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FAQs on Culturing Food Organisms 1

Related Articles: Culturing Food Organisms, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, ReproductionMarine Ornamental Fish CultureMysids,

Related FAQs: Food Culture 2, & FAQs on Marine Food Culture: Rationale/Use, Sources (Info., Starters, Products, ...), Selection of Culture Species, Tools/Materials, Culture Techniques, Feeding Food Organisms, Culture Pests, Predators, Troubleshooting/Fixes, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 1, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 2, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 3Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 4, Frozen Foods, Coral FeedingBrine ShrimpAlgae as Food, VitaminsNutritional DiseaseCoral Feeding, Growing Reef Corals

Look on the Net for the names Rob Toonen, Frank Hoff, Ron Shimek... for "pet-fish" input... otherwise... ex libris.

Culturing Live Food, 7/9/08 I am looking for guidance on culturing live food. Doing such is driven by interest rather than a hard requirement from my tank's inhabitants. I have a 24 gallon nano-cube (which I wish I had never gotten since it provides no flexibility whatsoever. A little bit bigger system with a sump/refugium would have definitely been the way to go. but I digressed). <I think many people find this to be true once they get their tanks going.> The tank has been running for 2.5 years, and it houses 2 Percula Clown fish, 1 small Pipe Organ coral, 1 small colony polyp, and a couple of dwarf crabs and snails. The clown fish readily accept flake foods and seem happily fed. On rare occasion I have fed them newly hatched baby brine shrimp which they loved. Also, the tank does have copepods that came in from the live rock. The clown fish hunt the copepods, but the copepods mostly hide in the live rock and substrate. The copepods are also very small, being barely visible to the naked eye. Usually it requires a 30x eye piece to get a good look at them. <Eye strain for sure.> There seems to be a couple of choices of easily cultured live foods: brine shrimp, copepods (larger Tiger pods and smaller Harpacticoids pods), rotifer's, and Mysid shrimp. The live food(s) would be cultured in a dedicated vessel. My questions are as follows: 1) Is anyone of the cultured foods listed above more useful than the others given my tank's inhabitants? <The pods and Mysid by far.> 2) Would introducing any of cultured foods 'live' be harmful for the current tank's population of copepods? It is my understanding the Mysid shrimp are voracious and would likely not only consume the current tank's population of copepods but also would likely consume each other. I want to feed the tank, not establish a new biological order. <More likely it would strike some sort of balance eventually, but how many Mysid could survive long term is hard to say.> 3) Culturing brine shrimp to adulthood would require that they be enriched before feeding them to the tank. would this be worth the effort? <Not in my opinion, easier to just feed the fish the food directly, the brine itself adds almost nothing.> 4) Should brine shrimp eggs be de-capsulated before hatching them? Asked another way, can adult fish eat them with the shells still attached or is this just a concern for fish fry? <Mostly a concern for smaller fish.> 5) Would the soft corals benefit from the addition of any of the listed cultured live foods? <Probably marginally.> Thank you much for your guidance. <I highly suggest checking out the works of Dr. Adelaide Rhodes, she gave a great presentation at this year's IMAC, and is an expert on what you are trying to do. http://www.essentiallivefeeds.com> <Chris>

Live Foods, Feeder Fish... guppies... SW... 6/9/08 Hey Bob and crew again thanks for all the help you've given amateur aquarists like me, I've always appreciated the fact that I can get advice from you guys instead of the on-line dealers that are probably just trying to make a buck. <Welcome> Ok I was wondering if fish like royal grammas and Firefish would benefit from foods such as small feeder guppies, you know bite sized ones. <Not really, better off just using a quality prepared or frozen food.> I'm using a 10 gallon aquarium as a breeding tank for feeder guppies. <I doubt the Firefish will go after the fry too much, the Gramma may but I would not use this as a staple food.> Also would crushed baby freshwater snails be a nutritious snack? <Its best to stick with foods that are of a marine origin for marine fish, their digestive tract is just not able to deal with terrestrial and to a large extent freshwater foods.> I have snails in the guppy tank and it seems it would be a good way to keep their numbers in check. <I would try to find another way, perhaps find someone with a freshwater puffer who would appreciate these as food.> <Chris>

Copepod Production 5/9/08 Hi, <Hello> I have a 55 gal reef with 75 lbs of live rock that has been set up for nearly 1 yr. At first I started with a primitive filter system (a BioWheel and very cheap skimmer) while it was difficult to keep my nitrates low, I had tons of copepods. I have upgraded to a sump (sorry don't know how many gallons) a refugium (with 3" of miracle mud, live rock rubble, and macro algae) and a better quality protein skimmer. My nitrates have consistently stayed at zero for over 6 months, but I never see any copepods. <Being eaten?> I even try to look past the macro algae in the refugium and I never see anything there either. I've seeded the refugium several times with copepods, but I never see the population increase. What can I do to increase the pod population. I am asking because I want to eventually keep a Mandarin Dragonet, but want to make sure that I can supply his needs by increasing the pod population in my display tank and by culturing them in a stand alone. Many thanks for your assistance. <You're welcome and do read here and related FAQ's/articles below text. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/Pods/pods.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Breeding saltwater feeder shrimp - 5/3/08 WWM Crew Member, I have searched all over the internet to find info on breeding the Saltwater Feeder Shrimp, Penaeus sp after reading this on a seller's website: If kept in sufficient numbers and fed well (a mix of flake food, frozen Brine, and Spirulina should do fine), they may begin to breed. Females carrying eggs should be transferred to a different aquarium (or a partitioned section.) Basic fry food may be fed to the newborn shrimp. These tank-bred shrimp are USDA certified to be free from potential diseases and pathogens. Unfortunately, I can't find any more info than that or have found anyone that has tried or been successful with it. <Mmm, has been done many times, places... and the family (Panaeidae) are a HUGE fishery/aquacultured world-wide...> This is what I've been considering so far: 10 gal tank with air bubbler critter keeper or enclosed area for shrimp with eggs (not sure how to enclose area so water moves through, but fry do not) <See the site of Aquatic Ecosystems... for fabrication ideas or purchase of such...> I'm not sure about algae to keep with them or food for the fry. Would crushed flake, phytoplankton, rotifers, or Cyclopeeze work? <... likely so> I really appreciate you taking the time to answer. Thanks! Cher <Look for Frank Hoff's books, the new (fish aquaculture) one by Matt Wittenrich/Microcosm-TFH... There is much written on the topic of use... but, you can also employ trial and error... Bob Fenner>

Growing live food in refugiums    4/4/08 Bob, <Mike> Another question about feeding/refugia. I am still looking about for food items to place in my refugium and have already started a green water culture (used Dt's and it's growing so I guess there really are live phytoplankton in there! :) ). <Yes... unlike some others...> Ideally, I would like critters which are well adapted to salt water and are prolific reproducers. I really would prefer to use food items that will survive/prosper in my display tank so as to avoid water quality issues. Unfortunately, the starter cultures I can find all have apparent negatives. Penaeus Vannamei (temperate species) Tigriopus Californicus (cold water species?) Mysidopsis bahia (cannibals) Palaemonetes vulgaris (brackish water?) Brachionus plicatilis (also brackish?) <Can be adapted to marine strength...> Do you have any recommendations from this list (or not on the list) ? Mike <Might I ask what your intention is... are you growing food/s for specific organisms? I would grow a general mix through the use of live rock, macro-algae... Bob Fenner>

Re: growing live food  4/5/08 Bob, <Mike> My goal is to keep some of the more difficult corals (such as Dendronephthya spp). My logic goes like this: live food - good (if it'll stay alive); dead food - bad (it rots!). I have a refugium now which is generating a variety of food for my tank and am planning to bring a larger refuge on line. I understand the Dendronephthya have been shown to capture phytoplankton as at least part of their diet but I assume they also use zooplankton as prey. <Mmm, yes... I STRONGLY encourage you to delve a bit into the non-pet-fish literature here. Nephtheids have been maintained/fed in culture... Foods should be grown outside the system IN ADDITION to maintaining a healthy refugium> I'm happy to raise food for my tank in stand-alone cultures but I'm not sure which are my best choices. <As stated, there is a body of useful information on specific unicellular algae and zooplankters of small size, their augmentation through Selco-like materials> I have seen 'white' shrimp cultures for sale as well as 'glass' shrimp. <Too large> I've ordered some 'salt water' rotifer cysts. I'm not sure about the longevity of Tigripus since they would seem to be from a fairly cold source (at least when I dove off Catalina I thought it was pretty cold :>). <Agreed. Inappropriate. Look for J. Charles Delbeek's input (U. of HI's Waikiki Aquarium)... I think in Aquarium Frontiers...> I'm splitting my phyto cultures now and I think I will have plenty of food for raising zooplankton. I've noticed that Paul Sachs has copepod and amphipod products for sale but I'm a little concerned that these were wild caught. Mike <Are you coming out to the MACNA this time around... in GA? I'd chat with Rob Toonen there re as well... for ref. input. BobF>

Sustaining Microfauna population in a closed system 3-23-2008 Hello Crew, <<Tia…>> I'm interested in establishing a plankton population in my aquarium. <<A very worthy interest in the world of aquaria.>> I was thinking about adding a batch of mixed phytoplankton and then a smaller batch of mixed zooplankton. <<Must be done tactfully and "with purpose" lest they all end up food or filter/protein skimmer fodder.>> I'd like to add some more diversity to my tank as well as give my clowns something to snack on throughout the day. <<If you haven't already do look into a refugium, it can help to server this purpose.>> My tank is near the end of its cycling process, so I don't have any livestock at the moment. <<A good time to think about your microfauna population.>> However, I plan to only have a pair of maroon clowns, a BTA, various macroalgaes, and a cleanup crew consisting of Nassarius snails and various inverts from IndoPacificSeaFarms.com. <<Said species can still decimate your microfauna populations if you aren't careful.>> Basically, only my clowns and anemone will eat the plankton, so I'm thinking that there might be a chance of sustaining a population due to not having a bunch of corals. <<Will still be difficult in a closed system, do consider refugia.>> BTW, my tank is an 86.4g tall with a 30g sump. What do you think of this idea? <<Sounds good, though without a safe haven for the microfauna to breed it could be a waste of money. Do look into refugia as well as breeding phytoplankton in a remote receptacle....keep searching reading WWM>> TIA, Random Aquarist <<Adam J. WWM Aquarist.>>

