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CCA – Dick Au on Discus Basics – Sept. 2008

September 15th, 2008

The Capital Cichlid Association was back after their summer break on Saturday with a huge meeting, featuring Dick Au, author and expert on discus. With many cichlid-o-philes from all

over the east coast region attending, there were at least 84 people in attendance. This month also had the largest auction I’ve ever seen at one of their meetings.

Dick Au gave a fantastic talk, dumbing down the basics of keeping Discus, so that I left that meeting feeling like they might not be as much trouble as their reputation suggests. He went through the entire lifecycle of how to choose your discus, who to buy them from, how to keep them, breed them, raise the fry, and so on. He stressed that the most important thing whenever keeping discus is to make sure you get quality discus from the start, otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble down the line. He suggested avoiding chain or general purpose pet stores, but fish stores who maintain significant stock of discus year-round should be okay because they need to know how to care for them to keep their stock healthy.

Even so, he suggests that you always ask the store owner to feed them in the store before buying, so that you can make sure they have a good apetite. Without that, there’s likely something wrong with them. Of course, breeders of discus who maintain quality strains  are great sources as well.

One of the things that he mentioned which surprised me was that he didn’t neccessarily recommend keeping them in planted tanks. Not that it can’t be done well, but he said it’s much harder to maintain proper water quality without being able to vacuum up uneaten food, like you can in a bare-bottom tank.

That said, Dick did mention that discus have been raised in captivity long enough that most are quite adaptable to a wide range of water conditions, contrary to their wild counterparts. As long as your water doesn’t have significantly high pH, he recommends using tap water for water changes, verses mixing your own RO water because he believes the water conditions stay more stable that way. Additionally, while temperatures between 80 and 84 degrees are ideal, most discus will do just fine in slightly lower or slight warmer temps. This is good if you do want to keep them with plants. He discused far many more topics, but most of them are covered in detail in his two books.

Overall, this was a fantastic meeting!

5 Responses to “CCA – Dick Au on Discus Basics – Sept. 2008”

  1. octopus.gallery Says:

    What I thought was really interesting about his talk was his insisting that California blackworms carry parasites. I went and checked the web afterwards and the only reference to them carrying parasites was actually in the leeches that show up with blackworms possibly carrying trypanosomes. I wonder if he thought blackworms are the same thing as tubifex as some people do?

  2. Kim Says:

    That meeting sounds so much more exciting then my son’s Story Time about owls at the Nature Center today. 🙂

  3. guitarfish Says:

    OG, we’ve been having that exact conversation on the GWAPA forum. Of course, every type of fish has their own dietary requirements, so maybe discus are more prone to disease from the worms, but I like to think that if you get your worms from a quality source, maintain them once you get them, and don’t overfeed, you’ll less likely to run into problems. Of course, I guess it’s a risk regardless, but I’m going to continue feeding blackworms to my fish that require them.

  4. Mark F. Says:

    I seem to recall coming across the web site of a German aquarist some time ago, whose approach to discus-keeping was a compromise between a planted tank and a bare-bottom tank: he kept his discus in a bare-bottom tank with several large pieces of heavily planted driftwood, and maybe some kind of pleco. I don’t recall what kind of water treatments or fert dosing he used, but both fish and plants seemed hale and hearty in the photos, which I think showed the tank at six months after set-up. I wonder what Dick Au would have to say about this approach … perhaps you could try something similar, if you ever decide to “take the plunge” with discus!

  5. guitarfish Says:

    Mark F, I’ve heard one of my fellow GWAPA members talk about something similar with the barebottom+wood/plants approach. It’s an interesting thought, for sure. I think it would be hard for me to do something like that because it’s hard for me to keep any tank bare bottom, but it’s a good option to keep in mind. Thanks for the comment!

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