Fruitfly Breeder/Feeder

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04 Mar 2011 18:32 - 06 Mar 2011 04:36 #1 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
The Prospect of Constructing a Fruitfly Breeder/Feeder
by
Puddlefish

Has he finally flipped his lid!!!
I have been culturing wingless Drosphilia melanogaster for quite a while now. Whilst I have gazillions of flies I only really feed them when they die. Why you ask!...Simply because of that age old problem of escaping insects. This, believe me is an absolute bane and one which can give rise to heated discussions between me and my wife. :laugh:

So with thinking cap in hand I started to plan for a method which would allow me to utilise my fly stocks to a better advantage.
I needed to fashion something that would allow me to feed Fruitfly the way they were intended to be fed..."LIVE"
The project would have to meet the following certain criteria.
  • The item (in whatever form) would have fit externally to an aquarium / vivarium.
  • It would, perhaps possess double interconnected chambers, with sliding door.
  • It needed to be ventilated
  • It had to have some means of getting food/egg laying media in and out.
  • The second feeding chamber would be semi submerged to prevent escapees.


This is what I have come up with thus far....
Puddlers Fruitfly Feeding Station :whistle:

As you can see from the above image it is an external unit, a prototype, made from odds and ends that I'm privy too. A work in Progress if you like.



The first chamber (the breeding end) has a sliding drawer in which the food and egg laying media will be administered. The top of this section is open but covered by a scrap of muslin or cotton handkerchief held in place by an elastic band. There is a sliding door plate which links to the second chamber. (the feeding end) This can be removed once the flies reach saturation point within there initial home. The usual items such as breeding media and raffia can all be inserted into the first chamber via the top opening.
The second chamber is sealed, and it's base is submerged beneath the waterline. The fish will feed from this point. This is still untried, and as I say a work in progress but I hope there will be enough condensation within chamber two to allow the flies to slip down into the water without having to resort to drilling the top and inserting an air-valve to blow the insects down to their impending doom.

Here follows some more images of the unit in it's current state.

The only other unit I have seen to date involves the use of a lunchbox with a hole burnt into the centre of its base, media is placed into the box and this is floated in the aquarium. This takes up valuable surface area and the fish can jump into the box. So it too has its design faults.

First up I would like you all to tell me if this assignment contains viable potential.
I would now like to invite the good members of this forum to submit constructive comments and criticisms about this project, what you would change, modify or discard in a hope that I can fully develop this further. There are faults, some I'm aware of and some that may not be so obvious to me, this is where I need your help.

In it's current form, it is quite heavy (made from 4mm float glass). If the concept comes to some kind of fruition then it is hoped to have it made from plastic or perspex. I may even offer it to a shool for some lad to use as a project for an exam....who knows.

Has he flipped.....possibly Yes!

Thanks in advance
Regards
C
Last edit: 06 Mar 2011 04:36 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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04 Mar 2011 20:16 #2 by Jim (Jim Lawlor)
From my limited understanding - I think what you've done is really cool !

The only flaws I can see is the buggers getting out throguh the drawer when you open it, but presumably they'll end up in the tank anyway. Also, the outlet is underwater, so you've gotta wait for them to sink, otherwise the fish'll swim up into it. If it was above the waterline, wouldn't the flies fall to the water surface and be spread around by the water flow? Giving a bit more fun to fish and owner to watch them chase?

Are there surfaces you cant reach to clean?

If you're going into full scale production for an appearance of Dragon's Den - I'm in!

Whats the market size . . . ?

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04 Mar 2011 20:25 - 04 Mar 2011 20:39 #3 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Dragons Den :laugh: Lamb to the Slaughter.....Nice one Jim.

No... the secondary compartment had to be under water, The fish to circle under this area was a pre-requisite.
Why....When you feed them on the water surface they tend to float and stay as with most things that are lighter than water, on the meniscus supported by the surface tension. Its no good even trying to drown these they are nearly indestructible (bar exposing them to cold) They will then crawl up the sides of the aquaria and seek out food or a place to lay their eggs. (a female can store sperm and lay viable eggs for a lengthy time after insemination much like live-bearers) As you know I utilise floating plants which makes it all the more easy for escapees to head for the hills. So this is why I have been trying for quite some time to come up with something, a better way, that will allow me to feed the flies to the fish.
The drawer can and will be interchangeable as the media becomes spent. if you tap the fruitfly container, their reaction is to head upward, therefore the drawer can be removed and a new one with fresh media inserted, this can be done on a rotational basis so as to have a semi perpetual feeding regime.
There will however come a time whereby one will have to fully clense the unit. This can be done quite easily using a babies bottle brush.
Thanks for your comments J. appreciated
Regards
C
Last edit: 04 Mar 2011 20:39 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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06 Mar 2011 00:43 #4 by platty252 (Darren Dalton)
ingenious Colin.