Re: DSB move? Mysid culture   10/22/07 Hello again, <Chad> I need to clarify my DSB move question. I want to move this DSB into another tank. What is the best way of doing this? <Mmm, just to "do it"> Also on the Mysid shrimp question, which way would be better to boost my chances of hatching these shrimp in other tanks or increasing the current population? Should I buy freeze dried or frozen (possibly gamma radiated) Mysid shrimp to feed my fish/coral. <Likely frozen are more nutritious, cost-effective> I have bought both in the past and I'm not sure what product type would have a better chance of having viable fertilized eggs after being processed. Thanks, Chad <Mmm, neither... I'd order, raise some from live... they are available. Bob Fenner> Walnes or Guillard fertilizer (Phytoplankton)  8/4/07 Hi Cam here. Which phytoplankton fertilizer would you recommend for culturing Nanochloropsis: Walnes or Guillard F/2 fertilizer, for a reef aquarium. <Mmm, both would/will work... if using much and having concerns re nutrient transfer, a filtering of the culture media can/could be done> I would like to add the phytoplankton once a week and I am a bit worried as to what effect the different fertilizers will have, when some of the fertilizer ends up in the tank and accumulates over the course of a couple of weeks (If I only do water changes once a month). How does the culture maturation period the time that it takes so that the culture reaches maximum density ) differ between the addition of the two fertilizers. I am currently doing water changes once or twice a week. I have read that the Walne's solution is a much more "potent" form than the Guillards F/2 fertilizer. For what species of phytoplankton is each fertilizer normally used for (Nanochloropsis, Tetraselmis, Isochrysis)? <Most culturists use Guillard's...> Is it possible to dilute the Walne's solution to that of the same strength of the Guillards F/2 fertilizer? <Yes...> Lighting: Normal fluorescent tubes Container: 1,25L to 2L (Glass or Plastic bottles). (1ml of fertilizer added per 2L?) PS: How long can the phytoplankton stay alive for in darkness, no aeration and if shaken once a day to keep the phytoplankton from settling/smothering each other on the bottom)? Thank you. <Depending on temperature mostly, a few days to weeks if refrigerated. Bob Fenner>

Pod culture   6/21/07 Hello, crew. <Hi Dan, Mich here this morning.> No question today, just some feedback. <Always appreciated.> We have a psychedelic mandarin in too-small an aquarium (three-year-old 46-gal with perhaps 50 lb live rock). It was fine for a while, but has slowly gotten skinnier (over the course of months). We investigated buying "pod cultures" online, but they are pricey. Then I ran across this gem on WWM: "Can I encourage you all to start a marine "pod farm". It is very easy. I have a 5 litre mineral water bottle with 4 litres of my tank water in. I bought two inoculums from www.reefworks.co.uk and stand the whole thing on my south-facing windowsill in my workshop. 3 weeks later I had a mass of pods all zipping around like mad. They are very un-demanding, I give then a level teaspoon of plain flour each week to supplement their diet of algae and detritus. Put an airline in and let nature take it's course. Now, each week I give the bottle a gentle shake and pour two litres of the mix into my tank and replace it with two litres of pristine indo-pacific from the tank. A week later the pods have made up their missing numbers. I do this at night so the pods can get established without the Chromis getting in on the act - they love them too." I have done this using an EBay pod culture as a "seed". The explosion in their numbers is astounding (my two-liter bottle has many thousands of pods after a few weeks). We are going to upgrade to a larger "culture container", and I am confident that we will be able to fatten up our mandarin and provide it all the food it could possibly want. <I am very happy to hear/read this. Your Mandarin thanks you, and we, WWM, thank you for being conscientious.> FYI -- we keep the "pod farm" in our stand, next to the sump. The temperature is "stable enough", and they certainly don't seem to mind the low light under there. Just a pump with air, and changing half the water every week. Easy as 3.14. <Heehee! I love the math geek reference!> Dan <Dan, thank you for sharing your experience here. Others will benefit from this. Life to you and your Mandarin! Mich>

Running A Refugium for Zooplankton Production - 6/7/07 Thanks Scott! <You're quite welcome!> One follow up question - is there any reason to add some fish food such as flakes directly to the refugium at any time to help feed the zoo-plankton population? Erik <I'd be inclined to use small quantities, and perhaps even try some live phytoplankton products as well. Regardless of what you "feed" to your growing Zooplankton population, feed carefully and monitor water quality regularly. Best of luck with your efforts! Regards, Scott F.>

Continuous rotifer drips    5/21/07       I am working on a continuous rotifer drip that recirculates.  I have an approximately seven gallon salt bucket at the same height as the reef aquarium, and using an Aqualifter (Tom brand) pump to pump from the reef to the bucket, which overflows about 1/3 of the culture into the reef.  I am culturing Nanochloropsis oculata in freshwater using tapwater- it's very easy to do this way for me- and I've learned that using only live algae, and waiting until the culture is completely clear before feeding again, are crucial to maintaining water quality in a continuous culture. <A good note/point> The overflow is 1 inch tubing, and I've passed airline tubing through it and connected this to a rigid tube that goes to the bottom, so the overflow essentially comes from the bottom;  the culture is self cleaning.       The problem I'm having is getting the rotifers to adapt to pH 8.5 and SG 1.025. <Mmm, won't do so if cultured in FW> I am using Brachionus rotundiformis as I think they will tolerate the higher temps and maybe are more salinity tolerant. <Yes... this one is euryhaline: http://www.lib.noaa.gov/korea/korean_aquaculture/zooplanktonic.htm But should be slowly adapted to culture water conditions before introduction if you expect for it/them to live for any period of time>   So far I have not used a UV on the intake, being happy with whatever else grows so far. <Mmmmm>       I may be successful just doing what I'm doing- and waiting for the rotifers to adapt.  But, do you have any experience with a continuous drip like this, or know of any successful long term rotifer drips? Many thanks Charles Matthews <Well... the Nanochloropsis can be cultured in FW as you state, but I would take care to raise the salt content on the Brachionus... easier to care for the latter in more saline conditions... and to use (I take it for marine aquaculture in turn) as a feed stock as such. I would take more care in keeping the cultures free of other life... Bob Fenner> Re: continuous rotifer drips    5/21/07 Hi Bob <Charles, oh Chip!>      An honor to get a reply from you, and thanks.  Regarding my post, to clarify, I meant that I was going to culture the algae in freshwater, and use this to feed the rotifers cultured at full strength seawater.  Thanks for your thoughts and will keep a watch on needing the UV Chip <Welcome... Again, I would try "mediating" the spg twixt the Nanochloropsis culture media and that of the Brachionus... Bob Fenner> Culturing bacteria as food    5/15/07 Hi Bob! <Peter> I'm an avid troller of WWM, and it has been an endless resource for me! Great job by you and the team helping everyone out! <A pleasure to serve, share> I've been wondering; with the advent of many techniques for culturing phytoplankton and zooplankton for the feeding of our charges, why I haven't read anything regarding the culturing of nanoplankton. <Mmm, at the hobbyist, commercial level... only a matter of time... perhaps now!> Would it not be theoretically possible (I've yet to try this myself) to use solutions containing ammonium bicarbonate, acetic acid, phosphoric acid and simple sugars for the culturing of microfungi and bacteria for the express purpose of sustaining filter feeding cnidarians, ascidians, echinoderms and annelid worms (and any other possible bacteriovores I may have missed)? <Is possible... can be done> Has this, or something similar, already been attempted? <In public aquarium, experimental institution levels, yes> How would one go about priming such a culture and maintaining it? <Could likely start such from a filtered sample of simple seawater... natural or otherwise from an established system. In the presence of extra nutrient, a lack of predators...> Perhaps with a live rock/live sand base? <Yes> How would one determine the correct feeding amounts? <Through experimentation, measuring one of the simpler components likely that a simple test kit can be used for... amending your "mix" of feeder stock to replenish...> Would you dose this into your main viewing tank using a drip method or a peristaltic pump? <Either one, or even regular measuring, and just pouring in an aliquot> Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. -Peter <Mmm, I do encourage you to read this book by Frank Hoff (here on Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Plankton-Culture-Manual-Frank-Hoff/dp/0966296001/ref=sr_1_1/103-2945648-4573462?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1179246216&sr=1-1 for input re gear, procedures...> P.S. Have your book, and hands down one of the best aquarium reads *ever*. Thanks for the contribution(s)!! <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words... and engaging prospective project! Bob Fenner>

Re: culturing bacteria as food    5/16/07 Hi Bob, <Peter> Thanks for the rapid response. I will definitely look into that reading material... I did find an interesting publication worth reading for those who might wish to attempt something similar as well. http://www.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_45/issue_4/0789.pdf <Yes> I was actually mulling it over after I sent my last e-mail; I was trying to picture what a semi-self sustaining culture setup might look like. Assuming that the majority of bacteria we could culture fit the 100:8:0.25 CNP ratio, where any present O2 was simply fuel for reactions (as in the acetate ion portion of dissociated acetic acid), and that we can provide that ratio closely using common, affordable chemicals (much as I mentioned), <Can> would we need to provide any additional basic nutrients? <Yes... Bergey's publications is my favorite in-print resource here... but something in the way of a complete "feeder stock" solution will have to be provided> Do you need enzymatic or proteinaceous material to help bacteria replicate or are basic building blocks sufficient in their case... <These can be provided in a few ways, but are a very good idea to add on an ongoing basis, yes> I remember growing prokaryotes in a test tube in school using glucose, acid and protein... the last being the clincher, but then again that was from scratch (creationists *need* to see this happen). <Heeeeeee! Perhaps all, even "evolutionists", would be enlightened...> Would you recycle skimmer output for its organic material for bacteria "food"? <Mmm, no... too much vacillation here in terms of make-up, non-useful materials... Better/best by far to keep your/ones culture material/system axenic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axenic> So regardless of the inputs, I imagine that at some point in the cultures life cycle, there would be sufficient new bacteria being "born" to consume all input into the system. <Yes... in a growing, going culture for sure> A 10-gallon tank, a rather large fluidized bed filter as a substrate <Worth trying, but I'd opt for a simpler sponge type... air or fluid-moving pump driven> maybe filtering directly back into the 10-gallon, along with a DSB and live rock was my main construction idea. <Mmm, again, worth trying> If the culture can reach a growth equilibrium with the inputs, than regardless of those inputs' relative toxicity to our standard charges there should be no problem in overflowing this system in the main display/fuge for feeding purposes. (i.e. if there is no longer any detectable level of NH4+ then can one assume that it is all being consumed by ever growing and dying bacteria?) <Should be fine, if not "too much, too soon" material added> Can bacteria be thought of us as being heterotrophic? <Some definitely are... though most folks consider them to be exclusively either chemo- or autotrophs> Is there any benefit to lighting the culture? <Mmm, maybe...> Does dying bacteria count towards the load on a system? <Yes... depending on what one's counting... like BOD, total nutritive value...> If we feed X amount of bacteria laden water into a main system, where only Y is being consumed, is the balance "pollution" ? <Yes, likely so to a degree> What I am hoping to discover is that our standard charges are not only bacteria hungry (ala ascidians), but also not picky eaters insofar as species of bacteria. <Some are known to be more so than others... there are many size/gradients, chemical and physical properties of this biota, as well as differential "palatability"... as you'll soon come to understand> Believe it or not, this all began with an absolute obsession of successfully maintaining Polycarpa aurata... <Ahhh! I do hope to dive with you someday... where this species is common, gorgeous... Am attaching a fave pic here, with Atriolum mixed in> Thanks again, Peter <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Continuous rotifer production?   4/11/07 Hello <Hi there>      I've been trying to get a continuous rotifer production system rigged into my reef.   <Mmmm, can be done... best as single species cultures... dripped, or periodically pumped/metered...> I am currently working with B. plicatilis, and will be trying rotundiformis for their smaller size as soon as I can find a source for the ss strain.   <Okay>      I am using a 7 gallon bucket with a dosing pump to overflow 1/3 of the bucket into the system daily, and feeding with Nanochloropsis cryopaste <This needs to be "whipped", to bring back into suspension> and using an ammonia binding agent, "Ultimate".  I expect to see some problems with production related to the higher salinity and pH of a reef system, but hope they will adapt.   <Plicatilis should... is quite commonly employed in marine fin fish culture...>      I was hoping you have knowledge of someone who has gotten a system to work and perhaps I could learn vicariously rather than directly from their experience! Charles Matthews M.D. <Mmm, what in particular are you looking for here? You've seen the "standard" pet-fish works (e.g. Frank Hoff) I take it. Bob Fenner> Bacteria, Establishing Nitrifying Microbes  4/6/07 Hi, there, <Hello, Mich here.> I'm looking for some fresh bacteria to put in my new saltwater enclosed system, I built for raising Mysid shrimp. <There is a product called Bio-Spira on the market that may be used.> My system is 8-30gal tanks and one 90-gal tank, with a 40-gal filter tank, for filtering I used crushed coral and live sand, so far I have no fish or shrimp. I need to know how can I either start my cycle with chemicals or fresh bacteria, which is very hard to find?!! <Mmm, if you have live sand you have already seeded you tank with the appropriate bacteria, now you just need to give them time to multiply.  Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm  > Please let me know what to do. <Hope this helps.> Thank you, <Welcome!  -Mich>                                                              Brett  

