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10 Tips on Getting Discus Fry to
Attach to Breeding Pairs

by Glen Thode

Sometimes discus fry don't attach to their parents after they start free swimming. Usually this is a problem with newly formed, young discus pairs. The discus fry will wander around the tank. If they don't attach to the discus breeding pair, the discus fry will eventually starve to death in a few days. Here's a few tips that might help your fry attach to their parents.

  1. Paint the outsides of your tank white or a light color like cream or a very light blue. When discus fish breed, they almost all turn dark. The fry are attracted to dark objects. You want to color the sides of your tank in a very light color, so the fry will be attracted to the dark discus breeding pair. They won't be distracted by seeing other dark objects in the room. You might even want to temporarily cover the front of the aquarium with some white paper or white painted cardboard so all sides of the tank are white.
  2. Remove all objects in the aquarium except for the heater and an air stone. It's a good idea to remove sponge filters and spawning cones/bricks because these dark objects might attract the fry away from their parents. You can put the sponge filter back into the aquarium after the fry attach to their parents.
  3. Use light colored or clear aquarium heaters. You want to avoid black or dark colored aquarium heaters that might attract the discus fry away from their parents.
  4. Lower the water in the aquarium. Our discus breeders are in 50 gallon aquariums. We'll lower the water for the first few days when the fry start to free swim. Lowering the water makes it easier for the discus fry to find their parents since they have less room to roam.
  5. Keep a light on the aquarium 24 hours a day. Lighting up the tank will help the fry locate their dark parents. You can use a low wattage light bulb. But keep the light on all the time. You don't want the tank to go dark when the discus pair have fry. We'll keep a light on the breeding pair for at least 2 weeks, while the fry bond with their parents.
  6. If your breeder tanks are on a central filtration system, you might want to slow down the flow of the water entering the aquarium. We slow our water down quite a lot so the water isn't turbulent.
  7. Try to keep the aeration level low on your air stone. Strong aeration can make it difficult for fry to swim to their parents.
  8. Keep the breeding tank clean. Keep on doing water changes so the wrigglers will be in good health. Poor water conditions might make the fry too sick or weak to attach to their parents.
  9. Keep the water acidic in your breeding tanks. Bad bacteria can also make discus fry too weak or sick to feed off of their parents sides. Bacteria will thrive in water with a high pH. Keeping the pH between 5.0 - 6.0 will help reduce the chance of bad bacteria killing your fry.
  10. If the fry still don't attach to the parents after doing the previous tips, try feeding them live San Francisco Baby Brine Shrimp. It's supposed to be significantly smaller in size than other baby brine shrimps. If you're lucky, the fry will be large enough to eat it and survive without having to eat the slime off of their parents.

Watching discus fry attach to a breeding pair is always a thrill to see. I hope these tips help you and your fry out. Good luck!