Parasite free discus from Oswald Hanke

Discussion in 'Discus' started by Dirk B, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Guys,

    In the last year or so, a number of us have been working together to import some really good quality discus into South Africa so that we can, between us, build up some decent breeding stock. As a first step, Marco imported Rio Xingu discus from Hungary as has been reported on this website.

    In Germany, breeders have got completely frustrated with the loss of discus fry to gill flukes and the ongoing problems with flagellate organisms that cause problems all the time when you keep discus. As a result they remove the eggs from discus parents after spawning, sterilize them and remove all parasites from the eggs and then raise them artificially. The fry are then raised completely separately from other discus and never mixed with them again which means they just simply never have infection problems to the classic discus diseases. After this they are kept normally and they are allowed to raise their fry normally. The results are dramatic. The adults grow far larger than normal discus and they breed normally without the usual problems. In Germany the focus is on natural raising and these fishes can breed as we would expect discus to do. Fishes from the East are more and more artificially raised which means that they lose the instincts to raise their fry normally and this means that if you buy such discus, which are the ones normally offered in the LFS, they will invariably not be able to raise their young.

    After visiting Oswald Hanke in Germany in 2012, and after many email messages, I received the first shipment of parasite free discus from him on Wednesday. I imported some of his Madeira Merah and Curipera Royal discus. He developed the Madeira Merah strain by crossing wildcaught red Rio Madeira discus with the hybrid red type called San Merah to produce a discus that has very good red colour with little blue. This is a red strain that does not contain any pigeon blood influence so this does not have the black peppering that many of the red strains from the East have. The Curipera Royal discus were developed by crossing a wild type Curua Royal Blue discus (in other words a discus with blue horizontal stripes over the whole body) with the wild type Curipera discus, which is the reddest wild type discus that has been discovered so far. Oswald is renowned for the development of his "Bavaria spotted" type of discus, which is basically a wild type red spotted green discus. Marco is particularly keen on these fishes and we may import some of these later this year as well.

    Andrew Medcalf and I therefore imported these fishes from Oswald and Andrew is now looking after a group of 5-6 cm Madeira Merahs and I have a group of Curipera Royals, which we hope to raise and use as breeding stock in order to propagate these strains locally. We have set up in completely isolated tanks in order to keep them parasite free and not contaminate them again from our existing discus. The babies have settled in very well and are eating like troopers.

    Below are some pics that I took of Oswald's fishes when I visited him in June last year.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk

    [​IMG]

    Madeira Merah

    [​IMG]

    Curipera Royals

    [​IMG]

    These are Marco's favourites, Bavaria Spotteds, which we hope to import later in this year
     
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  2. Mastermamo
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    Mastermamo Algae harvester

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    Hi Prof

    Great looking fish.
    Going to see them tomorrow at Andrews place. Can't wait to take a few pics.
    Well done

    M
     
  3. Algae wizard
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    Algae wizard Valued Contributor

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    Wow, you gentlemen have an amazing project on the go.

    Wonderful news for South African discus keepers.

    You are making me want to start keeping discus again.

    Eish, have to get that one past the wife.
     
  4. JP01
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    JP01 Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Re: Parasite free discus from Oswald Hanke

    Just love the Curipera Royals Prof, now that I have the space I will start reading up and planning a grow out tank.
     
  5. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Guys,

    I just thought I would update you on the progress of these fishes. My Curipeau Royals and Andrew's Madeira Merahs are now starting to take off thanks to good feeding and management, and are really growing well. It is incredible to see how these fishes that are freed of parasites grow in comparison to "normal" discus, in other words, ones that carry the normal load of all sorts of parasites. Our fishes were born in the last week of July, so they are just over three months old now. The biggest ones are about 8 cm now, I have never had that sort of growth in any of the discus that I have bred before.

    If you look on the pic below, you can see that the color is now starting the develop slowly but surely. The blue markings are starting to show, and you can see on the fish at the right, that it is going to develop those nice flowing lines above the head. He promises to develop into a beautiful fish.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. JP01
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    JP01 Moderator Staff Member

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    Absolutely amazing discus!
     
  7. Luis Embalo
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    Luis Embalo Valued Contributor

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    OK, so these fish need to be kept away from other Discus? For life? I am sure that one would not find these in the shops, right?
     
  8. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Luis,

    You are quite right, they need to be kept away from other discus and any other fishes unless also parafree. In Germany there are now Ancistrus that have been made parafree and corys as well, so this can be done. You also need to sterilize your tanks before you start keeping them. Plants can also easily contaminate these fishes, so you have to be very careful. Andrew and I both started completely new systems to put them into.

    You will not find them in shops, no. It is our intention to use these as breeding stock so that we may be able to supply them in future, but with discus, you never count your chickens.....

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  9. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    Presumably it's mighty risky and difficult to keep parasite fee and non parasite free in the same fish room ?
     
  10. Trev Pleco
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    Trev Pleco Algae destroyer

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    What are the advantages to parasite free ancistrus.. no ways I would want them to breed any more or get larger :scratch:

    You kind of answered my previous post Dirk, as our posts went up together ?
     
  11. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Yes Trevor,

    If you do not know what you are doing you will have them contaminated in no time. I follow microbiology lab procedures in my fishroom for the group and they are purposely in a top tier of tanks where drops from the bottom tanks cannot contaminate them. You would just need one drop of water and that would be enough to contaminate them. I use a completely separate set of nets and pipes for them.

