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Thread: Discus. Facts and myths

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    Default Discus. Facts and myths

    I was only researching about keeping discus, so not having any myself but I find a lot of controversial material between how discus are kept in aquariums and what they have in nature.

    I found an article, sadly not in English but I used google translate. It's in regards to the discus diet. Apparently beef heart and such isn't close to anything they eat in nature or naturally need for proper health according to this anyway. Further down I have put some links to biotopes from different regions too. Even the temperatures measured aren't as high as discus are kept in tanks. Why is that?

    Here is the article about the diet:

    Proper feeding of fish is one of the most important factors in maintaining the health of it in our tanks. To choose the appropriate type of food species, it is necessary to know about what they feed on in the wild. This information can be obtained quite easily in scientific publications and the work of the researchers involved in the description of the natural environment. Only that scientific knowledge is often one side of the coin, a practice used by breeders and hobbyists is the second. In many cases, the main idea is the rapid increase in the effective propagation of fish. However, this has little to do with their proper condition and health. When selecting the type of food, and in many cases, searches are often the most essential and not always reliable messages. Omitted statements true authority in the field, in the nature of scientific observations. A huge shame, because this leads to a variety of misunderstandings and poor breeding fish. This applies not only to fish caught, but forms of farming.

    One of the most famous examples are the fish of the genus Symphysodon, which for years have fed hearts bazowo mix of beef, turkey or chicken breast with a spinach greens and sugar snap peas. This is one side of the "food problem", which you can read by typing in Google "disk, nutrition." The other side, the scientific knowledge of nutrition representatives of this genus in nature, is presented below. And how does this apply to you?

    I will not give up in this article discuss the matter feeding discus fish meat of warm-blooded animals, but the present knowledge about their diet in the wild.

    In 2006 Heiko Bleher in his paper "Bleher's discus" (p. 510-595) has published detailed information about the diet discus collected during several expeditions to the Amazon basin. Presented the analysis of stomach contents, as well as direct observations in nature over 8500 specimens. Although most of the information given by Bleher is estimated, however, in the case of S. haraldi presented quantitative data (number of samples is not given, p 593). According to Bleher during high water content in S. haraldi intestines were: 12% algae, 44% of the plant material (flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves), 6% detritus, aquatic invertebrates, 16% and 22% of terrestrial and arboreal arthropods. In the dry season, when the water is low in the intestine, said: 25% of algae, detritus 39%, 9% plant material, aquatic invertebrates 22% and 5% of terrestrial and arboreal arthropods.

    In 2008, he appeared in the development of Crampton "Ecology and life history of an Amazon floodplain cichlid: the discus fish Symphysodon (Perciformes: Cichlidae), a summary of many years of research in the natural environment in the area Tefé in Brazil. The study was conducted on the phenotypes blue and brown discus Symphysodon haraldi sense Bleher, 2006.

    Crampton said that Symphysodon haraldi mainly feeds on algae mixture peryfitycznych, detritus and green parts of plants (FOD). The three groups were combined food in combination in a single category because of the practical difficulty in separating them. However, the green plant material in the form of fragments of leaves was not more than 15% of the total volume. The rest of the material, it was difficult to distinguish the partially digested periphyton and organic detritus.

    The rainy season - 89% of the fish have stomachs entirely filled with food, or not less than 50%. The intestines were:

    Periphyton and FOD (detritus and decomposing fragments of green plants) - 77%

    Dekapoda (ten-) - 5%

    Chironimidae larvae (Chironomidae) - 10%

    Bark and wood chips COD, insect larvae and crustaceans - 8%

    The dry season - 68% of fish stomachs were filled to 30%, and 32% completely empty, with no reflux. The intestines were:

    Periphyton and FOD (detritus and decomposing fragments of green plants) - 55%

    Pieces of wood and bark COD - 10%

    Dekapoda (ten-) - 4%

    Chironimidae larvae (Chironomidae) - 10%

    Insect larvae and crustaceans - 21%

    The periphyton in the floodplain forests of the Amazon contains many species of filamentous algae growing on the branches and fallen leaves. Periphyton is a substantial part of primary production and is an important source of energy for fish populations in these waters (Araujo Lima et al, 1986; Forsberg et al, 1993).

    Organic detritus that is deposited on periphyton and collects the fragments submerged wood or plant itself is an important source of food for many species of Amazonian fish (Araujo-Lima et al, 1986).

