In recent years there has been a new wave in discus keeping in Germany in which discus are raised for one generation artificially after freeing the eggs of parasites after which the fry are raised in water completely free of parasites. Once free of parasites the fish are allowed to raise their fry normally, but through the single cycle of artificial raising all parasites are eliminated for once and for all. By parasites, I mean all gill and skin flukes, internal tape worms and Capillaria and all flagellate organisms such as Hexamita are included and are specifically eradicated. It is however important to note that bacteria are not excluded in other words these fishes are still raised and kept in normal aquaria in which biological filtration occurs in the filter and the aquaria are exposed to the normal atmosphere. After spawning, the eggs are washed with three washes of dilute formalin (5 ml per litre) and then allowed to hatch normally in water in which no fishes have been kept before. They are then raised artificially in completely separate tanks from their parents and away from any other fishes that may carry the abovementioned parasites. This technique was developed by Gerhard Rahn, who stays near Paderborn in Germany and whom I had the pleasure of visiting in January 2014. He had some massive red turquoise discus and some equally large Curipera discus which were parasite free. I have never seen such large and healthy discus before. This is a pic of a pair of his Curiperas:
He explained the procedure to me and how with many months of trial and error and lots of microscope work he had finally managed to raise fishes that were parasite free and were freed of the scourge of parasites. I think many of us have seen discus go down slowly to what are collectively referred to as “internal parasites” and that repeated treatments of worm treatments (Praziquantal, flubendazole and others) and/or anti-flagellate treatments (metronidazole and others) have not worked, until finally the affected fish dies in misery.
After much thought and now witnessing parasite free discus first hand, I am also firmly convinced that this is the way to go with keeping discus. I also visited Oswald Hanke in Germany in 2012 and last year imported 15 of his so-called Curipera Royal discus which are parasite free and I am absolutely thrilled with the growth and development of these fishes. I got the fishes last September at an age of six weeks by which time they were 5-6 cm in size. They are now 9 months old and most range between 9 to 11 cm in size. They have a voracious appetite, I am feeding them 5-6 times per day and they produce perfect brown droppings indicating good intestinal health, with no stringy white faeces. Gerhard explained to me that the white stringy faeces were as a result of gut injury and subsequent production of slime in the gut. Parasite free discus show none of this, only short chunky brown droppings. Here is a pic of these fishes, please excuse the somewhat milky water after a water change:
I have always kept angels and discus together, which I have found works perfectly with regard to the character of these fishes. Both altum and scalare angels make good companions for discus. However much has of course been written about the fact that angels can infect discus with flagellates and I am sure this is the case. So my argument is, why can’t we make angelfishes parasite free? It should almost be easier than with discus. The eggs can be treated with formalin and then artificially raised in a separate uninfected tank, checked for parasite free status using a microscope and could then be added to the parasite free discus without any concerns. I want to see if I can’t do this with my angels so that I can add them to my discus again.
I also want to add that we have seen many beautiful pictures of Simon Forkel’s angels on this forum, and when I visited him in 2010, he told me that he raises his fishes away from the parents and that through microscopic examination he had found that they were almost parasite free. His fishes are also massive and maybe the reason is again the parasite free state.
I actually think we can all gain massively from this.