!!! My website has moved: please update your bookmarks to debunix.net !!!

Jack Heller's Live Food Culture Notes

Jack and I did a program on live food cultures for a MASI meeting, and these are his notes on how he keeps his going.   I incorporated some of his techniques into my notes, but here is the real thing.

Live Foods for Aquarium Fish

1. Paramecium:  Gallon Jar or jug, dechlorinated water, fill jar _ full and leave plenty of surface area, add corn husk, add starter culture, cap jar.  When culture is established, feed with eye dropper.  Keep extra corn husks in frig.  When corn husk in jar rots, add new one.  These cultures work for a long time and are excellent for small new born fry if fed in moderation. Tea jar is good culture jar.

2. Vinegar Eels:  One gallon jug or jar, _ cider vinegar, _ de-chlorinated water, add 1 table spoon of sugar on 1/8 slice of apple, add vinegar eel culture.  When established, use baster and squirt solution through coffee filter.  Wash filter off in fresh, de-chlorinated water.  Pour vinegar back in culture jar.  Use eye dropper to feed vinegar eels to fry.

3. Microworms:  Use a plastic shoe box with several small pinholes in lid.  I start culture with Gerber Single Grain Barley baby cereal.  I add this cereal to _ inch depth, and add water with mister until cereal is the consistency of a milk shake.  I then add the culture and cover.  I mist the culture each day until the culture is established.  As the medium becomes watery I add several grains of puffed rice and mist this thoroughly.  When the culture is mature, the worms will start to climb the sides of the shoe box.  Scrape them off with a popsical stick or plastic knife, and dip them in a small container of water.  Eye dropper is used to feed to fry.  Check culture a few times a week for moisture and food.  When culture starts to crash (culture turns dark and gives off a foul smell)  save a small portion and discard the rest.  Wash the box out thoroughly and restart the culture.

4. Grindel Worms:  Use a plastic shoe box with several small pinholes in the lid.  Add Magic Worm Farm to about _ inch and wet moderately with mister.  In the middle of the culture, wet thoroughly and add starter culture in the wettest area.  Place a few pellets of Purina kitten chow over the culture and a poly bag over it and cover the culture with the box lid.  Check daily and remove any moldy pieces of cat chow and mist lightly.  The cat chow should be gone in a few days.  Add a few more nuggets of cat chow, gradually building up to nine pieces.  Mist the cat chow lightly each time you ad nuggets.  When the nine nuggets disappear in one or two days, the culture is ready to start harvesting.  Pull the poly bag from the culture and wash it off in a small container of water and replace it in the box.  Feed the worms to fish with an eye dropper that has been clipped to allow for a bigger opening.  Excellent food for medium size fry and breeding pairs.

5. White worms:  Use shoe box with pinholes in lid.  Add Magic Worm Farm (1/2 inch),  wet thoroughly with mister, and add culture.  Put glass or poly bag over culture Feed new culture a small piece of yeast soaked bread (just enough that it will be consumed in a few days).  Gradually increase the size of the bread slice.  Keep the worms in a cool, dark place.  A basement floor works well.  This culture does best in temperatures of 55% to 65%.  The culture can be washed off the glass or poly bag and fed to fish with an eye dropper.  Watch the frequency of feeding with this food as it is very fattening, and too much is not good for the fish.

6.  Fruit flies (Drosophila):  (Diane's notes from Jack's talk at MASI) culture in a 1-quart canning jar using the ring part of the lid to cover the culture with a piece of fabric.  Media is a mix of potato flakes, sugar, and a fungicide available from biological supply houses (a little lasts goes a long way, and is cheap).  Mix up to a thick paste in the bottom of the jar.   Add something for the flies to climb on to stay out of the media (where they get stuck and die without feeding your fish):  he prefers "Excelsior moss" which you can get at nursery supply stores (it's actually curled shredded wood), but the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper or some crumpled paper towel will work.   Add your flies, and they'll start breeding for you.  To feed, he uses a large funnel that he found in the automotive section of Walgreens--it has a wide open mouth but a narrow tube at the end.  Set this into an inexpensive squirt bottle sold for ketchup or mustard.  Shake the flies from their culture jar into the funnel, and tap the funnel until they fall into the ketchup jar.  Put the lid on the ketchup jar and then invert it over the tank, and squeeze the bottle.  The flies will be forced out a few at a time in a jet of air, which should have enough force to get them quite wet--so they don't just land on the water, they get dunked.  [Isn't that a clever trick?  I used to feed leftover fruit flies from our lab to my pet frog, and had to keep a very tight fitting fine mesh lid over the top of her aquarium to keep the flies in until Froggie got them.  This sounds much simpler.  Then I had to be VERY FAST.]  Now they can't crawl out, and the fish will be delighted with this marvelous, complete food.

Always remember with fruit flies that it's just as important to keep wild flies out of your flightless fly culture, as it is to keep the flightless ones in.  One flighted fly can mate with your flightless ones and in a generation or two they'll all be flyers.   How serious a calamity this would be depends on the tolerance of your housemates to small winged pests.

Return to Diane's Live Food Culture Page
(warning:  this page has many pictures and is slow to load)

Return to My Fishroom

Back to Fish Page

Return to Diane's Home Page