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Otterwoman
16th May 2009, 12:27
Live Food Cultures for the Ornamental Aquatic Industry
Ed. Alex Ploeg and Roberto Hensen
(Ornamental Fish International [OFI] Maarssen, The Netherlands,
2008.) 145 pages.

OFI published this collection of essays on live foods by various authors written to disseminate knowledge of the live foods necessary for the raising and feeding, and thereby to perpetuate, the ornamental aquatic fish industry. One aspect of the ornamental fish industry we might not think about (I never dedicated much brain-time to it) is that the the great variety of animals kept require a wide variety of foods. Some species can never learn to exist on frozen or dry foods, and others must be weaned (ex. sea horses); yet they almost always do better on live foods.

Foods covered in this book are: algae, paramecium, rotifers, beer-eels (aka vinegar eels), artemia, moina, daphnia (by our own John Clare, PhD), and bloodworms. These foods and principles apply to raising caudates. If this book falls into your lap, there are a few sections definitely worth reading.

Algae and phytoplankton: these are easy to grow with just light and standing water (and nutrients); and they are important for feeding the invertebrates that fish fry and larvae feed on. It coveres how to culture them, indoors and out, in your home and in your lab (if you happen to have one). It gets pretty technical, but there was plenty of info even an idiot like me could appreciate. In fact, as soon as I got home, I set up some glass jars for experimenting.
Paramecium: an example of a unicellular invertebrate or infusorian* that feeds on the above algae.
I loved that the author felt it necessary to start with a whole paragraph explaining why a creature shaped like a shoe insert would be called a "micro-slipper" (i.e. the obvious shouldn't need so much explaining). Paramecia survive in the most varied conditions and are expremely nutritious, so you could think of them as the Ruby Slippers of the micro foods world.
Many of us collect our infusoria from the wild, but it is a good idea to raise your own microfoods due to the possibility of introducing parasites and non-desirables like dragonfly nymphs or other predators of fry and larvae.
The author described a stinky water culture method--Gee, I did that without knowing it! And I was told, "those cultures are no good, they're dead, they stink, throw them out!!" But here it says that if I'd waited awhile, I would have had a batch of paramecia.
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*I always wondered what the singular of "infusoria" was.
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Beer eels (a google search shows that everyone else in the world calls these "vinegar eels" or micro eels [nematodes]).
These prefer acidic environments, and are great for fry [or larvae] that like to hunt because of their movement. However, while they are small, they move about wildly, which is great, but can damage the smallest newborn fry. So it is best saved for the larger fry.

The hardest part with these two are obtaining pure cultures and keeping them so. But if we are trying to raise small food for our larvae, these methods seem useful to experiment with, and who cares really what grows, as long as our larvae are fat and well fed.

Artemia (brine shrimp) are a saltwater creature often used to feed fresh water larvae
and are available as "cysts." (See second illus. below.)
Here is described everything you wanted to know about raising brine shrimp but couldn't be bothered with--not when paramecia are child's play. I think this was way more info than I ever wanted or needed to know about brine shrimp, but may be it's not for you. Only you can be the judge of how much you want to know about hatching brine shrimp. I don't even use them.

Moina: back to the fresh water. Moina occupy the same niche as artemia, but compared to artemia can be self-collected and are great nutritioally (though you can have all the brine shrimp you want in three days; with paramecia etc, you have to have a culture around already). Like paramecia, you can feed them with phytoplankton and they survive in a variety of aquatic environments. As
with the chapters on algae and paramecia, I wanted to rush home and try some things, and try a "batch culture" in a plastic bag (this involves using a large disposable plastic bag and adding algae and moina. When the algae is consumed, the culture is opened an harvested. Kind of like Jiffy-Pop Plankton). This chapter goes way beyond simple methods for the home-brewer. If you're serious about culturing foods, it's a very useful read.

Daphnia: by some Irish guy. This article is the most accessible of all--because he was writing for us. He's in a minority of the writers in the book who didn't seem to need to prove his status as a scientist with numbers and tables. But you don't have to get the book for that. John's daphnia methods are availble on the web:

http://www.caudata.org/daphnia/

So in summary, here is some really helpful information and some not. I didn't describe the sections on
bloodworms and rotifers because they were among the "some-nots." On the whole, the book inspired me to try some things I haven't tried before and gave me some great ideas.

Available here:
http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/about/shop
for 12,95 euros plus postage.

(See third illus. below.)

John
16th May 2009, 12:33
Dawn the images aren't showing up right...

And thank you for the flattery! My text is basically the daphnia web site on caudata.org though.

John
16th May 2009, 12:35
I see them now.

Otterwoman
16th May 2009, 18:24
And thank you for the flattery!

Like I would really trash your article here on your forum. I do not bite the hand that feeds me! (or makes me a moderator) ;)

But really, I meant every word I said.