driven by a MagDrive 9.5 and at about 40 inches of head I estimate the water is in coming at 850gph. Additiopn filtration includes an Eheim Classic 2217 Canister, a large sponge filter driven with a MagDrive #600 rated at 160gph and lastly I have a phosban reactor modified to retain 1/2 liter of SeaChem Purigen rechargeable organic scavenging resin for chemical filtration. All this flow may seem too much for discus but in truth, I have always found that if the discus have areas of high to low flows they will seek both as their mood moves them and they seem happiest with the flow than stillwater.
My light system is not very strong. It is barely enough to grow several Echinodorus species which are E. bleheri, E. amazonicus and E. parvaflora "Tropica".There are also a few Cryptocoryne speces and some Najas guadelupensis which has to be harvested regularly.The light are two AquaLight twin T-5 lamps each left on 16 hours/day.

There are other fish in with the Heckels but the wild Peruvian angel have been remove leaving 5 to seven each of the fllowing plecos; L66, L201, L134, L333 and an adult pair of Ancistrus sp.(3) and 4 Peckoltia vitatta. All these plecos act as replacements for Corydoras and seem to help a great deal with the clean up of the stray food particles. They also prefer the temperatures discus are kept than do most Corydoras. One point I want to make is that I had to remove all the Sturisoma from the Heckel tank because they beagan to attack the discus and removed life endangering amounts of skin slime. This was unfortunate as they are good algae eaters and very intersting catfish but I can not recommend that they be kepth with discus as I once did. There is also a school of Trifasciatus Pencil Fish.

I feed the discus and hence the other fish a varied diet. They seem to do well on earthworm pellets, frozen bloodworms, live blackworms and Tetra Color Granules. They ae also fed earthworm flakes, F.D. Bloodworms and Hikari Algae wafers. Yes, the Heckels do eat algae.

wafers. I made the decison early on not to feed them my standard discus beefheart blend I normally used in my production of domestic discus in favor of more natural food. This has caused them not to grow as fast as they would on beefheart but I am hoping that the result will be lowered risk of fatty deposits on the females' ovaries and better fertility."

And I say Thank You Larry...but there's some problem with server...I'm not able to manage attachements :mad:

02-03-2007, 02:58 PM
...other Larry's pic...
Thank You, Larry. ;)

02-03-2007, 03:29 PM
HI Larry and Salvo,
I have split this out of the original Thread and given it its own thread.. It was starting to get confusing elsewhere and this will enable members to follow it better.


02-03-2007, 04:42 PM
Hi Al, Salvo and all "Hecklers"
I thank you for the Heckel Section so that we can bring together our collective experiences and progress.
Without Salvo's help the photos would not have appeared. I see there was a problem with not being able to get only slighty enlarged thumbnails instead of a larger photos. At least you managed something to accompany the text. I didn't realize it had arrived and was rewriting something else. That is OK because this is still a project in it's fledgling stages. We have more to discover than we already know and I believe that this will occur over years not months.
I believe there will prove to be many different ways that will all prove effective and yet common themes will emerge that will prove to be essential to any attempts to breed Heckels in captivity.
Please, all of those interested fearlessly share your own thoughts and ideas so we can sythesize the best approaches that emerge that lead to success.
Where ever possible those who keep numbers of 6 or more(arbitrary number.) try to keep your Heckels in groups of their own kind. It is in these groups that their most natural behaviors emerge and please continue to post your photos and experiences. Heckels vary in appearance subject to geographical locations and other variables. We don't even know yet if the blue face Heckel is a variety or a characteristic of individual outstanding males. Just ton's of unanswered questioned yet to be answered. The main reason I suggest would be Heckel breeders to keep their Heckels with only other Heckels is based on many years of personal experience that in doing so I have learned just how much difference there is within the Heckel groups compare to mixed species groups or even single species collections of Blue, brown, and greens. Each variety/species behaves differently from each other.
I am not making an claims of being an authority on the discus fish but I am a student of them with many opportunities for their study in my life. The more I have learned the less I really know for sure. I think that is how it is supposed to work,
Larry Waybright

02-03-2007, 04:48 PM
You can email me the uneditted full size images and I will try to repost them...

Please send them to brewmaster15@netscape.com


02-25-2007, 06:34 PM
That's an interesting decision not to feed ox-heart mix. In the UK there has been quite a bit written recently about feeding ox-heart, most of it opposed.
for instance recently Mary Bailey has held forth quite strongly on the subject in PFK magazine.

I can better tell you now that it was in the 1970's that I had a batch of wild Heckels that I bought from a guy called Eberhard Schultze who owned the Highgate Aquarist at the time and was very well known discus keeper.

