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Vinegar Eels

The newest addition to my collection of critter cultures, these are supposed to be small enough for even tiny rainbowfish fry.  You can't really see the individual worms without magnification, but they make the water cloudy when they're doing well.  They also have the advantage of swimming throughout the water column, which is important for those small fry that live near the surface. 
But although these are supposed to be very easy to keep--able to survive long periods of neglect--but they can be killed.  They are called "vinegar" eels but they prefer a 1:1 dilution of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar and tap water).  They do well with some peeled apple slices (to avoid bad effects from any sprays on the skin of the apple, which can kill them) or a teaspoon of applesauce in a pint of culture, with a small spoonful of sugar stirred in.  They're very easy to keep alive, although they can be killed by (1) unpeeled apples (2) drying up of the culture (3) mold on an overfed culture (and you can probably find a few more if you're creative).  

Though to the naked eye they appear mostly like specks of dust in the liquid, up close they're proper worms indeed:


Here they are in their new culture with some fresh cut peeled apples:


And the apples will soon break down into mush like that on the bottom of the jar.  They will stay in this wide-mouthed jar, coverted with a bit of fabric to keep out the fruit flies:


Jack Heller likes to harvest his by pouring them through a coffee filter, flipping the filter over into a dish of water, so that the eels fall into the water, and uses a dropper to feed them to fry.  Another technique is to use a long necked bottle, fill it with the eel culture partway up the neck, then stuff in a piece of filter floss, cover with water, and wait a few minutes for the eels to migrate up into the water (this keeps vinegar out of the tank, but avoids the need for filters).  I will try out both harvest techniques if I can get them established.

Fortunately, there seem to be 
plenty of infusoria in my planted tanks to get the littlest fish started just fine; I've even had a little pseudomugil rainbowfish appear spontaneously in one of them. 

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