Say "Hello" to Daphnia

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19 May 2010 17:28 #1 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
I have never actually considered Daphnia Aquaculture in any great detail before. Yes, I've managed to keep the little things going from time to time, outside in a cut-up fashioned tub which I initially set up to attract midge and to harvest their larvae.
After reading quite a bit of literature on the subject, I'm now tentatively embarking on learning how to culture this form of live food properly.
In Northern Ireland we are poorly served by our local aquarist establishments of which we have only three we can use who can actually call themselves true aquarist establishments. None of them stock livefoods, no adult brineshrimp, no tubifex and for the purpose of this article no daphnia. We have to resort to searching out our own breeding grounds or send for supplies to the mainland of which the postal rates negate the last option.

I've been wanting to add to my ever growing livefood culture list for while now and have chosen Daphnia pulex over Daphnia magna due to it's smaller size.
I sent for a clean, disease free starter culture from a guy called Dave who lives in North Down. he quite happily supplied me with a few cultures along with food (concentrate green algae solution) also included was an algae starter solution which should let me brew my own food for the daphnia if I follow the concise instruction leaflet enclosed.




Contents of the D. pulex starter kit

The final home for the D. pulex in the summer months is expected to be a large drum filled with rainwater and pH adjusted like the one below.


Large drum intended to be the eventual Summer breeding ground for the Daphnia

Given that it's much too cold outside at the moment I have been advised to culture indoors until the weather is more clement. Following the instructions provided with the kit, I will be using a 3ltr Ice Cream carton.


Initial culture vessel, a 3ltr Ice Cream carton. The first thing I needed to do was to adjust the rainwater pH up to 7.2 as advised

Floating the bags of D. pulex was next on the agenda to equalize the temperatures between the bags and the tub, after which the daphnia was carefully poured into some small containers so I could slowly acclimatise and mix some of the water I'd made up with their own culture water.



After around half an hour I reckoned the acclimatisation was complete and the time had come to add the Daphnia to their new provisional home. The instructions concluded that the creatures should be fed immediately. I added enough of the concentrated algae to slightly tinge the water green. Once this has cleared a little I will add further amounts of the algae.



I now need to set up the algae cultures (green water) in 2 litre bottles. I will try to incorporate two culture vessels in my Livefood cupboard as both light and air are already installed this would make things much more convenient.



Work in Progress
ATB
C

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19 May 2010 17:51 #2 by mickeywallace (Michael Wallace Cath Woods)
Hi C,
thanks for sharing very interesting, Daphnia is one of my favourite frozen food and one i hope to culture in the future. One thing i found on a few sites was they said to have at least two cultures on the go at any time as for some reason Daphnia are prone to dieing off it which leaves you with one to restart lost tanks/culture

Daphnia being filter feeders will provide a great opportunity to us a term "gut load" before you feed to your fish eg with spirulina. in fact i read on a now dead forum that one lady who use to us sweet potato which gave them an orange appearance.

please keep us informed of your progress

Mickey

Mickey Wallace & Cath Woods

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19 May 2010 18:17 #3 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
I'll keep updating as I go along.
The best food by far to feed daphnia is without a doubt green-water. These so called water-fleas will rid a pond of green water in a matter of days if conditions are right. Hence the need to culture "Green Water".
The post above is lagged somewhat in that I'm much further ahead with things surrounding that area.
The Daphnia tubs are now split into six and are flourishing on a diet of the aforementioned algae. I had to try and test different foods to enable the algae to grow. I now feel I have acomplished this and will publish my findings and recommendations on this thread in due course.
Interesting the Sweet Potato angle Mickey.
Regards
C

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19 May 2010 18:57 #4 by mickeywallace (Michael Wallace Cath Woods)
cheers C
looking forward to updates

mickey

Mickey Wallace & Cath Woods

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20 May 2010 01:51 #5 by stretnik (stretnik)
Replied by stretnik (stretnik) on topic Say "Hello" to Daphnia
I have had fantastic results getting green water to thrive by adding small amounts of a product called Phostrogen plant food, it comes in crystal formation and feeds suspended algae.

