There are many factors that go into keeping your aquarium fish alive and healthy. Although environmental conditions such as the correct chemical balance and water temperatures are very important, fish in even the best cared for aquariums need the proper nutrition.While dried, frozen or pellet fish foods are nutritious, live foods can provide lots of protein and other benefits as well as adding variety to their diet. But, for some species of fish to be able to breed, they require live food.
Any packaged foods that aren't consumed will quickly decay and end up in your filtration system, cloud your tank and promote bacteria. Another benefit in raising your own live food is that you can control the conditions in which the food is grown and produce foods that are free of bacteria that can cause diseases.
Raising live food is a cheaper way to provide food for your fish and there are several types that can easily be cultured and grown right in your home. You can purchase eggs at almost any pet supply store, or you can order them offline from a supplier.
1. Hatching brine shrimps from eggs
Brine shrimps are almost a necessity for any newly hatched fry. You can hatch brine shrimp eggs in almost any type of container, glass bowls, gallon jugs, or even smaller soda bottles all work fine. But, a container that has a concave bottom is best suited. Water temperatures should be kept around 85°F and you'll need a light over the container.
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There are two ways in conditioning the water, some suggest using 3 1/2 tablespoons of salt without iodine for each gallon of water and some prefer to use Epsom salt mixed with a just a pinch of baking soda. An air tube is crucial in hatching the brine shrimp and keeping them alive.
When you need to remove some of the brine shrimp for feeding, turn off the air supply and let all the stuff in the water settle. The baby shrimp will sink down to the bottom of the water. Use a small siphon to collect the shrimp and place them in a small cup of water. An eye dropper can be used to transport them to the tank.
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Larger fish love adult brine shrimps, but they're almost impossible to raise to adulthood. And, all of your work and waiting generally won't yield enough shrimp to be worth the trouble. But, if you really want to try your hand at raising them, you can use an aquarium, tub or even a small wading pool.
You can fill the container with either synthetic or real salt water and add some green water and nutrients. Once the water turns a yellowish green, add either baby or adult shrimp and just wait. Place the container in a bright, indirectly lit area and add tiny amounts of brewers yeast, or micro foods to promote growth.
2. Live daphnia - ideal food for mature aquarium fish
Daphnia (0.2–5 millimetres), or water fleas is one of the most ideal types of live foods, many different fish thrive on Daphnia in their natural habitats. They will easily survive in the aquarium and will help to clean it by eating microscopic residues as long as they survive. And, when added to fry tanks, they will purify the water by eating the bacteria that can kill the fry and be a source of food as well!
Place whatever container you choose in an area that gets lots of light, either natural sunlight or artificial light. Add water and the Daphnia culture, an air tube and keep the waters temperature around 75°F. You can feed them with a mixture of one cup of soy flour and a package of dry yeast. Mix about 1/4 teaspoon into one cup of warm water and add it to the container. Use a siphon or fine net to catch the Daphnia to feed the fish.
3. Culture live microworms for fry and small fish
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Microworms are smaller than newly hatched brine shrimp and ideal for newly hatched fry, but other smaller fish love them as well. Cover the bottom of a small box with 1/2 inch of oatmeal, using a little less water than recommended on the box and cook it longer, it should be really thick. Sprinkle a small amount of active yeast over the top of the oatmeal and add the starter culture. Only one small spoonful is needed to start cultivating microworms.
Cover the box with some type of lid making a few small holes for moisture to escape and place at room temperature. The oatmeal will begin to get a yeasty smell and be watery after a few days and within about a week you can harvest the microworms. The culture can be kept for several weeks before needing to start a new batch.
To harvest the microworms, place the box in a warm area, the top of your aquarium light is the perfect place. To escape the heat the microworms will all go to the top. After around 15 minutes, you can scrape the sides of the container with a brush (or plastic knife) to harvest microworms. Then, rinse the brush with microworm around in a jar of aquarium water and suck them up with an eye dropper to feed your fish.
4. Mosquito larvae and other live foods
There are many other types of live food that can be collected or raised for feeding your fish. Mosquito larvae can easily be gathered from standing water and larger fish can be feed with small minnows, snails and even earth worms. Insects are another food that is a delicacy to some fish, small crickets, beetles and even flies are some favorite meals.
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