After successfully raising discus, many in the hobby eventually want to obtain a discus breeding pair. For discus hobbyists, it is the ultimate challenge to see if they can get a pair of discus fish to breed and raise a brood of fry.
There are several ways that a hobbyist can obtain a discus breeding pair. The first method is to buy a mated pair from a reputable breeder. The mated pair will cost quite a lot of money, probably $500.00 or more depending on the strain. Always ask the seller if they are a “proven mated pair”. A proven pair is a mated pair of fish that has spawned and successfully produced fry. You might even want to see the parents with their fry before purchasing them. You also want the discus to be a bonded pair(fish that formed a bond by themselves instead of being matched together by the seller).
We usually don't recommend that hobbyists buy mated pairs. If the pair of discus was really good, why would the breeder be selling it? You usually don't sell the golden goose. Plus, it is very hard to tell how old the fish are when you buy them as adults. You might be buying a mated pair that's way past their prime. They could be 3 years or older and their best breeding days are behind them. Finally, just because a discus pair breeds for their current owner, doesn't mean it will breed for you. Your water parameters, food and environment will be different than the seller's. The fish might never breed for you, even if they were a true mated pair. It's always a gamble buying a mated discus breeding pair and most of the time it is not a good investment.
Another way to quickly get a mated pair is to purchase 6 to 10 young large adult fish and place them in an aquarium to pair off by themselves. You want to let them bond together and form their own pair instead of trying to force a male and female together. Forcing pairs can be difficult because even as adults, it is still hard to determine the sexes of the fish. Plus the discus might not get along with each other and might not breed. This method of obtaining a mated pair can also be very expensive. The advantage of this method is that you can see exactly how the adults look like. You know their color, shape and size potential.
The best way to go about getting a pair is to purchase 10 juvenile discus, around 3 inches in size. Raise these fish up to adults and watch them as they grow and eventually form bonded pairs. Discus fish at 3 inches in size should be large enough to show you their color, pattern and shape qualities. By not buying adults, you know you won't be purchasing very old fish. This is easily the most economical way of becoming a discus breeder since juveniles cost just a fraction of what quality adults do. We highly recommend this method for all hobbyists since patience is such a big key to successfully breeding discus.
A final note: If you intend to breed discus, it's important to buy the same strain. You don't want to mix discus strains when you are trying to form pairs. A mixed pair might wind up producing undesirable results. The fry might turn out very ugly and will be difficult to sell. Most discus hobbyists prefer not to buy “mutt” offspring. And you'll have to raise the fry for a much longer time to eventually see how the mixed offspring turned out.