The fish I bought were about 2.5 to 3" (roughly 6-8cm) body size.
They were fed a standard ox-heart mix ie ox-heart with lots of flake food mixed in, kept together by gelatin.
They grew very quickly. About 9 months later they were between 5-6" (13-15cm) body size and at that time I sold them on to a local discus breeder.
A few months later he was cross breeding some of the fish, all of them males, with brown discus females. I saw the young myself, and they actually looked pretty indifferent, in my view not as nice as either browns or Heckels. (You'll guess that I don't really approve of hybridizing fish).
He had a theory at the time that blue discus were derivatives of brown-Heckel hybrids.

Anyway, I have read Heiko's remarkable discus book, and of course it is very clear that the diet of Heckels in the wild includes a great deal of algae and detritus, not to mention seasonal fruit etc.

But having raised a good number of very young discus to bright healthy spawning adults using ox-heart mix I am a bit puzzled about the objections that some people have to it. I can well believe that a similar meat such as turkey heart would be just as effective, but in an aquarium environment I'm not at all sure that with discus the growth and vitality to be obtained from more conventional tropical fish foods will compare very well with a good ox-heart mix.

I must say quickly, that I'm talking about a real mix, certainly not just pure ox-heart. The best flake food I found to go with it was Aquarian, with rather large flakes, and I put a lot of it into every mix.

Here's a pic of my last discus that were also raised from 2" to 6" in less than a year with that as their main diet, plus adult brine shrimps when I could get them, and Diskusin.

I also think that raising young wild fish gives the best chance of getting breeding adults, since they seem more easily able to adapt to aquarium conditions thanfull grown fish.

I would love to see some that do really well on other foods, but have you actually seen any discus that have really grown satisfactorily on them Salvo?


02-26-2007, 04:49 AM
Hi Alec,
Good to see you here.
Actually Salvo posted my text and photos as a courtesy for me so we are talking to each other.
It is I who wrote the accompanying text that I am choosing to avoid raising my Heckels on food more natural than warmblooded animal hearts. I don't mind using blends based on them for production line domestics.
Salvo was just helping me post the photos. Thanks again, Salvo.

Please stay involved.
Larry Waybright

02-26-2007, 03:53 PM
Hi, Alec.
Nice to read your comments.
I'm a beat against common ways to breed heckels, starting from feeding and going on with water parameters, in wich, I strongly believe, sometime we don't see really (as it is) the source of rises and falls.
Since I had the first heckels, they were very small (see attached pictures), I've started to read all about them, and bad suggestions came from "net literature", concerning parameters, use of salt (NACL), treatments and so on...
All I ever do is watch them several hours, and from behaviour you may understand if your walking on the right road or not.
About water parameters: I don't think that it could be useful to rise them in hardness, cause they take all they need from foods, and protection from peat's trace elements, and therefore, acid water.

The worst "bug" I've noticed everywhere is the anxiety of breeders to see discus growing as fast as they can, and in second time spawn.
I disagree totally, and speaking about heckel I am sure they take and need more time to grow up.

I don't need to see them quickly reach the 17/18 cm, cause they have many many seasons to grow up.

But I need to see them always satisfacted for foods, closer to their natural diet, and we have spoken in another thread about it ( see here the same heckels now, but the guests is bigger http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showthread.php?t=55670 ).

I don't think that heckels see beef heart floating and eat it on amazon black water, and even if I didn't use it I'm really satisfacted about results I had until now.

Spirulina, white worms, chironomus, live Artemia salina and industrial foods (depending from seasons) and nothing else.

I had no good experiences with B/H, but, of course, I speak with my experience, and I don't discuss about succesful experiences of other people.

02-27-2007, 02:02 AM
Hi Salvo!
Nice to see photos of your fish.
I do agree with you about not forcing their growth and that they probably get all the nutients and minerals they need from just their food. I made the decision from the beginning to not feed these Heckels any beefheart. As you say, there is no beefheart food floating around in their native waters.

More than any other reason I am using my tapwater as is because I am too lazy to produce enough RO water to keep up with my water changes.
It is also, I think, a good thing that we try different methods out. Some, even mine, may prove to be a mistake in the end. It is just part of this grand experiment we have undertaken to try to induce our Heckels to breed in our care.

I know that as mine approach breeding age and actually form pairs that I will gradually give those pairs water as similar to their native waters as I can. I am gambling on my tapwater not causing them any reproductive harm.

Only time and documented methods that provide happy outcomes will tell us what we need to know. Sometimes fish will accomodate us despite what we do. In the end, aquarium life is never a perfect reproduction of that in their native waters. Aquariums are always closed systems and at best only a rough simulation of the natural world.
All my best,
Larry W.