Live Foods - The Best Natural Food for Fish! - Compilation - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-06-2009, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Live Foods - The Best Natural Food for Fish! - Compilation

Live Food is the best food you can possibly feed to fish. It's natural. It's healthy. It's a freakin' money saver. Most anyone that breeds more difficult fish (NOT guppies ) will tell you live food gives healthier fry, more successful spawns, and better coloration than any prepared food on the market.
Most live food is easily cultured at home and most require minimal care and attention on the hobbyists part. The following will be a general, in-a-nutshell guide to raising your own live food for your fish. As I'm in college now, I don't have a whole lot of cash, so this will be the cheap way raise live food also.

If you have a recipe you would like to share or have questions about any of the information here, please direct your discussion HERE.

-Green Water-
Green water is essentially an algae that grows on suspended phosphates and silicates in the water column. It is a perfect food for the smallest of fry and is also great for feeding Daphnia and other live foods.
To start, fill a two-liter pop bottle or similar container 3/4 full with water from a healthy, established aquarium and add a teaspoon of crushed coral (aragonite, oyster grit, whatever). This will stabilize the pH and keep the culture from crashing. Add a small amount of Flourish Comprehensive, clean pure garden soil or something of the sort to the mix, loosely set the cap on top and place in a window. North-facing seems to be best because they get the most sunlight. Be careful that the water doesn't get too warm or it will kill the algae.
Give the mix about a week and it should get a green tint to it. To harvest, just siphon or dump about 3/4 of the stuff into a container and fill the bottle back up with aquarium water. The algae will produce for a couple of months before fizzling out and turning brownish or gray. At this point, dump the whole thing and start over.

Infusoria is a catch-all term for all of the microscopic life that inhabit probably every water source on earth. They are extremely easy to culture and make great food for very small fry.
Start as with the green water, fill a pop bottle about 3/4 full with aquarium water, add some dried vegetable matter (hay, rabbit food, dead plant leaves) to the water, loosely set the cap on and walk away. That's it! Give it a couple of days and it should get a brownish or grayish tint and shouldn't smell bad. After a week, the culture will probably start to stink more so dump it, clean it and start again.
A healthy clump of Java Moss is also a bonanza of infusoria for fry to munch on.

-Microworms, Banana Worms, Walter Worms-
Although these are three seperate worm species (actually, not worms but nematodes), they are all cultured in exactly the same way. Walters are the smallest, with Bananas and Micros larger, respectively. All are less than 1mm long, making them excellent staple food for growing fry.
The culture container can be a small tupperware container or anything like it. If it can hold food for us, it will work for the worms. Poke a bunch of pinholes in the lid for aeration. For the medium, mixed grain baby cereal, oatmeal or cornmeal all work well. Pour in enough water to make the mix soupy. It should be very wet, but shouldn't splash if you bump it. The medium should be about an inch thick, but it really isn't too important. Some will add a pinch of yeast to the culture, but honestly all it did for me was make the cultures stink. Mine grow just fine without yeast. Now add the worms from a starter culture.
After about a week, the worms should be crawling up the sides of the container, ready for harvesting. Just swipe a q-tip or toothpick in the mass of worms and swirl it in a container of aquarium water to clean them before feeding. The cultures can be maintained for a couple of months before you should restart them. Just add more baby cereal or water if the medium starts to get too wet or dry.

-Vinegar Eels-
Vinegar Eels (again, nematodes) are the easiest food to culture for fry. They are smaller than Walter Worms so can be fed to the absolute smallest of the fry.
The culture container can be anything from a glass mason jar to a tupperware container, clear is best. Fill it 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full with a 50-50 mix of distilled water and apple cider vinegar. Add a chunk of an apple (doesn't matter which kind) or a spoonful of brown sugar to the mix and add the eels. Place them in a dark place and leave them alone. After a couple of weeks, a cloud should be seen moving around the medium. This is your vinegar eels. You can harvest them by swiping a q-tip through the cloud and swishing it around in a cup of aquarium water to remove the eels. Try to get as little of the vinegar into the water as possible.
The only maintenence you should have to do is replace the apple chunk or borwn sugar every once in a while. Cultures can produce for years without fizzling out.