I cant see any flaws in its function and i think it will work very well.
It wont take long for the fish to figure out were there meals come from.

The only think i would change and one you have pointed out is the glass.
Maybe modifying some of the plastic shoe boxes you got a while back?

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06 Mar 2011 04:31 - 06 Mar 2011 04:34 #5 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Hi P...
Thanks for your favourable comments...
There are some specific design faults I must admit, mainly due to the materials I have available not lending themselves to what the end product should really look like. Plastic construction is surely the way to go.

Another aspect would be to still maintain the hatch joining the two compartments but instead of having a trap door to seal and keep each chamber a separate entity during the breeding stage tucked inside the first compartment. I envisage having a box section plastic tube that would have a 2 fold functionality, it would slide up and down within the second compartment thus opening and closing the hatchway (exact measurements would have to be worked out), also it would have adjustment / serrations every 5mm to allow the tube to lock into place to reach beneath the water surface even if the aquarist was running his tank with lower water levels.
A clip on lid to section one would be an idea, complete with some ventilation material incorporated into it's design, much the same as a brine-shrimp sieve.
As I say it is yet to be put through its paces. But I cant see the feeding side being a problem as we only have to look at the lowly plastic feeding ring.
This little project has become a labour of love and if it ends up being what I intended it to be, then I will be satisfied.
Thanks for taking time out to peruse this thread
Regards
C
Last edit: 06 Mar 2011 04:34 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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20 Mar 2011 21:33 #6 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
UPDATE:

OK, Taking on-board various aspects of what has been said around the globe on this topic. I have proceeded to develop this concept a little further.
I have enlisted a friend from Bombardier Aerospace (plastics) to help me in my quest. Together we have come up with the following rough mock up.



There are a few design differences from the original model.
Most noticeably is that the main unit is now of one section and is totally made from plastic materials.

*The Media Drawer is now on the side rather than the front, this enables me to mount the unit to the left or to the right of an aquarium. (still need to fashion some kind of small thumb handle).

*The Sliding Door Mechanism is now positioned outside the unit and is tight fitting so as not to allow any escapees. (However a small plastic thumbscrew needs to be added to raise and lower this and keep it in position).
I can now open the aperture externally.

*The Opening Lid to "chamber one", is flanged and tight fitting. (still needs to be drilled for ventilation)

So not wishing to let this slide, I am constantly working to make this a better concept than it already is. The glass prototype worked well (pics will follow later) but the plastic model is much lighter and has a better feel to it. Admittedly it is not that aesthetically pleasing on the eye at the moment but that will come as further refinements are made.


More images of my burning obsession...


Maybe I'm just plain bonkers in pursuing something like this, I'll let you all decide that aspect :lol:
"Bloody Fruitflies...who'd ave em"!
Regards
C

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20 Mar 2011 22:12 #7 by JohnH (John)

Maybe I'm just plain bonkers in pursuing something like this, I'll let you all decide that aspect


I've decided...what does anyone else think?

:pinch:

I like the plan of this one, your previous glass one had me a little confused (John confused? - Never!).

I was thinking along similar lines for a live bluebottle fly feeder whereby I bought maggots and let them pupate and after they hatched they could - hopefully - find their way into the water.
This was to feed larger Bettas since terrestrial insects seem to be a very natural food for them in the wild.
Mine, however, would need to have less compartments since I would be dispensing with the breeding cycle.
You have me thinking (never a good thing for me to do).

Thanks C.

John

Location:
N. Tipp

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


ITFS member.



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21 Mar 2011 21:08 #8 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Yeah John,
The older you get the madder you become....:whistle:
This bloomin fruitfly thing had been the bane of my life for years, breeding them was a doddle feeding them was a different matter, so now's the time to put this to rights.
I will post pics & vid soon of the trials. I'm building another little tank especially for the purpose.
Thanks for taking an interest
Regards
C

P.S. I hate bluebottles with a vengeance so your welcome to that aspect :laugh:

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27 Mar 2011 13:55 - 27 Mar 2011 14:08 #9 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Some pre-trial images of the Fruitfly Feeder v1


(1) Front view, seated on pre-cut glass cover.
(2) Below the waterline view of the feeding tube.


(3) Side on view.
(4) Above view, showing drilled ventilation holes in lid which will soon be amended.