    I am going to remove all the other discus and angels from my setup, sterilize the whole lot, and then introduce parafrees into that system.

    I have a vet friend who is going to check regularly on the parafree status.

    Andrew keeps his fishes in a completely secluded corner about 5 metres away away from the nearest fishes.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  12. Kryo
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    Kryo Green fingers

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    Hi Prof

    Forgive me if this sounds sarcastic, it is meant as an honest question.

    What is the point to para free then? If even one drop of contaminated water can potentially wipe them all out?
     
  13. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Guys,

    There is an important issue that I wish to clarify here about the parafrees.

    When you breed discus, the time at which you have the most deaths is when the fry are about 1 cm long. At that size they are not immune to gill flukes yet, and if you just have the slightest amount of stress on them, the gill flukes, which are passed on from the parents, get the overhand and the fry die. You can then try to treat with formalin, but that has a very negative effect on the growth of the fishes. If you treat with praziquantel or flubendazole, the fishes may recover, but they also take a knock in terms of growth. Furthermore, flagellate organisms, those that cause hole in the head, are present in all discus from non-para free sources and niggle away at particularly the fry. So the actual size that a discus grows out to eventually, is decided by what goes on during the first two months of its life. Parafrees grow to 5-6 cm in six weeks as opposed to "normal" ones which need at least 8-10 weeks to get to that size.

    So firstly, for breeding discus, para free has major advantages, but then also if you buy such fishes and you put them into a non-parafree environment, this still has major advantages because the fishes have not been damaged by parasites and treatments when they were small and will just grow out much better and to a larger size. So there is no need to keep them parafree, but if you start off with parafrees, you just have a much better chance of getting decent sized adults that have far less problems.

    So, what I am trying to say is that such discus should be much easier for the general public to keep.

    I see, Kryo, that you have asked a question whilst I was typing and I think this actually answers it. BTW one drop of water would not wipe out the fishes, it would just contaminate them which is what you do not want if you want to keep the fishes for breeding.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  14. Kryo
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    Kryo Green fingers

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    Thanks Prof that answers my questions.

    One more question though, once we introduce a parafree into a non-parafree aquarium, what are the chances of the fish being more susceptible to infections? Taking into consideration their very "sterile" upbringing?
     
  15. HC
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    HC Plant menace

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    Wow Dirk never thought of it like that before, those fish are stunning. I suppose this principal can be expected in all fish as well Rams, Angels etc. thanks for the insight.
     
  16. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Kryo,

    Again this is a common question, and a perfectly justified one.

    I teach immunology and have taught it for 32 years as well as having a doctorate in immunology, so I think I am in a good position to answer this question.

    So the direct answer is, no, it does not make them more susceptible. It may appear that they are being brought up in a "sterile" environment, but that is not the case really. They are definitely not free of bacteria, there are lots in their environment still. We know that the presence of bacteria stimulates the immune system to develop and the immune system will develop normally in these fishes, about that I have no doubt.

    Then, the ability of the immune system of any vertebrate organism to fight an infection is dependent on the development of the immune system, but also very critically on the energy reserves that a fish or a person has. Just think of what you hear about the camps in which refugees often have to stay and in which they are undernourished. Well, as soon as people are undernourished they are more susceptible to disease. Now, flagellate organisms in discus keeping are the biggest single reason for disease problems in discus keeping because they are there at a low levels niggling away at the energy levels of the fish. Put such discus under any stress and they start with their stringy faeces and loss of appetite, stop eating and then you have the next big problem. Well parafrees, don't have flagellates, and so their immune system is perfectly up to dealing with infections once they are taken out of the parafree environment.

    Parafree is not something that is a brand new concept, it was developed 15 years ago and the points that I raise here, are well established in Germany. If you were to go onto German discus forums, you could read about all of this (that is if you can read German!).

    And to answer your question, HC, this does also apply to other fishes as well. Marco actually made some Rams parafree at one stage and they were much healthier. Angels can actually be made parafree quite easily because you can take the eggs away from the parents, sterilize them, raise the fry separately and off you go. I intend doing this as well.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  17. Kryo
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    Kryo Green fingers

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    Excellent thanks Prof!

    Another question, how do you sterilize eggs without harming the embryo? Just curious!
     
  18. Luis Embalo
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    Luis Embalo Valued Contributor

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    Very interesting..

    So if one buys such fish then it makes sense to have them in their own setup.. so that they do not get contaminated.

    How would one sterilize plants? Wood, rocks and substrate can be boiled, right?

    What about water changes?
     
  19. Kryo
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    Kryo Green fingers

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    Ozone?????
     
  20. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Kryo,

    Yes, sterilizing the eggs is quite tricky. It is normally done by taking the eggs away immediately after they have been laid. They are then flushed with fresh sterilized water, and then placed in two successive baths of formalin for a short time, and then the formalin is washed off with sterilized water a couple of times. The temp and the water that is used is critical, and anything that you do wrong kills eggs. Marco du Toit has perfected this quite nicely. The problem with discus is that you then have to raise them artificially, which is what was done in Germany, but then they strictly use the parents after that to raise the fry again so that the parenting properties are maintained. So our fishes have been raised normally on parafree parents, and they will therefore have good parenting properties which is what I want, I do not have the time to raise fry articifially, that is just far too labour intensive.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     

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