Why do my Discus Keep Eating Their Eggs?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I was rather distressed when my discus fish kept eating their eggs, so I decided to find out the reason. I am now going to share what I have learned with you all.

So, why do discus eat their eggs? One of the primary reasons is inexperience. The fish might not ready to become a parent. Another reason is that the egg might be unfertilized. They could also be feeling unsafe which is why they eat their eggs.

If you want to breed discus fish successfully, finding out why discus fish eat their eggs is essential. This can enable you to prevent such situations or at least understand it better.

What leads to discus fish eating their eggs?

It can be quite upsetting to watch your fish eating their eggs, especially if you were looking forward to the birth of their babies in your aquarium and were serious about breeding. It is natural to wonder what made your discus fish eat their eggs out of the blue. If you are aware of the reasons, you would be in a better position to bring about the required changes to stop your fish from eating their eggs.

Various reasons can lead to this situation, including:

  • Inexperience
  • Unfertilized eggs
  • Unsafe environment

Inexperience

It is not easy to breed discus fish.  Female discus fish attain sexual maturity when they are nearly 12 months of age while it takes the males a few extra months to mature. However, even when the fish are mature, they might not be ready to breed.

When they do breed and the time comes for spawning, the parent discus fish might not be ready to become a parent, or it might find it difficult to adapt to the changes. Thus, they eat their eggs due to lack of experience. It might take several attempts to breed discus fish successfully.

Unfertilized eggs

Discus fish, when ready to breed, tend to protect their eggs. They even fan the eggs so that they are well aerated. Some of the eggs are unfertilized. The discus fish eat their unfertilized eggs as these can spread diseases to the healthy eggs.

Unsafe environment

Perhaps the discus fish has decided that the aquarium is not fit for the young fish. There could be several reasons for this. The water conditions might not be optimal. The tank mates might be aggressive, or the fish could be under some stress due to any disease. In any of these situations, the discus fish will eat their eggs in stress.

Stopping Discus Pairs from Eating Fry (Video)

How can I ensure that the discus fish spawn?

If you are serious about breeding discus fish, it might be a good idea to buy a breeding pair. As discus fish breed for life in the same pair, it is a good choice to buy one from the pet store that is already breeding together.

However, breeding discus pairs are a little expensive, so this is an option only for those who do not mind going over the budget. It might be easier to get a few young discus fish and raise them together. Sexing young discus fish tends to be a tad bit difficult so you might have to wait till they mature. There is a possibility that the fish will pair off on their own.

Once the fish are mature sexually, a pair will become aggressive about its territory and will prevent other fish from entering the area. This should give you an idea that your fish is ready to spawn.

You can also opt for one male and multiple female discus fish so that a pair is formed. Though this is a tricky step, an experienced breeder can come to your aid and let you know the gender of the fish. Once you have identified the breeding pair, transfer the pair to another breeding tank so that preparation for spawning can commence.

How should I prepare the tank for breeding?

Discus fish will not breed in a shallow tank. Therefore, you should keep in mind how long the discus fish are before selecting a tank for their breeding. It would be advisable to have a tank with a capacity of 25 to 30 gallons.

Bare-bottomed breeding tanks will prove to be a better option since such tanks are easier to clean. Discus fish are very sensitive when it comes to hygiene and water conditions. When breeding, they tend to be under stress and thus maintaining optimal cleanliness becomes all the more critical.

Installing a couple of sponge filters in the tank might be a good idea. Sponge filters offer biological and mechanical filtration while at the same time not putting the young ones in any danger since they do not have strong suction power. An aquarium heater can make sure that the temperature remains consistent. Discus fish are encouraged to spawn in higher temperature than they are used to so it would be a good idea to nudge the temperature a bit higher between 82 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Discus fish lay their eggs on flat surfaces like an upturned pot or cone, so place such objects in the tank. If you fail to do so, the discus fish might deposit the eggs on the wall of the tank.

Perform water changes daily and keep a strict check on the water conditions.

How can I take care of baby discus fish?

It is quite normal to remove the young ones from the tank, away from its parents in case of live-bearer species like swordtails and platy fish. However, discus are not live-bearing species but are egg-laying instead.

The fry need their parent fish for at least a week and will not be able to survive if you remove them from the tank before this time period.

The eggs hatch in approximately 48 to 60 hours. You do not have to feed them as soon as they hatch since they feed on a secretion from the mother for about two days after hatching. After this time period, discus fish fry start swimming.

As the young ones grow, they tend to get aggressive towards their parents and can cause harm to the mother. Thus, it is advisable to remove the fry after a week and raise them to maturity.

Once you have separated the fry from other fish, provide them with a regular diet. You will need to feed them at least five times a day until they reach 12 months of age. Start their diet with newly hatched brine shrimp before moving onto chopped bloodworms.

How do I differentiate between male and female discus fish?

There are not many differences that you will be able to spot in juvenile discus fish of both genders since they all look pretty much the same. Once the fish reach six months of age, they start exhibiting colors. Males are mostly dull-colored and have more patterns on them as compared to females. However, this is not an explicit criterion for differentiation since other factors can affect their body coloring as well.

As they grow, male discus fish are larger as compared to female ones. They also have thick foreheads and lips. It is the shape of the dorsal fin which you will find to be the major difference between both the genders. Males have a pointed fin while that of the female is rounded. Females’ fins are also shorter as compared to males. Females have a large, broad and round breeding tube, which is present between the anus and anal fin while the male’s is sharp and small.

Related questions

How often do discus fish lay eggs? Once discus fish start to spawn, they tend to lay eggs every week for around fifteen weeks. The cycles occur two times a year, and with certain adjustments such as those in feeding, water, and temperature conditions, you can control it to a large extent. Discus fish tend to mate for life and thus continue to mate for many years to come.

How much time do discus fish take to reach full size? Discus fish can reach the size of around 20cm and diameter of 8cm if proper care is provided to them. Maximum growth is attained when they reach approximately 2 to 2.5 years of age. However, optimal growth only occurs if they are presented with ideal water conditions and proper food.

What should I feed my discus fish? Discus fish are not very selective about their diet. Therefore, this is not something that you will have to be worried about. Since they are carnivorous, you can feed them bloodworms, small insects and their larvae. You can also give them artificial food, but it needs to be profound in quality. They usually thrive with a protein-rich diet.

Overeating can be detrimental for the discus fish. Thus, it is vital that you are cautious about the amount of food that you provide them with. Put only the amount that they will be able to finish in a matter of a few minutes.

How many discus fish can I keep in a single tank? One discus fish requires around 10 gallons of water to thrive.The total number of discus that you can keep depends largely on the size of your tank. Keep in mind that discus fish are large and thus you need to have an aquarium of adequate depth and capacity if you want to have multiple discus fish. It is advised to keep at least 5-6 discus fish in one tank as these are shoaling species of fish. In this case, a minimum tank size of 50 gallons would be suitable.

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