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Live Foods Journal

Fish Folk

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Over the last few years, I have fed aquarium fish live foods. More recently, I have begun learning how to cultivate live foods. It is sometimes a challenge to get things right, but where successful, live foods is a game-changer with bringing fish into spawning condition and nurturing fry through their first month of life.

I hope this journal will prove helpful for aquarists looking to get at least one view on several live food species. Call it a live-foods-cookbook. By all means, if you’re a cook, please share YOUR recipes too!

Today, I time visiting with a friend just 1-minute away. He is a genius! He wanted to show me his Daphnia tanks. I was so impressed: no water changes. 100% Aquaponics. Here are a couple photos I took with his permission…

Daphnia magna - 10 gal




(feeding yeast, below)


Daphnia moina - 10 gal


(feeding yeast below)


The substrate in each is Oyster Shells available for under $20 at Tractor Supply…


The emersed plants (Pothos, Mint, etc.) used for Aquaponics zero out Nitrate, but also strip out out the minerals. The Oyster shells keep the water bslanced.

SO! I was impressed enough, that zI immediately went to town today to set up a spare 10-gal I’ve had sitting around, cycled. Here was the process:

(1) Get lights screwed in for plant growth a Daphnia multiplication. (Daphnia require light to multiply)



So I added several LEDs…


Then I washed out the Oyster Shells…


Started setting up the tank…


After adding cycled lava rock and cycled sponge filters, sponge filter squeezing from other sponges for bio… I added 3x new Mystery Snails…


They began enjoying the digs right away…


(BTW… I threw in a bunch of Susswassertang. Because. Just love that stuff!)

In the end…


Pothos added to floating pot for starting aquaponics…


(Mint will go in tomorrow)

I keep it in my fishroom bathroom closet… 


After it settles, and I can test to ensure that there is ample bacteria keeping it all cycled, I will pick up a generous starter of Daphnia magna from my friend.

My goal is to cultivate these so well that I have live Daphnia to feed to fish twice a day. To feed the Daphnia, a liquid solution of Active-dry Yeast is prepared…


I will go into detail on that in a followup post.

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Congratulations. I recently began with Daphnia magna and moina to add to my worm and microfauna cultivation. 

I chose to cultivate live chlorella vulgaris as the food vs yeast etc.  I’ll grab photos tomorrow. 

I use crushed coral as the substrate.  My Moina sits in a pickle jar on my kitchen window ledge with a 10watt bullet heater. The chlorella itself is the filter and the self replicating food for daphnia and moina. Only water changes are drain a cup or a gallon to replace the chlorella when they run out of food. 

These are my favorite cultures. The food for them and they themselves self replicate so almost zero maintenance. 

I had a fry explosion so had to feed out the daphnia to open the tank. Once these fry are grown and gone I’ll again reset my daphnia. 

Here is a thread with some of my “recipes” 


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Here are the photos. The tank is live Chlorella vulgaris. the Saran Wrap is because my basement hits 58-60 degrees. So I’m trying to conserve heat. 
 The pickle jar is moina with a 10 w bullet heater and 1 watt air pump, crushed coral.

The mason jar I had some leftover chlorella last feeding so I added chlorine free water and grew more.  





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@Guppysnail I used to set my hermit crabs aquarium on part of a cardboard box in the winter, then cut up the rest of the box and tape it around three sides. It helped keep him warmer along with the heat mat he always had attached to one side. (I keep the apt about 72 and he liked to be at least 78.) It’s surprising how much heat goes out through the glass.

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I also started my daphnia culture 11 days ago and I enjoy it so far.

I had a big tub that I used to use to cycle numerous fish room sponges when I was setting it up. So it had been sitting with the filter gunk and algae covered on sides unused.