    At low water, causing the ground dipped slightly smaller increase in periphyton. By the action of waves on the beaches of clayey water clarity is reduced, thereby reducing the availability of light is necessary for the growth of algae. These factors may explain why in the dry season in the observed population discus stomachs were only partially filled with food, and invertebrates accounted for the bulk of their diet. During the period of high water discus usually swim in open, well-lit waters of the flooded forest, where periphyton grows most abundantly. During this period, invertebrates were surprisingly low percentage of diet discus, although they are an important source of protein.

    The digestive tract of the genus Symphysodon poorly characterized wyróżnicowany elongated stomach and intestine, with a length of 300 mm and a width of 3 mm (for individuals with a length of 180 mm SL). This type of bowel is typical for representatives of cichlids herbivorous or omnivorous detrytusożernych.

    Bleher published data (2006) for S. discus and S. aequifasciatus indicate an increased content of algae, plant matter and detritus during periods of both low and high water. The data here Crampton (2008) for S. haraldi show less variability diet and a much larger percentage of periphyton / detritus in the gut than those presented by Bleher (2006). These differences may reflect variations in the natural diet of different populations and taxa of the genus Symphysodon.

    Summarize the knowledge contained in these two studies ask ourselves whether scientific approach, more recently criticized on many forums and speeches aquarium makers should not give us anything to think about? Is the rapid growth of fish, reaching unnatural size is a good site, or rather real harm aquarium fish? Please note that the improper nutrition your body is constantly exposed to stress, and thus there is no immunity. The consequence of inadequate nutrition is susceptible to a variety of pathogens. Is, then, worth the risk?

    My disk of trapping are fed by "scientific scheme." Receive differentiated based on artificial foods spirulina, mixes containing spinach, peas, shrimp and krill larvae and wodzienia. Until now, even though I have them almost a year were neither treated nor dewormed.

    Literature

    Araujo-Lima CARM, B. Forsberg R. V., Martinelli L., 1986, Energy sources for detritivorous fishes in the Amazon, Science, 234: 1256-1258.

    Bleher, H., 2006, Bleher's discus, Volume I, Pavia, Italy, Aquapress.

    Crampton W.G. R., 2008, Ecology and life history of an Amazon floodplain cichlid: the discus fish Symphysodon (Perciformes: Cichlidae), Neotropical ichthyology, 6 (4): 599 - 612th

    BR Forsberg, CARM, Araujo-Lima LA, Martinelli RLV, Bonassi JA, 1993, Autotrophic carbon sources for fish of the Central Amazon, Ecology, 74: 643-652.



    And here some links to discus habitats and biotope examples. Temperatures measured in two of these habitats are only 26-27C.

    http://www.aquapress-bleher.com/inde...mid=64&lang=en

    http://www.aquapress-bleher.com/inde...mid=64&lang=en

    http://www.aquapress-bleher.com/inde...mid=53&lang=en

    http://www.aquapress-bleher.com/inde...mid=53&lang=en

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    To summarize the long thread about the diet if one can't read the bad translation, this is what's written on seriously fish in shorter words:

    To Alan. The diet You wrote about is bollocks It’s a strange thing that rarely anybody thinks about what actually feeding the meet of warm-blooded animals does to the (most of) fish. In case od S. sp the results of such a diet means an outstanding growth, coloration.. Everything bigger and better than in the nature. Well.. it does sound strange, doesn’t it? In the Amazon, where they can eat what they want and need they are smaller, yet they are not underfed.

    Another thing, in the natural habitat discus is a rather hardy species. It does well avoiding any problems with parasites. Why is that?

    The DIET of course! Becouse DISCUS IS MAINLY A HERBIVORE SPECIES!

    How so?! What are You talking abou! Blasphemy! Burn him into a crisp!

    There were many dissections of discus in the wild. For polish speakers I hereby present the link:
    http://krytykaakwarystyczna.wordpres...don-w-naturze/

    The unprocessed food was analised by Crampton, and the result is, that at the wet season 77% of the food was detrytus and plant matter, 5% were decapods, 10% Chironimidae larvae, 8% were composed of wood matter, bugs and Crustacea. In the dry season, the balance drifts towards bugs and crustacea (only 55% were composed ef the detrytus/plant matter).

    Their intestines are not built for devouring the flesh of the warm-blooded animals. It’s typical for plant eaters.