Re: cleaner shrimp with parasite? And useful input re "pod" culture     2/23/07 Afternoon Crew... I hope you are all well. <Yes. Thank you> Update on the cleaner shrimp: It did indeed moult and seems to be doing well - now a pristine beastie with all the dark spots on the shed carapace. <Ah, good> Strangely, they don't look anywhere near as dark now. <We could speculate a while here...> Since this I have been looking at all shrimps much more closely and have noticed it on friends cleaners and on blood shrimps and cleaners at LFS near here - most of them hadn't noticed and didn't have a clue what it was. Except for GM in Northampton (well done lads). <Ahh!> On a slightly different but still fishy tack... many people seem to have difficulty keeping Dragonets due to their specialized food requirements. <Yes> Can I encourage you all to start a marine "pod farm". It is very easy. I have a 5 litre mineral water bottle with 4 litres of my tank water in. I bought two inoculums from www.reefworks.co.uk and stand the whole thing on my south facing window-sill in my workshop. 3 weeks later I had a mass of pods all zipping around like mad. They are very un-demanding, I give then a level tea-spoon of plain flour each week to supplement their diet of algae and detritus. Put an airline in and let nature take it's course. Now, each week I give the bottle a gentle shake and pour two litres of the mix into my tank and replace it with two litres of pristine indo-pacific from the tank. A week later the pods have made up their missing numbers. I do this at night so the pods can get established without the Chromis getting in on the act - they love them too. <Ah, yes> Some of them are bound to survive so each week I am bolstering the existing population - I might even get to a stage where I can dispense with the "farm", but not just yet. I'd rather have these helpful little creatures at plague proportions than my Mandarin getting skinny. <Agreed> The filtration copes with the grunge from the water (discoloured but not smelly) with no problems - the only sign being the next day my skimmer gets a good head on it from the waste protein from the flour :o) <I see> Take a look at the attached pic, on a 2x2 inch square of the bottle there are perhaps 200 pods of varying sizes from tiny specs that I can just about see to 2mm long fat females with egg pods in tow (the doubles) - I reckon 16 or more in this one shot - and every surface of the bottle is similarly covered All the best and keep up the good work Hendy <Very nice... and thank you! For sharing. You've greatly added to many peoples success, enjoyment by relating your observations, success. Bob Fenner>

Rotifers... cult.     11/29/06 Hello again, <Hey Tom, JustinN with you tonight> I have been reading on your site and other sites about what the best things to feed clownfish fry are, and one thing that keeps coming up is rotifers. I was wondering if you could give me a brief idea of what rotifers are, and how to go about culturing them. Thank you for your time. Tom <Mmm, is posted here at WWM and elsewhere on the web. Google is your friend. -JustinN> Frozen Rotifers as a Replacement for Live Cultures? - 09/09/06 Hello Ladies and Gents. <<Hey Amanda!>> Hope whoever gets this is having a fine day/night. <<So far so good <grin> >> It seems I have yet another question that I'm hoping someone there has an answer to. <<Let's find > For a bit of background.  I've been breeding my pair of black morph of Amphiprion ocellaris for about three years now.  I have had great success doing the age old green water rotifer culture then feeding the rotifers to my hatchlings. <<Okay>> Never really thought about how much time I put into maintaining these cultures, until my fianc?gave me a colt (as in a little baby horse). <<What?!  Another hobby/interest that's not aquatic related!!!  Just razzing you Amanda...  What you say is true...my wife tells me I spend way too much time with my reef, and not near enough doing chores/working around the house.  Hmm, maybe that's not quite the same...>> No don't get me wrong, I was tickled pink when he gave him to me, and I love him right to death, but I just don't seem to have enough time in my day anymore. <<I do understand>> (Just in case you wanted to know how my day goes) I get up at 5:30, walk the dogs, check on and generally potter about with all the fish tanks, shower, drive to work (this all happens before 7:30).  Work from 7:30 to 4 usually skipping lunch to try and get everything done so I can make it home to potter about with the green water/rotifer cultures. <<Hee-hee!>> Pick the fianc?up from work at 6 drive out to the property, feed brush and train my colt, get back home round about 8:30ish and pick up some nasty disgusting fast food on the way (I HATE FAST FOOD).  Walk the dogs, wolf down my now cold nasty disgusting fast food, and if I'm really lucky I make it to bed by 11:30.  This has been going like this for about 2 months now and I'm EXHAUSTED!! <<Mmm, I think I see the problem...you need to find a fianc?that can drive and cook!>> Just in case you thought I could sleep on the weekends, oh no, I can't. <<But of course not...>> My weekends are just as full.  So now that you know more then you ever wanted to know about my life I'll get to the question. <<Thank you for sharing <grin> >> It got to the point where I was going to stop my clownfish breeding.  I just couldn't find enough time in the day. <<Mmm, yes...decisions>> Then it hit me FROZEN ROTIFERS!!!!!! <<Indeed!  I feed these to my reef tank daily>> And I want to know if my plan might just work.  My clownfish larval tank is circular so there are no dead spots, <<Ah yes, and no sharp corners for larvae to be trapped in...smart>> I have a slow pump (fine filter mesh over the outflow so I don't lose my little fish) emptying the tank from the bottom going through all the filter media pumped up into a trickle filter resupplying the tank diagonally from the top so as to produce circular turbulent flow. <<I see>> Now if I rigged up a slow drip container with bubbler filled with frozen rotifers (that was surrounded by a sheath which could hold ice to keep the rotifers from going off) that dripped into this tank would the larval clownfish hit the rotifers or do they feed on a motion response. <<Mmm, a good point/question...but one I think you'll only answer with some experimentation>> And if they feed on a motion response would the circulation in the round tank keep them suspended for long enough and provide enough turbulence to give the rotifers a semblance of swimming to entice the larval clownfish to strike? <<Is possible.  You may also want to consider adding a bubble-wand along the bottom of one long side of the tank.  This would provide a "gentle" flow pulling water (and rotifers) off the bottom and pushing to the top where it "rolls" across and down the other side to be pulled back across the bottom and then back up again.  This is a method used on DIY "Kreisal" tanks>> Is it possible will they take the frozen rotifers so I won't have to maintain my green water and rotifer cultures anymore?  Or is it bye-bye to baby clownfish?? <<Hard to say...but worth a try I think.  The only real downside I see to this is the possible fowling of the larvae tank from an excess of frozen (dead) rotifers in the system due to the high rotifer-to-larvae ratio required for successfully raising the fry.  Maybe turning off all flow will allow the rotifers to be drawn to/collect on the filter screen for easier removal>> Thanks, Amanda <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Re: Frozen Rotifers as a Replacement for Live Cultures? - 09/11/06 Hey EricR, <<Hey Amanda!>> Hope you had a better/more relaxed weekend then I did. <<Mmm...cleaning 1800sqft of deck in preparation for staining...still...better than being at "work"...>> I hadn't even thought of a bubble wand.  It certainly would add that extra current to keep the rotifers suspended for longer. <<Indeed>> I'll have to work on getting it all set up this afternoon and give the frozen rotifers a try. <<Excellent...worth the time/experimentation>> I'll let you know how it goes if you want. <<Ah yes, please do...and of course will post for others' edification>> After this weekend the green water is gone.  Spent all weekend fighting a bush fire, didn't sleep much, all my rotifers died :( and I lost a new batch of clownfish :( <<My condolences>> And just to add in a bit of a rant.  People who purposely start bushfires SUCK!!!!  They need to be tied out with all the poor animals, wild and domestic, to get scared, scorched and possibly burned to death right along with them.  DON'T START FIRES. FIRES ARE BAD. <<Is sometimes hard to fathom what motivates people...>> Oh, and the Fianc?does drive, it's just at the moment neither my car nor my bike is working, so we're down to just his Ute.  As for cooking, he's done that once or twice, I very politely ate it, then ran to the bathroom gagging.  Cooking is not his strong point. <<Hee-hee!  Obviously he has other redeeming qualities <grin> >> Thank you Amanda <<I look forward to hearing about your results.  Eric Russell>>

Raising clowns in rotifer tank?   9/2/06 Good morning!   My clowns have decided they like the idea of mating. The female is a black true Perc, and the male an orange false Perc. The laid eggs once; I moved the rock the eggs were on, they hatched, a week later, they all disappeared. I fear the culprit was the introduction of an airstone, <Maybe...> as it was the very next day that I noticed they were all gone. Anyway, I now have a milk jug with rotifers swimming around in it ready for the next batch (and, of course, a milk jug with the green water to feed them!). Is it a good idea or even feasible to raise the rotifers in the former nursery tank and then, once the next round of babies hatches, raise the larvae in the rotifer tank with the rotifers? <Mmm, not a good idea... for control of predation/feeding, and nutrient control reasons> Or would they gobble up all my rotifers and leave me with barren cupboards?    <Too likely yes. You might want to invest in the books of Frank Hoff, Joyce Wilkerson... see Amazon.com re... Bob Fenner>   Thanks! Goldie

