Hybrid Discus

Hybrid, or man-made, discus arc those that have been selectively bred lor color, shape, or size, or any combination of the three. Discus are quite wilting to crossbreed with other types of discus and this has enabled breeders to create strains that have never been seen in the wild. The brilliant colors and large sizes that are available on the commercial market would be impossible in nature. In nature, the small, somewhat subdued fish is the one that survives. A giant brilliant turquoise fish would be piranha bait in short order. So it is only under the protected conditions of the aquarium that we can discover the diversity that is hidden in the genes of the discus.

Some of the varieties that have been produced by selective breeding are quite remarkable. The high-fin forms are majestic. Some people don't like hybrid fishes and are very huffy about man-made fishes in general. The simple fact is, that breeders couldn't develop these forms if the genetic material didn't already exist in the fish. So, 1 say, go ahead, let us see just what the discus can do! The breeder's dream of a solid red discus is close to reality. Every month, advertisements appear showing photos of redder and redder discus. Not so many years ago the strong blue colored discus were just being developed, it was the dream then to breed a solid blue fish. This has come to pass and there are outstanding solid blue fish available virtually everywhere.

There are many varieties of discus. Selection among the varieties is based on your own preferences with regard to color, shape, and size, but some varieties are hardier than others. There is sometimes a loss of vigor in the man-made fishes and this is a concern among breeders. Since the technique for "setting a strain" involves a certain amount of inbreeding over several generations, the quality of the offspring will deteriorate over time if some new blood is not introduced. Experienced breeders

An Alenquer red discus from the Gan Aquarium Fish Farm.

arc aware of tills natural occurrence and deliberately use wild fish or F, lish to revitalize their bloodlines.

It is not unknown for some novice breeders to jump the gun a bit and announce prematurely that such-and-such a fish is a fixed strain. In their eagerness to create a name for themselves, they fail to plan for the large numbers of offspring that will not cany the desirable traits in t he early generations of working with their crosses. Mating a pair of fish from two different bloodlines does not create a strain in the first, second, third, or maybe even the tenth generation. Given that discus do not breed until they are 9 to 18 months old, the creation of a new strain, a set strain, of discus involves a large investment •in time, work, and space.

Discus breeding is not an absolute science. Even when you have the opportunity to acquire discus from a set strain, all the fish are not going to be of the same quality. Individuals

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vary in their color intensity, shape, and ultimate size.

Green Discus

Hie most work that has been done to date with discus has been in the development of the turquoise strains. Originally developed from the green discus (S. a.

(lLX(ldl(&Ciflilts), the hybrid turquoise varies in intensity of color and barring. 'Hie color c an be predominantly blue or predominantly green depending upon the bloodlines of the lish. Some turquoise discus appear to have been crossed with blue discus (S. cl harakii).

Wild green discus are often surprisingly bland looking when one considers that they are the broodstock from which some of the more extravagantly colored hybrids were developed. 'Ilie background color of the wild green is brownish, yellow, or olive, and the horizontal stripes are a kind of metallic green, more like turquoise. In both the



Specimens of the original green discus, Symphysodon aequifasciatus aequifasciatus, collected by Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod in Lago Jurity.

Symphysodon Aequifasciatus Green Discus

These fish are in high demand as well.

There ¿ire many, many good strains of turquoise discus, but the •names can be confusing. Red turquoise, brilliant turquoise, giant turquoise, etc., are all names (hat apply to the turquoise strains. At best they describe the fish: at worst they are describing what the breeder red scribbled. If you purchase a fish bred by John Doe, he cannot call it a Degen red scribbled, even if he has bred two fish he bought from Degen. He may only call it a red scribbled discus. There have been a lot of hard feelings over this practice and you should avoid instances where a person selling fish is calling the fish by a patronym not their own.

blue and the green wild discus, there are occasionally specimens that have blue or green horizontal stripes over die entire body. These fish are called "royal" blues or greens and are in high demand. Some of the wild green discus, particularly from the Tele region of Brazil, display blood red spots in die belly and tail areas.

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Palronyms are often used to sell discus. Many breeders include their own names to sell their fish. This works well when the breeder has developed a solid reputation for the quality and the soundness of his fish. If you purchase a fish from, say, I Bemd Degen, you can call it a Degen

Some specimens have natural amber colored eyes rather than the bright red that is so prized by discus fanciers. These are used for further breeding only in exceptional cases.

Brown Discus

Very few people are calling these discus brown discus (S. a. axelrodi) anymore. II has been found thai if you keep a brown discus under (he proper conditions it may exhibit delightful shades of red, orange, yellow, and varying amounts of blue around the head, and dorsal and anal fins. So now hybrids of the brown discus carry names evocative of a fruit salad: cherry red, apple red. tomato red, tangerine, orange! These names i are often accurately descriptive of the fish, but beware of young discus with intense coloralion. It could just be that they have been fed a diet heavy in carotenes, one tricky way to enhance (he appearance of the product When a brownish fish is pumped up with carotenes (usually in the form of shrimp eggs), it will get very orange or very red. Unfortunately, this color enhancement is short-lived and you may end up with a very common mud-colored discus. It may still be quite attractive, but you will never appreciate that if you feel that you were misled about its true appearance.


Discus Feeding Young

The red eyes of this blue discus contrast nicely against the background colors. The young feeding on the sides of this individual have not reached a size in which they show a deep body.

Brown Discus

This brown discus has a greater amount of red than normal. A completely tomato red discus is the object of this line of breeding.

Brown Turquoise Discus

Crossing a turquoise discus with a brown or blue discus can produce this type of discus. By back-crossing and line breeding the selected characters can be fixed in a strain.

Blue Discus

The blue discus (S. a. haraldii) is very similar to the brown discus in a lot of its features, but it usually carries more blue horizontal stripes on the head and dorsal and ventral areas. The face, as well, is generally a deeper color than that of the brown. There is said to be a difference in shape between the blue and the brown discus as well. The blue discus tends to be a little longer in the body and the brown is usually a rounder fish. Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between the two. Tank-bred hybrid blue discus are often called cobalt, powder blue, royal blue (a misnomer in a hybrid fish), or sky blue discus. These fish tend to be a strong, solid blue displaying varying degrees of iridescence and are often seen with blood red spots around the dorsal and anal fins and throughout the body. Solid-colored fish are generally very striking.

Symphysodon Aequifasciata Axelrodin
A Wattley Hi-fin intense turquoise solid color discus.
Discus Color Variation

Meckel Discus

Heckels are real fancier's fish. Since Meckel discus are the most difficult of the discus to breed in the aquarium, they are likely to be wild-caught and not likely to be appreciated by the new hobbyist. Heckels are very sensitive to less than ideal aquarium conditions and should be kept in somewhat warmer and more acidic water. Many people are turned off by the "Meckel Bars," the wide, black first, fifth, and ninth stripes, which distinguish the Mec kel discus. To an experienced discus enthusiast, the sight of Meckel discus in their lull glory is an inspiration! The first thing the commercial diseus breeder wishes to do, however, is to try to capture the lovely deep ground eolor of the Meckel and delete the bars! Many of the commercial varieties of discus, and not only the Heckels, have been bred specifically to show no stripes or bars in the body. The state of the art in discus breeding is an exquisite solid blue fish that shows no markings at all on the body and possesses a blood-red eye.

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Fluorescent Transgenic Symphysodon
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  • Michael
    What is the difference between wild caught and hybrid discus?
    7 years ago
  • Luigina
    What to feed discus for more intense blues?
    2 years ago

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