On the subject, I'm sure I read somewhere that offering smaller Fish Daphnia can lead to blockagages due the Chitinous exoskeleton, I'm not 100% sure so maybe someone can either support or refute the fact.

Kev.

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20 May 2010 02:10 #6 by Xeon (ioan micu)
"On the subject, I'm sure I read somewhere that offering smaller Fish Daphnia can lead to blockagages due the Chitinous exoskeleton, I'm not 100% sure so maybe someone can either support or refute the fact.

Kev. "

I doubt that Kevin as I used to feed large amounts of live daphnia and cyclops even to very young fish and I found it to be one of the most easy digerable foods for the fish.

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20 May 2010 03:07 - 20 May 2010 03:11 #7 by stretnik (stretnik)
Replied by stretnik (stretnik) on topic Say "Hello" to Daphnia
OK, I hear ya, I wasn't sure but one fact I omitted, make sure Daphnia taken from ponds etc are carefully screened as Hydra can be hitching a ride and are lethal to young Fry.

www.petclubuk.com/p/pet-info/aquarium/in...-parasites/hydra/310

Kev.
Last edit: 20 May 2010 03:11 by stretnik (stretnik).

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20 May 2010 10:13 #8 by JohnH (John)
Replied by JohnH (John) on topic Say "Hello" to Daphnia
On top of which I have read that Cyclops are also a danger to newly-hatched fry but I am not altogether certain as I have never seen this myself but it's as well to be aware of that warning.

A couple of years ago I had an outbreak of hydra in quite a lot of tanks - it was strangely entertaining to watch them suddenly burst into a frenzy of activity when live recently-hatched Brine Shrimps were fed to the fish.
I seem to remember that Guppies were recommended as eaters of hydra - so in some went, the Guppies never gave them a second glance and both thrived.

Then I put in some young Macrobrachium Shrimps - they weren't so indifferent, I'm glad to say.

John

Location:
N. Tipp

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl - year after year.


ITFS member.



It's a long way to Tipperary.

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20 May 2010 15:47 #9 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Hydra eradication is not a problem if you use Flubendazole 5% powder in the correct dosage.
I've used it even in small fry tanks with no losses to fry whatsoever and the Hydra just melt. It's also good for fish intestinal problems.
Regards
C

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20 May 2010 20:00 #10 by stretnik (stretnik)
Replied by stretnik (stretnik) on topic Say "Hello" to Daphnia
So, any lfs in Ireland selling Flubendazole ?

Kev.

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20 May 2010 20:14 #11 by JohnH (John)
Replied by JohnH (John) on topic Say "Hello" to Daphnia
AV were selling Wormer Plus, which has that as an ingredient - there was some issue with the European powers-that-be about selling Flubendazole as a wormer for fish and the formulation had to be changed a bit to fit in with EU guidelines - I can't remember the exact details but I'm sure someone here will be able to fill in the gaps of my lack of memory.

John

Location:
N. Tipp

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl - year after year.


ITFS member.



It's a long way to Tipperary.

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20 May 2010 22:20 #12 by killikid (donald carson)
The only place i know is in the USA go to www.inkmkr.com/fish this guy sells it, information on it,at www.inkmkr.com/fish/flubendezole
Regards kk

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21 May 2010 20:20 - 21 May 2010 20:34 #13 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
I too get my flubendazole supplies from the States. Hydra be gone!
Anyway getting back to the subject in hand Daphnia.

The images below shows my live food cupboard. (500mm wall cupboard B&Q's finest) Home of gazillions of minute and microscopic critters.



After making up 2 glass spaghetti jars with the initial starter culture and the food. The liquid went through various degrees of shades of green eventually ending up with the nice dark green elixir on which I feed the Daphnia. The whole process takes about 7-10 days from being an almost clear solution to what you can see in the image below.