I will surely publish working images shortly, I want to get the new version made first....
Modifications that need attention are, the ventilation and the mechanism to open the trap door
You'll probably be amazed at what I've come up with ;)
Coupled with a few more little tweaks here and there to polish this off.
Once I get my teeth into something I seem to always go to the extreme or so my wife keeps telling me.
She also keeps telling me I'm MAD, sometimes I look at things and admit she's not far wrong :lol:
Thanks for taking an interest in my quest
Regards
Puddlefish
Last edit: 27 Mar 2011 14:08 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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28 Mar 2011 10:14 #10 by JohnH (John)

Puddlefish wrote: Some pre-trial images of the Fruitfly Feeder v1


(1) Front view, seated on pre-cut glass cover.
(2) Below the waterline view of the feeding tube.


(3) Side on view.
(4) Above view, showing drilled ventilation holes in lid which will soon be amended.

I will surely publish working images shortly, I want to get the new version made first....
Modifications that need attention are, the ventilation and the mechanism to open the trap door
You'll probably be amazed at what I've come up with ;)
Coupled with a few more little tweaks here and there to polish this off.
Once I get my teeth into something I seem to always go to the extreme or so my wife keeps telling me.
She also keeps telling me I'm MAD, sometimes I look at things and admit she's not far wrong :lol:
Thanks for taking an interest in my quest
Regards
Puddlefish

Perhaps Mrs Puddle is right - but there again, aren't we all a bit 'not quite right'?
Otherwise why would we be keeping Fish?
My neighbours think I'm totally past hope, although I've told them it's done for profit (a complete lie) and that seems to dispel their thoughts a little since making money would appear to be their main motive in life!

One small point comes to mind here, even though you have it ventilated through the lid, would the whole thing become damp through condensation, allowing the maggots to crawl up and escape through those very holes? - If they're anything like as enterprising as Bluebottle maggots the smallest amount of dampness would give them the 'traction' to be able to adhere to, and climb up, the glass?

Just a couple of thoughts there.

John

Location:
N. Tipp

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


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It's a long way to Tipperary.

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28 Mar 2011 19:42 - 28 Mar 2011 19:56 #11 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Yeah John, I'm well aware of the maggot situation, the lid is being developed further as with other aspects for version 2. Watch this space as they say. Although the maggots shouldn't be that much of a problem really when amended.

:woohoo: EUREKA!!!!!

I performed a little dry run tonight by utilising the v1 feeder with a quantity of Drosphilia. I did not include any food or medium in the drawer, nor did I include any fish in the small tank. I set this experiment up purely and simply for the purpose to see if the flies would venture into the second chamber once the aperture was opened. Please excuse the crappy out of focus video. My son's camera needed charging (bad timing) so I had to use my little tourist brick. :lol:


Shows front view, the hatch has already been opened


Shows Rear View, feeding tube, fruitfly are already on the meniscus.


A similar view as the previous clip....they cannot escape....prime pickings.


I think the images speak for themselves, in that it does work, and it's a creditable venture. The flies perform as expected and they do tend to take that all important "leap of fate". This for me at-least, was an excellent result knowing that this unit WORKS! as intended.

Disclaimer: No flies were hurt in the making of the above videos.... Of-camera was a different matter though :whistle:

My daughter was watching me perform the test and in walked her boyfriend....They both grasped the concept but equally both came to the conclusion that I was stark raving bonkers.....Whilst I was having my eureka moment they were busily communicating via Chinese Whispers :lol:
What makes a aquarist pursue such goals......sigh!
Onward!... more testing to be done
Regards
P
Last edit: 28 Mar 2011 19:56 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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28 Mar 2011 20:13 #12 by igmillichip (ian millichip)
Great stuff.

Bonkers? or not? A killifish keeper. What more can one say. :)

Irish Tropical Fish Society (ITFS) Member.

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28 Mar 2011 20:22 - 28 Mar 2011 20:23 #13 by Andrew (Andrew Taaffe)
a thin line between madness and..... fishkeeping.

Great to see the solution to the feeding issue working.

Andrew

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Last edit: 28 Mar 2011 20:23 by Andrew (Andrew Taaffe).

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10 Apr 2011 16:24 - 10 Apr 2011 16:26 #14 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
If you build it....they will come!

I wasn't really going to publish this video clip, but seeing as this is a on going concept I might as well share.
This clip was taken right back at the beginning of this quest when I made the first glass version. Wondering was it a viable proposition and wither or not to carry on. This little clip convinced me that it was going to be worthwhile.



I set the media up in the drawer and let a batch of fly evolve through their lifecycle, I then removed the internal glass shutter and set the video camera up in front of a small tank containing a spawning group of Aphanius mento Zengren (Turkey) This is what transpired immediately after flies were released, no waiting about, the fish were literally feeding on the flies within 10 seconds of release.

