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Thread: Live food cultures

  1. #1

    Default Live food cultures

    Was curious to know what live food cultures you guys all have going and the pros and cons of each.

    Currently I have a microworm culture running which I feed instant mash potato. Ideally I am looking for other options which are as convenient as microworms, low maintenance and inexpensive. I did look into brine shrimp but the cost of eggs seem to add up in the long run

  2. #2
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    Microworms, easy, good for fry in moderation, I feed mine leftover sourdough mother. I don't find them too stinky but some do.

    Grindal worms, I keep these without soil and they do really well on cat food. Occasionally there will be an infestation of little fruitfully like bugs but I can anticipate it now and always have a few going. I try not to feed more than twice weekly as I am sure too much can cause bloat.

    BBS, I use this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF5kLtHK_rs, don't need to run an air pump , probably don't get as much out as with conventional method but no messy capsules, no siphoning etc. They hatch all year round but less when it is cold and hot, so spring and autumn are ideal for these guys.

    Would love to be able to get mozzies to lay eggs in a container but not successful on my balcony. I used to transfer the rafts into a small jar and the freshly hatched larvae were the perfect fry food. The wrigglers must be the best live food around.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Of Destruction View Post
    Was curious to know what live food cultures you guys all have going and the pros and cons of each.

    Currently I have a microworm culture running which I feed instant mash potato. Ideally I am looking for other options which are as convenient as microworms, low maintenance and inexpensive. I did look into brine shrimp but the cost of eggs seem to add up in the long run

    I don't know, it won't be anywhere near as expensive as feeding a cat or dog every day. I think you definitely need them if you are raising fry. Otherwise get a grindal worm culture.

  4. #4
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    Do you have a spare tank, why not try daphnia, available from daphnia.com although this may lead to mts.

  5. #5
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    A more direct link Daphniaculture.com

  6. #6
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    I was running a number of different live foods while i was breeding heavily (and i will be doing it again soon). I had paramecium, vinegar eels, micro worms, grindal worms, white worms, wingless fruit flies (these didnt get fed to much as my fish dont like to eat from the surface for some reason...) and i also keep blackworms in a "culture" while I am feeding them. I dont actively culture the blackworms but i buy half a kilo of them at a time and keep them in 10L filtered tubs, and these last a while with no issues being fed daily.

    Daphnia would be another one i'd be keen on. I like to feed a variety of live foods, especially to breeder fish as I find this keeps them healthy and spawning regularly without going thin. I also agree with happyfins, BBS is very important if you are breeding in any numbers. You can go without by using microworms and similar, but i find BBS helps with growth, colouration, etc.
    "The stuff I buy is a bit pricey however it is as dry as a nuns nasty" - BigDaddyAdo

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by happyfins View Post
    BBS, I use this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF5kLtHK_rs, don't need to run an air pump , probably don't get as much out as with conventional method but no messy capsules, no siphoning etc. They hatch all year round but less when it is cold and hot, so spring and autumn are ideal for these guys.
    Happyfins, where did you find the dish? I would way prefer using this over the conventional method, that thing is cool!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by indir View Post
    I was running a number of different live foods while i was breeding heavily (and i will be doing it again soon). I had paramecium, vinegar eels, micro worms, grindal worms, white worms, wingless fruit flies (these didnt get fed to much as my fish dont like to eat from the surface for some reason...) and i also keep blackworms in a "culture" while I am feeding them. I dont actively culture the blackworms but i buy half a kilo of them at a time and keep them in 10L filtered tubs, and these last a while with no issues being fed daily.
    ]
    Man where do you guys source such a big range of live foods, would love to have all these cultures running at once.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Of Destruction View Post
    Man where do you guys source such a big range of live foods, would love to have all these cultures running at once.
    You get them from fellow hobbyists if you ask nicely

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Of Destruction View Post
    Happyfins, where did you find the dish? I would way prefer using this over the conventional method, that thing is cool!
    I got mine from overseas trips to Germany. They are rather expensive for what they are. Perhaps someone nice could 3D print one for you. I have 5 of these on my washing machine which I start on different days. The good thing about them also is that you can keep it going for 7 days or so until the very last BBS has hatched.

  11. #11
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    the book - encyclopedia of live foods a drue to live food cultures when you get round tu it.

