How to reap the benefits of aquarium live food rearing for your fish
If you have spent great amounts of time and effort reproducing a natural habitat for the fish in your tank, yet you still feed them commercially prepared fish food, it might be a good time to consider rearing live food. There are numerous benefits to rearing your own sources of live food, covered in the points below:
• Live food more closely reproduces the natural diet of fish, making them healthier and happier.
• Live food, being composed of living organisms, will not decay in your tank if left uneaten the way that fish flake does.
• Adult fish that are used to foraging for their food behave more actively in pursuing live food than prepared fish flakes.
• Better nutrition can be achieved through indirect enrichment— feeding your live food vitamin supplements that get passed on to your fish.
• Live food encourages breeding, and some species of fish will not breed successfully without it.
For young fry live food rearing is essential:
• Most species of fish give birth to fry that are too small to eat commercially prepared foods.
• Many species of young fish fry will only eat food that is moving, and need to be carefully weaned onto non-moving food over time.
• Live food is the healthiest option for young fry, and will help them grow faster and become healthy adults.
Types of live food
There is a huge range of live food available at your local fish store or online but this can be seasonal. Choosing which of the available types of live food you should use depends greatly on the species of fish you keep and whether you are feeding adult fish, fry, or both.
For adult fish, there are a number of attractive and healthy aquarium live food choices available. These largely consist of water fleas, various worms and larvae, as well as some shrimp. Some of the most popular species are:
• Daphnia. These tiny water fleas often top the list of easily managed aquarium live food rearing options. They live comfortably in slightly alkaline freshwater tanks with temperatures between 18-25 degrees Celsius and medium light intensity. Daphnia multiply quickly, offer beneficial vitamins for your fish, and are very easy to raise.
• Blood Worms. Blood worms are widely available from a vast majority of fish stores and bait shops, and offer a very convenient live food for your fish. They are simple to raise and once the life cycle is introduced, greatly reduce the need to supplement your fish’s diets with other foods.
• Earth Worms. Earth worms offer one of the most complete food sources available for aquarium live food rearing. They are high in protein, essential vitamins, and roughage. They do require soil, however, and can grow quite large, making them ideal for larger fish in larger tanks.
• Mosquito Larvae. Mosquito larvae are some of the easiest aquarium live food rearing options, since they will readily grow in just about any environment where you have access to stagnant water and sun. You must be very careful, however, to regularly harvest the larvae before they turn into troublesome adult mosquitoes.
• Brine Shrimp. Brine shrimp are an excellent and highly popular live food option for fish. They are especially suited to this purpose since baby brine fish are also suitable for fish fry thanks to their tiny size and nutritional value.
• White Worms. These nutritious worms are easy to cultivate and fish love them. They are high in fat as well as protein and can stay alive in the water for days. These worms can make your fish fat, however, so care should be exercised so as not to overfeed them.
Any of the options listed above should be enough for most species of adult fish, but fish fry have more subtle nutritional needs. If you are raising young fish fry, you will need to give them food small enough for them to eat and nutritious enough for them to subsist on completely, such as:
• Infusoria. This term refers to a number of extremely tiny microorganisms that serve as a readily cultivated source of food for your fry. It can be convenient to think of Infusoria as fresh water plankton. Infusoria are easy to culture and widely available online or at your local aquarium store.
• Brine Shrimp. One of the most popular and successful aquarium live food rearing options for young fry, baby brine shrimp are simple to cultivate and small enough for some fry to feed on.
• Microworms. These hardy creatures can thrive in a wide variety of environments, and make an excellent live food choice when you need a readily available source of food quickly. They can be cultivated in days and offer a complete source of nutrition that fry will gladly eat.
In many cases, offering your fish a variety of these food sources will help give them a varied and complete diet. Many of these foods are complementary when added together, and can be combined for the optimal balance of nutrients, vitamins, and essential proteins.
How to cultivate live food for your aquarium
If you are interested in aquarium live food rearing for your fish, you will need to invest some effort in making a cultivation tank or water barrel to raise your food in. Most species of live food are very easy to raise and require very little attendance or care.
For instance, Daphnia can be cultivated in any large container with access to sunshine and green water algae or yeast. Optimal water conditions include a pH between 6.0 and 8.2 and a 20% water change every two weeks. With a large enough surface area for the water in the container, aeration is not even necessary.
Brine shrimp make a similarly easy aquarium live food rearing selection for fish keeping enthusiasts and do not even require a large container. They are filter feeders that need only be provided with a food source such as yeast or wheat flour, an air stone for aeration, and regular water changes.
Mosquito larvae are even simpler, readily growing in just about any pot of stagnant water with access to sunlight and algae. Mosquitoes will readily begin spawning anywhere they find the right conditions, and you need only net the larvae every few days to feed your fish.
Most of the worm species available at your local fish store can be raised conveniently in plant soil and introduced to your aquarium when they grow to full size. Cultures are simple to purchase and cultivate; once ready, they can be tossed directly into the aquarium.
Tips for easier growing of live food
Once you decide to begin investing in an aquarium live food rearing setup, there are a few important considerations that can help you make the most of your breeding. One of the most helpful ways to ensure sufficient stocks of food for your fish is to stagger multiple cultivars several days apart.
Keeping several separate tanks can help insure your aquarium live food rearing attempt from being compromised by disease or other problems. Just like a fish tank, any number of unwanted conditions could erupt in a live food cultivation environment, and you want to be protected against the possibility of losing your fish’s primary food source.
Depending on the specific needs of your fish, you may also be able to feed them essential vitamins and minerals through the live food you raise. This process is called indirect enrichment and can help you more effectively fight disease by ensuring the right combination of ingredients makes its way into your fish’s diet. Many fish supply sites provide aquarium live food rearing supplements like these.
For further detailed instructions you can buy the amazon book by Mike Hellweg. Click on the picture to go to Amazon
This book was written by a master breeder of tropical fish. It has been written not just to culture live food but rather to culture live food for the benefit of fish and breeding and raising fry. It is well written giving detailed instructions on how to raise the variouslive foods. Finally you will be armed with the knowledge on what to feed difficult to breed species. Over 80 different live foods are explained in great detail. This is a book for the serious hobbyist and breeder. It is well written and surprisingly easy to read and understand.