An Old School Breeder’s Discus Journey: Discus as a Second Career by Michael Wellspearls7_discus
My name is Michael Wells, owner of my own hatchery. My hatchery is located in Garfield Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I have kept tropical fish for the last twenty years, but was always interested in discus. Like many hobbyists, I figured they were too hard to keep, but soon found out I was wrong.
Around 1992, I saw a few photos of “Pigeon-blood” discus in the aquarium magazines and was hooked. However, none of these fish were available in my local pet stores. So I got started with a few “Red Turquoise” and “Brilliant Blue” discus. I kept those discus in a planted tank, with neon tetras and Angelfish, and they did very well. The Angels paired off and started breeding. Although I was successful at breeding them, it was short lived because I wanted to breed discus.
In 1994, I bought eight adult “Alenquer Red” and eight “Cobalt Blue” discus. The “Alenquer Reds” paired off, and shortly thereafter, so did the “Cobalt Blues.” The pairs would spawn, and I would raise the babies to salable size. I couldn’t keep all the babies, so I started trading and selling the fry at local club auctions and pet stores for tanks and supplies. The fish room rapidly expanded and in a short time started to look like a small hatchery. Yet, I didn’t want to produce average strains of discus, but the highest quality and most sought after strains of discus.
In 1998, I started focusing on the finest quality discus money could buy. You name it, I wanted them all: “Pigeon-bloods,” “Snake Skins,” “Blue Diamonds,” etc. I succeeded at breeding all the strains I bought, and wanted to share these beautiful discus with everyone.
In 1999, I retired from the steel industry and was able to turn my part-time “hobby” into my full-time profession. Shortly thereafter, I began to realize the importance of wild discus, straight from the Amazon river. This fueled the passion in me for these beautiful fish, by creating yet another challenge: to collect and breed wild discus.
It wasn’t long before I was producing my own F-1 “Red Spotted Green” discus from pure wild stock. Then I crossed some of the wild “Tefe Red Spotted Green” discus with some of my “Snake Skins” and “Red Turquoise,” which produced outstanding offspring. I began looking for wild Reds to cross into my “Marlboro Reds” and “Alenquer Reds.” The search ended when David Webber at New York Discus sent me one of the finest collections of wild “Santarem Reds” I have ever seen. I have successfully crossed them with our F3 “Alenquer Reds” and have plans to cross them into our “Marlboro Reds,” as well.
Continually striving to improve the quality and variety of discus we breed and sell. I have recently add the red “San Merah” strain of discus to our hatchery. I will always be committed to excellence and look forward to the developments of the discus.