  12. #12

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    GREEN WATER
    Green water is a mass bloom of single celled algae. To culture this, put a container of dechlorinated water out in the sun and add 1 level tablespoon of lawn fertiliser for every 20 litres (5 gallons) of water. Use fresh water for freshwater species and seawater for marine species. If possible aerate or circulate the mixture. It should go green and soupy quite quickly, (usually within a couple of weeks). Then take some of the green water and put it in with the baby fishes. Enough green water should be added to the fry tank to turn it a pale green colour. You also need to keep adding green water to the fry tank to keep the green tinge in it. If the water in the rearing tank goes clear, there will not be enough algae for the fry to eat and they die.

    Algae cultures can be grown indoors and regularly are in scientific labs or aquaculture facilities. You have a couple of fluorescent lights above or next to some containers of water with fertiliser in. You either add an algae starter disc, available from aquaculture supply stores (like Florida Aqua Farms) or you just leave the containers of water open to the air. Algae spores will eventually land in the water and start the cultures.

    If you need to get green water quickly, you can use a clean fish sponge and wipe some green algae off the inside of an aquarium and rinse the sponge out in the culture container. Within a week the water should start to go green and soupy.

    Have the light on for 24 hours a day and aerate the water and fertiliser. Use an airline without an airstone to circulate the water. Tie a small lead weight to the airline to hold it on the bottom of the container of water.

    When the water goes green and soupy you start adding a liquid aquarium plant fertiliser or an iron based aquarium fertiliser to keep the culture going.

    You should start a new culture regularly by making up some clean tap water and fertiliser and adding some of the green water you already have.

    You can use old green water cultures to grow rotifers, daphnia & cyclops.

    Make sure the green water that gets added to the fry tank has a similar temperature to the fry tank so there are no sudden temperature changes.

    Replace the water you take out of the culture container with some fresh dechlorinated water.

    If you put fry into a container full of green water, make sure it is aerated so the fry don't suffocate at night, and have something in the water to buffer the pH. During the day when the tub of green water gets light, it will use all the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water and the pH will go up. At night the green water will use up all the oxygen (O2) and release CO2 and the pH will drop. Aerating the green water culture will prevent this from happening and stop or reduce pH fluctuations.

    An aquarium based plant fertilizer can be used to keep the culture going after it has been running for a while. Alternatively, start a new culture every few weeks so you have several cultures going at any time. This will provide you with plenty of green water and provide a back-up should one culture crash. *NB* put a cover on the container to stop insects making it their home.


    INFUSORIA
    Infusoria for fish culture purposes are generally single celled animals called Paramecium. Numerous recipes for their growth are available. The most common being crushed lettuce leaves in a bucket of water and then left to grow for a few weeks. Any non-toxic plant matter (spinach, silverbeet, cabbage, broccoli, lawn clippings, hay, oak leaves, maple leaves, eucalypt leaves, sliced banana or banana peel, sliced apple or apple peel, etc) can be used instead of lettuce leaves. I recommend lettuce because they are cheap and readily available in most parts of the world, and they break down quickly and easily and at a similar rate.

    The only plants you can't use are poisonous plants and plants that produce a white sap when the leaves get picked or broken. And avoid citrus (lemon, lime, orange, mandarin) or citrus peel, onions, spring onions, leeks, shallots, garlic and potatoe.

    Use a large plastic container (at least 40 litres) full of dechlorinated water and add one whole lettuce for every 20 litres (5 gallons) of water. Tap water is preferred so you get a pure culture of infusoria. You need to add a lot of plant matter to the water, 1 whole lettuce per 20 litres or an equivalent amount of plant matter. You would need about 5-6 large spinach plants or a couple of bunches of silverbeet to equal 1 whole lettuce. If you get a 10 litre (2.5 gallon) bucket and fill that with leaves or lawn clippings, that would be about the same as a lettuce.

    Rinse the leaves well (make sure they are free of chemicals & pesticides) and crush them up before adding. Have an airstone bubbling away in the culture. Put a lid on the container and leave it to bubble away for a few weeks.

