In the beginning of this guide we mentioned that there were two general kinds of discuss, however, in terms of keeping and breeding discus there are two subsets to those two kinds: Wild discus fish and Hybrid discus fish:
Wild Discus Fish:
A wild discuss fish is simply a discus fish which has been caught in the wild, or is bred from wild discuss which have not come into contact with any hybrid discus fish. Wild discus are more coveted in terms of being valuable as show fish, so if you are planning on breeding discus fish for profit, you may wish to keep your wild discuss and your hybrid discuss separate when it comes to breeding.
It should be noted that wild discus fish if caught from the wild, will have a more difficult time acclimatising to your aquarium environment than a hybrid discus fish.
Hybrid Discus Fish:
A hybrid discus fish is just that. A hybrid. It could be a mixture of a wild discus fish and a hybrid discus fish, or it could be a mix of two hybrid discus fish. Generally speaking however, hybrid discus fish are discus fish which were bred in captivity, and are more easily acclimatised to the aquarium environment you will have set up for them.
Besides these two general subsets of discuss fish, you will encounter the following kinds of discus fish: Green Discus, Blue Discus, Brown Discus, and Heckel Discus.
The most commonly bred and kept discuss fish is the green discus variety. This is because the most time has been spent developing the turquoise variant of the green discuss. The wild green discus fish is kind of a boring fish to look at, but when bred for it’s turquoise variant, they seem like a completely different discus fish. The wild green discus fish is usually a brownish yellow, or olive color with its horizontal striping being of a more metallic green, or turquoise. Sometimes when you cross a wild green and wild blue discuss, you can get the same drab olive color background but with vivid blue or green horizontal striped which stretch across its entire body. These colorful green discus fish are also known as “royal blues” or “royal greens”, and are much sought after by discuss fish breeders around the globe.
Some wild breeds of green discus fish which are found primarily in the Brazil region have red spots that manifest themselves on the olive green or brownish yellow background on the stomach and in the tail areas of the discus fish.
The Blue discus fish is generally a solid blue color, and can often have red spots all over its body.
The blue discus fish is not so different from the brown discus fish. Generally the key differences between a brown discus and a blue discus fish are the following; the blue discus fish has more horizontal striping on its head and fin areas; the color of the blue discus’ face is generally a deeper color than that of the brown discus fish; and the blue discus has shown to have a slightly different shaped body to that of the brown discus fish.
Because of the similarities between the blue discus and the brown discus it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart. Hybrid blue discuss fish are often called; cobalt, powder blue, sky blue or royal blue. They really should not be called royal blue, as that designation is strictly for wild discuss and should never be used as a hybrid name.
The brown discus is losing its name as brown discus in many circles, and people are calling them differently, as it has been discovered that under proper conditions they develop amazing combinations of shades of red, orange, yellow and even blue around its head, dorsal fin and tail fin areas. Because of these brightly colored variations of the brown discus, they now have a variety of interesting names such as; cherry red discus, apple red discus, tomato red discus, tangerine discus, and even orange discus.
It is important that when going to buy or procure a brown discus fish, that you are in fact getting what you pay for. A brown discus fish that appears to have colorful orange markings for example, may just be getting a diet that is high in carotene, the same stuff that makes carrots orange. This could be from the discus being fed a lot of shrimp eggs for example.
If it is the case that the nice orange fringes your brown discus fish is showing, is just a case of diet, you may be rather disappointed if in a few months it reverts back to its dull brown. However, this is quickly remedied by giving it a diet high in carotene once more, although the patterns which emerge may be different than the first color variation that particular brown discus fish displayed.
The Heckel Discus was the first kind of discus fish discovered. It was first discovered and commented on in 1840 by Doctor Heckel, hence the name Heckel Discus. Heckel discus are said to be the most difficult of the discus fish to keep and breed properly in an aquarium. The majority of Heckel discus are wild type and wild caught because of this fact. This makes them one of the most sought after discus fish for the die hard breeders and collectors, and thus one of the most expensive amongst the discus fish breeds to buy. A distinguishing factor for the Heckel discus is its “Heckel Bars”. The Heckel bars are simply big black first, fifth and ninth stripes respectively.
It is important that if you are breeding Heckel discus fish for financial gain, that the first order of business is to breed the bars out of them, as this is the desired trait for people wishing to acquire a Heckel discus fish.