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The Royal Connection:

Lets start our journey deep in the Amazon Jungle in the year 1817:
The Discovery
There is a reason that the Discus is now known as the King of the Amazon or the Aristocrat of the Aquarium.
In 1817, the Austrian Emperor Franz l, ruling from 1804 to 1835, commissioned a royal expedition team to explore Brazil and the mighty Amazon river to celebrate the royal marriage of his daughter (Maria Leopoldina) to the Portuguese crown prince, Dom Pedro of Alcantara.
Johannes Baptist Natterer.
A team was assembled of scientists, painters, researchers and academic  naturalists including Johannes Baptist von Spix, Philipp F. von Martius and Johannes Baptist Natterer.
Eventually, most of the expedition members returned to Austria, but Natterer persisted, charting unknown territory in the Amazon.
There in-lies a story of its own as he traveled in the Amazon jungle for 18 years, finally returning to Austria in 1835 with his extensive collection for the museum.
Under difficult circumstances, suffering from several diseases, sometimes life threatening and almost to the point where he lost his life, he persevered and reached the Amazon basin and several northern tributaries (Rio Negro and Rio Branco) as far as the borders to Columbia and Venezuela,covering approximately 7 thousand kilometers throughout Brazil.
His collections (1,671 species of fish, 1,146 mammals , 1,024 types of mussels, 12,293 birds and a host of other noteworthy specimens) contained many that the scientific community had never seen before.
Near the end of his time in Brazil, he married a Brazilian woman in the town of Barcelos, on the banks of Rio Negro, which is a  tributary of the Amazon River . It was here that the first Discus fish ended up in his net .
Jacob Heckel
One of the scientists to work on Natterer’s collection was Johann Jacob Heckel, working at the Natural History Museum in Vienna where he eventually became the director of the museums extensive fish collection.
Jacob Heckel
In 1840, Heckel coined the name for the unusually shaped cichlid, that had a broad dark central bar and was shaped like a disc. No other fish, whether in fresh or salt water , has this shape.
The first name, the genus, was made up with the name ‘symphysis’ which refers to the area where the jaws meet anteriorly, and ‘odontos’ which means tooth in Greek.
That fish is now commonly called the Heckel discus fish in the aquarium trade although its known by many other names : “Brown Scalare”, “Blue Scalare”, The Crested Cichlid” , “The Aristocrat of the Aquarium”, “Pompadour Fish” , “King of the Aquarium” , “King of the Amazon” , to mention but a few.
18 years Deep in the Amazon Jungle
In 1904, Dr. Jacques Pellegrin found some specimens that had different equal strips and named then Aequifasciata, or the Blue discus.
Today there are currently to main classifications of the Discus. (There is a third that is surrounded by some controversy within the scientific community but not considered to be valid as it is not described in accordance with IZN rules - the difference being red spots on the fin and body but this species springs from a different mitochondrial linage)
Symphysodon Discus  ( red or  Heckle ) Symphysodon aequifasciatus ( Pellegrin - Blue Discus)
Mission Impossible !
Trying to bring this fascinating fish out of the wild, proved to be as big  a challenge as it was to discover and name. Try as they might, the fish never survived outside of its natural habitat.
In fact, it wasn’t until 1932, that Aquarium Hamburg in conjunction with the German collector Karl Griem, that the first Discus survived the trip. Shortly thereafter two other pioneers, Dr. Eduard Schmidt-Focke and Jack Wattley, played a major role in to main stream breeding.
Today, commercially viable strains are widely available and attest to the work of all of the early pioneers. However, they still retain the reputation of being only for advanced aquarium owners but that is no longer a valid label.
For a complete method on how to care for the Discus, be sure to obtain our Discus Fish Care Handbook, a complete guide for the Discus
Small wonder that the Discus gained the reputation of not being commercially viable in those early days!
They do require a stable tank temperature and systematic water care but they can, with due diligence, live as long as 10 years
The Discus were not successfully imported out of Brazil until the 1930’s Small wonder that the Discus gained the reputation of not being commercially viable in those early days!