Discus

A native of the Amazon and Orinoco basins, the discus is often considered the most beautiful and regal of all freshwater fish. It lives in calm, clear waters with soft and acidic properties. Tranquil and peaceable, the discus is a leisurely swimmer, exhibiting stress reactions in the presence of livelier species. The best tankmates for it are Characins, species of Corydoras and Apistogramma or the various angelfish.

A large aquarium is necessary: allow 10 liters per adult, using a decor of suitably prepared bogwood, roots, and plants. Keep the temperature above 26°C and make regular partial water changes. Vary the diet, which should consist mainly of live or fresh prey. Breeding, considered extremely difficult, depends to a large extent on water quality: acidic,

Symphysodondiscusdiscus

The Heckel discus has only three dark transverse bands. Unlike its cousins -the subspecies and varieties of S. aequifasciatus, which are mainly raised in captivity - the Heckel discus is usually procured from the wild. Tens of thousands of fish of these species are exported every year; there is little data concerning the nfluence of these culls on the natural population, but these Cichlids do not appear to be endangered. As a matter of nterest, the Heckel forms a modest food resource, on a very localized basis, for certain native populations. Size: 10-15 cm.

with a pH of 6, or even slightly less; very soft, using peat filtration; temperature must be consistently maintained at 28°C.

It is not easy to sex discus, but the adults pair off naturally into breeding couples. The female lays her eggs (up to 200) on a vertical support (PVC pipe, plant pot, aquarium glass), with hatching following in about three days; the fry remain attached by their heads and only start swimming two or three days later, under the supervision of the parent fish. The most extraordinary feature of these fry is that they derive nourishment from a mucus secreted from the parents' bodies - a virtually unique phenomenon in the entire fish world. Deprived of this critical feeding stage, they will not survive in the aquarium for very long. Ultimately they can be fed on Artemia nauplii.

Symphysodon aequifasciata

Brown variety. Size: 10-15 cm.

Symphysodon aequifasciata

Breeding pair. Size: 10-15 cm.

Symphysodon aequifasciata

Brown variety. Size: 10-15 cm.

Symphysodon aequifasciata

Breeding pair. Size: 10-15 cm.

• Symphysodon aequifasciata

The black stripes vary in intensity according to mood and behavior. Size: 10-15 cm.

• Symphysodon aequifasciata

The black stripes vary in intensity according to mood and behavior. Size: 10-15 cm.

Symphysodon discus discus (three transverse bands; central band always visible)

Symphysodon aequifasciata (nine transverse bands; visibility varies)

Symphysodon discus discus (three transverse bands; central band always visible)

Symphysodon aequifasciata (nine transverse bands; visibility varies)

Symphysodon aequifasciata

There are several natural varieties of discus, technically known as subspecies: - brown, basically brown, with blue streaks on head - green, with a lighter body and blue-green belly; the head and upper back show blue, wavy stripes

- blue, much of whose body, especially the finnage, is covered with blue streaks.

Three other strains of discus have been bred selectively:

- red, which has a red back and belly; the pelvic fins are black, as opposed to red in other varieties

- royal blue, blue body with brownish-red streaks

- azure, a newcomer to the market, and apparently very hard to breed.

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