Additional information provided by Burks

-Confused Flour Beetles-
Quite the name . Actually it has nothing to do with them being confused. Google the name, it's quite an interesting story behind the name.
These guys are also really easy to grow. Take a container, larger is better, but not huge, and put about 3-4" of any type of flour in it. Poke some pinholes in the lid, add the starter aaaaand...that's it! Wait a couple of months and the culture should have beetles crawling all over it. The only maintenence is to gently stir the medium once a week to keep it from compacting.
The beetles themselves are about 5mm long with the larva about the same. Good food for about anything but the smallest fish.

-Grindal Worms-
Grindals are again easy to culture and great food for fish. They are anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" long and are super-high in protein and fatty acids.
Long, wide, shallow containers work best for the worms. Fill it with an inch or so of peat moss or some other slightly acidic soil and mist it well. It should be wet enough to clump easily and only drip a few drops if you squeeze it. Place a piece of thin plastic on top of the soil and add the worms underneath the plastic. They will crawl up onto the underside of the plastic making them easy to harvest. I feed mine baby cereal, dried green algae (soaked for a minute to soften it), high quality dog food (again, soaked to soften) and really anything else like it. They're not picky. They should start reproducing quickly and you can probably harvest within a month of start-up.

Another excellent food and great for conditioning fish for spawning. Set up exactly as for Grindal Worms, but with a larger container. The medium should be slightly less wet, but that's the only difference. You can feed them the same things as Grindals, but I've had the best success with plain, unflavored yogurt. They totally demolish the stuff!
Now ideally, they should be kept in temperatures of less than 65F, but unless you have a spare refridgerator sitting around, that's kind of hard to do. I keep mine in my basement, which stays around 72F year-round and I've had no problems at all with them. I don't doubt that production would be higher at cooler temps, but they grow just fine for me without the cool.
Whiteworms are about 2-3 times as large as Grindals, so great for any size fish.

You'll occansionally see these at some pet stores, but not many. Honestly, you may be better off finding a good source to buy them from regularly than culturing them yourself. They are over a inch long and fully aquatic. They can be raised in any size aquarium, but I've found 20L work best because they are long and shallow. Fill it up with established healthy clean aquarium water.
Filtration and aeration are extremely important with blackworms. Sponge filters are best and the bigger the better. A couple of 60gallon sponge filters in 20 gallons of water will do nicely. Add an air stone or two hooked up to an air pump running at full bore. Like I said, filtration and aeration are important. They can be kept at room temperature without problems as long as it isn't too warm. Add a few strips of a paper bag or a burlap sack as a medium. This will just keep the worms from piling up and suffocating each other.
Maintenence-wise, perform large weekly water changes as you would any aquarium, but add the new water from an established aquarium. Tap water can easily kill blackworms. Even with all this maintenence, they will still stink like a garbage dump, so keep the culture away from civilization if at all possible. Twice-a-week water changes are even better. Feed them any sinking veggie-based fish food daily, but only enough that they'll eat within 12 hours. There are also Tubifex Worms and Dero Worms (aka Microfex) out there that can be cultured in the exact same manor.

Another Method linked to by Dr. Tran

Redworms, Nightcrawlers, fish bait, whatever you call 'em. Set up a long, wide container (3' by 2' is great) and fill it with clean topsoil. 6"+ is best. Keep is moist enough that it will clump in your hand, but not drip water if you squeeze it. Add the worms and that's about it. Feed them baby cereal, cooked pasta, dog food, grass clippings, leaves, fruit and veggies, anything at all. After a few weeks of feeding, you should notice small white dots on the surface of the dirt. These are egg capsules and will hatch quickly, producing hundreds of baby worms. They are extremely easy to maintain and are great for gardens and potted plants too.

