Top 5 Tiny Foods to Feed Baby Fish for Healthy Growth
Breeding fish is such a fun and rewarding part of the aquarium hobby, but while it can be easy to get fish to spawn, raising their tiny babies is where the real challenge begins. The newborn period is often a difficult time for fish due to water quality problems, predation or simply not providing enough food. We will be discussing 5 foods that are small enough to feed even the smallest fry. This will help them grow fast and last for the next few weeks.
1. Baby Brine Shrimp
Peacock gudgeon fry eating baby brine shrimp
Talk to experienced fish breeders and fish farms that raise large numbers of fish, and you will find that baby brine shrimp is the #1 food for fry. The yolk sacs of newly hatched brine shrimp are packed with nutrients and great for feeding baby fish. Their jerky swimming movements make them a great live food. They grow faster and more quickly because of their lively swimming movements. To hatch brine shrimp eggs, you need to soak them in salt water and add aeration by an air pump. Once the water has reached 74-82degF (23-25degC), the eggs will be ready for harvest. The baby brine shrimp will be ready to harvest in 18-36 hours. This recipe is reliable as long you purchase good eggs. So, follow these instructions.
Baby brine shrimp range in size from 400 to 500 microns. They can be used for baby livebearers, African Cichlids, and other species with larger eggs. If you hatch tiny fry from egg layers such as killifish or rainbowfish, baby brine shrimp is not suitable for them. Therefore, the rest of the article focuses on even smaller “starter” foods, with the strong recommendation that you switch over to baby brine shrimp after a couple of weeks once the fry are big enough.
Freshwater plankton under a microscope
Most baby fish in the wild eat microorganisms like protozoans or invertebrate larvae. The range is between 20 and 300 microns. Infusoria is the common name that fishkeepers use for these freshwater plankton, and there are many methods for culturing them. One of the most popular techniques is to fill a large jar with a few quarts (or liters) of old tank water and mulm, and then drop in a piece of banana peel, catappa leaves, instant yeast, or other organic matter. To speed up the process, heat the water to tropical temperatures (78-80degF/26-27degC). You can also add aeration to reduce the smell. Soon the water will start to cloud as bacteria starts to digest the food. The water will then become clearer as the infusoria eats the bacteria.
Use a turkey baster or pipette to extract water from the top of the scum. Then, feed the water directly to the fry. Depending on the size of the jar and how often you are harvesting, the culture may last 2-4 weeks. The culture can be extended by adding tank water to the jar, adding food each week, and using turkey basters to get rid of some of the gunk. You may need to create a new culture every 2-3 weeks if you have many babies or need constant infusoria. Just pour water from the old culture into the new jar, add a food source, and fill the rest of the jar with aquarium water.
3. Vinegar Eels
Vinegar eels being harvested in a bottle neck
Infusoria is too time-consuming to keep alive, so you might try vinegar eels instead. This tiny roundworm or nematode is simple to grow and measures 50 microns in diameter. They are 1-2 mm long. Make a mixture of half an apple cider mixture and half dechlorinated water in a long-necked bottle. Let them reproduce by adding some apple slices and a starter colony of vinegar eels. After they are visible wiggling around near the surface of the water, you can harvest them by placing a wad or filter floss in the neck and adding some fresh water to the top. You can quickly scoop them out using a pipette, and then feed them directly to the baby fish. Their wiggling motion will attract the fry, and they provide longer access to food since they can survive in fresh water for several days. You can make your own vinegar eel culture that will last for up to six months. Please follow our instructions to learn how to do it.
4. Powdered Fry Food
Sera Micron fry food
You might consider purchasing prepared foods if you lack the time or resources to keep alive food cultures. The powdered form of fry food can range from 5 to 800 microns depending on the brand. The key is to provide a variety in diet so that the baby fish do not develop any nutritional deficiencies. Some of our favourites are:
Sera Micron Hikari’s First Bite Easy Fry and Small Fish food – Golden Pearls Crushed Flakes – Spirulina Powder – Repashy gel food in the raw, powdered version
Powdered foods tends to float to the surface due to the water tension. If you are feeding babies bottom dwellers, swirl the water to make the particles sink faster. A small children’s paintbrush is recommended to avoid overfeeding fish. To feed the fish, lightly dip the bristles in powdered paintbrush and tap it lightly over the tank. This will ensure that you don’t feed too many fry at once, as this can lead to water quality problems.
5. Green Water
Microalgae under a microscope
Green water is very similar to infusoria in size, but the green color is more prominent because it’s primarily made up of microalgae and other phytoplankton that create energy through photosynthesis. Hobbyists are usually trying to figure out how to get rid of green water in their aquariums and ponds since it makes it harder to view the fish and plants. It has many benefits, including purifying the water, making predation harder on young fish, treating minor ailments and providing food for daphnia and baby fish. Start with a large jar, aquarium, or other container and fill it with old tank water. You can add liquid fertilizer or fish food to make the environment nutrient rich for the microalgae. Some people also like to use an air stone, filter, or other device to agitate the water surface and encourage gas exchange, helping to ensure the algae gets enough oxygen and carbon dioxide. For 24 hours, shine a lamp or desk lamp directly on the container. After several days, the water should start to turn more and more green and will be ready for feeding to the fry.
A Few More Fry Feeding Tips
Baby fish need small meals every day because they have tiny stomachs. Also, it helps to put the fry in a smaller container or aquarium so that they don’t need to swim as far and waste as much energy finding the food. The problem is that frequent feedings in a smaller container can quickly foul the water and cause fry mortality, so frequent, small water changes are needed to keep the water clean and stable. Master breeder Dean addresses this problem by creating a rack of fry trays that constantly drips and circulates water from a larger aquarium down below.
Feeding is only one part of raising healthy fry. Continue reading to discover our top 5 tips for raising baby fish that will grow to be strong and healthy.