David’s Live Fish Foods

Culturing Paramecium and more

What kind of foods do you feed to feed small fry? This is a common conversation that takes place any time a bunch of aquarist get together and start talking about the fish they are breeding. At some point someone brings up how do you feed the fry? All kinds of answers will come in, usually starting with baby brine shrimp. Then an adventerous person will say microworms, or vinegar eels. And then from the old guy over in the corner will come the the scary words from the dark arts. aramecium. Not green water. Not infusoria. Paramecium. Most of us have tried Paramecium at one time or another. We always start with the knowledge (fallacy) that one must first purchase a pure culture. I've purchased or been given a pure culture several times. And each time I've always had the same results. Within a few weeks I have a large container with a 'not pure' culture. All kinds of disgusting things will present themselves. Usually I have a lot of some kind of worm that seems to make a cocoon on the side of the glass. Or the little wiggly worms that spend their time wiggling up and down in the tank. Probably looking for Paramecium to eat. Why does this always happen? Prabably because I do not sterilize everything with bleach, then hydrogen peroxide and then autoclave the containers. I never boil my culture water. But all is not lost. I finally found a way to grow a huge quantity of Paramecium along with the other little friends (rotifers, stentors and similar critters) that go along with them. Now I want to relate that to you. We all have an outside filter that has been way too long since it was last changed. It needs to be from a tank that you have not put in any medications. Obviously the slow creepy crawly things you want to grow will not have done well with antibiotics, sulfurs or copper drugs. I usually find a hard water African tank to be a good place to start because it will maintain a good pH. If you only have filters from soft water add some calcium of some sort to help buffer the water. Just use an outside filter that is moving slow because it has so much stuff clogging up the filter material. You can turn a filter off and let it sit for a while. Then pull out the filter material. I let the filter material drip into a plastic shoe box. You can use whatever you want. The shoe box is an easy way to catch the water from the filter material. You want to let the water from the filter material drain into the plastic shoebox. After most of the water had drained, you can lightly squeeze some more of the water out. Do not squeeze to hard, the little paramecium are very fragile little critters. Now pour this water into a fairly large mouth glass or plastic container. I like a glass jar but if all you have is plastic use plastic. The plastic orange juice container jars are pretty good. Pour the water in only as far as where the wide area starts to narrow. You need air circulation. If you need more water than what you hav so far then pour in some water from the filter or some regular water out of that aquarium. I try to start two or three of these jars at the same time because they may not all take. This encourages me to clean the filter. You can also use sponge filters or the water in a canister filter. You just need dirty water from an area that is slow moving. The paramecium would be swept away in a fast running filter. Now you have your jars filled with water and the goop that came out of your filter. We need some food for the stuff that we hope is going to grow. You can use most anything that hasn't been sprayed or any pesticide put on it. Dried grass, little bits of dried hay or the Timothy hay that the rabbit and small animal people use works very well. On a trip down to the killifish show down in Florida some of the killifish members in Tampa told me that what they like to use most of all was dried-up little half-inch pieces of turnip or rutabaga. That is pretty easy to make. You buy a turnip root or a rutabaga and you cut it into half-inch squares. Carefull, these roots are hard to cut. Blood from cut fingers does not enhance the growth of paramecium. Spread the pieces out on some paper towels and put in an uncovered plastic container. Leave it out in the air to dry. This may take a week or longer. Shake them up every couple of days to get the wetter undersides facing upward. You will end up with dried out Turnip or Rutabaga little nuggets. I can usually find a box of them already cut upin the produce section the grocery store. Usually they are in 1" size pieces but that's all right. If you have a dehydrator you can have it all dried out overnight. One rutabaga or turnip cut up in the little half-inch nuggets and dried will probably give you enough food for Paramecium for at least six months. So do not go overboard in getting a bunch of rutabaga or turnips. Just one small root will do. You want to put one or two of the little dried food pellets into each container you want to put. Then you want to take a folded up paper towel or piece of cloth and rubberband it over the top of each jug. You need air to move in and out of the containers. You do not want to allow any gases to get trapped inside container and you don't want the bugs laying eggs inside. Put the jars in a spot out of the sun at room temperature. You do not want to grow algae. You also do not want total darkness either because you will forget it's there. And in total darkness you will grow mold. I know from experience. Nothing worse than finding a jar growing some kind of disgusting stuff forgotten for a long period time. Check the paramecium jugs every two or three days or once a week because you want to know what's happening. What you looking for first is the water will get very very cloudy. That's the bacteria growing off of the food and the other goop that you have in the container. This is a good sign. The Paramecium will eat this bacteria. So after starting your culture in roughly 2 weeks you will find you have a bacteria bloom. In another week at room temperature you'll start to notice that the water is clearing. This clearing water means something is eating all that bacteria. Using a a pencil point type flashlight shining from the backside into the glass and you'll be able to see how your Paramecium cultures doing. If you cultures going really well they'll be so thick that it's amazing that you can seethrough the water. In another couple of days you want to add another pellet or whatever your food source is. You've got to keep the bacteria going so the Paramecium continue to have something to eat. Now that you have this culture going you need to know how you are going to feed them to your fish. You really do not want to be putting a whole lot of this water in your tank because is does have an odor. But is not really anything in it that is unhealthy. Remember the Paramecium eat the bacteria you are afraid of getting in your tank . So the Paramecium are actually going to clean up your water when you put them in your aquarium. You can buy 5μ filter material that used for saltwater plankton collecting. But it is very expensive. What I found is that the Paramecium are just like brine shrimp. They are attracted to light. So I will put the container in the dark and shine a light on just like you do for your brine shrimp. Over 15 to 30 minute period time the majority of the Paramecium will come over to the side of the jar where the light is. Now I can take a turkey baster and suck out a small amount of water and a whole lot of the Paramecium. I will squirt that into a smaller container that is used to feed the rest of my fry. Paramecium are always a subject when the discussion gets down to breeding the tetras, danios and barbs. The betta and gourami people will perk up their ears and listen also. People will tell you that your Apistogramma and Blue Ram fry are big enough to eat brine shrimp right from the beginning, I find they get off to a even better start if I will also feed them the Paramecium. This stuff makes a particularly good food for baby corydoras. The biggest problem I find it raising corydoras is that after three or four days, the tank water gets very foul. Even when I do giant water changes each day on the small tanks with the baby corys, the slime will develop on the bottom of the tank and the fry will still end up dying from the disease or fungus or whatever it is they pick up from that slime on the bottom of the tank. The Paramecium culture pretty much keep all that cleaned up. Plus the Paramecium will live in your water so you do not have them dying all over the place. I start out with Paramecium. Then in a few days add some microworms. Only after the fry are a couple weeks old will I start feeding the baby brine shrimp. When I startfeeding baby brine shrimp I put some some snails in the tank to help keep things clean. This is how easy it is to start a Paramecium culture. The hard part is that you have start one about three weeks before you're going to need it. When you start conditioning your pairs for breeding is when you should start your paramecium culture. If you expect a lot of fry then start a couple of jars every week. That way you will have a continuous stream of Paramecium coming for whenever you need them. Nothing is worse than having a great Paramecium culture that for some reason crashes and three days later 1000 gourami or 50 wild betta fry hatch and you have nothing to feed them. By starting a new jug every week or couple jugs every week you find that whenever you need the food you'll have it ready for you.