    What is the CORRECT FOOD ?

    -spirulina
    -spinach
    -peas
    -other vegetables
    -shrimps
    -glassworm
    -bloodworm
    -krill

    No fish meat was ever found in the stomach of a wild discus.

    So it’s NOT RECOMMENDED to give them:
    -fish

    And it WRONG to give them:
    -hearts of warm-blooded animals
    -or any parts of warm blooded animals.

    It makes them sick, destoys their organs, especially livers. The wrong diet is the cause of the discus beeing considered as a hard-to-breed fish. It’s easy! Bit you need to mind their normal diet! The one that they were constantly exposed since thousands of years.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    so what are you saying??
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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    It probably comes down to wild discus versus tank-bred discus. All South American cichlids will show differences between F0 (wild-caught) and F1 generations. As they've bred and raised in captivity they become more tolerant of wider parameters. A great example of that would be panda uaru, Uaru fernandezyepezi. The wild-caught fish are notoriously difficult to acclimate at a small size and are often shy and timid, requiring very low lighting and extremely soft, acidic water to prevent the development of hole-in-the-head. Several years ago I managed to obtain a group of tank-bred U. fernandezyepezi that were bold, aggressive, and grew extremely well in my harder water. They were totally different than wild-caught specimens. Things like pH, hardness, temperature, and diet are variable -- as we breed hardier fish, the ability to tweak and play with these parameters becomes possible.

    We have covered the beefheart topic here many times before and there will never be an agreement on its use. In the early days of discus keeping it was a cheap, easily-made, high protein food that would grow discus fast. While it's probably true that this animal protein could lead to fatty deposits on the liver and reduce the overall lifespan of the fish, there have been many discus keepers who've had their fish 7 or 8+ years and managed to keep them happy and healthy on this diet. Most people these days feed other sources of protein, such as bloodworms, blackworms, red wrigglers, etc. High protein foods will ensure good growth and help discus reach their maximum potential. You don't have to feed them this way; it's strictly up to you. Most people here just choose to feed them this way because it's been proven to work time and time again. I knew a few hobbyists here years ago who grew beautiful, large discus on nothing but Tetra Bits.

    On the subject of vegetable matter in their diets, a lot of discus hobbyists do address this by feeding spirulina flakes or by mixing things like spinach, spirulina, and other greens into beefheart or seafood mixes. I would guess that discus ingest a lot of dead vegetation in the form of detritus from the riverbeds while foraging for food. This doesn't happen as frequently in tanks because most people keep their tank bottoms clean. I've never known a discus to seek out and eat plants which makes me question whether they're "mainly herbivores" by design, or by consequence. To go back to the Uaru, for example -- they are truly herbivorous, usually devouring any kind of plants of greenery you offer them.

    Temperatures do fluctuate from location to location in Amazonia, and also with the seasons. Still, I would be hesitant to keep discus long-term in anything below 80F. I usually aim for 82F with adults. I follow this same rule of thumb with other South American cichlids (with the exception of some of the southern-most cichlids, like Gymnogeophagus). Keep them for a while and let the temperature dip into the 70s, and you'll see why. They tend to get sluggish and generally act "off." Cooler water is great in the short-term, though. A water change with cool water will usually induce spawning, for instance.

    The bottom line is that most people follow what works. Does that mean you cannot deviate from it? No. For people wanting to get into discus for the first time, the advice given here is a guideline that has been proven to be successful. As hobbyists gain more experience they can and do try different methods, some with success and some without. I often mix discus with other cichlids and angels, something discus purists nearly had a heart attack over when I mentioned it in the late 90s on a discus message board. I also got banned from a chat room once because I told a roomful of European discus hobbyists that fishless cycling was the best way to go, and they said I was purposely trying to encourage people to kill their fish by cycling a tank with pure ammonia. As you get comfortable with the fish and your ability as a discus keeper, you branch out and try new things.
    Last edited by Ryan; 04-08-2013 at 12:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Well said Ryan!

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Interesting read.....its like keeping Chicken...free range country Hens spend most of their time foraging and eating whatever comes their way,they don't die, but they grow relatively slowly,mature slowly and lay approximately 125 eggs per year...on the other hand commercial laying hens are fed an extremely balanced diet with the optimum amount of Protein, fiber Calcium,Phosphorous Calories etc...are currently they are able to produce around 320 eggs per year !!..

