How to Culture Vinegar Eels for Fish Fry
Do you want to get into fish breeding, but don’t know how to feed tiny fry too small to eat regular food? Vinegar eels are a great option! This live food is very easy to culture and is perfect for raising babies until they’re big enough to eat baby brine shrimp.
What are Vinegar Eels and How Do They Work?
Vinegar eels, which are either white roundworms (or nematodes) that feed on microorganisms found in vinegar and fermented beverages, are harmless. They are small and easy to grow, measuring in at 50 microns in size and 1 to 2mm in length. Breeders commonly feed them to newborn betta fish, killifish, rainbowfish, and other fry that require miniscule foods even smaller than baby brine shrimp (which hatch out at 450 microns in size).
Vinegar-eels also have other benefits that make them great for feeding fish fry. They can survive several days in freshwater unlike micro worms like banana worms. Because they swim in the water column rather than sinking straight to bottom, their wiggling motions encourage babies to eat faster and eat more. Vinegar eels aren’t necessarily as nutritious as baby brine shrimp (which are born with rich yolk sacs), but they’re an excellent food to feed until the fry have grown large enough to eat baby brine shrimp.
How Do You Start a Vinegar Eel Culture?
1. These materials should be collected:
– Starter culture for vinegar eels (from local auctions or online sources, like aquabid.com). -1 container with a long neck (like an wine bottle) 1 backup container (like 1-gallon bottles or 1-gallon containers) 1 apple – Dechlorinated tapped water 1 Filter floss or Polyester fiber fill (stuffing to pillows and stuffed animal pillows) 1 paper towel 1 rubber bands Pipette 1 funnel
1. Slice the apple thinly so that it fits through the container openings. Place four to eight slices in each container.
1. Divide the vinegar eel starter culture into each container. 2. The remaining containers should be filled with 50% vinegar and half the dechlorinated tapwater. (Leave a little space at the top of the containers for air.)
1. Cover the container openings with a sheet of paper towel, fastened with a rubber band. This allows the vinegar-eels to breathe and prevents pests from getting in. Keep the containers at room temperatures in a cabinet, or on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
The wine bottle is your primary culture and can be used to harvest vinegar eels. The larger container is your backup culture in case anything happens to the wine bottle. Backup cultures can be left alone for as long as a year or so without needing to be fed. While the population may be decreasing, there should still be enough vinegar eels available to start a new one if it is needed.
How do I harvest vinegar eels to feed my fish?
1. You can leave the wine bottle alone for up to four weeks to allow the vinegar eel population to grow large enough to you can start feeding the fry. 2. Once you are ready to harvest, place a wad filter floss in the neck’s base. This will allow the floss to soak in the vinegar.
1. Gently pour a little dechlorinated tap water into the neck of the bottle.
1. Wait for 8 to 24 hours and the vinegar eels can travel through the filter floss to the freshwater to get oxygen.
1. Use a pipette to remove some of the vinegar eels and feed them to your fish fry.
You can use this method to feed for several days in a row, maybe up to a week, but eventually the culture will start to deplete. You can make several vinegar eel culture bottles if you have many fish baby. Give each bottle four to five days to let the culture repopulate.
How do I maintain the Vinegar Eel Culture
Around the six-month mark, the apple pieces eventually break down, the nutrients are used up, and you may notice the culture is much cloudier than usual. That means it’s time to start a new culture. Get a new container, and pour in some of the old culture. Fill the remainder of the container with apple slices, and a mixture of apple cider vinegar and dechlorinated waters. Your new culture should be ready to harvest again in two to four weeks.
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