(Late March 2014, additions September 2015)
As the fish grew bigger and bigger, their parents grew more and more tired of being their only source of food/nutritional secrete*.
We read about baby fish online, we asked the staff at fish shops, we phoned a professional fish breeder. We came to the conclusion that it was only a matter of time until we had to step in and do something.
The ‘Something’ involved procuring and setting up a new aquarium, asking a local welder to make us a table strong enough to support an aquarium containing 40 fish and almost 300kg of water and gravel, getting a large piece of wood (cut to size by the man in the wood shop) for the lid, buying aquarium gravel, a water filter, an air pump, a water heater, several metres of thin silicone tubing, a handful of water plants and a tub of antemius* eggs as well as 2 lights, 2 hinges, and a handle.
DB built the lid while his father and I built my new bookshelf 🙂
We* also made ourselves 3 glass antemius breeding bottles with 2 way taps. The aquarium then needed a couple of sheets of glass to stop the water evaporating too much so DB cut some to shape and smoothed off the edges so that even I could slide them without injury.
By the time the aquarium table was painted, the aquarium set up, the water stolen gracefully from the original aquarium by means of a hosepipe siphon, and the first of the antemius eggs starting to hatch, the DB was as exhausted as the fish-parents, though not missing as much skin.
However, there was still something missing….
…..the fish themselves!!
*Discus fish parents produce the fish equivalent of milk. It makes them darker, presumably so they aren’t easily seen by predators, but that’s just a guess. As soon as the babies hatch, they start eating their eggshells. Once they’re gone, they leave the slope they were born on and latch onto a nearby parent. There, the baby fish eat the fish-milk off their parents’ scales. After a while, the babies are so big (and so hungry) they start eating bits of scale too. Being eaten out of house and home (by your offspring) has to be better than being eaten (by your offspring). In the wild, the parents swim away from the monster-babies, until they get the idea that the sea is full of other edible things. In an aquarium, they’re liable to be plucked to death.
**Artemias are mini shrimps. They aren’t exactly the natural food choice for a discus fish, but they will do. Most captive discus fish eat them. They are really very very tiny, but baby fish are very very tinier. There is no way they can eat fully grown Artemia. This means you have to start breeding the Artemia, and feeding the larvae to the baby discus fish. It’s not exactly difficult, but it is fiddly.