There are several species of daphnia cultured in the hobby. From largest to smallest in size, Daphnia magna, Daphnia pulex, Moina macropoda, Ceriodaphnia dubia. All are some of the best fish food out there. Culture is best in an aquarium with a good sponge filter running full bore. Set up with established aquarium water and pour in enough green water to make the water nice and green. Add the daphnia and let 'em go.
Daphnia are filter-feeders, so the better quality the green water, the healthier the daphnia. Keep an eye on the water, if it starts to clear up, add more green water. The daphnia will quickly starve without food. A good full-spectrum light above the daphnia will help the algae stay alive and extend the life of the culture.
Outdoor culture is a better option if you live in a place where it stays warmer year-round. Just set up a big tub of water and add Maple leaves. Maple is supposed to work best from what I hear, but most any leaves will be fine. They can be maintained like this year-round without problems, as long as it doesn't get too hot or cold. Also, you'll probably get some mosquito larva in the outdoor culture in the summertime. They are also an excellent fish food, just make sure you feed all the larva to the fish before they turn into the pests we all know and love (or not).

-Brine Shrimp-

Brine Shrimp are the quintessential live food. They have been raised by aqaurists for years as food for fry and adult fish alike. There are plenty of specialized brine shrimp hatchers in the market that work fine for raising lots of baby brine shrimp. The bbs, called nauplius, are very high in fatty acids but quickly lose their nutrtional value as they get older. When they first hatch, they have a fat reserve that holds a huge amount of nutrients, but it is completely used up within a week. So the nauplius are far more nutritious for fish that adult brine shrimp.
Anyway, long-term culture can be a bit difficult. You essentially need a full-strength saltwater tank (specific gravity around 1.024), well cycled with a mature sponge filter. The temperature should be kept around 80F and a full-spectrum light is beneficial. Add the brine shrimp. They can be fed live marine phytoplankton (available at most saltwater reatilers), green water, or some other commercial feed. They must be fed well to reproduce and will reproduce quickly at adulthood. After about a month or so, you should have a good growth of brine shrimp, both adults and juvies ready to be fed to your fish. With regular water changes, brine shrimp cultures can run for years without problems.
If you're on a tight budget, big brine shrimp cultures probably aren't for you. I actually stick with the worms because they are higher in protein and essential nutirents than brine shrimp are, plus the worms are cheaper and much easier to maintain.

So there is is. A bunch of live food that your fish will absolutely love you for. Now, a can of good fish food runs about $10, if you're lucky. And you want to feed a variety of food, so prepared stuff can get expensive. Right now, I culture all of these except the brine shrimp and I spend about $8 a month on food and supplies for the cultures. Can't beat that!

So if you've never grown live food before, give it a try and I can guarantee that your fish will be healthier and happier. If anyone wants more info on a certain live food or wants info on one not listed here, let me know.
A really good book on live foods is Culturing Live Foods by Michael R. Hellweg. A lot of the info here came from this book.

And finally, you can obtain starter cultures of these animals at most local aquarium societies and some at fish stores. Another good source is They have a big live foods section with a lot of knowledgable sellers.

Any questions? Let me know and I'll do my best to answer.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2009, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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-Fruit Flies-
Anyone who's been to a college-level biology or genetics course has probably heard about or done experiments with fruit flies. Wingless, vestigal-winged, red-eyed, black-eyed, white-eyed, and probably a billion other variants out there available to hobbyists. Culture-wise, you need is a plastic juice or soda bottle, or some other sealable container, taller is better. Mix together the medium, which can be a mashed potato-water mix (which is supposed to be easiest and mostly mold-proof), or a plethora of other similar mediums. There is even a commercial fruit fly medium out there. Mix this so it's a thick soup, about the same consistency as the Microworm medium and pour in about 1/2 -1" of the mix.