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    It is a great read, but as Ryan said, it has always been trial and error with raising healthy discus.

    Are we straying from their natural enviornment? For wilds, yes I would say as they are not getting what they would normally get in the own waters. For domestics, I would say people have seen things like beefheart not only grow your discus fast but they reproduce without any ill effects on their fry.

    The one good thing about raising discus or any fish for that matter is experimenting to see what works and keeps them healthy. People don't try and do something that would harm their fish, only make their fish happy.

    I am sure you could go back to long time experiments with people like Jack Wattley or Schmidt Focke some 30+ years ago and read some of their books. They were some of the early pioneers in discus keeping and they have done wonders using a variety of tests including foods. And, they grew out some of the most beautiful discus around. Still to this day people still try to obtain a Wattley or Focke discus.
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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    I personally think that at least some of the conclusions that the poster is making are poorly thought out and wrong. They are made because he is trying to make a point. As an example "In the Amazon, where they can eat what they want and need "...BS. Like most wild animals they eat whatever they can to fill their stomachs. It is not like the discus are living in a pet store or having fish keepers coming in daily to feed them. They eat what they can.

    4 post and already we have decided that 99% of successful discus keepers are wrong. Hey if you what to do it differently then please do, but quit trying to tell everyone else what to do until you test and prove this BS.

    -john
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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Yes, it sounds like the chicken story. Those "healthy" grown chickens don't live a normal life actually, but they are bigger alright. If you've ever tasted a home grown chicken and eggs, compared to the "balanced, healthy diet ones" you'd taste the difference. I wouldn't try a discus though . It just seems to me not so reasonable to boost a fish's size by feeding such foods. It's like growing a fat child feeding sausages and chips but then again I don't have experience with discus. I was just asking because if I never went on forums, I would have done a totally different approach. Although I still don't know what I'll do. I am just enquiring yet

    I also got banned from a chat room once because I told a roomful of European discus hobbyists that fishless cycling was the best way to go, and they said I was purposely trying to encourage people to kill their fish by cycling a tank with pure ammonia. As you get comfortable with the fish and your ability as a discus keeper, you branch out and try new things.
    He, he. My local shop employees, only a few months ago, were looking at me like I was crazy when I mentioned I was cycling a tank with ammonia.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    I personally think that at least some of the conclusions that the poster is making are poorly thought out and wrong. They are made because he is trying to make a point. As an example "In the Amazon, where they can eat what they want and need "...BS. Like most wild animals they eat whatever they can to fill their stomachs. It is not like the discus are living in a pet store or having fish keepers coming in daily to feed them. They eat what they can.

    4 post and already we have decided that 99% of successful discus keepers are wrong. Hey if you what to do it differently then please do, but quit trying to tell everyone else what to do until you test and prove this BS.
    Fair enough, but if you bothered to read it isn't me claiming that. It's a copy/paste. These are the conclusions of Heiko Bleher. Since I can't ask him to elaborate further, I thought I'd ask here.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Your not really asking...you are trying to push your agenda. If you want to try the diet then do so and then report back how it works for you. I am pretty sure you probably hold heiko in much higher esteem then most people that have been around a long time.

    -john
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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Nicholson View Post
    Your not really asking...you are trying to push your agenda. If you want to try the diet then do so and then report back how it works for you. I am pretty sure you probably hold heiko in much higher esteem then most people that have been around a long time.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Quote Originally Posted by warlock4169 View Post
    Hieko has 3 books! with pictures!!!
    LOL...Skip you are killing me here.

    -john
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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Your not really asking...you are trying to push your agenda. If you want to try the diet then do so and then report back how it works for you. I am pretty sure you probably hold heiko in much higher esteem then most people that have been around a long time.
    What agenda? Have you personally, as an experienced discus keeper, provided a different diet and compare the results, growth, health, etc..., then came to your conclusions about what's the best diet? Or were you stuck onto the same thing all those years, denying anything else that comes across as total nonsense just because you are afraid to realize you've been wrong all along, or to prove your point you are right?
    If you don't have the experience of both methods, then why comment?
    I am looking for experienced opinion from someone that has done it both ways.

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    Default Re: Discus. Facts and myths

    Quote Originally Posted by warlock4169 View Post
    Hieko has 3 books! with pictures!!!
    How many have you written?

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