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Getting Discus Pairs to Spawn Again

by Glen Thode

Discus are considered to be the “King” of all tropical fish. Breeding discus can be very challenging, even for the most advanced tropical fish hobbyist. It requires lots of patience to be successful. Here are a few tips we’ve learned that might help you get your discus pairs to spawn again if they’ve stopped breeding for you.

Do more frequent water changes in your aquarium
Discus need clean water to thrive. You might want to up the frequency of your water changes to see if that encourages them to spawn. If you’re changing 25% water once a week, try doing 25% water changes every other day for a few weeks.

Changing water temperature
If your aquarium water is set at 82 degrees, you might want to slowly raise the temperature to 86 degrees for a few days to a week. Then lower the temperature back to 82 degrees during a water change.

pH Change
Lowering your water's pH can help trigger your discus to spawn. Discus are acidic water fish and are happiest in acidic water. We keep our discus pairs in a pH range of 5.0 to 5.8. Be very careful when lowering the pH of your tank. Try not to lower it more than .3 a day. If you lower the pH in the tank too quickly, your fish might die of pH shock.

Change Their Diet to Live Foods
You can feed live foods to help stimulate spawning. Discus fish love to eat white worms and black worms. You can also try live adult brine shrimp, glass worms, mosquito larvae, large daphnia and small red wigglers.

Separate the Pair
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. So try separating the mated pair for a week. You can use an aquarium divider in the tank to separate the discus or just put the pair in two different aquariums. Hopefully, when you put them back together, they’ll spawn for you.

Add More Spawning Areas
Give your discus pairs plenty of different places to lay their eggs. You can add several spawning cones, a PVC pipe, plastic plants or some spawning slates in your aquarium. Giving them lots of spawning areas just might cause them to start spawning again. It helps to have your pairs in a large tank. We keep our mated discus pairs in 50 gallon aquariums.

Do Water Change Right Before Rain Storm
We noticed over the years that our discus frequently spawn when a storm front passes through our area. So you might want to do a thorough cleaning of the aquarium the day before a low pressure system moves into your area.

Treat them for Tapeworms
If your discus pair hasn’t spawned in a long time, you might want to treat them for tapeworms. Discus usually won’t spawn if they have tapeworms.

Move Pair Back to the Community Tank
Sometimes it’s a good idea to let the pair re-bond again by putting them into a community tank with other adult discus.

Give Them Privacy
Discus probably won't spawn if they are scared. Try keeping their tank in a place where they are not bothered by heavy foot traffic or loud noises. You could also cover the outsides of the aquarium with paper or cardboard to give them more privacy.

Try these tips to see how they work. Keep good records to see what works and what doesn’t work. You might want to try several of these tips at the same time. If you have a good mated pair that is healthy, then you shouldn’t have too much problem getting them to spawn again. Just have some patience.