Add some Excelsior, which is a straw-like product originally designed for fruit-fly culture. This allows the adult flies to get out of the medium. You can find it at most any craft store. Place some fine pore sponge or cheesecloth or something similar over the top of the bottle and add the flies. Make sure the top is tight inside the neck of the bottle so that the flies can't escape, because they can and will. Also if any wild fruit fly gets in the culture and mates with a captive fly, all of the offspring will be able to fly. The wingless and vestigal-winged morphs are both recessive traits and will be masked by the winged morph. Not something you want, so make sure nothing can get in or out. That's about it. It should produce for a few weeks before the medium gets moldy. At this point, remove as many flies as possible and start anew.

EDIT - I forgot to add, there are two species of Fruit Flies out there for hobbyists. Drosophila hydei and D. melanogaster. Hydei's are a bit bigger than melanogasters but they both culture the same way.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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for you cichlid keepers

The ever-popular Leopard Gecko food makes a great supplemental food for larger fish. The Mealworm is a larval form of a beetle, Tenebrio molitor, naturally native to the UK but found nearly everywhere in the tropics and subtropics. Culture is very similar to the Confused Flour Beetle culture, but the only difference is the container size needed. I keep mine in a 3'x2' storage box. For the medium, a good mix of stuff is always better. Any kind of flour, baby cereal, oatmeal, mashed potato flakes, added together for about a 2-3" thick layer. Poke a bunch of pinholes in the container's lid and let them go. The only maintenance you should have to do is to gently stir the medium once a week to avoid compaction, and to very, very lightly mist the surface every other week. Mealworms need the slightest bit of moisture for best results. After a couple of months, the surface should be crawling with adult beetles.
Mealworms are a great supplemental conditioning food for breeding cichlids. They shouldn't be used as a staple because the exoskeleton can be difficult for fish to digest, but an occasional treat poses no problem.
There is also the Superworm out there available for culture. Supers look like a giant form of the mealworm, topping out a 1.5". Most are sold as reptile food, but can be cultured in the exact same manner as mealworms.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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here's a couple more for tiny fry

Euglena are an extremely tiny photosynthetic organism classified as a plant by some and an animal by others. They are flagellates, meaning they have a long hair-like structure that they propel themselves with. They make excellent food for tiny fry and are pretty easy to maintain.
The container can be a jar of any size with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the container with distilled or R/O water at room temp and throw in a few grains of boiled rice, dried peas or a good sized piece of dried corn husk. Add a teaspoon or so of crushed coral to buffer the pH and add the Euglena. Place the container somewhere where it will get at least 12 hours of light a day. After a month or so a scum should build up on the surface. Resist the urge to scoop it out and leave it for the Euglena. It's mostly bacteria that the Euglena will feed on when they can't photosynthesize. Eventually, you should notice a cloudy tint to the water. This is your Euglena colony, ready for harvest. The culture can run for several month before you should start a new one up.
You can most likely obtain a starter from a local college in the biology department. While you're at it, grab some Fruit Flies too

Paramecium are very similar to Euglena in culturing, but different physically. The main differences are that Paramecium aren't photosynthetic, but carnivorous. They are also ciliated, meaing they move by flexing thousands of tiny hairs all along the surface of their body. Okay, that's enough of the bio lesson.
Start up the culture just as for Euglena, but add a few rabbit food pellets or a drop of condensed milk to the container. This will introduce lots of tiny bacteria that the Paramecium will feed upon. Add the starter and place the container in a dark, quiet area. The Paramecium can be ready for harvest within a month. You should be able to see the Paramecium without much of a problem. Just siphon out some of the water and add it directly to the fry tank. Replace any water you take out with distilled and add more rabbit food or milk once a month. If using milk, just make sure that the culture container stays cloudy, otherwise the Paramecium will starve.
You can also culture Blepharisma ciliates in the exact same manner. Bleparisma are very similar to Paramecium, but pinkish in color.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 01:01 AM
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You'll need 2 containers. I use jars.