Propagation Tank/"Pod" Populations - 08/26/06 I've recently started a 20L propagation tank in addition to my 105 gallon reef tank. <<Cool!>> I am trying to follow Anthony Calfo's book and have had some success so far. <<An excellent guide>> I have a quick question about the growing number of pods  and shrimp in my prop tank. <<Is a good thing...>> Do I need to add a fish to control the  population or will it self sustain? <<Populations will be governed by predation and available food>> Starting a fish free tank for the  first time, I'm amazed and somewhat alarmed at the amount of tiny sea life that is blossoming without large predators. <<Indeed...and a prime reason for keeping a newly started reef system "fish-free" for 6-12 months to allow these beneficial crustaceans to establish healthy and sustainable populations>> Right now it seems like a good sign of a healthy tank but should I start to worry or correct at some point? <<Nothing to worry about here>> I'd really like to keep my propagation tank fish free if possible so as not to strain the system. <<Is this propagation tank plumbed to the display system?  If not, the addition of one or two "small" fishes would provide nitrogenous waste products that many of the corals use/require as a food source.  The corals "can" be kept without fish present, but it's my opinion they do better with at least "some" fish in the system>> Thanks for providing me hours and hours of educational reading! <<Quite welcome>> Laura <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Propagation Tank/"Pod" Populations - 08/26/06 Thanks for the quick reply! <<You're welcome!>> In answer to your question, no, the propagation tank is not plumbed into my main display tank.  I wish it were so that my main tank would receive the benefit of my pod explosion! <<Yes indeedy>> As to adding one or two "small" fish, are there any you would recommend? <<Yep...Sphaeramia nematoptera, commonly known as the Pajama Cardinal.  A pair of these would do fine in your 20 gallon prop tank>> In an ideal world, I could find a breeding pair of something to add a dimension to the propagation tank, or would that strain the system? (I'm  running a Penguin 350 Bio-wheel filter and a heater with live rock also helping the filtration.  I do two 10% water changes a week). <<A breeding pair is a possibility with this species...I have had them breed in reef systems, some careful searching of the NET on your part should yield some information on captive breeding of this species>> I thought about a seahorse as there was no competition for food but read that they require 50 or more gallons. <<Yes...and glad to see you're using the resources available to you!>> Also, do I need a skimmer or are the frequent water changes  enough? <<I'm a skimmer guy.  You might do just fine without one, but adding one will only help>> Thanks for your help. Laura <<Any time my friend.  EricR>>

DIY DT's I want to make my own DT's. From what I have found, all it is saltwater in a jar that sits under light and kept warm for a week or two. The water will turn green and then you have DT's. Is this true? <Not exactly.> If so how can they sell it for $16.00? There has to be more to this. <Please take a look at the following articles: http://www.reefs.org/library/talklog/r_toonen_102500.html http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-07/ds/index.htm> Thanks so much for your time! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Live Food Culture/Mandarin Systems - 07/13/06 Dear Crew, <<Hello Paul>> I have two questions pertaining to culturing live food within the main reef aquarium: <<Okay>> (1) What live foods are practical for culture within the main tank? <<Depending on your setup/livestock, some organisms can/will reproduce (mysids, amphipods, copepods, various alga, etc.).  Maintaining sustainable populations is largely dependent upon allowing said populations to establish and grow without predation in the early stages (i.e. - leaving the tank "fishless" for the first 12 months), and then not overstocking the tank with active predators of these organisms>> I am looking for small invertebrates that can thrive and reproduce in a reef aquarium with Mandarin Dragonets or other fish that feed on them and do not require phytoplankton or special foods. <<The micro- and macro-crustaceans from your live rock would fit this description.  But you need a large and "mature" system to provide enough food items to wholly sustain even one mandarin for the long term.  Just how "large" a system is open to speculation, but my opinion is a minimum tank size of 75 gallons with plentiful live rock and a DSB, and all not less than a year old>> (2) What invertebrates can thrive within the same reef aquarium as a Mandarin Dragonet and are prolific enough such that their larvae can help feed the Mandarin? <<The afore mentioned copepods, mysids, and amphipods can all be "prolific enough" in a large enough system.  The key here is the size and maturity of the system.  The tank/environment has to be large enough that the mandarin can continuously feed as needed without depleting the food populations.  Something that usually happens very quickly in a too small system.  The addition of a "plankton" generating refugium can be a big help towards keeping these beautiful fishes (as well as other delicate or difficult organisms)...but in my opinion should be viewed as an adjunct to providing a proper environment...not a substitute for same>> Thanks very much, Paul. <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Phytoplankton culture and culture density measurement   7/7/06 Hello, <Hi there> I would like to say thank you in advance for your time. I have a few questions with regards to culturing phytoplankton. The purpose is for a small look at invertebrate larvae nutrition requirements. My primary reference is Dr. Toonen's 1996 "Home Breeder's FAQ for Marine Invertebrates". I am not a "real scientist" I originally only wanted to set up a nano-reef, but I got sidetracked while reading. <Sounds good> In establishing my culture, I'm planning to use local natural seawater (I'm on the coast of NC) that I will pasteurize. I am also planning to use the commercial Micro-Algae Grow formula as my nutrient. The phytoplankton cultured will be fed to invertebrate larvae (species as yet undetermined) that are maturing in aerated flasks (also pasteurized NSW, but no other nutrients added). Larvae growth will be measured by optical microscopy. 1. In order to determine if the larvae are feeding, I need to know the density of algae in culture at different points in time following feeding. I can do this by making cell counts, however: A Sedgewick-Rafter counting cell seems too large (1mL volume) for the densities recommended, even a Palmer counting cell (.1mL volume) seems excessive. There are gridded Sedgewick-Rafter cells available, including one from Aquatic Eco-Systems that is reasonably priced. Can I responsibly use a gridded cell? <Yes, I have used these> Or, because I cannot ensure an even distribution of plankton across the grid is this a bad idea? <Will be able to get enough distribution that by randomly counting a number of cells, you should be able to get good approximations> 2. Even allowing for a gridded cell, a microscopic cell count will take time. I know from your site and others, that it is not possible to get an accurate density measurement solely by eying the coloration of the culture, but I got the impression that this had to do with "eyeballing" the culture. I have the opportunity to pick up a used spectrophotometer cheap... If I measure take the absorption at x nm* for different densities of algae, wouldn't I get a reasonably accurate count of algae density? <Yes... a simpler device, a colorimeter (one set wavelength of light for absorption/transmission) will/would even work here. You can/should develop your own "curve" for density (counted) versus readings with this tool> *-where x would be determined by trial and error 3. This is the worst question I guess, and if you tell me to keep searching I understand: I find it's easy to get life cycle information (when it exists) for a species when you already know it's name, etc. But I have not found a database of larval stage characteristics of ornamental invertebrates. Could you recommend a test subject? Ideally it would be: a. cheap and common, b. externally fertilizing, c. easy to induce gamete release, d. has a planktotrophic larvae phase that lasts less than 2 weeks. <There is much known re "close" invertebrate species, but this takes a bit of familiarity, practice in "searching the literature"... I strongly encourage your visiting a large college library (of a school with a Bio./Zoology dept.), and having a Reference Librarian "show you the ropes"... Computer search bibliographies are very productive here... and a lot of fun... "Time whips by"...> Part d. is the hard one to search for. <Not too difficult as you will find> Again, thank you for your time. Your site is an incredible resource. -Tony <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> Phytoplankton, reactor   7/4/06 Hi folks. I have been wondering if a AquaMedic Phytoplankton reactor would be useful in my reef tank. I have a 180 gal. reef tank with a DSB ( 275gal. total system water). Two refugiums are also running on this system. <Very nice> The first is a live rock with a DSB with blue light. The second is an upstream fuge with Chaeto and no sand with light running opposite. The tank has been running for seven months and I have gone thru the predictable algae bloom sequences. But the most fascinating event is when the macro algae vanished for no apparent reason. During the fifth and the sixth month I was battling Derbesia turf in numerous location on my live rocks. Early in the set-up I put two Emeral <Bam! Emerald> crabs in hopes to control this Algae. In addition I put a Sailfin Tang and a bunch of Hermits crabs and a variety of Algae eating snails to control it. Since the snails eat only Micro-Algae and the Emeralds might eat the turf Algae I wasn't convinced that they were guilty of eliminating all of turf Algae. My own theory is that I think the loss of algae was from the maturing of the whole system and the uptake of nutrients from the two refugiums. <Very likely the principal factor> All parameters of the tank are in normal range. Phosphate were high in the first three months and then zero. Currently my fish and coral list is Purple tang, Sailfin tang, Lemon Peel Angel, Lawnmower Blenny, Mandarin Goby, Sandsifting Goby. Coral: Ricordea, Euphyllia ancora, Frogspawn, Mushroom, Feather Duster, Crocea Clam, pulsing Xenia. My questions is does the lighted refugiums/scraping of algae off the grass provides enough Phytoplanton to feed the tank on a constant basis? <Mmm, plankton... is floating not attached... but likely the reproductive events of the glass-attached algae are contributing some algal plankton> I like the Idea of the reactor feeding some of my inverts plus provide foods for the zooplankton in my refugiums. <Me too> But Is it already happening anyway? <To some extent, yes> My other question is how do Copepods travel from the refugiums to feed my fish and Corals? <Yes... get "sucked up", pumped, or overflowed (depending on make-up of your systems components...)> Does it take some human intervention like stirring of sand or shaking of the refugiums? <Mmm, nope> Thanks for taking the time to answer every e-mails that come your way including mine. Sincerely Stephan <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Water Noise vs. Flow Rates IV - 07/03/04 Thanks Eric! <<Always welcome Dominique>> I will eventually send you a picture. <<Great!>> I think I'll wait a few weeks and give you a report on how things are going with my new flow rate together with a picture. <<Sounds fine>> I feel better about it since you told me it is possible it works and not necessarily a dead end. <<Hee hee!  Time will tell...>> I also want to send you a picture and links regarding my tank cover. <<Please do>> I am very pleased with the result and I think some aquarists may be interested. <<Indeed>> Not a new concept for sure, but it's what I found that looks best and is least invasive.  You really don't see it much.  For me it's all the advantages of an open top -even visually- without the inconvenience (carpet surfing...). <<I am interested to see...evaluate its ability for light penetration>> I am also working on a plan for continuous plankton culture integrated to an automated water change system.  Maybe you can tell me if you think it's silly. <<Not "silly" at all...though I would need more info to give an educated response.  My immediate concern would be how the plankton will be "introduced"...new raw seawater can be quite harsh/hard on delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) marine life>> I will be happy to experiment with this but if you think it's not worth it then maybe I won't go there. <<Let's see what you have in mind...>> My sump is drilled and a 1" pvc is going to go from the sump to the apartment's drain.  In the closet I placed a 210L plastic container with new aerated saltwater with a MagDrive on a timer (Neptune Jr.).  I think you follow me: new saltwater comes and excess water goes in the drain... <<With ya so far matey>> Now the new saltwater would go first in a 8L container next to the fuge.  That 8L would contain a phytoplankton continuous culture.  They would be under T5 bulbs like the rest of the sump.  No fertilizer used and I understand it will be a lower production than intensive batch culture.  No contamination, water comes from the new saltwater reserve (sterilized first).  New saltwater would come to this 8L each 4 hours for a total of about 2.5L per day (that is around 30% water replacement). <<But not "daily" right?  This would be a weekly/bi-weekly process?>> That 8L container would cascade partly directly into the fuge and for another part in a second smaller container (4L) that would contain a rotifer culture (Brachionus plicatilis).  That 4L container would itself overflow into the fuge.  So the 4L also gets a 30% per day water replacement rate.  Is it crazy?  Do I need a shrink? ;) <<Mmm, maybe <grin>.  A few things to mention...1- changing 30% of your system water on a "daily" basis is too much, too often.  This would be a continuous chemical/physical/biological shock to the system...2- flooding your cultures with new, raw seawater will likely cause them to crash...3- Adding and draining the water from the same location (sump) will result in much of the "new" water wasting down the drain.  I don't want to squash your creative urges, but do take these points under consideration and perhaps come up with an alternate plan.>> Dominique <<Be chatting my friend, Eric Russell>>