I hope this goes some way to proving that this works, it's not yet finished by a long way and I will update as I have been doing. I just wanted to show that I would not have continued with this venture if initial trials had failed.
I am still experimenting with different breeding/feeding media, ever looking for a longer lasting soup to enable a few generations of fly to emerge and be fed to the fish before renewal. By doing so this little feeder could well manage our fishes dietary needs whilst we are away on holiday.

It will be interesting to see how Version 2 performs in operation, I'm currently waiting for new supplies of Acrylic to be delivered to enable me to proceed with all the modifications I have envisaged to make this a better unit than it's predecessors.
Thanks for taking an interest in this ongoing quest.
Regards
P
Last edit: 10 Apr 2011 16:26 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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10 Apr 2011 17:02 #15 by JohnH (John)
Self-explanatory really - I still have it in mind to try this but with bigger flies, or even crickets.
I really would like to be able to feed the latter but an terrified of escapees!
I could live without being serenaded by those!!!

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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17 Apr 2011 20:31 #16 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
Just to keep you up to date:-

With my friend just having got back from Germany from a business trip, we haven't really been able to get into this until today.
We needed to address some aspects, I have included some more ventilation, fixed the lid so as it cannot be knocked off. Instead of having a completely wide aperature, I have made the hole, slotted so as fish cannot enter the breeding compartment. The shutter door needed a way of opening and closing in increments and I have also come up with an ingenius way of solving that issue. (images of this to follow) Finally the drawer didn't have a handle, so that too has been ammended.
All little aspects that should tidy up some loose ends and give the model a little better usability and functionality.
Here is where I'm at at the moment


The production router in my friends shed.


Part of the main section of v2 - Shows added ventilation and slotted compartment wall.


The ventilation grilles are made from 25mm pipe screens

This week should see us almost at completion of this interesting project. I feel the model has certainly come a long way since the all glass version and has undergone many small transformations along the way whilst still retaining its original form. I am astounded at where this simple idea has ended up, I cannot wait to get v2 finished and perform a full trial, put it through it's paces and catalogue the events from start to finish.
Hope you are enjoying following my exploits. :lol: however madcap they may seem.
thanks for all your support.
Regards
C

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22 Apr 2011 11:03 - 27 Apr 2011 09:51 #17 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt)
OK
Firstly I would like to thank folks for all their responses to this venture, thus far. This part will commence the beginning of the end of this thread (as I'm sure your all fed up with this by now :lol: ) It sure has come a long way since the start and the amount of hits it has generated for the forum must show that there is an interest somewhere even if it's only for curiosity.

I now have version 2 in my possession and whilst it may still need a few tweaks here and there, its pretty close to what I initially set out to achieve.

Version 2 of the Fruitfly Breed & Feed project

A few subtle changes have already been made since v1. notably the aperture is now slotted (4mm gaps) and the sliding door is controlled by a series of very small magnets which give me the option of opening this shutter in 5mm increments. These were inlaid into the body of the unit with a single entity inserted into the shutter door itself.

Admittedly the glueing was a little messy as these magnets are very, very small but are more than capable of supporting the door mechanism.
The lid and the drawer are now machined and recessed, they are very tight fitting so no room for escapees.
The sliding drawer has now been given a little knob/handle by which to open and close this feature. In the lid and side walls I commissioned to have a little more ventilation, This was achieved by recessing some very fine 25mm stainless steel mesh strainers.

I now am about to fully test this model, start to finish. I envisage utilising a new all in one type of media which is claimed to include all the nutrients a Drosophila culture could ever need. The manufacturers also claim that it lasts longer and it is virtually odour free. The media in question is Namiba Terra CanivoRep Drosophila


I hope to conduct a full in-depth trial of this unit over the coming weeks, allowing a batch of fly to breed and pupate within the confines of the unit and subsequently to release them to the awaiting fish. After which I will bow out with a short paragraph on the cleaning and re-priming of this updated model.
I hope you will keep following my efforts for just a little while longer to bring this topic to its conclusion.
Regards
C
Last edit: 27 Apr 2011 09:51 by Puddlefish (Colin McCourt).

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22 Apr 2011 20:58 #18 by Andrew (Andrew Taaffe)
Congratulations on the progress and result thus far, this thread has been a thoroughly informative and educational project. Can't wait to see the patent application!

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20 Aug 2011 20:56 #19 by Jim (Jim Lawlor)
Colin - Any updates on this? I haven't seen you yet on Dragon's Den, but then they probably don't air for six months after you're a milionaire . . . It looks very elegant on the youtube video

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