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Culturing live food for the first time


ange
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I've finally decided to take the plunge with culturing nematodes and purchased a pack of 4 (microworm, banana worm, Walter worm, and vinegar eel) cultures for a little shy of $15. I want to share my methods and possibly receive advice! I've already viewed Cory's videos on vinegar eels and microworms but I know there's far more information out there.

All of the cultures came in VERY active from shipping. The surface of the culture medium was shimmering with nematodes in everything except for the vinegar eels. I'm having a hard time viewing inside the bag and it's the only culture that didn't get set up tonight. I'm waiting until tomorrow because I definitely didn't forget to buy apples this week 🙃 

My medium of choice is instant potatoes with some water. I've prepared 3 cultures and plan to set up my backups early next week when I finally get some time off work. I lightly poured the culture starter that I purchased over the medium that I prepared and poked 2 holes into the lid of each container with a pen. I have poly fill but these holes are so small I can't actually get anything onto them.

Advice and feedback are welcome! Maybe it's because I didn't set up the culture, but it honestly doesn't look like there's anything in the vinegar eel culture. I'm hoping life will be more evident tomorrow, I'm sure there's something and I'm not sure what signs to look for.

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I culture Walter worms in the same way, but using mashed boiled potatoes, as I alway have potatoes handy. I also mash some carrot in, with the idea of providing extra carotene for my dwarf boraras (they're nicely coloured up but no idea if it's due of this).

I do cut out a 1cm square hole on top of the lid and poly fill it, as suggested by Cory. The worms can spread to the underside of the lid, and they could be small enough to spread out through those holes. I have not had this problem with polyfil, yet.

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I also watched corys video on cultivating micro worms.  I performed per his instructions and have been very successful.  Guppy fry love those worms and they seem do be growing at an excellerated rate compared to my last batches of fry.  In less than two weeks they are exhibiting color.  
 

if you haven’t tried baby brine shrimp I would encourage you to.  It’s much easier than it appears and the results are worth it.  
 

 

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Today I checked in on the cultures that I prepared yesterday and prepared my vinegar eels today! In my better lighting I was able to see that the vinegar eels are definitely alive though they're much harder to see than any other nematode.

The banana worms are definitely the most active worm so far, with tons of them scaling the walls of the container. I could easily feed it to all of my tanks already without any negative effects on the culture. The microworms are comparatively the least active. I think they're doing okay but need a bit more time.. I'm planning to divide them into main + backup culture and advice on how to set up a low maintenance backup culture is appreciated! I'm planning to put my backups inside my garage refrigerator once I'm able to use it soon.

I've prepared my vinegar eels according to the Aquarium Co-Op blog post. I did make two deviations by placing the poly fill into the neck immediately. I also believe I under-filled it the main culture. Longer term (if I plan to raise a ton of fry) I think I may use a smaller bottle like in my final photo and rotate which ones I feed from.

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The banana and Walter worms have gone WILD with doubling. I would love to make a backup culture but I only have one container left and the fridge setup has been delayed 😭 The microworms are taking their sweet time. My vinegar eels have grown faster than expected. I want to give them more time in the bottle before I do anything with them. They're very difficult to photograph because my camera can't focus on them very well!

After I recover from my illness I'm likely going to attempt selling my extra banana worms and Walter worms, though I'm unsure what would be a fair price.

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I'm sorry to hear that you're sick, @ange. Hope you are recovered soon!

I've been following this topic...it's really all brand new info for me, so I'm paying attention. All the different live foods are things I've never heard of and had no idea people "raised" them to feed fish. So...yeah, it's all very interesting.

Although I have to admit that it seems a little gross. And I have issues with "gross". So, I can't see myself doing this any time soon. However, if I fell in love with a fish that I wanted to raise and I had to raise something to feed it, I could probably talk myself into it. So...that's why I'm paying attention. You never know when the "I just have to raise that fish" bug is going to bite you!😆

Alesha

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5 minutes ago, Alesha said:

I'm sorry to hear that you're sick, @ange. Hope you are recovered soon!

I've been following this topic...it's really all brand new info for me, so I'm paying attention. All the different live foods are things I've never heard of and had no idea people "raised" them to feed fish. So...yeah, it's all very interesting.

Although I have to admit that it seems a little gross. And I have issues with "gross". So, I can't see myself doing this any time soon. However, if I fell in love with a fish that I wanted to raise and I had to raise something to feed it, I could probably talk myself into it. So...that's why I'm paying attention. You never know when the "I just have to raise that fish" bug is going to bite you!😆

Alesha

I have a medical and zoological background so it takes a LOT to squick me out. I get wigged out by car accidents more than most biological things so I guess that's a good thing 😅 I don't find these little nematodes very icky, the worst part is probably the scent. As of right now it smells a lot like fermentation due to the yeast (that's also the source of the bubbles in the culture medium).

I started this project because I tend to go whole hog when I'm interested in something (not as far as Cory, Aquarium Co-Op isn't going to see any competition from me). Aside from the feeding, I really just check on them every other day to make sure everything is alive. The main metrics I'm monitoring is scent (fun fact, this is how I figured out I was sick), activity of the nematodes (they have a shimmering effect on the medium as well as on the sides that they scale), and visual characteristics of the medium.

I'm already looking forward to future experiments like VitaChem or garlic juice in the medium, smaller bottles for the vinegar eels to grow them on a smaller scale for fry, etc. but that's all on hold for now. I'll likely test at least one of those if I ever manage to hatch one of Relomia's spawns. She's pretty thick again so it's a matter of me figuring out how to get the eggs to hatch.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been awhile but I think I already crashed my main Walter worm culture. I think I went too many days without feeding from it (because only 4 very special fish will eat it) and the population grew too quickly. It's hard to tell in a still photo but the worms aren't moving. If it wasn't the population growth, we did have a freeze last night so that may have gotten them (or they're just sluggish).

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I keep a few cultures of micro worms going all the time, I feed them to quite a few of my tanks, even if there isn't fry in them, my angelfish eat them, and I've seen adult cory cats swimming through a cloud of microworms at the bottom of a tank. Before the pandemic, I would take a few starter cultures to local fish club meetings and auctions, I would usually get a few bucks from each one, not much, but would buy me some raffle tickets.

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4 hours ago, Andy's Fish Den said:

I keep a few cultures of micro worms going all the time, I feed them to quite a few of my tanks, even if there isn't fry in them, my angelfish eat them, and I've seen adult cory cats swimming through a cloud of microworms at the bottom of a tank. Before the pandemic, I would take a few starter cultures to local fish club meetings and auctions, I would usually get a few bucks from each one, not much, but would buy me some raffle tickets.

That's awesome! I've traded a couple of starters for plants already but I had to cut way back on fish meetups. There isn't a club where I live (I'm a few hours away from the GAAS) but I have a few locals that enjoy trading things around.

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