Amphipods For Free...Too Good To Be True?   6/23/06 Hi there, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a quick question. A while ago I had to treat my 29 gal. for saltwater ick. During the isolation there were no predators for the pods that I had and they flourished. There were hundreds of them everywhere swimming around. Because of this I had thought it a good idea to purchase a mandarin Dragonet. Unfortunately, with the reintroduction of the fish, the numbers of pods have gone down significantly. I'm now afraid that the Mandarin might starve. I was wondering, since money is a little tight, are cold water 'pods similar to warm water ones? I was thinking it would be easy to just capture some of these guys and set up a breeding tank for them. Would it be alright to feed these guys or not? From what I remember they look almost identical to the pods in my tank now. Any feed back would be appreciated. Shawn <Well, Shawn, you ask an interesting question. I'm sure that the temperate amphipods are similar in nutritional value to the tropical ones, but I have another concern: Introduction of wild-caught amphipods (tropical or otherwise) is potentially a vector for disease introduction. Personally, I'd rather seek out a captive source (such as Reed Mariculture or Ocean Pods- do an internet search), where you're assured captive-propagated, pathogen free creatures. As an alternative, 'pods collected from a fellow hobbyist, who's healthy tank has a well-established population, would be a better source. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott

Fish stuff... in the biz? Fish foods, systems, promotion...  - 05/20/2006 Please do not reply to this email address. <Okay> Greetings, I have been reading a lot about live foods recently and find lots of places that are willing to talk about cultures and how to harvest but few if any that sell cultures - or better yet have a way for me to create my own cultures. <There are a few... look at the back of current hobby magazines... Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Aquarium Fish Magazine... and the "Biological Supply Houses"... e.g. Carolina... offer such... or ask about at a local large college that has a biology department... Often these folks will give out such> My wife and I have a small fish farm with about a dozen different varieties of fish and have been doing fairly well in breeding and growing babies but are at a loss as to where we can get live food supplies. <! You're in the trade? Do contact Randy Reed (Reed Mariculture... .com) re help here... San Francisco Bay Brand and SaltCreek re Artemia... Argent Chemical re Cyclops... Piscine Energetics re Mysids...> We do much of what we see others do simply because what works works and we don't have to trip over our own stupidity ..... as much. <... Time to encourage you to get help with searching the literature... not hard to do... And no need for you to "re-invent the wheel"... much information of use is available...> However, it is difficult to find good food for fry, good food to feed those getting ready to breed and in general good food. <Mmm, not really... just takes a bit of searching, contacting the folks who can/will supply this> Currently we rotate through several dry foods and frozen bloodworms/brine shrimp which keep the fish pretty healthy. The problem is that dependant on species we need different types of frozen or live food and some of those are hard to come by. Any suggestions on food? Also - we run several different types of filtration and I am contemplating do a cross between individual tank filtration and everything going through a central system by simply doing it by species. <Lots of benefits...> Right now our under gravel filters work great and I have no problem with them except for the amount of power needed. Thoughts on this? <...? Posted on WWM... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm and the linked files at top...> Lastly - any ideas on the best way to increase business? <You're not joking? Please see the Business Sub-Web that's part of WWM> We have a few pet stores and a few individuals lined up as buyers but as every business owner will attest to - there aren't enough customers in the world. Any way, I ask this not for reasons of advertising, but rather trying to market towards a fish interested market (and I haven't found that small magazine ads work). <They don't in the short/er term... Best to establish local to further outlet relations, and build on these... Minimum orders, arranged shipping schedule, rates... Contacts through word of mouth, visits...> Ideas? I know what I think but always looking for a sounding board. Strive for Excellence Jerry Opp FishCo a division of Pro Enterprises <Okay... Keep reading... Bob Fenner> Green water culturing  - 05/13/2006 Aloha from Hawaii, <Right back 'atcha bro> I'm attempting to start breeding my mated pair of true percula clownfish and have finished reading Joyce Wilkerson's book,   "Clownfish".  A great source of information, though now I am a bit daunted in the fact that this weekend I'm going to set up a   green water culturing system as well as a rotifer breeding tank ( 2 5 gallon buckets on my sunny lanai).  I have tried emailing Joyce at the email listed in her book, but it bounced back. <Don't know what's going on there. She goes out, helps friends in the aquaculture biz at times... sometimes out of reach of the Net...> My question is, I can't find the product locally she recommends for fertilizing the green water culture, "Microalgae Grow", and I'd rather not pay the inflated shipping cost to Hawaii if I can help it.   The Waikiki Aquarium is providing me with a green water culture of Tetraselmis and a rotifer colony.  Very generous and I do appreciate their help!  The biologist I spoke to said I could use plant fertilizer, though he did not know the dilution ratio.  So, will Miracle-Grow and a bit of chelated iron diluted at 50% be ok? <... I'd start with this diluted to a far greater extent... try making a "stock" solution, measure drops or milliliters into a known volume of water... measure for something like phosphate... keep this "reasonable"... a few ppm... Keep testing, adding a bit as time goes by...> Seems funny to me that most people write in on how to rid their tanks of algae, but now I'm on the brink of a panic attack at the thought of NOT being able to grow any. Thanks for your help, Craig <You will. A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>

Plankton Production - 03/01/06 Hi guys, <<and gals!>> long time reader, first post! I currently have a large 60 gallon refugium running inline with a lightly stocked reef tank. <<Cool!>> Do you have any specific tips or advice on what types of macro algae, and possibly supplements or foods to increase/improve the various types of plankton that can be supported? <<Lots... My preference is a vegetable refugium w/DSB.  This provides an excellent matrix to foster plankton/epiphytic matter, and my favorite macro-algae for this is Chaetomorpha linum.  But there are more choices/other opinions that work well also.  Have a look through our refugium data re:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm >> Suggestions on general parameters, feeding & supplementation that can (intensely) effect growth of such plankton? <<A pinch of flake food/a few shrimp pellets every couple of days goes a long way to increasing populations.>> Are there ways to introduce specific sought after plankton? Plankton Substitutes? <<Plankton/refugium starter kits are available from a few e-tailers.  A simple Google search re should find them easy enough.>> The system is 100% sponge less, carbonless, powerhead-less.  Temperature controlled at 78-81.  Each tank (19 inches deep) has a single 150w HQI 20k pendant.  Flow rate is approximately 700gph per tank. <<Sounds perfect for the Chaetomorpha/DSB system I mentioned.>> I run a protein skimmer a few days a month.  My water parameters has been steady for past 12 weeks at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0.2 Nitrates (1 part per 5 million). Thank you for being the best resource on the web! <<Thank you for contributing!>> George <<Regards, EricR>>

Culturing of sea urchin larvae  - 02/16/2006 Hi Bob, I accidentally found your webpage and hope that you might answer some of my questions. I really would like to do some research with sea urchin larvae. <Gosh... a stock process/experiment back in college...> At my institute they have some experience in reproduction of sea urchins (Psammechinus miliaris). And I also have support from a technician who has lots of experience in culturing marine organisms. I myself worked with fish - quite different stuff indeed. Nonetheless, I really would prefer to work with larvae instead of embryos. Indeed, I was told that larvae culture is quite laborious. Do you have any experience with invertebrate larval culture???? <A bit> How elaborate is that? What equipment do you need? <Mmm, some brood stock, mechanism to bring on gametogenesis, spawning... rearing tanks (sometimes specialized) and "good" water... new/natural or recirculated/filtered> And what about the feeding? <Very important... Often the single largest "stumbling block" in invertebrate culture. A computer search here saves much trouble> I won't be able to maintain an algae culture as feed for my cute larvae. But I heard that there are commercially available microalgae.  Indeed, I read a publication that larvae don't reach the same growth rate with a commercially available diet compared to a control diet with Dunaliella. And do you know anybody who could give me more tips??? <Sea Biscuit in the Seventh... Actually, there is much written/recorded re many species, groups... time to go to "the library"... and ask specifics later> Thank you very much! And best wishes from a future sea urchin culturist! :-) Sabine <Look on the Net for the names Rob Toonen, Frank Hoff, Ron Shimek... for "pet-fish" input... otherwise... ex libris. Bob Fenner>

Starter Cultures for Tiny Food - 11/30/05 Where can I get starter cultures for worms, etc. that Bettas and the fry eat? <I have regularly seen starter cultures on http://www.aquabid.com do a search for "culture". Best regards, John>

Microworms 10/9/05 Hello Bob. Sorry for disturbing you again. I wanted to know if there is any way to culture Microworms without using starter cultures as nobody in my area cultures them. I would be thankful if you help me. Thanking you. <Mmm, you need a culture to start with... I'd look about in your country for this... from a biological supply house, a college, perhaps a tropical fish club with a website. Bob Fenner> 

Buying Copepods  9/27/05 Hello again! <Howdy Mike, Adam J. with you.> Do any of you know where I could buy copepods to stock a refugium? I know inverts.com used to sell them, but I was just on their site and they don't have them anymore. <See here: http://www.essentiallivefeeds.com/ > Thanks Mike <No biggie, Adam J.>