Starting a Paramecium culture

David’s Live Fish Foods

Culturing Paramecium and more

What kind of foods do you feed to feed small fry? This is a common conversation that takes place any time a bunch of aquarist get together and start talking about the fish they are breeding. At some point someone brings up how do you feed the fry? All kinds of answers will come in, usually starting with baby brine shrimp. Then an adventerous person will say microworms, or vinegar eels. And then from the old guy over in the corner will come the the scary words from the dark arts. aramecium. Not green water. Not infusoria. Paramecium. Most of us have tried Paramecium at one time or another. We always start with the knowledge (fallacy) that one must first purchase a pure culture. I've purchased or been given a pure culture several times. And each time I've always had the same results. Within a few weeks I have a large container with a 'not pure' culture. All kinds of disgusting things will present themselves. Usually I have a lot of some kind of worm that seems to make a cocoon on the side of the glass. Or the little wiggly worms that spend their time wiggling up and down in the tank. Probably looking for Paramecium to eat. Why does this always happen? Prabably because I do not sterilize everything with bleach, then hydrogen peroxide and then autoclave the containers. I never boil my culture water. But all is not lost. I finally found a way to grow a huge quantity of Paramecium along with the other little friends (rotifers, stentors and similar critters) that go along with them. Now I want to relate that to you. We all have an outside filter that has been way too long since it was last changed. It needs to be from a tank that you have not put in any medications. Obviously the slow creepy crawly things you want to grow will not have done well with antibiotics, sulfurs or copper drugs. I usually find a hard water African tank to be a good place to start because it will maintain a good pH. If you only have filters from soft water add some calcium of some sort to help buffer the water. Just use an outside filter that is moving slow because it has so much stuff clogging up the filter material. You can turn a filter off and let it sit for a while. Then pull out the filter material. I let the filter material drip into a plastic shoe box. You can use whatever you want. The shoe box is an easy way to catch the water from the filter material. You want to let the water from the filter material drain into the plastic shoebox. After most of the water had drained, you can lightly squeeze some more of the water out. Do not squeeze to hard, the little paramecium are very fragile little critters. Now pour this water into a fairly large mouth glass or plastic container. I like a glass jar but if all you have is plastic use plastic. The plastic orange juice container jars are pretty good. Pour the water in only as far as where the wide area starts to narrow. You need air circulation. If you need more water than what you hav so far then pour in some water from the filter or some regular water out of that aquarium. I try to start two or three of these jars at the same time because they may not all take. This encourages me to clean the filter. You can also use sponge filters or the water in a canister filter. You just need dirty water from an area that is slow moving. The paramecium would be swept away in a fast running filter. Now you have your jars filled with water and the goop that came out of your filter. We need some food for the stuff that we hope is going to grow. You can use most anything that hasn't been sprayed or any pesticide put on it. Dried grass, little bits of dried hay or the Timothy hay that the rabbit and small animal people use works very well. On a trip down to the killifish show down in Florida some of the killifish members in Tampa told me that what they like to use most of all was dried-up little half-inch pieces of turnip or rutabaga. That is pretty easy to make. You buy a turnip root or a rutabaga and you cut it into half-inch squares. Carefull, these roots are hard to cut. Blood from cut fingers does not enhance the growth of paramecium. Spread the pieces out on some paper towels and put in an uncovered plastic container. Leave it out in the air to dry. This may take a week or longer. Shake them up every couple of days to get the wetter undersides facing upward. You will end up with dried out Turnip or Rutabaga little nuggets. I can usually find a box of them already cut upin the produce section the grocery store. Usually they are in 1" size pieces but that's all right. If you have a dehydrator you can have it all dried out overnight. One rutabaga or turnip cut up in the little half-inch nuggets and dried will probably give you enough food for Paramecium for at least