I just use tapwater to culture the algae as in my area it is very hard with a high TDS. I tried boiling rainwater and adding chemicals to bring the water up to the proper stats but the algae would reach a light translucent green and go no further, never attaining the dark concentrate that I crave. You also need to vigorously aerate the liquid to keep the algae in suspension. A word too on the culture jar itself, I have been using plastic 2 litre bottles but again the culture failed to reach it's full potential so I would recommend glass if you are going to attempt this for yourself.

The following image shows two forms of Green Water, the bottle on the left is algae cultured outside whilst the bottle on the right is home artificially cultured algae.
I'm sure you'll all agree which is the most wholesome on which to feed Daphnia.



Next up I will write a little regarding the actual food I use for maintaining the cultures.
Regards
C
Last edit: 21 May 2010 20:34 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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21 May 2010 21:29 #14 by derek (Derek Doyle)
great article. very well explained and illustrated. i really enjoyed reading this and your other articles.

30 tanks specialise in african cichlids, angelfish and various catfish

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22 May 2010 04:19 #15 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Thanks Derek,
As long as someone is able to glean something from the articles I write then they will have been worthwhile.
Thanks again for your comments
Regards
C

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22 May 2010 15:00 #16 by mickeywallace (Michael Wallace Cath Woods)
derek wrote:

great article. very well explained and illustrated. i really enjoyed reading this and your other articles.



have to agree totally i have even them marked so i know if i have missed new post!

Mickey Wallace & Cath Woods

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22 May 2010 15:14 #17 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
I've a bit of catching up to rival you guy's post count :laugh:

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23 May 2010 06:48 - 23 May 2010 08:31 #18 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Although Dave at Daphnia Direct advocates you to purchase ordinary house-plant fertilizer after you have used what's in the kit, to feed your now established algae culture I must tell you that for me this didn't work. I tried everything even limiting myself to purchasing the plant food only with the same blue colour as Dave's magical mixture. I tried many, many bottles ranging from Miracle Grow Pour & Feed Plant Food to drip feeders for Orchids. I paraded up and down isles of ferts at B&Q and garden centres and purchasing many bottles of these products in a vane effort to get my algae cultures to maximize their full potential.
I was quickly getting to the point of almost giving up hope and just resigning myself to the fact that a light green soup is the best I was going to achieve. Then I stumbled upon this little potion. Essentially a Phytoplankton fertilizer


Guillard’s f/2 formulation.

This seems to be the catalyst as far as I'm concerned in regards to assist production of the correct artificially cultured food for Daphnia. (external ponds aside). The fact that its a dedicated food for Phytoplankton suggests that there are no heavy metals present in the formulation. These unwanted commodities being one of the factors that would eventually kill the Daphnia culture. So that was a tick in the right box on that score.

I am feeding the Daphnia with 200mls of the algae every other day (the tub water going from green to almost clear in that time frame as the daphnia consume the algae) The daphnia culture going from being just sustainable it has now starting to flourish with the juveniles growing on and maturing and smaller ones appearing all the time, this surely must an indication that all is pretty much as it should be. The problem, now, for me is, I don't really know what the saturation rate should be for a particular size of tub. I suppose it's gonna be a little bit like "suck it and see".
I'm now in a position to be able to feed the Daphnia and store some of the algae in the fridge for later use. I am using well washed 2 litre empty milk cartons as storage. This leads to another problem, I dont like throwing things away, least of all the algae that I have painstakingly strived to culture correctly. The Fridge (although massive) can only hold a certain amount of milk cartons especially ones with green fluid in. (which brings me into conflict with the missus again :laugh: ) so I'll have to be thinking about getting a small fridge for the garage which would give me some added worktop space as a bonus.

I'll speak further about the actual Daphnid's themselves in my next installment. :laugh:
Regards
C
Last edit: 23 May 2010 08:31 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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