One container is to culture bacteria. Add aquarium water with vegetable matter (lettuce, grass clippings, dried leaves etc)... Wait a few week and you'll notice a smell coming from the jar.. It's ready to be fed to the paramecium.

In another container, add 2/3 aquarium water and any surface scum from the aquarium or flower vase. It's full of paramecium and other protozoans.. Add 1/3 of the smelly bacteria water. The reason for 2 containers is to maximize the protozoan production. Too much ammonia from decaying matter will inhibit reproduction and even kill the protozoans.

As mentioned above, place the jar in the dark for paramecium and by the window for a variety of protozoans. Within 2 weeks, the water will not smell anymore and it will be teaming with protozoans. They will look like specs of dust. Feed most of it to the fry... And use the rest to culture the next batch.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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figured I'd add another culture while I was at it.

There are literally thousands of species of copepods known to man. While all are aquatic, there are marine copepods, freshwater benthic copepods, copepods that live in the water column as plankton, and even parasitic copepods that parasitize fish (known as isopods). Obviously you want to stay away from the isopods, but the others are easy to culture and great for fry and small fish. I'll try to cover the saltwater and freshwater benthic copepods cultures here.
The saltwater copepods should be maintained exactly as a normal saltwater tank should be. A lot of hobbyists have a refugium connected to their aquarium that the copepods can grow and multiply in but still be seperated from the fish. All the saltwater copepods require are regular water changes (but you're doing them anyway, right?) and plenty of food, either in the form of live phytoplankton or some commercial rotifer food. Under good conditions, the copepods will reproduce very quickly. If you don't have a refugium, or even a saltwater tank, you can maintain them in a 10gal with a sponge filter without much problem, Just turn off the filter for a few hours when you first feed them.
For the freshwater benthic (i.e. bottom-dwelling) species, a 10gal aquarium is plenty big. Set up with mature aquarium water and a mature sponge filter. Add lots of a fast growing plant such as Java Moss, Najas Grass or Hornwort and add some full-spectrum lighting to promote the plant growth. You can feed them freshwater live phytoplankton or a yeast-based rotifer food without problem. Infusoria is a good substitute also. Perform monthly water changes, but no more than 40% at a time. When you see a cloud of nauplii in the water (usually around a month) you can begin harvesting. Just siphon water from the cloud and add directly to the fry tank. For the larger adults, you can net them out with a fine Brine Shrimp net or plankton sieve.
The copepods are egg-layers, so when you do water changes, siphon off the bottom of the tank to remove the build-up there. Most of this will contain eggs that can be placed in a shallow plastic container for a few days and they all should hatch. Just siphon them out and place them back into the culture tank.

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-Soil-less method for culturing Grindal Worms-

It was passed to me by a lady I bought a culture from named Linda Schmidt, at Schmidt Farms. I told her I would not tell her secret method.
She told me it was not 'her' method, as she had found it on the internet, and I was welcome to share it.

I like it much better,as I don't have problems with mold, or over-saturating the culture. MUCH easier to harvest the worms.
I use the sandwich sized plastic containers. Drill or poke a single hole in center of the lid. In this hole you keep a small piece of cotton ball.{breather hole, cotton keeps pests out} I use the green scrub pads, cut down and stacked in layers of at least two pieces. Stack these in the center of the container and add your worms.Soak down with water that is either dechlorinated, or use RO. Keep some water in the bottom of the container, but no more than past the first layer of pad.{for this reason I prefer three or four layers of scrub pad} Place a tiny amount of gerber mixed DRY baby food* to the top pad. Wet the food with the spray bottle.On top of the food place a piece of clear acrylic. To the top of this you can glue a marble, it makes handling it easier..and it looks cool.
As the worms eat the food you can pull the acrylic off and feed the worms attached, or just feed them again. At least every day, to every other day I check the cultures. I rinse them down with a spray bottle to clean out waste, the worms will go back into the pad. Rinse until water runs clear. An eyedropper or syringe is handy for putting worms that stray back onto the center of the top pad. If the food does not get eaten in two days, I take a knife and scrape it away, rinse and replace. Keep cultures in warm and dark spot. If worms crawl up the sides of the container your culture is too acidic or overpopulated.
I can take pics if you think it would help.
*I tried lots of different foods and had problems with all of them except gerber baby food. The dry kind, it comes in a box & looks like fine instant potato mix.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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AKA Gammarus or Scuds, not to be confused with Copepods. Amphipods are small crustaceans that inhabit pretty much any body of water on earth, marine and freshwater. Their culture in the aquarium is pretty similar to Copepods, with bigger space requirements. I've only had experience with the freshwater scuds, so I won't go into much detail on the saltwater species.
For the container needed, the more floor space, the better. Long and wide rubbermaid tubs work great. Fill it with water and add some kind of medium for the scuds to hide in: large gravel, bio-balls, scouring sponges or whatever else. Add a cup or so of aragonite to buffer the pH and add a sponge filter and an air stone. The more aeration, the happier the amphipods will be. Room temperature is fine, so add the starter. You can feed them any kind of vegetable or algae-based food, just be sure to feed daily. At large populations, they can tear through the food in a matter of an hour.
Regular water changes will keep the culture healthy, and after two months you should be ready for regular harvesting.

-Ghost Shrimp-
The same feeder shrimp you see in some pet stores can be cultured at home for larger fish. They are sold as feeders for good reason. They are high in fatty acids and protein and can easily be gut-loaded to make them even healthier. Can't say the same for them feeder goldfish, but that's a different thread altogether .
For the shrimp, set up an aquarium just as you would normally with plenty of easy plants. Java Moss, Anacharis and Hornwort are all fine. After the tank is well-cycled, you can add the shrimp. They'll eat just about anything you throw at them, but the higher-quality food they eat, the better they'll be for the fish. Maintain the aquarium just as you would any normal aquarium and the shrimp should reproduce fairly quickly.
Contrary to common belief, Ghost Shrimp don't need salt to reproduce. They do have a planktonic stage, but only stay that way for a couple of days before transforming into small version of the adults. The females will be pregnant, or "berried" in shrimp-lingo, with a mass of greenish eggs for a couple of weeks before releasing the larvae. They should hit adult size in a couple of months. At this point, you can harvest without any problem.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Yet another tiny, microscopic food for tiny, microscopic fry! Rotifers make up a large portion of a fry's diet in the wild, so it's one of the most natural foods out there. There are thousands of described species, fresh and salt both, that are extremely high in protein (up to 70%) and lipids that growing fry need to develop properly.
Culture can be fairly simple. A 5.5 or 10 gallon aquarium would be plenty, set up with distilled or R/O water and add a pinch of aragonite. Rotifers need a small amount of hardness in the water with a close to neutral pH for best results. Add gentle aeration with a straight-up airline, no airstone. The fine bubbles can cause problems for the Rotifers. They can be fed any kind of algae-based food such as greenwater, powdered Spirulina or Chlorella, or live phytoplankton. Basically, feed them as you would Daphnia. Regular, small water changes will keep the cultures healthy, just don't siphon off the bottom; that's where all the eggs are hiding.
Once established, the Rotifers will reproduce quickly. To give you an idea, each Rotifer (most are parthenogenic, meaning, all female) can lay eggs just 12 hours after hatching, and will continue to do so every few hours for a week before they die. One lone Rotifer can produce thousands of eggs during it's 7-day lifespan. Anyway, you should be able to harvest without problems within a few days of setup.
To harvest, just sift them out with a fine Brine Shrimp net or plankton sieve and dump straight into the fry tank.
For best results, set up more than one culture. Rotifer colonies are notorious for unexplained die-offs, so having several up and running will give you insurance against that. Actually, that should be mandatory for any culture you set up. I have at least 3 of each culture I have running.

You know those extra clippings you have left from your last tank trim that you don't feel like posting in the SnS? Feed 'em to your fish!
African Cichlids, Silver Dollars, Uaru's, Distichodus sp., big Plecos, goldfish, rainbowfish, they'll all appreciate a good amount of plant matter in their diet. Plants such as Duckweed, Najas Grass, Java Moss, Hygrophila sp., Rotala sp., Ceratopteris sp. and Salvinia sp. are all blazing-fast growers and a great treat for your herbivorous fish.
For that matter, you can feed dried marine algae, zucchini, high-quality lettuces and greens, peas, grapes, and oranges are also good for veggie-loving fish.
Okay, so plants aren't really a "Live Food" you'd think of right away, but hey, they were all alive at some point, right?

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2009, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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OK, been seriously busy lately. Here's a couple more cultures.

For you puffer keepers. There are several species of snails that can easily be raised for a crunchy snack for your puffers or loaches. Ramshorn Snails (multiple species, most Gyralus sp.), Pond Snails (Lymnaea sp.), Malaysian Livebearing Snails (Melanoides sp.), Apple Snails (Pomacea or Asolene sp.), and Nerite Snails (Neritina sp.). All are cultured exactly the same way except for the Nerites. I'll touch on them later.
For all the other, just set up an aquarium just like you would for anything else. Size isn't important, but the bigger the tank, the more snails you can harvest. Set up with a sponge filter and a full spectrum light to encourage algae and plant growth. Hornwort and Java Moss are both good for snail tanks because they grow fast and help purify the water. Feed the snails some kind of algae or veggie-based food, and do regular water changes as you would a normal fish tank.
Ramshorns, Ponds and Apples are all egg-layers, so you'll start to notice small jelly-like masses of eggs above and below the water line after a few weeks. The eggs should hatch within three weeks and the baby snails will grow quickly.
The Malaysian Livebearers are, uh...livebearers, so they don't lay eggs. They are extremely prolific and probably the easiest to raise, but their shells are thicker than most others, so some fish may find the Malaysians a tough nut to crack (literally).

As for the Nerites, they require brackish or marine water to thrive and reproduce. The Olive Nerite is the most common Nerite found among the trade. Set up the tank as before, but wait until you start to get Diatomaceous Algae (the brown stuff) growing before adding the snails. Diatoms are the main diet of the Nerites, but they'll eat any other algae, just not with as much gusto.
As before, the Nerites will lay eggs that will hatch in a few weeks, but the eggs are contained in an egg case that are attached to most every solid surface in the tank. When they hatch, the beby Nerites will go through a larval phase, known as veligers, where they are phototrophic. You can see them as specks on the surface of the water, nearest the light. Harvest them now, because they are virtually impossible to raise from veliger to adult snail.

I can't believe I'm going to do one of these on guppies. What's to write? Set up the aquarium as normal, do regular water changes, feed the trillions of tiny babies to your hungry carnivores. Actually, you don't have to raise guppies. Convict Cichlids, Rosy Reds, and any livebearer are easily raised too.
Hmm...maybe by writing this, I can lead someone away from feeding dozens of comet goldfish a week to their big cichlid. Breeding your own feeders is much cheaper since you don't have to pay for them every week, over and over. The fish will be guaranteed healthier than the fish from the pet store (trust me, I work at one). By raising the fish yourself, you can control the water quality, the quality and quantity of food they receive, and the amount of fish in the tank.
If you have some kind of piscivorous fish, this is a much better option than buying feeders every week. By piscivorous, I mean, eats ONLY fish. Oscars and Pirahnas are not included in this category, but that's another thread entirely.