six months. So do not go overboard in getting a bunch of rutabaga or turnips. Just one small root will do. You want to put one or two of the little dried food pellets into each container you want to put. Then you want to take a folded up paper towel or piece of cloth and rubberband it over the top of each jug. You need air to move in and out of the containers. You do not want to allow any gases to get trapped inside container and you don't want the bugs laying eggs inside. Put the jars in a spot out of the sun at room temperature. You do not want to grow algae. You also do not want total darkness either because you will forget it's there. And in total darkness you will grow mold. I know from experience. Nothing worse than finding a jar growing some kind of disgusting stuff forgotten for a long period time. Check the paramecium jugs every two or three days or once a week because you want to know what's happening. What you looking for first is the water will get very very cloudy. That's the bacteria growing off of the food and the other goop that you have in the container. This is a good sign. The Paramecium will eat this bacteria. So after starting your culture in roughly 2 weeks you will find you have a bacteria bloom. In another week at room temperature you'll start to notice that the water is clearing. This clearing water means something is eating all that bacteria. Using a a pencil point type flashlight shining from the backside into the glass and you'll be able to see how your Paramecium cultures doing. If you cultures going really well they'll be so thick that it's amazing that you can seethrough the water. In another couple of days you want to add another pellet or whatever your food source is. You've got to keep the bacteria going so the Paramecium continue to have something to eat. Now that you have this culture going you need to know how you are going to feed them to your fish. You really do not want to be putting a whole lot of this water in your tank because is does have an odor. But is not really anything in it that is unhealthy. Remember the Paramecium eat the bacteria you are afraid of getting in your tank . So the Paramecium are actually going to clean up your water when you put them in your aquarium. You can buy 5μ filter material that used for saltwater plankton collecting. But it is very expensive. What I found is that the Paramecium are just like brine shrimp. They are attracted to light. So I will put the container in the dark and shine a light on just like you do for your brine shrimp. Over 15 to 30 minute period time the majority of the Paramecium will come over to the side of the jar where the light is. Now I can take a turkey baster and suck out a small amount of water and a whole lot of the Paramecium. I will squirt that into a smaller container that is used to feed the rest of my fry. Paramecium are always a subject when the discussion gets down to breeding the tetras, danios and barbs. The betta and gourami people will perk up their ears and listen also. People will tell you that your Apistogramma and Blue Ram fry are big enough to eat brine shrimp right from the beginning, I find they get off to a even better start if I will also feed them the Paramecium. This stuff makes a particularly good food for baby corydoras. The biggest problem I find it raising corydoras is that after three or four days, the tank water gets very foul. Even when I do giant water changes each day on the small tanks with the baby corys, the slime will develop on the bottom of the tank and the fry will still end up dying from the disease or fungus or whatever it is they pick up from that slime on the bottom of the tank. The Paramecium culture pretty much keep all that cleaned up. Plus the Paramecium will live in your water so you do not have them dying all over the place. I start out with Paramecium. Then in a few days add some microworms. Only after the fry are a couple weeks old will I start feeding the baby brine shrimp. When I startfeeding baby brine shrimp I put some some snails in the tank to help keep things clean. This is how easy it is to start a Paramecium culture. The hard part is that you have start one about three weeks before you're going to need it. When you start conditioning your pairs for breeding is when you should start your paramecium culture. If you expect a lot of fry then start a couple of jars every week. That way you will have a continuous stream of Paramecium coming for whenever you need them. Nothing is worse than having a great Paramecium culture that for some reason crashes and three days later 1000 gourami or 50 wild betta fry hatch and you have nothing to feed them. By starting a new jug every week or couple jugs every week you find that whenever you need the food you'll have it ready for you.

Starting a Paramecium culture