    The water initially goes dark and smells awful as the leaves break down and bacteria starts to feed on the rotting leaves. If the culture is not aerated during this time it goes black and becomes anaerobic, and it stinks. Aeration prevents this from happening. After a couple of weeks, infusoria start to grow in the culture and they eat the bacteria. When this happens the water will start to clear and develop a slight yellow tinge from the tannins in the leaves. The water will not smell bad and if you remove the airstone for 10 minutes and allow all the rotten plant matter to settle to the bottom of the container, you will see tiny white specks moving about in groups. These are the infusoria.

    You can scoop these out using a fine mesh net (5 micron net), or syphon them out, or just use a small plastic container to scoop these clusters out. You add the infusoria to the fry tank and the fish eat them as their first food.

    If you use a container to scoop the infusoria out, you should check the temperature, pH and ammonia levels in the water. The pH will usually be below 7.0 and there will usually be ammonia in the water. If there is a pH difference or high levels of ammonia in the infusoria water, you should try to reduce the amount of water added to the fry rearing tank.

    Once you have an infusoria culture producing fry food, you can keep it going by adding a few crushed up lettuce leaves (or other plant matter) every few days, and the new leaves break down and provide food for the bacteria, which provide food for the infusoria. If you don't add new leaves each day or every couple of days, the bacteria eventually stop growing and the paramecium run out of food and you run out of paramecium to feed to the fry.

    The new leaves only have to be added after the culture is established and you do not have to add leaves while it is developing. The new leaves are simply to extend the cultures life and keep it going for a few weeks, which is usually long enough for the fry to be moved onto newly hatched brineshrimp.

    If you have several cultures going you can harvest from one in the morning, one at lunch and one at night. This gives the cultures more time to recover between harvests and gives you a back up culture if one crashes, which can happen in really hot weather or it you forget to put the airstone back in.

    Cultures also die after a period of time so if you plan on breeding fish you should start new cultures every few weeks to ensure you have a plentiful supply of fry food when you get fry, and to use as a back up if a culture crashes or becomes infested with insect larvae. Mozzie larvae love infusoria cultures and one female mosquito can lay hundreds of eggs in a culture and the larvae will eat all the infusoria.

    Infusoria cultures do not need a light source and can be cultured indoors where there is normal room light or in dark sheds. The only time you need light is to see the infusoria so you can collect them.

    A tank of snails (mystery snails are frequently used) that are kept and fed on lettuce or other plant matter, will produce infusoria as well. The infusoria feeds on bacteria that eats the rotting snail poo. The infusoria can be harvested and fed to fry. For a snail tank to produce quantities of infusoria you need to reduce or remove the filtration in their tank. This can be a problem if lots of snails are kept as the water quality can deteriorate quite quickly. Air stones bubbling away and frequent water changes will help keep the water suitable for the snails, but not filter out all the infusoria.


    ROTIFERS
    Rotifers are multi-celled animals that are quite small, ranging in size from 20 microns to an inch in length. Some require a microscope to be seen. Others can be seen with the naked eye but exact details are difficult to see clearly without some ocular help. Rotifers will feed and grow in green water and infusoria cultures. This isn't a problem for most, however it can annoy those trying to keep pure cultures of a certain plant/ animal.

    To culture rotifers, obtain some cysts (dormant eggs) and add them to a container of green water. Have an airstone bubbling away gently in one corner of the container. Shortly after being added to water the cysts will hatch and within a few weeks you will have a thriving colony of rotifers. Once a culture is going you should start new cultures every few weeks. One way to do this is to take a couple of litres of green water and live rotifers from an established culture and add that to a new container of green water. This will provide you with alternative sources when the older culture crashes and dies off.

    When a culture does die off you can drain the water out but keep the sediment on the bottom. Allow the sediment to dry out for several weeks. The sediment will contain rotifer cysts and can be used to start a new culture if it is added to some clean green water. If you don't want to start a new culture straight away, you can freeze the sediment in a plastic bag or put it in the bottom of the fridge and the cysts can remain dormant like this for years.

    Rotifer cysts can be obtained from various aquaculture suppliers including Florida Aqua Farms, (see the following link).
    http://florida-aqua-farms.com/shop/r...ifer-cultures/

    To harvest the small species of rotifers, you can use a fine mesh net (5-10 micron) or scoop them out with some green water and add it to the rearing tank. The bigger species can be caught out with a normal aquarium fish net.


