Discus

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Discus (Symphysodon sp.)
Potong Pasir, 7th March 2012

This dead discus, a South American cichlid native to the Amazon Basin, was seen at the foot of an apartment block by Alvin Lim, who took a photo and shared it on Instagram.

There was no water nearby, and my guess is that this was not an abandoned pet. It’s possible that this was a case of a fish jumping out of a tank placed close to a window, only to end up falling all the way to the foot of the block. Alternatively, the fish could have died in the aquarium, only to be dumped out of the window instead of being tossed into the trash or flushed down the toilet bowl.

It is also possible that this discus fish had been released into a nearby canal or pond, only to get snatched and subsequently dropped by a piscivorous bird like a kingfisher, heron, or raptor. We probably won’t know for sure.

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The vast majority of discus seen in aquariums are captive-bred varieties that have undergone intensive artificial selection for distinctive colours and patterns. The taxonomy of discus in the wild is still unclear, but most traditional references list 2 species; consequently, the nomenclature regarding domestic varieties (some of which might be hybrids between discus belonging to different populations or even species) also requires further clarification.

Most of the Discus seen in the ornamental fish trade originate from one or more of the colour forms typically classified under the Blue Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus):