|In nature, fish and other aquatic species consume nearly
100% live foods. A varied live food diet is a must for aquarists determined
to raise and maintain the finest robust specimens of freshwater and marine
fish. The time required to collect live food from local ponds and streams
and the dangers of introducing predatory enemies, parasites and disease
to a healthy tank are enough to make even the most avid aquarist question
the desirability of such practice.
The ideal solution to the live food problem is to maintain cultures
in the home. To be practical, cultures must produce adequate live food,
be easily maintained and dispensed, free of disease, economical and produce
no disagreeable odors.
We have developed simple live culture techniques over the past 30 years
that are practical even for apartment dwellers with limited space. They
are presented on the pages that follow in sufficient detail for even the
novice to follow successfully.
Our introductory live food culture package contains starter cultures
of wingless fruit flies (suitable for surface feeders), white worms (suitable
for small to large size upper water, mid-water and bottom feeders), mikroworms,
(good for fry and very small fish), and mealworms suitable for medium to
large size fish such as cichlids with strong teeth, marine fish and crabs.
Also included are small packets of food medias for each in the white worm,
mikroworm and mealworm cultures and a sample packet of form 2d Agar, used
for the wingless fruit fly culture preparations.
||INTRODUCTORY LIVE FOOD PACKAGE
|WINGLESS FRUIT FLIES
||TEMP: 40-90 F (IDEAL 78 F)
Wingless fruit flies (vestigal drosophila) are one of the finest foods
you can feed freshwater tropical and marine fish. They supply nutritional
values found only in outdoor live foods. These flies are clean, parasite
and disease free, and produce a new generation every ten days.
Place 1/8th teaspoon form 2d Agar and 1 teaspoon yellow corn meal in
2 ounces of water. Bring to a slow boil, stirring continuously. Boil for
5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 teaspoon dark molasses, 1 1/2
teaspoon white corn syrup, a pinch of Drostab and a pinch of dry active
baker's yeast. Pour into suitable culture jars or vials to a depth of about
1/2 to 3/4 inch and allow to cool undisturbed for one hour. Use a ventilating
foam closure or loosely packed cotton to ensure that no wild winged flies
or other pests contaminate your cultures!
Your culture jars may develop excessive condensation on the inside
walls during the cooling process. It is best to remove this condensation
with a paper towel. Mix a small quantity of dry active baker's yeast with
warm water to the consistency of heavy cream. With an eyedropper, dispense
several drops of the yeast solution on the surface of the culture media
in each culture jar. Crumple a piece of absorbent paper towel and push
into the culture jar so that some but not all of the media surface is covered.
The towel should loosely extend to within one inch from the top of the
culture jar or vial. This serves to soak up excess moisture and provide
a suitable surface for the flies.
Shake a dozen or more flies from your old culture into each of your
newly prepared culture vials. Within two weeks, new adult generations will
begin to emerge (eight days from egg and larva stage, another six days
in the pupa stage). They should produce a constant supply of specimens
until the culture is exhausted in four to six weeks. Adult flies are about
1/8th inch long and have a lifespan of about three weeks.
The proper portions needed to prepare 24 drosophila cultures at a time
(4 oz. Vials) are:
8 fl. Oz. (250 cc) water
1/2 teasp form 2d Agar
1 Tablesp. yellow corn meal
1 teasp dark molasses
2 1/2 teasp white corn syrup
1/8 teasp dry active yeast
1/16 teaspoon DROSTAB (OPTIONAL)*
*Use DROSTAB sparingly if premature mold develops in your cultures.
To feed the flies to your fish, tap the bottom of the culture vial in
the palm of your hand to dislodge flies that may be on the foam closure.
Remove the closure and shake the vial over the aquarium. The flies will
be held on the water surface by surface tension until they are devoured
by your fish. For a special treat, feed the larva to your fish before they
form the pupa stage. They contain a growth promoting hormone that is highly
valued for putting maximum growth on young fish.
Do not be alarmed if the adult drosophila in cultures shipped to you are
dead on arrival. They frequently do not survive shipment through the mail.
The important thing is that they have laid eggs which have hatched into
larvae. The larvae enters into the pupa stage which is very resistant to
thermal and mechanical shocks encountered enroute.
The first generations of adult flies should begin to emerge within a
week to ten days after your shipment arrives. Keep in mind that the vestigal
(wingless) characteristic is recessive. Although the specimens we supply
are of a pure strain, sooner or later through natural mutation, one of
the flies may emerge with fully developed wings. Since this would be a
dominant characteristic, all of the flies in that particular culture would
be contaminated and must not be used to start new cultures going so you
will always have a good breeding stock for starting new cultures.