    DAPHNIA & CYCLOPS
    Daphnia and cyclops can be collected from ponds during various times of the year and kept for short periods in containers of aquarium water that is gently aerated. They can be cultured in the same way as rotifers (in containers of green water or infusoria) and will supply you with a year round source of small live fish food. Surplus Daphnia can be frozen in ice cube trays and used when live Daphnia is not available.

    When conditions are good, the female Daphnia produces live babies (clones) that make a great food source for small fish. When conditions deteriorate the females produce eggs that go dormant and can survive drying out. These eggs can be left to dry out for several months before being added to containers of green water to start new cultures. Alternatively scoop some live Daphnia out of a culture and add them to a new container of green water and they will continue to grow there.

    To harvest Daphnia you use a fine mesh aquarium fish net to scoop out the babies, or a course mesh aquarium fish net to catch the adults. You can also scoop them out in some water but nets are more efficient.


    MICROWORMS
    Microworms can be cultured in instant porridge. Get a small plastic container and spread a thin layer of oatmeal across the bottom. Add enough tap water to just cover the oatmeal and then put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. After a minute in the microwave you remove the container and stir it up before putting it back in the microwave for another minute or so. Remove the oatmeal and mix it again before spreading it out in several small plastic containers (1-2 litre icecream containers work well for this). You have a 5-6mm (1/4 inch) layer of oatmeal on the bottom of each container and let it cool, this only takes a few minutes. Then you add a teaspoon of microworms (from a starter culture bought online or at pet shops) to each container of oatmeal and put the lid on it. Allow the culture to grow for a week and the worms will spread over the oatmeal and grow up the sides of the container. Use your finger to carefully wipe some of the worms off the side of the container and wiggle your finger about in the fry rearing tank. The worms are tiny and wash off in the water and the fry eat them.

    You can add more than a teaspoon of worms to each culture if you have access to a lot of worms but a teaspoon is the minimum you want to add. Drip the worms around the porridge/ oatmeal so they cover more of it faster.

    You can feed dry Baker's Yeast (available from any supermarket) to the worms to help give them a boost. Normally yeast is only added one time, a few days after a culture has been started. You can add yeast every few days but too much yeast can cause cultures to crash so I normally only add it one time or if a culture is doing well, I might add it once a week while the culture is doing well.

    Have several cultures going and start new cultures each week. Keep cultures cool but not too cold, and avoid really hot weather. Normal room temperatures that suit people, are ideal for microworms.

    If a culture does not have many worms, you sometimes get fungus growing over the oatmeal. You can take worms from this culture and use them to start a new culture before throwing the furry culture away. Wash the culture containers out in hot soapy water (dishwasher) between uses. Open the cultures up each day for a minute to let fresh air get into them. You do not need to have holes in the lid of the culture and insects will sometimes get into the cultures if you do have holes in the lid.

    When cultures start to go off, the oatmeal worm mixtures starts to turn brown and then black and it smells unpleasant. Start new cultures before this happens and dispose of cultures that have gone black or dark brown.


    -------------------------
    If you buy brineshrimp eggs in bulk it is cheaper and you can keep them in the freezer until used.

    Worm cultures can be bought online or from petshops. There is/ was a company in Queensland called Pisces, and they supplied live food starter cultures to shops.

    Daphnia and Cyclops can be collected from ponds and waterways in cool weather but try to avoid getting them from ponds with waterbirds. And try to let the Daphnia live in green water or infusoria for a while before using them to feed fish. If possible let the Daphnia breed in one container of green water and then scoop some out and move them to another culture. Do this several times and you should end up with a clean disease free culture of Daphnia.

    Rotifer cysts can be bought from aquaculture supply stores and there are different sized rotifers. They live in green water cultures.

    Wingless fruitflies can usually be obtained from universities and online.

    If you need info on hatching brineshrimp eggs or decapsulating the eggs, let me know and I will post info on it.
    Last edited by Colin_T; 02-10-18 at 11:23 PM.

  13. #13
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    +1 for white worms. Very easy to keep and they multiply like crazy.
    Whatever

  14. #14
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    I am after a Grindal worm starter culture, can anyone help, can pick up in Perth or pay for it to be sent over.

  15. #15

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    Oliver at Aquotix in Canningvale use to have grindal worm cultures.

    Some of the people in the WA Aquarium Society and Cichlid Society might have them too.

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