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2009, 03:40 AM
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I use corn flour, not corn meal and aged filtered water that's it. I didn't have much luck with corn meal. It might have been too coarse. I find yeast and oatmeal too pungent. The smell from the corn flour is actually pleasant.. Put the pasty mix in a plastic container with holes in the lid and wait a few weeks and the microworms should climb up the sides to the amount suitable for harvesting.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2009, 05:17 AM
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Location: Crestline, OH
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To expand on the idea of Vinegar Eels.

When I am ready to start using some I like to start and pour enough of the main culture into a wine bottle. Replace the vinegar/water you took out of the main culture with fresh.

Fill the wine bottle up until the neck of the bottle ends (where the neck just starts to taper out). Put some cotton balls or filter floss down in there as far as you can without it going into the bottle itself. Fill the top with clean, dechlorinated water. Come back in 15-20 minutes and that new water you added will be packed with Vinegar Eels. Get a syringe, suck them out, and squirt directly in your tank.

I used that method for over 3 years with no problems. Works well. The eels, for whatever reason, really like to migrate to the clean fresh water that sits on top of the floss.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2009, 04:37 PM
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Location: Southwestern CO
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Physa sp. snails are the same as legomaniac89 posted - just put one in some water (I raised them in less than a gallon for a while) with a sponge filter, a plant and a light, feed them when you feel like it. The more food they get, the more baby snails and eggs they produce. If they think they're not getting fed enough, they will put pinholes in leaves. They're hermaphroditic, so if you have one, you've got a whole colony. My loaches love these little guys, and I've seen bettas and livebearers eat the eggs. Their shells are very thin, so they're easy for even non-puffers to eat. For everyone else, I crush the shells and drop the whole mess in at feeding time - cories go nuts for mooshed-up pond snail.

Sorry if already posted...
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-25-2009, 05:26 PM
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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- Mosquito larva
Put bucket or barrel outside, even a kiddie play pool. Add dechlorinated water. Mosquitos arrive when daytime highs hit 70F. In my area there are 2 types of mosquitos: cool weather mosquitos arrive first in the cooler temps in the 70s. The other type arrive when temps get up into the 80s, but don't come out until night.

To harvest larva use a brine shrimp net. Feed to your fish every day. I use a 55g barrel. Rain keeps it full all the time. No filter or anything else on the barrel. See my article on Wikihow:

- Snails
As for snails, they breed better when the water temp is 78F. I've had a 3g bucket of snails for about 1 year for my clown loach. This week I discovered my clown loach will also eat sinking reptile bites. He will probably eat any meaty sinking food.

Also feeding snails a high protein food will get you more babies. I feed them earth worm flake. I'm sure if I changed the water more than once every 8 weeks they would do even better. But they are still breeding slowly.

- Brine shrimp
I just read an article about hatching brine shrimp in freshwater. But you have to add 1 tsp of baking soda (not powder) to 1 cup of water. No salt needed. And I saw a guy do this. He just uses tank water to hatch them in a SF Bay breeder called "The Shrimpery".

Notice the clear jar on top. Hatchlings will swim to the top part, which detaches, when they are hatched.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-26-2009, 06:10 AM
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 974
grindal worms are extremely easy, and dare I say, idiot-proof. I've had a culture for a couple years now. I actually forgot about it for several months, tossed food in and got it going again.

They are a bit too large for new fry, but are great for small tetras, small rasbora species, and Dario dario to condition for breeding. The are about 2-4mm in length....

In a plastic container (disposable tupperware boxes and 'shoeboxes' from the dollar store work great) place re-hydrated coconut fiber. These are available in pet stores in the reptile section in dehydrated bricks. Moisten the substrate by spritzing with a water bottle, and add your starter culture. I use oatmeal baby food which is sprinkled on the surface and moistened.

Harvesting is by placing a piece of plastic with moistened baby food on top. The next day I remove the plastic and stir it into the tank.

Maintenance is by feeding every couple of days and keeping moist with a spray bottle.

Member of PAPAS and GPASI - Pittsburgh Area Planted Aquarium Society and Greater Pittsburgh Aquarium Society
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