Feeding Finicky Fish (Cont'd.) Thank you so much for your quick reply & advice! =) <Glad I could help!> I will keep you posted on the progress of these amazing fish & the copepod culturing effort. Rest assured that I will pay close attention to their  health & the health of the tank, and also know that I am willing to setup a  larger system, should the need arise. <Excellent! We'd really like to hear about your progress with this system!> I would also like to take a moment to thank the crew for assisting me with am "ich" problem that I had with a newly-purchased yellow tang. The fish is in perfect health at this time, free of disease & is eating Nori out of my hand. =) Thank you!!! Julie <We have a great group of hobbyists here, and I'm thrilled to be amongst them! Regards, Scott F.>

Mysid Shrimp Hello there. I finally ordered the Conscientious Marine Aquarist today. I have no idea what took me so long. Anyway, about a year ago you guys pointed me to a website in Florida that ships live mysids and other amphipods via Priority Mail. I searched the FAQs for 2 hours and could not find the site (It isn't Aqua Farms). Do you know of the website in Florida that ships live copepods and amphipods via Priority Mail? It saves a bundle on shipping.  < Justin, try www.mysidshrimp.com James (Salty Dog)> 

Dosing phyto/zoo plankton, culture Hello all, <Howdy> I looked down the other day and realized how much I'm spending on DTs. Ouch. I dose my 400 gal reef per their recommended schedule. I am using it for my filter feeders - feather dusters, various soft corals. I also target feed the frozen Cyclop-eeze to my LPS weekly. <Sounds good.... with a system this size... oh I see this below> I am once again thinking about culturing my own. I looked at the Aqualine Buschke Plankton Light Reactor and Plankton Reactor system, the DIY culture stations (see http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-07/ds/ for one description), and came across a Zinn Reactor (http://www.reefonline.com.au/shop/product_info.php?products_id=234). The Zinn Reactor seems like the easiest and most painless of the solutions, but I can't find any real information about it. Do you have any thoughts on the different solutions. Is culturing your own such a pain that buying the DTs seems like a bargain after trying? Other thoughts for me? <Is actually... easily done... and a hoot to boot!> Coral List: Capnella, Cladiella, Pachyclavularia, Sarcophyton, Sarcophyton elegans, Euphyllia paradivisa, Euphyllia paranchora, Caulastrea, Fungia, Polyphyllia, Turbinaria peltata. May add over time - Clavularia, Anthelia, Platygyra, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. Thanks! Larry <I definitely encourage you to try your hand at culture here... I've done this (and am exceedingly lazy...), can be "cook booked" and if you follow simple procedures (principally to avoid contamination) you'll soon be a plankton culturist! Bob Fenner> 

Too many Pods? - 12/8/04 Hi! <Hey, Claudia> I'm still in the hobby thanks to the great information your website has given me throughout the years. <This is why I am volunteering here at WetWebMedia. Thank you for the validation of my efforts.> But now I have another issue... <Alrighty> One fine day I just decided that I don't want any fish, only corals , soft ones just for now. <I have done the same> My tanks is 26Gal. mini reef with live rock and only soft corals, some bristle worms, sponges and TONS of copepods, which is fine by me, <Sounds awesome!> very entertaining to see them fighting over that last piece of algae, that is until they attack the zooxanthellae in my polyps <Huuh?!>(Palythoa)<Haven't heard of this from a common amphipod or copepod> so I need something which eats them and which is not a fish (fish just eat too many of them) <Well....maybe just one fish?> in other words I need something which can live off the copepods and which won't extinguish them so that I don't have to feed it after the copepods are gone. <Well. One small wrasse might do the trick but in such a small tank will likely extinguish you colony fairly quickly. (in the process become the fattest little bugger you ever seen). I personally have never seen amphipods or copepods eating algae out of my Palythoa. I have many tanks at my disposal as well as many friends in the business and industry who have never asked  or related to me such an occurrence. Strange. I would do more research. I too, will look into this a bit more. In the meantime, not sure what to tell you. Try adding some algae (Nori strips or sinking Spirulina chunks for them to munch on. ~Paul> Please help me... Cheers, Claudia

Pod culture, carbon Hello Anthony, Bob et al ! <Hi Roger>       Thanks to all of you, your assistance is Priceless.       Read a lot of FAQ's, still haven't found a sound answer.   Just finished building an 22 gal acrylic sump.  Was going to be a wet/dry but I read the section on bio-balls!  Modified it now to a 22 gal refugium. <Ahh, "a stitch in time, saves your mind!">   My Nitrates have long been 0.2 but I'd still like to incorporate a 4' sand bed and really would like to make this a pod factory.  I'll start gathering some LR rubble from the LFS but in the interim, is there anything else I can add to optimize the space? <Some macroalgae> Would lava rock work as a good habitat for the pods? <Not really>   In essence, what would constitute "prime" pod habitat ???? <Mounded LR, macrophytes... there are actually MANY organisms considered "pods" that live in diverse habitats.>       Second question.  I have access to commercial grade anthracite coal used in water purification plants.  Particle size is about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long.  Can I use this without harming the tank inhabitants (fish, corals and inverts)? <Likely yes... talk with the "folks in your lab" re this application, find out how much "free" phosphate this product is likely to leach... get their input on preparing it (likely at least soaking for a day ahead of use) and try just a few ounces (in a Dacron bag) to see what sort of effects...>   I "think" I remember reading that "activated" carbon is actually anthracite plus some process.  Could you explain the process or the difference?  What makes carbon "activated" <Not in a short space... Again, I encourage you to ask these questions of the "lab"... and the Net for that matter! Bob Fenner> Thanks a ton !   RJS   Redding, California Feeding 'Pods (9/15/04) Hello there, <Hi, Steve Allen today> This relates to an earlier question about creating a food breeding tank for a Mandarin Goby. <Mandarin Dragonet, they are not gobies as they are often mistakenly called in the trade.> If a stock a tank with live rock and sand and calpura (sp?) <Caulerpa, and you may want to study the downsides of this macroalgae. I can assure you from the many hundreds I have that 'pods thrive in Chaetomorpha, which lacks Caulerpa's many downsides.> algae to get the pods and worms to produce, will I need a fish in there as well to produce some waste? <No, and they'll just eat the 'pods.> If I do not keep a fish or some animal producing ammonia in a tank with live rock and live sand, will the live rock and live sand die? <The ongoing lifecycle (including death/decay) of the algae and the 'pods--like the toilet training book says, "Everyone Poops, including 'pods--will easily sustain your biofilter.> What do the pods and worms eat? <Pretty much anything organic. The folks at www.ipsf.com recommend finely ground flake food. Rotifers are great, as is Cyclop-eeze. I'd suggest you check out IPSF's website and the 'pod FAQs here for more info.> Thank you <You're welcome. Hope this helps.> Producing 'Pods (Amphipod Propagation) Hello Mr. Fenner, <Actually, Scott F. here this afternoon!> My friend has a Mandarin and we want to build a tank to breed worms and pods for her Mandarin. If we do such a thing, can the worms and pods be transferred from my tank to hers, or will they be too small? <Well, they are not large creatures, but they are captured without too much effort. Regardless of their sizes, they will be beneficial to the fish that she's keeping!> What would be the best way to harvest them for the Mandarin in the other tank? <You might want to use a fine mesh net to do some "sweeping" of the bottom of the propagation tank. Even better still, if you could somehow hook up the prop. tank to the display housing the Mandarin, then the animals may very well be swept into the main tank with little or no intervention required on your part. The concept of a refugium is based upon this very need-having an attached system to help process organics and "feed" the display!> The plan is to use a 38 gallon tank with a bag of live sand and some live rock and Caulerpa (sp?) algae. How important is the live rock to getting this going? <A nice quality live rock will be helpful, but you could certainly get by with some "rubble"- small pieces of rock that will provide a nice place for the 'pods to forage. You may also want to use some Chaetomorpha macroalgae, which has a rather dense composition, and forms a network of hiding/feeding/breeding places for these animals> Does it need to be uncured to make sure there still are worms and pods on it?  Would cured rock have any left? <Ideally, you'd want cured rock pieces; You can usually convince the staff at your LFS to sell you some "rubble" from the bottom of one of their live rock holding tanks. That will do the job nicely and inexpensively.> Could we seed the tank with like 15 pods from mail order and would that be enough to get the population going? <Sure. That would be a start. You may also want to see if a fishy friend has some available-perhaps in some filter media or rock pieces...> How long would it take to get enough going to feed the mandarin on a regular basis? <Well, these animals have a fairly rapid reproductive cycle, but you're probably talking a couple of months before you could get a sustainable daily harvest> What else would I need to make the tank an optimal tank for worms and pods for mandarin gobies? <Really, not much else. Just make sure that you don't have any fishes that will out-compete the slower Mandarins in their search for these food items. With a lot of patience and attention to some details concerning the "food production", you should have a very successful setup!> Thank you for your advice. Brendgol Majewski <My pleasure, Brendgol! Good luck in your efforts! Regards, Scott F.> Feeder Shrimp Bob: <Tom> We are a commercial grower of food grade shrimp for human consumption. Our shrimp are SPF and we keep them that way.  I've seen several articles about feeder goldfish, etc., and would like to know how you feel about feeder shrimp -species L. VANNAMEI, or Pacific White Shrimp. <An excellent species... of all things, was in Guayaquil just yesterday... on a visit back from the Galapagos... a principal region for white shrimp culture.> We have just started selling this species to the wholesalers in Los Angeles for the saltwater aquariums.  We have also just started selling Live Brine Shrimp in volume to the salt and fresh-water aquarium wholesalers.  We grow the Brine Shrimp as a feed source for our own shrimp, high in Beta-carotene, HUFA, lipids, etc. Tom Hill Sunset SeaFarms,  LP tghill@sunsetseafarms.com <Outstanding. Pleased to make your acquaintance... and welcome to the ornamental aquatics part of the trade. Bob Fenner> Live Mysis Hello, <Hi again Scott> I forgot to add on my last email but do you know of how I can collect or purchase some live mysis or copepods.  I live in Canada so most places don't deliver here.   <One place that comes to mind is http://www.inlandaquatics.com/. I know I've had a lot of success buying this type of creature from them but there are many others I am sure.  One thing you might consider. If you have a local pet store or friend who has some mysis or pods. Put a small piece of pvc in the tank where they are and the Mysis or pods will use it to hide in.  Then you can collect it in a week or so and get some pods.  Simply close off the ends and dump it into a bag. Good Luck, MacL> Scott

