A new classification in discus contests (Part 2)


After raising some questions ; did a quick observation of the situation and underlined expectations of each ; I think it's time to bring concrete proposals.

That there is 50 or 300 entries in a competition, It's time for us to imagine a fair unique system that can be understood by all.

Before talking about the scoring system, It should be in my opinion to talk first about our way to classify the phenotypes of breeding discus forms.

The classification allows to distribute the discus color and pattern in categories with identical phenotypes.


Interests of a better classification for the discus

A classification of the discus must become a guide facilitating understanding and access to the discus competition.

This would allow us to avoid past mistakes and minimize controversies through rules known by all.

This classification needs to be scalable because breeders continue to select new phenotypes of colors. The inclusion of a new item in the classification, could be done in a Committee where a breeder would have shown his work of selection.

During my Conference in Arvert 2016, the Italian breeders from "SG Discus" had for example demonstrated the evolution of their selections on "tiger" turquoise discus. (vertical stripes) as well as their new phenotype of pigeon blood "jaguar "..

discus pigeon blood jaguar

Note the evolution of the 'Jaguar' boss at the phenotype "pigeon blood." (SG Discus)


8th pigeon blood NaQ 2015 SG Discus

This classification will have to give a chance to win for each breeder and each phenotype. From today, a "cobalt" discus breeder can hardly hope to win a trophy with his fish... (This phenotype is often set face to blue diamond during discus competitions in a "solid blue" category)

This classification could become an objective for breeders, providing a reliable basis in order to create a standard for the discus breeding forms.

Finally, a system like the one I'm going to introduce you could help contest organizers to distribute entries in categories recognized by all.

cobalt blue discus

What is (At the present time) the best category for a cobalt discus breeder ?


Presentation of the classification system

The classification system must define the types of phenotype that may belong to the same category.

So, as pointed out me Cüneyt Birol (International judge) in a personal communication ; It is important to note the use of the term "phenotype".. (All the observable characters in an individual)

Indeed, variety designation cannot be done at the present time because it would create problems of interpretation.

Also, in contest, We judge the phenotypes and we should (at least at first time) stay on this appelation.

Of course, as you will see further, I use terms or words that have emerged in history and which designates a known phenotype. I didn't sew the interest to add confusion by changing "phenotypes names" to a topic that requires clarity.

So, a "leopard" phenotype coming from a good inked name among breeders will not be again renamed...

Human always named new phenotypes with appellations coming from the color seen on the animal. No offense to the purists... one of the first names was the word "turquoise".. No need here also to change something recognized by all.

Trade names are here excluded.


Classification of the breeding forms

The presented classification is only dedicated to the breeding forms coming from selection.

You will find the main mutations that are at the origin of most of our actual phenotypes :

The blue diamond ; the ghost, the snakeskin ; the golden; the pigeon blood ; the albino ; the snow white

The Organization of the classification of phenotypes will form a tree held in 6 main levels.

This classification proposal is scalable and must be able to welcome new phenotypes considered stable.

Discus ghost calico

What is the place of the calico discus?


Several authors have classified types of discus. I could study some systems that have in my opinion demonstrated their limits on several aspects . However some approaches could be kept.

Problems I could notice is from a genetic consideration of presented fish in competition but, in my view, we must judge phenotypes.

Other proposals exclude too often some phenotypes or group them together in a too simple way.

In addition, the evolution of work selection done by breeders over the years is not really taken into account.

It is essential for me to listen to the breeders who select their lines with clear objectives. Today their work is not always taken into account in the classifications we offer them in competition...


Two fundamental categories...

Before i start, I think it's important to propose two "open" categories in contests.

I have seen many controversies due to the presence of a unique "open" category.

I think that it is essential (If the registered number of discus allows) to offer at least two categories "open" : category open pattern (pattern level 2 pink) and « open solid» (solid level 2 pink).

This system is often proposed in Singapore and has the distinction of being much more fair. It also limits comparisons between two completely opposed types of fish and judgments become less subjective.

Open 3rd Paris Grigny discus show 2015 Open 1st Paris Grigny discus show 2015

I think that it is better to not compete together 2 so different phenotypes

(pattern vs Solid)


The discus of level 1 to 3

Classification des discus niveau 1 à 3

To start my tree, I think we can (From today) divide the discus in 2 large groups : The pattern discus and the solid discus.

As I explained above, These two types of phenotypes should not be judged in the same category. I think it is therefore necessary to have 2 «open» categories (pattern and solid).

In the level 2 of this classification, the pattern fish can be separated into 4 branches :

The fine pattern discus, large pattern, the "calico" (See above), and the "heckel cross"

The discus "calico" or "patches" are rarely met in competition. But we should take into account this phenotype. The discus 'Heckel cross' boss met little but this phenotype must integrate classification. (stripes + vertical central bar)

Discus snake skin ricky lim Duisburg 2010 Discus turquoise Paris Grigny discus show 2015

On Left, a category 'end boss' right discus discus of category 'large boss '.


world championship discus 2nd Open

Discus category 'Hekel cross' boss


"Solid" fish from the level 2 can be divided into 3 branches :

Fish 100% solid, discus solid at 90% and the "heckel cross' United (solid + vertical central bar)

Solid blue Paris Grigny Discus show 2015 best in show 13th SG Discus NaQ 2015

Left a discus category 100% solid, on right a discus solid 90%


Discus heckel cross solid brun

Discus category 'Heckel cross United '.


Thus divided, some varieties such as the "pigeon butterfly" or "cobalt" would find a clear place and access to a specific standard for their phenotype : solid color body with a striped and contrasted color on the face.

In order to simplify the tree, each albino counterparts phenotypes will not be repeated. But each phenotype presented here may have its "twin albino.".

The following… Part 3 The pattern discus branch


About Author

Discus Breeder and Discus columnist, Yann Hoiret share on the website Fanatik-Discus his experience and passion for the King of aquariums. From 2014 He worked as a writer for the french magazine "AquaMag", the German magazines "Discus Live" and "Discus yearbook". He participated as an international judge in France Discus show 2014 and 2016 in Arvert, au Greek Discus Show 2014 in Athens, Discus Show in Paris Grigny 2015, 2017 and 2019, au FIDO concurso 2016, 2017 and 2018 Spain, au Nordic Discus Show 2018 Sweden, au France Discus Show 2018 Cognac, Discusvrienden the discus competition 2018, 2019, 2022 in the Netherlands.

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