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 might be a good choice! This live food is easy to cultivate and is great for raising babies, until they are old enough to eat baby salt shrimp.
What are Vinegar Eels and How Do They Work?
Vinegar Eels are harmless white roundworms and nematodes. They feed on the microorganisms that are commonly found in vinegar or fermented fluids. Growing up to 50 microns in diameter and 1 to 2 mm in length, they are one of the smallest and easiest live foods to culture for baby fish. They are commonly fed to newborn betta fishes, killifishes, rainbowfishes, and other fry who require tiny food items smaller than baby brine shrimps (which hatch at 450 microns).
Vinegar eels are great for feeding fish fry. Unlike banana worms and other micro worms, they can survive for several days in fresh water, they swim around in the water column instead of sinking straight to the bottom, and their wiggling motions entice babies to eat more and grow faster. Although vinegar eels may not be as nutritious as baby salt shrimp, which are born with thick yolk sacs, they are still a great food source until the fry are large enough to eat baby salt shrimp.
How Do You Start a Vinegar Eel Culture?
1. Gather the following materials:
– Starter culture of vinegar eels (from local fish auctions or online sources like aquabid.com) – 1 container with a long neck (like a wine bottle) – 1 backup container (like a 2-liter bottle or 1-gallon jug) – Apple cider vinegar (enough to fill half of each container) – 1 apple – Dechlorinated tap water – Filter floss or polyester fiber fill (stuffing for pillows and stuffed animals) – Paper towels – Rubber bands Pipette – Optional: funnel
1. Cut the apple into thin slices that can fit through the container openings, and then put 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. Allow air to escape from the tops of the containers.
1. Cover the container with a sheet made of paper towel. Secure it with a rubberband. This allows the vinegar eels to breathe while preventing pests from entering. The containers should be kept at room temperature on a shelf or in a cabinet that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
The wine bottle can be used to easily harvest vinegar eels. If the wine bottles are damaged or destroyed, the backup culture is in a larger container. You can leave backup cultures alone for up to a year without feeding them. Although the population might be declining, you will still need enough vinegar eels to create a new culture, if necessary.
How can I harvest Vinegar Eels for my Fish Feeding?
1. Leave the wine bottle alone for two to four weeks so that the vinegar eel population grows large enough for you to 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 small amount of dechlorinated, tap water into the neck.
1. Wait for 8 to 24 hours and the vinegar eels can travel through the filter floss to the freshwater to get oxygen.
1. Take some of the vinegar-eels out with a pipette, and give them to your fish fry.
Although you can feed the fish for several days straight, it is not recommended to do so for more than a week. If you have many fish babies, you should prepare multiple vinegar eel cultures. Each bottle should be rotated between the others, and each bottle should be given four to five days between feedings to allow the culture to repopulate.
How can I preserve 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. You can use the old culture to fill a new container. Fill the rest of the new container with apple slices and a fresh mixture of 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% dechlorinated water. In two to four weeks, your new culture should be ready for harvesting again.
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