Ricardo Vasquez. I am a 31yr old father who got started with discus nearly 10yrs ago. My cousin had a nice 36g tall tank and had 3 discus in there that he no longer wanted. He gave them to me, but he told me it was very important that I do very frequent water changes, “like at least once a month” he advised. He went on to tell me that I also had to change a lot of the water volume, “about 30%” he said. He was right of the frequent water changes, and he was also right about a lot of water volume, but the frequency in which to do it was way off :). A year after that (I believe it was), I found SimplyDiscus only because 2 of my 3 discus had died. Promptly I realized what a horrible living condition I was providing for my discus, and from there on I tried to give them the best living conditions.
My love of discus has taken me through ups and downs and recently I have finally felt like I have a good grasp on raising them, but I’d be a fool to say that I know everything there is to know about discus. In fact, ask me about breeding and you will see the deer in the headlights look from me. Breeding has never been something I have been interested in. I like raising them and providing a really nice looking tank for them when they are adults. That is it. They are so majestic in their being that it doesn’t take much to make them look good, so it makes my job that much easier.
A few years ago I sold off all my discus and took a short break. There were many contributing factors, but one major one was photography. I initially got in to photography because of my daughter. Before she was born I told myself that I would like to have a lot of pictures of her as she grew up. However, I knew I wanted to take “good” pictures so I bought one of the cameras that I thought were “expensive”. In retrospect, the body and lenses I bought were pretty cheap, but I wouldn’t trade the memories I made with that starter camera. Soon I realized that I wanted an even better camera and better lenses or rather “glass”.
My terminology in photography advanced, and my photography skills soon took the same path. Pretty soon I had a lot of equipment, far more than I needed to take the type of pictures I initially wanted of my daughter, but I was fully invested. Once I passed the $10k mark on gear, I stopped taking note of how much I spent for the sake of my wife, and our marriage. Luckily, my wife saw something in my skills that she stopped minding, and in fact started recommending me to her friends and our family about taking their pictures. Of course many of these times I was slotted to do a photoshoot without me having said yes, but it was my way of giving back with my new found love of photography. I became a moderator on a photography forum and was going out shooting on a daily basis as well as participating in challenges/exercises. I created threads specifically to help out individuals wanting to get better at photography.
On SimplyDiscus, I eventually had the same opportunity. A subforum was created for photography, specifically one that would help you take better pictures of your fish (not just discus) in your aquarium. As a team we have put forth a huge effort to get people to stop by and share their pictures and point them in the right directions as far as how to make their shots even better. One person in particular that I took under the wing was Pat. Pat absorbs things like sponge. I saw in her the same thirst I had for photography so many years ago and she is absolutely flourishing in her own right now.
My goal is simple, help others take better photos and give them these skills for free. In our day and age, you can pretty much learn anything online, I figured, why should you have to pay to learn these things, and my ongoing goal has been to help people with the skills I have acquired over the years.
-Ricardo Vasquez, your local Simply Discus moderator and “Photo Guru”