DROS-FLAKE INSTANT DROSOPHILA CULTURE MEDIA
Now you can prepare culture media without the labor required by our
cooked formula. Simply add equal volumes of our new DROS-FLAKE and tap
water to a culture vial with a pinch of dry yeast. After five minutes,
insert absorbent toweling (same as with the cooked formula). Add a dozen
or more flies to inoculate the culture.
You will be impressed with the results obtained with this new product!
Many of our customers have lost their stocks of drosophila during periods
when they did not or could not take the time to prepare fresh cultures
when they should. DROS-FLAKE Culture Media is more expensive than
cooked formulas, but it is certainly more convenient to use when time is
at a premium.
Recently, we have utilized a semi-rigid plastic mesh to replace the
absorbent toweling in our cultures. The advantage of this mesh is that
it provides a more suitable surface for the adult flies and pupa to cling
to and results in better air circulation. The disadvantage of this mesh
is that it is somewhat more difficult to shake the flies free from the
culture vial. The mesh, being non-absorbent, will not soak up excess moisture,
so it becomes important to avoid using too much water when setting up your
||DROSOPHILA STARTER CULTURE
||DROSOPHILA MB CULTURE
||DROSOPHILA BREEDER VIAL
||DROS-FLAKE INSTANT MEDIA 2 OZ
||DROS-FLAKE INSTANT MEDIA 10 OZ
||DROS-FLAKE INSTANT MEDIA 40 OZ
||AGAR FORM 2d 10 gm
||AGAR FORM 2d 30 gm
||AGAR FORM 2d 80 gm
||DROSTAB 7 gm
||DROSTAB 25 gm
||DROSTAB 60 gm
||TEMP: 40-85 F (IDEAL 58F)
LIGHTING: KEEP IN DARK AREA
pH/HARDNESS: NOT A CONSIDERATION
White Worms (enchytrae) are probably the most popular form of live food
cultured by aquarists. They are highly nutritious and especially valuable
during winter months when ponds and other live food collection areas are
Our grindal variety reaches a length of perhaps one inch at maturity
when stretched out. They are very slender and suitable for both freshwater
and marine fish the size of half grown male guppies to four inch specimens.
The styrofoam shipping containers that tropical fish are shipped in
make excellent culture boxes for white worms. Plastic shoe boxes or refrigerator
hydrator boxes are also good choices. The old standby is a wooden box with
loose fitting cover.
Fill your culture box to a depth of three inches with a rich and spongy
soil. Leaf mold and humus are excellent additives that will improve enchytrae
The quality of the soil is very important. It has become more and more
difficult in recent years to obtain soil that has not been exposed to chemical
fertilizers, sterilizers, fungicides, pesticides and other man made chemicals,
sterilizers and other contaminants.
The best place to find suitable soil for white worm culture is to look
for a virgin stand of pine trees in a heavily wooded area. The soil around
the roots of such trees should be rich and spongy. Best of all, it will
be free of man made chemicals. If you add leaf mold and humus, be certain
that it is also free from chemical contamination.
about 1/2 teaspoon of Enchytrae culture media (or other food media) into
a depression or trough in the soil of your culture box. Moisten the media
with water and empty the contents of your culture on top of the media.
Cover with soil and allow the culture to stand undisturbed for several
days to allow your white worms to propagate. Keep the culture box loosely
covered with a glass or plastic top.
For best results, keep in a cool dark area. Replenish the food supply
as needed (ideally every three to four days). If the food supply is not
entirely consumed within a week, you are adding too much food for the worm
population. This invites souring of the soil. Should this happen, the culture
may be saved by adding a few teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate - mix well
with the soil.
It is good practice to purge the worms in a container of cool water
for about 10 minutes before feeding to your fish. Resist the temptation
to feed white worms to your fish more than three times a week. Although
they are greedily devoured, excessive use may cause constipation and loss
Temperature: Enchytrae like it cool! Optimum temperature is
58F, to 80F.
Enemies:Many cultures are lost to mice and ants. Keep cultures
in a protected area to prevent such a catastrophe.
Moisture: Soil must be neither dry nor soaked with water. Use
of leaf mold and humus will help retain moisture and provide air spaces
in the soil.
Food: Our Enchytrae culture media is a very nutritious formulation,
easy to use, and assures consistent results. Other foods and culture methods
are also in common use. You may find that ordinary oatmeal or bread soaked
in milk or water will work well for you. If you do use milk, do it sparingly
as it tends to sour quickly in higher temperatures.
Ventilation: Your soil must be able to "breathe." The culture
box cover should fit loosely to permit circulation of air through the soil
without excessive drying of the surface. Stir up the soil in your culture
box every three to four days to eliminate the tendancy to cake and to make
sure there is adequate circulation of air throughout the soil.
Tip: When collecting, place the worms and surrounding soil into
a glass of water. The worms will entwine around each other into a ball
and can be easily removed with a baster.
||ENCHYTRAE FOOD 2 OZ
||ENCHYTRAE FOOD 16 OZ
||TEMP: 40-85 F (IDEAL 76F)
LIGHTING: NOT REQUIRED
pH/HARDNESS:NOT A CONSIDERATION
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. C. O. Nordstrand and Mrs. Morten Grindal
of Solna, Sweden, European aquarists have favored mikroworms as an essential
live food for raising the fry of egg layers for over 50 years. Until recently,
mikroworms have not been as popular with American aquarists because "hit
or miss" culture methods have produced inconsistent and disappointing results.
As with most live foods there are many ways to culture mikroworms. What
we are presenting here is simply what has worked best for us over the past
Mix one tablespoon Mikro-Culture-Media with three tablespoons
water. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove
from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar. Pour into Mikro-Culture-Jars
to a level just below the top of the slotted collecting plate holder. Sprinkle
a pinch of active dry baker's yeast over the surface of the culture media
and install the collecting plate (tongue depressor) in its slot. Add contents
of the mikroworm vial. Keep covered with the vented closure. Check to be
certain the ventilation hole in the closure is unclogged. Otherwise theculture
will sour and mold will set in.
one week, mikroworms should be swarming over the lower half of the collecting
plate by the thousands.
To feed your fish, simply remove the collecting plate from the slot
and swish it in a small glass of water. The worms can then be fed to your
fish in the exact amount desired by use of a baster or an eyedropper.
Return the collecting plate to its slot. Within hours, the plate will
be swarming with mikroworms. Your culture should be constantly productive
and virtually odorless for four to six weeks. Save about 1/4 teaspoon to
"seed" your fresh culture preparations.
Note: Mikroworms are extremely small and may be difficult to
detect. Hold the vial up to a strong light. Inspect the area at the top
of the culture media. Be patient! It may take a week after arrival before
the mikroworms have multiplied to the point where they can be easily seen.
Many customers have returned vials for replacement that were teeming with
mikroworms when we inspected them.
||MIKROWORM Starter Culture
||Mikro-Culture-Media 4 oz
||Mikro-Culture-Media 16 oz
||Mikro Breeder Jar (reg. Size)
||Mikro Breeder Jar (large size)
||Mikroworm Breeder Package
|*Includes Mikro Starter Culture, Mikro-Culture Media packet,
and 172324 Breeder Jar
||Temp: 40-85F (Ideal 76F)
Lighting: Not required
pH/Hardness: Not a consideration
Eels (turbatrix aceti) are barely detectable with the naked
eye. They are suitable food for only the very smallest fry.
Vinegar eels are easily cultured in cider vinegar. Fill a one gallon
container two-thirds full with apple cider vinegar. Add half an apple and
innoculate with your culture of vinegar eels. Place a loosely fitting cover
on top (or provide a cover with a few small holes for ventilation).
Within a week to ten days you should have a dense, thriving culture.
The eels tend to congregate near the top of the solution by the thousands.
This can be maintained for many weeks with no attention.
When harvesting the eels, skim off the surface of the culture where
the concentration is very dense. The eels can be fed to your fry with an
eye dropper or baster. Don't overdo it at one time due to the mild acidic
nature of the culture solution.
It is feasible to really concentrate the eels prior to harvesting
with a centrifuge, but scientific laboratory equipment such as centrifuges
are not normally found in the average home!
It is possible to culture vinegar eels in a very weak vinegar solution
by adding quantities of water, but as more and more water is added, the
productivity of the eels becomes less and less. One trade name for eels
grown like this is micro-eels.
Still another culture method for those who dislike the odor of vinegar
is to use 100 cc of 5% acetic acid with 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. The strength
of the acetic acid may be reduced bit by bit until the productivity of
the vinegar eels falls off.
||Vinegar Eels Starter Culture
||Temp: 40-90F (Ideal 76F)
Lighting: Not required
pH/Hardness: Not a consideration
are a highly nutritious form of live food, especially valued for feeding
medium to large aquarium fishes (cichlids, large tetra, barbs, etc.). Dempseys
and Archers are particularly fond of them.
The young worms are suitable for fish as small as zebras. Many marine
fish and invertibrates such as crabs will feed on mealworms also.
The suitability of mealworms for various birds and reptiles is well
know. They are rich in vitamins A and B and can be maintained in a dormant
condition in the refrigerator for several months.
Your starting culture contains tenebrio eggs and larva of assorted
sizes from the smallest to nearly full grown mealworms. Prepare a suitable
container (we use rectangular plastic storage boxes with loose fitting
covers) as follows:
to a depth of about two inches with sterilized bran media. This may be
enriched with pulverized lab chow but is not required. Add the contents
of your starting culture of mealworms. Place a dry paper towel over the
surface of the bran. Wet another paper towel and squeeze as much water
out as possible. Place this over the dry towel.
Store your culture in a darkened area. A temperature of 80F is ideal,
but room temperature will do. Allow a few of the large mealworms to pupate
and emerge as adult beetles. At this time place a few slices of raw potato
on top of your toweling. The beetles utilize the moisture from the potato.
They will lay eggs. In a few weeks the beetles may be transferred to a
new culture box to perform the same function.
||TENEBRIO Starter Culture
||Bran Food Media 150 gm
||Bran Food Media 525 gm
||Bran Food Media 1250 gm
||Bran Food Media 4100 gm
||Temp: 40-85F (Ideal 76F)
Lighting: Not important
pH/Hardness: 7.2+/medium to very hard
pond snail (physa) is smaller than the ramshorn snail, but it is
an extremely hard working scavenger. They may be cultured the same way
as described for the red or brown ramshorn snails. They do better in unheated
aquariums, but will adapt to almost any reasonable tank conditions.
Newly hatched pond snails have shells that are too hard for most small
fish to eat. Because of this, they sometimes become a problem since they
are rapid breeders. To counter this, simply crush the snails against the
inside glass of the aquarium and your fish will promptly consume the soft
||POND SNAILS Starter Culture
|DAPHNIA (water fleas)
||Temp: 40-85F (Ideal 72F)
Lighting: Not important
pH/Hardness: 7.0/use spring water
These freshwater crustaceans propel themselves through the water with
awkward jerking movements. Daphnia are greedily devoured by nearly all
can be easily cultured if suitable water conditions and food is
provided. This can be more of a challenge than you might think! Daphnia
can rarely be successfully cultured in city tap water. It usually contains
metal ions and other contaminants that are lethal to daphnia. Use only
spring water! If this is not feasible, unpolluted water from a nearby pond
or stream may prove satisfactory. Water from long established, freshwater
aquariums may be used as a last resort - it may work for you.
Mash a piece of hard boiled egg yolk half the size of the eraser on
a pencil and add it to a 5 gallon aquarium filled with spring water. Do
not aerate. Remove any scum that forms on the water surface. After 3 to
5 days, a bacterial bloom should be established (which the daphnia will
Now the tank is ready to receive your daphnia culture! We urge you
to prepare your culture tank within a day or so after you order the daphnia.
Do not wait until the culture arrives! Immerse the daphnia culture into
your tank gently - do not pour through the air! Air can easily be
trapped beneath the daphnia's carapace and they will rise to the surface
Feed the daphnia sparingly with egg yolk squeezed through a piece of
cloth only when water clears. Dry active baker's yeast is also a good food
- sparingly! After feeding, the water should become clear within three
to four days. If it does not, you are feeding too much. This could result
in the water becoming depleted of oxygen and cause your daphnia to perish.
Do not expose the tank to direct sunlight or strong artificial light.
The daphnia specimens we provide you with are essentially all females.
They have a breeding pouch from which young female daphnia are born live.
Inoculate fresh culture tanks every few weeks. It is important to do this
because once the population of daphnia becomes too crowded or the water
too old or not acceptable to the daphnia for whatever reason, the females
start producing male offspring and they only ephippial ('winter eggs')
are produced. These eggs will not hatch until they have been subjected
to several freeze and thaw cycles, so your culture just fades away.
There is probably no other live food form that is more universally
devoured by freshwater and marine fish than daphnia. Well established cultures
reproduce very quickly and can quickly become crowded in culture tanks.
We urge you to set up a fresh daphnia culture tank once a week to ensure
a continuous supply of daphnia specimens.
||Temp: 40-85F (Ideal 78F)
Lighting: Not important
pH/Hardness: 7.2+/medium to very hard
RAMSHORN SNAILS (PLANORBIS CORNEUS)
A generation ago, the European Red Ramshorn Snail was a common sight
in freshwater aquariums. Today they are somewhat of a rarity due to careless
breeding with the common ramshorn snail that has a less interesting brown
We offer both the red and the brown ramshorn snails. The brown ramshorns
are somewhat hardier, but both varieties are excellent choices for the
freshwater aquarium as long as they are not kept together! If they are
kept together, virtually all future generations will be brown, since the
red color is a recessive characteristic.
snails are hardy and will thrive and multiply without attention in a freshwater
aquarium (assuming the absence of snail eating fish!). They are excellent
scavengers, eating algae, left over fish foods, etc. Usually they do minimal
damage to plants.
To grow the finest specimens, the snails should be given plenty of
room, warmth and food. Water should be slightly alkaline. Temperature is
best at 75 to 80 F. Preferred foods include spinach, lettuce, hair algae,
shrimp based fish foods and carrot.
Siphon off the bottom of the culture tank frequently and replace with
aged freshwater. The flat amber egg masses will hatch within 12 to 40 days
depending on temperature.
||RED RAMSHORN SNAILS
||BROWN RAMSHORN SNAILS