I emptied it but left all of surface growth for daphnia to snack on. They seem to do well so far. I used a small sponge filter that is already a bit full of gunk, and has low air flow. So I think it cant suck much but good enough to keep it cycled. I always heard sponges were not doable in my researches due to sucking baby daphinas/disturbing them with the air flow, but Im having so many babies growing just in 11 days, so I assume it is fine as it is.

I also have tons of frogbits on top. I noticed them holding on to the roots sometimes. Like a monkey on the tree. I think they like it

I also mix dry yeast with spirulina powder feed them this way

I have a bare bottom setup

No smell and easy to take care of is a very important combination for me. Daphnia fits the theme well. Same goes for white worms and vinegar eels. And ofcourse, brine shrimp hatching. Microworms are the worst. Stinky. I hated them.


Hope everything goes well for you. I haven't actually seen anyone using substrate so please update us on your experience. I wanted to use mystery snails too, but I wasn't sure if they would crush them. I noticed my daphnia seem to enjoy spending on the bottom of the tub too (maybe due to having an oxygen source already and no light on top). So mystery snails, especially adults, might accidentally go over them, I thought. My friend uses a couple baby plecos to snack on the dead ones to keep parameters okay but both snails and plecos would poop a lot? Idk. I also aim for a no water change sort of setup.


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I began feeding some Daphnia to fish today. I was pleased to watch the Elassoma gilberti housed with a sorority of Brick Swordtails showing up…

They really can camouflage well…


They do not express full colors unless conditions are right. But hopefully I’ll see more as the year turns over the calendar…

Bear in mind that the male E. gilberti are capable of nearly unmatched glory in spawning form…


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I just got a daphnia magna and paramecium culture yesterday myself.  I'd love to be able to feed daphnia daily, the adult ones in my culture were freaking huge (compared to BBS).  I'm actually kind of excited for some meatier options for my fish as it seems like they need to eat a million BBS for a meal.  Thinking I need a bigger container to culture in, though.  I've got a couple of seed shrimp cultures going as well.  What I REALLY need to do is come up with somewhere to put all of these, honestly. 😄

Edited by jwcarlson
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  • 2 weeks later...

Today, I am taking off work. I got 5x orange neocaridinas to add to my Daphnia tank…


My little helper loves this aquaponics tank, jammed in a fishroom bathroom closet…


Shellfish all appreciate the oyster-shell substrate…


Daphnia still kickin’ fine…


I think the shrimp have moved into  heaven with this grimy tank 😂

Already buddies…


Edited by Fish Folk
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On 11/30/2023 at 7:01 AM, jwcarlson said:

What I REALLY need to do is come up with somewhere to put all of these, honestly.

I've kept mine in a ~15 planter outside for about 9 months now. They exploded in population during spring and summer but they've slowed down in the last few months.

On 12/1/2023 at 3:58 PM, Fish Folk said:

Yessss 😷

My wife told me that the cat must have killed something in the garage. Turned out it was the microworm culture that had gone bad.

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Very cool journal bud! Gonna drop the follow on it, so I can keep the knowledge flowing. I have micro worms, white worms and banana worms all going...I also have two starter batches of black worms coming and have the tank ready for it. Daphnia have always daunted me, but I think seeing everyone else give it a go makes me want to give it a shot down the road. 🙂 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 1/20/2024 at 5:57 PM, oS3R0o said:

Thanks for sharing your journals! How is this method working out? Keep the updates rolling!!

It's working Ok. I have a huge cyanobacteria outbreak in the 10-gal tank. I knew that there was some in there at the beginning, but it's really overboard now. It does not seem to affect the Daphnia to much, though I have been feeding a bit less. The aquaponics plan only worked partially. The jugs are going acceptably. It's interesting that only two of the four jugs are consistently producing a lot of young. I haven't figured out why yet. But I definitely am able to harvest every single day! It's made my Betta fry grout project start off smoothly...


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Thank you for the update! I want to try daphnia this spring or summer, so I'm takin' notes. Just started watching your YouTube channel, great content, will binge watch... Subscribed!! 😎👍

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