Just a few questions on keeping and rearing cleaner shrimp fry and clownfish fry. Last night both my clownfish and my cleaner shrimp's fry hatched and I transferred as many of them as I could across to another tank. I was wondering the chances of survival on the cleaner shrimps and would they too eat rotifers. << Rotifers are a great starter food, but phytoplankton is probably just as important>>Or what would you recommend?? << Well I think copepods are the almighty food, but at first I think phyto and rotifers are your best bet.>>I have captured a few hundred and it would be a great to breed these if possible. Any tips. How often should I feed and how much water should I remove and how often??<< Well I just keep them fed, and change the water as much as need be.  Meaning if you have them in a 10 gal with an undergravel filter, change a gallon a day.  But if you have them in a 55 gal with lots of rock and sand, you probably don't need to change the water.>> How many days should I move the feed to baby brine?? << Good question, I'm thinking around 2 weeks, but that is stretching my memory on hearing presentations regarding this.>> Secondly the rotifers I have purchased I have fed them daily with the algae required but should the tank they live in always be green. << I see no reason to not keep them in green water all time.>> How much water should be removed from a 7-10 litre tank and how many ml.s of algae would need to fulfill them? As I assume once they are fed they will eat the algae and remove the colour giving an indication that the need more feed.<< I don't think many people measure it out, but simply keep the rotifers in green water, if the water turns yellow, add more phyto.>> Also what temperature should the rotifers be at as I have no heater in their tank just an airstone?? << 23 C.>> How long does it take to get the tank teeming with rotifers as my culture seems a bit light on at this stage? << If they have lots of phyto, I'll say around 4 days>> Thanks for your help << My best advice is to ask around.  The Breeder's Registry probably contains a lot of information on this.  Also, there have been numerous hobbyists to raise peppermints, if you can find them.>> Stu << Adam Blundell>>

Pod production in a Juwel tank  Crew -  <Wayne>  I have a question. I have a 4 month old system built round a Juwel 110 litre tank. 32 inches * 14 * 16 inches water depth. 2 times T5 lights, 1600 litres per hour water movement not inc. a Prizm skimmer that does indeed skim. I have I think 17 or 18 kilos of live rock in there, a number of Palythoa and Protopalythoa and a 4 inch Sarcophyton. Also despite the immaturity of system I have nice algae inc. Padina, some Caulerpa, and purple branching stuff + good coralline growth. With the live rock came the usual offenders inc. some white sponges that are now growing nicely in a cave. Fishes to date are a common clown and a 6 line wrasse. I also have an inch of sand. I considered DSB but didn't as getting a cleanup crew here in Norway is surprisingly tricky, and so far not as much has come out of the live rock as I expected, except only a handful , 2 or 3 brittles. I also have a boxing Stenopus shrimp (so no other shrimp), 2 blue leg hermits and some Trochus. And lots of serpulids have appeared.  All nice except I'd like more copepods , amphipods. So all is well, but as it's a Juwel system I have a corner unit built in filter box. Currently I have nothing in it, as I am afraid of nitrate problems, but I am now considering using it as a small (4 inches * 3 inches * 16 deep) pod farm rather than having a pile of live rock debris on the (small) floor of the tank.. What should I put in it to encourage this - I'm thinking along the lines of 1 to 3 inch bits of live rock? Bioballs would be easier but a nitrate trap.  <I am familiar with Juwel tanks and do think your idea is a good one... mostly small pieces of stacked LR and possibly some plastic filter media, like Eheim's Grob Flocken...>  Also as an aside everyone always says the nitrogen cycle bacteria for fresh and salt are different but actually the only 'scientific' paper I recall seeing said they were (surprisingly) the same? Any comment Keep up the good work!  Wayne Oxborough  Norway  <Similar, but different bacteria involved... try a computer search bibliography with the name Tim Hovanec next time you can get to a large college library with BIOSIS connection. Bob Fenner>

GETTING COPEPODS TO THRIVE - 4/21/04 Thanks for the great leads on the stores. I was looking to order "occope - LIVE Ocean Plankton - 500 ml.s - A mixture of ocean plankton skewed towards copepods. Organisms from 50 microns - to 1000 microns in size." from http://www.aquaculturestore.com/swinverts.html . <A great family run business. As far as copepods go though, they don't typically do well (reproduction et al) in the captive environment. I would lean more toward the amphipod and Mysid population packs he offers. They are omnivorous, prolific breeders, and generally hardy. The copepods are intended more for either feeding to certain specialized animals or for school science projects. They require regular feedings of phytoplankton, and a steady and medium current. I feel that the amount of phytoplankton required to keep copepods alive just long enough to feed to corals is expensive and overly difficult. I feel it is not worth your time, effort, or money> 

Growing and feeding pods - 4/20/04 I wanted to start by saying that your site has saved me hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours of head ache...thank you! <We appreciate your kind words and thank you for being here> I currently have a relatively new 46 gallon bow front reef setup. <How new?> Substrate = Aragonite Live Rock = 50 lbs Corals - Alveopora, Star, Button, and Yellow Polyps, a Hammer and a Favites? (Looks like a brain) All of the corals are small but I'm hoping that they will grow with the proper lighting and feeding. <Will likely> My goal is to do everything as naturally as possible. <Mine as well> In my new setup I used new Aragonite, but used the live rock from my previous aquarium that had at least marine ich and probably Brooklynellosis as well. <Hmmmmm> I want to run the new tank fallow as long as possible to rid the rock/substrate of any lingering ich. <OK> In the mean time I would like to be building up zooplankton and/or microplankton for the corals and future fish to feed on. <Will come in time without predation and a good source of live sand, live rock, and maybe even an addition or two of copepods, amphipods and the like> I have seen additives like PhytoPlex, but I can't imagine that plankton bottled on a shelf for 3 months can be alive. <A really poor food additive. I use and highly recommend any of the Reed Mariculture products, DTs, BioPlankton for live phytoplankton sources.> If hatching brine shrimp and adding them, will they eventually reproduce on their own within the tank? <Not likely. Usually need higher salinity and no predation> I know that brine shrimp are the equivalent of potato chips for fish, but that's all I've seen as far as live plankton in my LFS. <Time to look to mail order, my friend> What can I do to provide naturally reproducing plankton within the tank? <the above are good choices for phytoplankton but be sure that the corals you currently have in your aquarium (and the ones you plan to add) actually utilize the food types you plan to feed. For other plankton and zooplankton sources I highly recommend: Sach's Aquaculture www.aquaculturestore.com/index.html  <rotifers, copepods, feeder fish, live mysids, and much more> Reed Mariculture www.seafarm.com  (rotifers, live/frozen phyto, copepods, and live mysids> Cyclops-eeze, frozen baby brine, and Golden Pearls are a great form of zooplankton that most fish will take to. Give it a try as well. We use these to raise seahorses and other hard to feed small zooplankton feeders A great question and I thank you for coming to WetWebMedia with such a great question. ~Paul>

Need advice for my PhD thesis <somebody write the Cliff's notes to "Reef Invertebrates"> hi guys, <howdy!> I am a grad student in molecular biology at UC Berkeley and I want to develop a crustacean as a new model system for studying developmental evolution.   <kudos for your educational ambition/endeavors> A few crustaceans are already being studied (Artemia, daphnia, Parhyale hawaiiensis) but they all have certain problems which keep them from being ideal.  The first consideration when trying to come up with a new animal to study is that it will readily reproduce in captivity... this is where you guys come in.  Ideally, I am looking for animals that can be kept in large groups without killing one another, who don't need coaxing to reproduce (the more they do, the better), and whose husbandry (especially of the young) is not overwhelmingly demanding.  Finally, an animal which matures quickly to breeding age would be good.  Oh, and as a final thought, the development of smaller guys like amphipods seems to be rather atypical when compared to most other arthropods, so I'm thinking something like a Lysmata or other shrimp or maybe crab might better represent the group.   <you were right the first time... shrimp. Much better understood, studied and viable for culture. Most crabs are very challenging to culture> I realize that I'm asking for quite a lot from one animal, and any info you guys can give me here would be very much appreciated.  Also, if there is anybody else you can think of who knows about captive breeding of crustaceans, I would love to be able to contact them as well in order to get more opinions.  Thanks a lot guys; I am a big fan of the site and I'm humbled by the amount of information you have compiled here. many thanks,-Mario Vargas-Vila <the genus Lysmata is very well studied. There is even a handbook for husbandry with a very popular species in the genus. Do seek "How to train and raise Peppermint shrimp" by April Kirkendall. As I recall, David Cripe of Monterey Bay Aquarium has Teamed up with Dr Rob Toonen of HI university to do a paper on the California peppermint Lysmata. Do search the archives at Scripps if you have academic access... I suspect you will find a remarkable amount of info on this wonderful genus. Anthony>

Capturing and culturing my own plankton - 3/24/04 Hi, I go out to the sea often, and I'm thinking of hauling up plankton with my plankton net. <Cool> Is there anyway to keep the plankton alive <Need a holding place onboard. With good aeration and proper water parameters and conditions.> and get them to reproduce like those commercial ones? <Well, this is a loaded question. There are a few books out there on the subject but the one most offered and used is: http://www.seafarm.com/products/index.htm>  What do I have to feed them with? <depends on the plankton. Some derive nutrition through sunlight, phyto, detritus, rotifers and other planktonic animals on down the line> Any advice is appreciated, <The books are the best place to start. Try these links: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=Culturing+plankton and be sure to do your best to identify your plankton. Not an easy task culture plankton. I told you it was a loaded question!> thanks. <Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul>

Mandarin keeping- 2/27/04 Oh, thank you so very much for the quick response. I did find some copepods in the Eheim filter and took that out and tested the gunk and it was just as good as the tank, no nitrates, no nitrites, ph, salinity everything just fine. <Great> So we put that in the tank and the live copepods that seem pretty big into the "breeder tank" I got a light on it, could only find a 10 gal size but it will do. Will test water frequently for poor water and water change. <Keep the water quality high, mate> Do you think I should clean up the live rock by scrubbing some of the dead stuff off then? <Not a bad idea, then siphon it out> I am not sure if the fish can wait until the rock is cured as well as the time it takes to culture and obtain the copepods which I hear is about 6 weeks. <Gonna have to!!>  Can we buy already raised copepods on line for a quick fix until ours are growing? <Sure. Check out www.aquaculturestore.com (tell them Paul Mansur from wetwebmedia.com sent you or try www.seafarm.com> Funny how the LFS stores in town all sell these beautiful fish yet no one sells copepods or culture kits. <Well, the fish likely eat frozen foodstuffs except for the Mandarin. Some will except frozen foods though>  The one my son works for is giving us the stuff in the skimmer hoping that will contain copepods. <Stuff I the skimmer???> They have 1 mandarin in their reef tank, he is not for sale! But is apart of the permanent creatures they care for in this reef tank that has coral for sale in. <Lots of stores do this. Annoying ain't it?> We need food for the mandarin now any suggestions to help him hang on until we can get the copepods growing, I hear it takes about 6 weeks from the time you receive the kit. <Or more. No guarantees either. Try frozen foods like mysids, Cyclops-eeze, Artemia etc> The kit is for the 10 gal tank size, do you think it will matter for the 5 gallon as long as we have enough food. <Limiting but likely fine> Do copepods need to be fed phytoplankton, zooplankton and such? <Yes. Also can be found at www.seafarm.com. Let Randy know I sent you from Wetwebmedia.com> Boy, this is a ton of work, it will be worth it if the fish can come through however, anyone purchasing a mandarin is nuts. <Agreed. I am not a supporter of keeping mandarin fish in captivity> Unless they have everything it takes to grow copepods! Again, I cannot tell you how appreciative to have your response, so helpful, and so quickly. <It's what we do> Thanks so very much. <Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul> Sue and Ryan

