Cary Strong
John Erdman August 2002

Without any further delay, here is the interview I (JE) had with Cary Strong (ST) on 8/29/02:

Here is a picture of Cary with Mr. Jack Wattley:

JE: So, I guess the obligatory first question is, how did you start out with tropical fish and discus in particular?

CS: I've been into fish ever since I was 4 years old. I went to visit my grandparents. Because of some family issues, we had not had much contact with them for a while, and this was my first visit. My grandma had a 10 gallon tank filled with fancy guppies. I was hooked. When it came time to leave I cried so hard that she packed up the fish and sent the tank home with me. Ever since then, I've been hooked. 18 years ago I went into a local fish store and saw a 180 gallon tank with Wattley discus. They were monsters. Very sweet. The guy who owned the store was just storing them for a friend. But I wanted some. I knew that sooner or later, Id get some.

JE: So how long was sooner or later?

CS: About a year later I set up a tank and bought my first discus from Steve McDonald. I got some red pigeons (marlboro reds), blue diamonds, the old snakeskins, red turqs and blues. I put them into a 180 gallon tank with gravel, a UG filter, slate and some plants. They did really well. I had learned enough to do water changes and tried to keep up 30-40% a day. About 80% of the fish reached 6 inch size.

JE: I get the feeling there is more to this story.

CS: After 2 years, the tank crashed. Bacteria, flukes, cloudy water. The works. It was pretty ugly. I ripped the tank apart and went to bare bottom. That helped a lot and afterward I started getting my first pairs.

JE: So then you tried your hand at breeding discus?

CS: I contacted as many breeders as I could and tried to find out the secret. I got different advice from everyone, which was pretty confusing. I settled on using peat and acid treating the water. I got some fry, but they were really small hatch out rates. Only about 10-15 babies per spawn survived. So I figured I would try artificial. I spoke to the breeders again, and talked to the 2 I thought were the best. One of them, who shall remain nameless, offered to teach me the secret of artificial breeding for $2,500. Obviously I wasnt going to go that route. I got really discouraged. So I just put the fish in plain tap water while I tried to figure out what to do. They started breeding like crazy and I got tons of fry. Awesome success. I stopped playing with the water and left the fish alone and they did the rest.


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