Since I was a little boy, tropical fish keeping has
always been a passion of mine. I would spend hours
studying and reading up on the different strains and
species and their care. From guppies to mollies to
tetras to barbs. It didnít matter I loved them all. I
think this is what started my obsession with discus. It
has been 16 years now since I saw a discus at my local
pet shop and I am still amazed by their beauty.
name is Cary Strong and I am a breeder and importer and
most of all I am still a discus hobbyist. I am a
native of Detroit, Michigan USA where I continue to
reside with my wife, Susan, and my two sons Jack and
Aaron. I am also the owner of a thriving discus
hatchery-Great Lakes Discus
began breeding discus as a challenge. I was told it was
a very difficult task and even if I did breed them it
was not likely that they would survive. I was told that
the parameters for keeping a discus would be almost
impossible to maintain. Boy, were they wrong. It took a
while but I finally found the right formula. Since then,
it has been a constant learning experience with many
trails and errors.
The first six years of my discus adventure were almost
my last. I was only running about 10 tanks or so and at
that time it was quite a bit of work. I would age water
with peat moss and water softening pillows. Not to
mention my over use of skin burning acids that I used to
try to lower the pH. At this time I had no other source
but textbooks to refer to on discus health and care.
Overall, I had no problem raising and growing discus but
my plans to breed were a whole other story. I was
wasting too much time and money tampering with my water
like the books suggested and it finally got the best of
me. I decided to give up. At this point, I decided to do
water changes straight from the tap without any chemical
combinations. My pH from the tap was 7.5 with a kH of 7
and a gh of 7. The books said it could not be done but
this is what I did then and this is what I continue to
do. Now all of my discus fry and future breeders are
raised in pure tap water. However, I use a portion of
R/O water to increase the hatch rates. This is done by
mixing 75% tap water to 25% R/O water. This brings the
conductivity from 235 to 125 mS.
Basically my goal is to help the hobby grow. I spend
many long nights writing e-mails and
answering phone calls from customers, as well as, other
breeders and hobbyists. I also help people from
around the world with discus problems on many different
Internet forums, including,
www.simplydiscus.com. Which has been a home
for me over the last few years. However, many of my most
fulfilling experiences have come from traveling to
different cities throughout the United States talking to
discus clubs and enthusiasts about my discus knowledge.
Volunteering my time to these clubs has really given me
a chance to share what I have learned about discus over
the last 16 years with people who are just as interested
in discus as I am. Recently, I attended one of the
biggest conferences in North America, the American
Cichlid Association Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
There thousands gathered to view and display many
different cichlids from all over the world. I was
able to display my most prized possessions as well. I
entered my discus as a formal entry into the showís
contest. It was very exciting. There were 56 different
discus and over 300 other cichlids competing for the
surprise I ended bringing home the Reserve Best in Show
award and First Place award for my Red Turquoise and
Third Place in the discus category for my Blue Cover (my
own breed of a emerald green and blue diamond cross).
have collected many of my discus strains from around the
world from many of the best discus breeders. I believe
one of the best tools to find the best breeders is too
use the Internet. There are many sites and forums that
can direct you to a breeder that will best fit your
needs. One of my good friends and a valued colleague
that I met on the Internet is Khoo Seng Chye Roy from
Singapore. I have purchased many discus from Roy to add
to my bloodlines and in my opinion Roy is a quality man
not a quantity man. He fits my needs because he sends me
discus that are of healthy, high quality breeding stock.
This is hard to find in many cases and using forums on
the Internet and getting opinions from other discus
lovers may be able to help you weed out the good from
the bad. I too have had success selling discus over the
Internet. When I first displayed my website:
www.greatlakesdiscus.com I had no idea of the impact
it would have on the discus community. And I do think
that this comes from the fact that a website is an
advertisement but from the fact that I keep my promise
as to what is stated on my website. I provide grade A,
high quality discus with a guarantee of a healthy fish.
And that is what my customers receive from me.
Buying discus can be difficult so I advise people to do
research before jumping on the first discus they see.
They need to gather the facts to make an informed discus
purchase. I would suggest they look for these qualities
in a discus: a round shaped body and round eyes that
match the body size. Stay away from discus that are
oblong or that have big eyes. This could be a sign of
disease or neglect from the breeder. And choose a
color that appeals to you. Stay away from discus that
are dark in color. This too could be a sign of disease.
Disease has been an interest of mine from the start as
well. I have done a lot of research on different types
of diseases that strike discus. Many are common and some
are not so common. But overall I am seeing many people
fail in the discus hobby because they are receiving sick
discus from suppliers who are not caring for or treating
their discus properly. Many suppliers do not even know
the signs of an ill fish. In my opinion, this will
only hurt the discus hobby and keep it from growing.
Knowing how to prevent the spread of disease is the
first step to becoming a successful discus keeper.
From my experience, discus are susceptible to most
pathogen and protozoan attacks. However, discus are very
hearty and easy to keep if they are free from disease.
They only need a few basic things thrive: frequent water
changes in low bio/load tank. My part as a breeder
should be to guarantee the health of the discus I sell
to you. But I still recommend that you quarantine your
new discus purchase from your older stock no matter who
you buy them from.