Plankton supplies 11/22/03 Hi guys, does anyone know where to purchase a net for collecting wild plankton?  I'm talking about one of those long nets you tow or set in a drift.  Thanks-  D <do try Florida Aqua Farms (do a net search, or look in the bibliog. of our books)... a fine place for such supplies. Else try biological supply houses (like those used by science educators). best of luck. Anthony>

Re: plankton net 11/23/03 Thanks, didn't see it on the FAF site but you were right about the other, Carolina Bio-Supply has them.  -  D <outstanding... best of luck. Anthony>

Adding A Refugium to grow Plankton 11/18/03 Guys, <and gals... don't forget Marina, Sabrina and Ananda :)> How do I go about adding a simple ABOVE THE TANK refugium to grow plankton ? Regards Lyndon <simple enough... take your refugium vessel (small aquarium, Rubbermaid bin, whatever) and drill a  small hole for a bulkhead fitting in it. This refugium is to be fed with water returning from the sump or from a powerhead in the display. Water gets pumped up to it, and overflows through the bulkhead back down into the display aquarium. For pod culture you will want a dense matrix like spun polyester (coarse pond filter pads) or if you light the sump, living Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae. Its that simple. We have extensive coverage on this topic too in our new book Reef Invertebrates by Calfo and Fenner. Anthony>

Zooplankton reactors 8/27/03 Hi Crew! <howdy!> Need more of your excellent advise. I'm in the middle of reading Mr. Calfo's terrific "Book of Coral Prorogation," really liking it a lot. <thanks kindly :) >   Now to my question: I'm looking into a Zooplankton reactor by AB Aqualine. They sell two; a Plankton reactor for zooplankton cultivation, and a Plankton LIGHT reactor for cultivating microalgae. They say that one should use the alga in the Light reactor to feed the zooplankton in the regular reactor. Meaning you should buy both. Is this really necessary? <there is some truth here... algae feeing many microcrustaceans (zooplankton)... the best coral food (more eat zoo than phyto)> Could you not buy the regular reactor and then feed the zooplankton there with a prepared, store bought phytoplankton like DT's? <perhaps... although certainly not nearly as good. I'd sooner see you build a DIY phyto reactor than use bottled supplements> Would really appreciate your help. Marion <best regards, Anthony>

Pod Factory Follow-up - 8/28/03 Anthony: I appreciate your reply.  I actually tried numerous "dress-up-the-refugium" tricks to get my wife to agree, but so far no luck.  I'm sorry for the confusion that this medium brings to the picture, <heehee... no worries> but when I wrote "remote, detached refugium", I meant completely detached, like in another part of the house with no plumbing to the display system.   <that would truly be a refuge from the predators in the display <G>. Actually... it is officially a plankton reactor at that point. Do check out the many DIY plans on the net using that keyword phrase. Aqualine Buschke make a plankton reactor set (phyto and zoo) that's very nice> I have 4' of wall and a 4' tank, no room under it and not "allowed" to go above it.  Can this work?   <sure... it will simply be a plankton culture station. Martin Moe has also written about making this in his classic "Beginner to Breeder" handbook> How would I get the pods to main system then, siphon?   <a plankton sieve (net) and usually a light to attract them. Many supplies for such culture can be found at Florida Aqua Farms. For rotifers and phyto at least> The only other option I see is to get one of those HO types, but the largest I've seen is like 7gal.  Is there another option?   <depends... if your goal is for plankton generation, you really need to be thinking plankton reactor and not refugium per se> Is a 7 gal HO a waste of time for my 55?   <likely so if it is a decorated fuge... but not a problem if it is a plankton culture vessel> So, either way, would LS, LR, CF and Chaetomorpha be good enough?  Still with pinch of food?  I have RI, CMA and BOCP-V1, so I will review refugium section in RI.  You guys & gals are the best, Rich <thanks kindly, my friend. Indeed... as much as I love refugiums... it sounds like you would be better served here by a more clinical culture station. Many folks just use a few pop bottles or one gallon glass jars on a shelf. Easy to clean and keep cultures going. Many possibilities here :) Best regards, Anthony>

Breeding bugs in my refugium 08/06/03 I have a large system,450 gal fowler in house, draining into a 500 gal predator tank and a 300 gal refugium in the garage, they in turn drain to the sump, then back to 450 to complete circuit. I feed both the fowler and predator tanks heavily and the system has been running as set up for 6 months and is working to perfection. No water or algae problems. Refugium has deep sand bed,8 inches, live rock. It's only resident is a small Fimbriated moray that I removed from predator tank and put in the refugium as I was concerned he would be eaten by the 3 foot tessellated moray that lives there. After about 6 months as set up, I was hoping to see a huge population of bugs in the refugium by now, but even with a flashlight, I only see a few. I am assuming that with the fowler with heavy bioload draining directly into the refugium and the messy little Fimbriated moray, that there should be ample food to sustain a huge population of bugs. Lots of rubble on bottom. oyster shells etc. along with the live rock. Was thinking of sinking a plastic milk crate stuffed with filter pads in the refugium to see if this home may be more to their liking, plus giving me a way to harvest the little buggers, and maybe asses their population better. Any ideas? Refugium has NO residents other than the small eel. Thanks in advance. <Well, actually, your idea sounds really good. Have you thought about lighting the refugium and adding macroalgae (I'm very partial to Chaetomorpha myself)? I'd say try both, and see what you get. You may also want to try direct feeding the refugium too, something finely ground. Hope that helps, PF>

Plankton reactor 7/15/03 Hi, crew!  Do you have recommendations on a plankton reactor?  I'm familiar with Sue Wilson's method, but I'm for anything that will simplify and automate the process.  Any views on AB Aqualine Plankton's reactor? Lawrence M. Benjamin <I am generally impressed with most all of Aqualine's product line. I find them to be reliable and well developed. I have no practical experience with their model but would be likely to try it on the merit of their name. Do give us a report to share if you do. With kind regards, Anthony>

Epitokes and rotifers You wrote: As a boy in the P.I. I was familiar with a practice of collecting certain "native" marine foods with baskets, Really? Well I grew up in Chicago and never saw a Nereis until I was nearly 30. Now I live in P.I. and have just started my first marine aquarium. In a 48 gal tank which cycled on July 3, I now have two anemones, three sabellids, a clownfish and a damsel. I'd love to have more Polychaetes but first I want to know how to feed them. <Mmm, I will assure you, most everyone who has used live rock, "real" live sand does feed Polychaete worms... almost continuously... many species are quite small, reproduce prodigiously... "come out of the sand" (esp. by nightfall) and are consumed> If you were in P.I. and knowing what you know now how would you go about cultivating/collecting food for these critters. ( brine shrimp are very expensive when available- 1000+ pesos for dried food) Is it realistic to think of cultivating rotifers? <Please take a look at the works of Frank Hoff and products available (books, cultures...) from Florida Aqua-Farms... and articles by Bob Toonen on aquarium-related culture of food-organisms (maybe a search on the Net using their names... or a look through the archives of Aquarium Frontiers (on-line)> How can I exclusively get the marine species grown? I have a microscope and can probably ID who's who. <A lot of fun and... dare I say... instructional as well> Do you have other suggestions for feeding Polychaetes? <There are so many species... and of different feeding strategies (filter of many sorts to outright predaceous) that generalizations are likely not helpful. What species? Smallish ones are likely better either mono-cultured in specific vessels for the purpose, but raising them ancillary to having a DSB and live rock in an as-large-as-you-can-fit refugium would likely get you what you're shooting for> Are there indigenous species of worms that I'd be well advised NOT  to put in my treasured new tank? <Mmm, yes... larger, predatory species.> BTW I love WWM  and most certainly appreciate the style and content of  your contributions. Thanks so much! <Thank you for your kind words and contributing here to the site. Bob Fenner> Charles Olson, D.C. Davao, Mindanao, Philippines

Rotifers bob, I have often read about feeding various corals live baby brine shrimp and "rotifers". I have only had my salt water aquarium for 15 months so I am relatively new in this field. I have asked several knowledgeable people what rotifers are, and how or where can they be acquired. no one has yet been able to help me. I would appreciate any info that you could give to me. thanks, Dan >> Thanks for asking... always knew those courses in Marine Invertebrate Zoology would come in handy some day... Rotifers are "wheel animalcules"... a big mix (about 1500 species) or mainly freshwater, small (about 1mm) critters that look a lot like ciliated Protozoans... Mostly non-attached... and mostly mis-identified...  What I'm getting at, is that most people call a whole bunch of other organisms "rotifers", sort of like a catch-all name for "plankton"... You can buy cultures of these and other fun to grow and feed organisms and their culture media, vessels... from "biological supply houses"... put this name in your Search Engines... and away you go. One of my faves is Carolina Biological... Bob Fenner

Rotifers, microalgae, Artemia??? (culture questions, though I'm bereft of same) Hi Robert, <Howdy> I had a couple of questions regarding Rotifers and microalgae.. <Okay> have u tried using rotifers as a feed for the Lysmata shrimps... are they too small and in sufficient in nutrient content... if so then are there any rotifers large enough and with higher nutritional value... Which microalgae feeds do u recommend for growing of brine shrimps .. for high nutritional values.. <Don't personally culture Lysmata shrimps, or their foods, but do have friends/associates in the trade that do... Please see the sites of Tropic Marine Centre, The Breeder's Registry, and Florida Aqua Farms for good (accurate, useful) information... their links on the www.WetWebMedia.com links page> also are there considerable differences in the nutritional contents of the various types of Artemia and Artemia from varying source areas.. which species maybe better? <Mmm, yes... look to the "gold" or "number one" quality rating on the shrimp cysts (or eggs...) that you're using/looking for... and feed the food accordingly. Please see the extensive e-reference section on "San Francisco Bay Brand" (link on WWM) here> Thanks and regards Avinash Singh USP. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

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