|Copyright: Lucas Aguilar (laguilar)
|Date Taken: 2011-08-29|
|Camera: Canon Powershot SX210IS|
|Exposure: f/3.1, 1/30 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2011-09-27 0:20|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note [Spanish]|
Distribution: The Heckel Discus, also known as the Red Discus, Pompadour Fish, and Red or Blue Heckel, was described in 1840 by Dr. Johann Jacob Heckel. They are native to South America, originating from Brazil in the Rio Negro, Rio Trombetas north of the Amazon, and from the Rio Abacaxis south of the Amazon. They inhabit places where the water is quiet and heavily planted.
Status: This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.
Description: Discus are relatively large and the most laterally compressed (flat) of all the cichlids. The Heckel Discus have an almost round body and nine stripes. They are distinguished by wide bold black 1st, 5th, and 9th bars, called the "Heckel bars" that run through the eye, the center of the body, and the base of the tail. Juveniles have a body coloration that is a dull brown. There are two popular varieties of Heckel Discus:
* The Red Discus which is also called the Red Heckel, Blue Heckel, or Blue Head Discus. It has a reddish brown background, blue faint horizontal stripes, and red edges on the fins. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful discus.
* The Pineapple Discus which is from the Rio Abacaxis south of the Amazon (abacaxis is Portuguese for 'pineapple'), and has faded pastel colors.
Size - Weight: These fish get up to about 8" (20 cm).
Care and feeding: Since they are carnivorous the Discus will generally eat all kinds of live foods and need to be offered a variety. Other good foods include frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms, chopped beef heart, and for some whiteworms. Often tank bred discus will also accept food in a flake form or a pelleted form. Though they are carnivorous, they may also eat small quantities of vegetation.
A minimum 50 gallon aquarium is okay for a single fish, though a much larger tank would be needed if keeping more. Because these fish are as tall as they are long, taller show type tanks work best. They need good water movement along with strong and efficient filtration. An aquarium best suited to discus has slightly soft acidic water and is a bit warmer than what is required for many tropical fish. Heckel Discus come from even slightly warmer water than the other discus.
Discus do have a timid nature and dislike moving shadows, excessive vibrations, and overly boisterous tank mates. It is best to keep their aquarium out of areas that have high traffic, lights being turned on and off, or rooms that are noisy. They are also very shy and more active at night.
A planted aquarium with an open area for swimming suits them well, but the plants need to be varieties that can tolerate warmer temperatures 82° F and up. Some good plants selections are Dwarf Lily Bulbs, Anubias Nana, MicroSword Grass, Jungle Vallisneria and Corkscrew Vallisneria, Water Onions, Ozelot Swords and Rangeri Swords, Didplis Diandra, Rotala Indica, Java Fern, and Subulata.
When you first introduce these fish to your aquarium avoid bright lighting, especially without a place to retreat to. They may initially prefer subdued lighting because of their shyness, but once they become comfortable normal aquarium lighting works fine.
Discus can be rewarding to keep for experienced aquarists that are observant and diligent in providing care. These fish are sensitive to water chemistry and will deteriorate under poor water conditions. Do water changes of 25% a week. They are subject to infections as well as other diseases that ail all freshwater fish.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom: These fish will swim in the middle and bottom of the aquarium.
Acceptable Water Conditions: Discus are more susceptible to disease in lower temperatures.
Hardness: 0 -3° dH
Ph: 5.5 - 6.5
Temp: thrive at 82-90° F (27.7 - 32° C)
Social Behaviors: Unlike many others in the cichlid family, discus are peaceful and highly social. They are not predatory and they do not burrow in the substrate.
They are a schooling fish. Several discus can be kept together and they can be kept with some of the more peaceful tropical fish. A couple examples would be a pair of dwarf cichlids or some clown loaches. Also a school consisting of 15 - 20 of a single species of tetra works well; such as the Cardinal, Neon, Rummynose, Glowlight, Emperor, or Congo Tetras. It is suggested that you avoid Angelfishes and Corydoras Catfish, as these fish are prone to carrying internal parasites that can infect the discus.
Sexual Differences: Although it is hard to distinguish the sex, during breeding season the male will have a more pointed papillae while the female's is rounded. Males may be larger and some males have a more pointed dorsal fin and thicker lips.
Breeding/Reproduction: Water conditions for breeding:
Temp: 82-88° F (27.7-31° C)
Hardness: 3-10° dGH
Ph: 5.5-6° dGH
Though spawning and rearing of fry can be successful in harder water, for fertilization and egg development they require a total hardness no higher than 6° dGH.
Discus form nuclear families but will readily cross-breed with other discus. They are egg layers and will attach their eggs to plants, driftwood, rocks, and ornamentation in the aquarium. The female will lay between 200 - 400 which will hatch in about 60 hours. Fry consume a special mucus on the skin of the parents for the first 5 or 6 days.
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