Back in 2002 at the American Cichlid Association annual convention, I sat in the front rows with my video camera to watch Jack Wattley, a man who needs no introduction in the Discus world.
Mr. Wattley went on to share one of the single most important trade secrets to explosive Discus growth that he discovered in his experiments with Discus.
In this article I will try to recall from memory what was shared that evening as well as reference from articles later written by Mr. Wattley.
To the best of my knowledge I will try to recall exactly what Mr. Wattley said, as well as reference my notes and if I can find the video footage I recorded will update this article accordingly.
Mr. Wattley took small Discus from the same birth batch and split them into two groups and placed each group into small tanks. If I recall correctly the first tank was just large enough to place a pitcher in the tank to remove water.
The smallest tank had no filtration at all, and 90% of the water was changed seven to eight times a day.The second tank was a bit larger and contained a sponge filter. The water was changed once a day and 90% of the water was removed each time.
After about a month the results spoke for themselves. The siblings in the smaller tank that received seven to eight water changes a day with no filtration were double the size! Even though they were born from the same batch of fry, same parents and ate the same diet, the extreme water changes resulted in double the growth.
What’s In The Water
How can water contribute to explosive Discus growth? What exactly is in the water, or more importantly what exactly was removed? The obvious answer is waste and uneaten food was removed and fresh oxygen rich water was consistently introduced.
Many believe that tank size alone will produce larger Discus, but when I listened to Mr. Wattley share his discoveries it simply made all the sense in the world. Quality of life and pristine conditions enabled the Discus to grow to their fullest potential without debilitating toxins and bacteria that would stunt development and growth.
It is the same reason professional athletes feed themselves the purist of foods, vitamins and supplements. Along with training they also make sure to get plenty of sleep and avoid toxins to the system like drugs, smoking or alcohol. Some athletes go as far as moving to the country side while training in order to remove themselves from the stress of city life and allow for full focus and recovery from training.
Beneficial Side Effects
Now of course changing water seven to eight times a day at 90% rates is a bit extreme, but if we look at what that benefits this allows it is really eye opening.
With more water changes Discus are allowed to eat more often and as much as they please. No excess food accumulates to create ammonia spikes or other harmful side effects. By consuming more proteins and nutrients the Discus can feed the teenager like appetite that growth spurts demand.
With more frequency also comes the opportunity for more variety and thus more nutrients and proteins for growth. Its a beneficial cycle that is geared for optimal health and growth.
Genetics Over Several Generations
Now I do not have any formal training or education in genetics so please take what I am about to write as just simple food for thought.
All living things evolve over time to meet the needs of their environment. If they do not there really is only one other alternative… death. In the animal kingdom certain animals are muscular to capture and kill their food, others are long and limber to escape capture.
Humans are similar when separated into regions and viewed in the sense of evolutionary growth. In some countries it is pretty common to have most people well over six feet tall and in other countries being over five feet tall is an awe inspiring sight.
The point of this thought is if Discus are given pristine environments to reach full potential of growth and development wouldn’t they produce similar offspring? Selective breeding has been going on for years for color and shape. But what if the key to size is focus on optimum nutrition and pristine conditions? More experiments should eventually conclude this true or false.
Questions For You
Have you visited an American Cichlid Association convention?
Do you agree with Mr. Wattley’s experiment?
What do you believe is key for Discus growth?