In the U.K. around early 1994 a man named Steve Dudley of the then ‘Euro Discus’ company imported some of the first Pigeon Blood discus to the UK. He would later go on to breed them but was not the first! A friend and customer of his named Gary Cowburn (a passionate breeder at the time) obtained some of these fish from Steve Dudley. Here is his account of that experience almost 20 years ago.
“After the arrival of the Pigeon Blood reds to the UK, the UK discus scene would change OVERNIGHT! The story for me with the Pigeon Blood’s begins in early 94. I’d not long moved house and was living with my now wife. 18 months previously I sold all of my discus, in the 80’s I had developed some of my own variants from fish which inevitably were derived from schmidt-focke lineage and similar to his Solid Turquoise in the early stages. They showed an interesting trait, males almost always appeared solid in colour and females were mostly striated. I named them my ‘strain 7’s after reading an article by Dr Schmidt-Focke, and they were also sold on to a dealer (who kept the name). At this point in time I was in flux. I was constructing a fish house in the back garden and so I was now breeding Discus in my kitchen! (it was a big kitchen). I was breeding from stock obtained from Steve Dudley of Euro Discus. Steve was for me without doubt the most knowledgeable and talented Discus breeder and keeper I have ever met, the man was a genius with these fish.
I was quite happily plodding along breeding the crosses I obtained from Steve which originated from the Gan fish farm in Singapore (he wouldn’t sell me the pure bred strain). Then I got the call from my good friend Albert Miller, Albert was line breeding my Strain 7s and was producing some wonderful fish. He told me Steve had just imported some new fish called Pigeon Blood – I had to see them! 2 days later I was in his fishroom gazing on these amazing fish, I could not believe the colours. I’d never seen anything like them before and frankly, I had to have some. Steve advised me not to get any as apparently they carried a virus. He said they would infect all of my other fish. Like a total idiot I ignored him. He reluctantly sold me 12 half grown bright orange fish and I was elated. You will have to keep them seperate he said , not even net water contact, ok (I said no problem). Now in my kitchen I had 3 x 5 ft aquariums on a system, in them were approximately 300+ small to medium size discus fish. I didn’t really have much room, I had 6 other grow on tanks already filled with young. So, like an idiot and against the advice of Steve I decided to put them on the system .Wow!! what a mistake, within a week all the fish apart from the pigeon bloods were sick, going black, huddling in groups in the corner etc.. This went on for about 2-3 weeks, I then sold the pigeon bloods to a dealer who was prepared to take them on and I lost the best part of 250 plus fish in the process. I made a conscious decision now the virus was in my tanks and I decided to buy some more. However, this time I wanted pairs. I arrived at Steves and he showed me some unpaired adults for sale. “I will pick a pair out for you” he said, I like to say I chose as well,but I didn’t. I only bought the 2 fish (due to the price) they were £150 each,and I was not exactly flush with cash at the time (spent loads on new fishhouse). I was amazed how quickly these fish settled, they were cocky little things, always at or near the front of the glass. They bred about 10 days later but the fry just drifted off and died. All the usual tricks were tried, lowering water level, switching filters off, white base and sides and all to no avail. I quickly realised the only way to have success with these fish was to foster the fry to another pair.
Gan cross foster parent 1st UK bred Pigeon Blood fry
created varying offspring
The 1st Pigeon Bloods imported to UK Gary’s F1 Gan x Pigeon Blood crossing