Grow your own LIVE food! But which one is the easiest?

BRS

Have you ever grown your own live aquarium food?

  • YES and it was a success (tell us in the thread)

    Votes: 83 23.2%
  • YES but I couldn't sustain it long term

    Votes: 58 16.2%
  • NO, I tried but couldn't

    Votes: 12 3.4%
  • NO, I have never tried

    Votes: 201 56.1%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 4 1.1%

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fishface NJ

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I started with a 'PhytoTank' from Poseidon Reef Systems and eventually expanded to 4 tanks. 2 for phytoplankton (Nannochloropsis Oculata) and two for copepods (Tisbe Biminiensis)

I ended up buying my own plastic bags, RODI tubing, and Fritz F/2 Algae food after I used up the supplies sent with the Phyto Tanks.

I've been successful with no crashes since May of 2020 (so 14 months) and on generation 40 of copepods and generation 37 of phyto. I often go longer than 7 days on the copepods (which is why i'm not on generation 56) and Two phyto cultures produces enough phyto that I often only run phyto cultures every OTHER cycle. And the phyto stores great in the fridge.

I'm doing all of this for a captive bred Blue Mandarin although I forget if he was from Biota or ORA.
He's fat and happy. It's an extra hour of maintenance every 7-10 days, but worth it to keep what I consider to be one of the most beautiful/interesting species of marine fish happy and healthy.


cultures.jpg

where did you purchase your bags? Thank you in advance!
 

elysics

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The brs is by far one of the easiest care free hatcheries. Feeding live has made all of my fish more lively. They appear much more healthy and colorful. I personally prefer the Ziss hatchery that can be obtained here.. https://www.aquariumcoop.com/products/ziss-brine-shrimp-hatchery

Links to a couple videos on the product are here



I highly recommend giving a real hatchery a try. I preferred it greatly over dishes, 2 litre bottles, graduated cylinders, etc. You will not regret it. I have been using them for quite a few years now so if you have any questions or run into any issues just shoot me a message. Good luck with your baby brine
Why do you prefer it to the one that is apparently also sold by brs?
 

stephnjeph

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Why do you prefer it to the one that is apparently also sold by brs?
The brs dish style hatchery works well. You add water, add eggs then wait for the hatch. No additional accessories needed. 24-36 hours later you siphon the brine typically with a baster. You then filter the brine then add them to your tank. Clean the dish and start over.

The ziss style hatchery also works well. It differs in the sense that 1) you will not necessarily need, but for better results, should use a air pump as this is a blender style hatchery. 2) It resembles and functions similar to the artemia blenders used in labs around the world (my wifes lab uses the same pitcher style blenders just in a much larger scale) 3) It stands upright and tapers down rather than laying flat like a serving dish 4) at the bottom of the the taper is a release valve which allows you to simply drain your brine directly into your tank or micron filter 5) Hatches can be harvested typically every 18-24 hours (14-16 is typical for me but I manipulate their environmental growth factors).

Personally, I have used many different hatcheries through the years. We actually started years ago with simple 1 litre bottles. We eventually moved on to graduated cylinders and then to dishes and back to cylinders. With the various cylinders we were always looking for ones that resembled the blenders my wife uses in the lab but on a smaller scale and not so expensive. When the Ziss blender came out, it was almost exactly what we were looking for. Our hatch rates went up significantly. We waste very little live brine where as previously many of the free swimmers/floaters were difficult to see and or hard to gather. Not only do we hatch, we also grow out. We grow out directly in the blenders with no need to switch housing containers. This specific hatchery had all of the features we were looking for ina hatchery and has yielded the best results for us and that is why I recommend it. Others may not need the functionality and specific features that we want or need. You could easily hatch brine in a Tupperware, storage container, beaker, soup bowl, drinking glass, etc. without the need for a store bought hatchery. But if you are in the market for a hatchery and share similar wants/needs, I recommend a blender over a dish, specifically the Ziss.
 

Jerlet80

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Have you ever grown your own LIVE food for coral or fish? YES it takes time and extra effort but can be rewarding and valuable for the health and well being of your reef aquarium. But which one is the best and easiest to grow? Let's talk about it today!

1. Which live food is the easiest to grow at home?

2. Have you ever grown your own live aquarium food and which type was it?

3. Which live food, that you can grow at home, is the most beneficial to feed?


image via @Brad Miller
IMG_0818.JPG
I have had all the gear to start some photo/pod cultures for over a year now, but just have found time to set it up.
 

Lukeluke

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The brs dish style hatchery works well. You add water, add eggs then wait for the hatch. No additional accessories needed. 24-36 hours later you siphon the brine typically with a baster. You then filter the brine then add them to your tank. Clean the dish and start over.

The ziss style hatchery also works well. It differs in the sense that 1) you will not necessarily need, but for better results, should use a air pump as this is a blender style hatchery. 2) It resembles and functions similar to the artemia blenders used in labs around the world (my wifes lab uses the same pitcher style blenders just in a much larger scale) 3) It stands upright and tapers down rather than laying flat like a serving dish 4) at the bottom of the the taper is a release valve which allows you to simply drain your brine directly into your tank or micron filter 5) Hatches can be harvested typically every 18-24 hours (14-16 is typical for me but I manipulate their environmental growth factors).

Personally, I have used many different hatcheries through the years. We actually started years ago with simple 1 litre bottles. We eventually moved on to graduated cylinders and then to dishes and back to cylinders. With the various cylinders we were always looking for ones that resembled the blenders my wife uses in the lab but on a smaller scale and not so expensive. When the Ziss blender came out, it was almost exactly what we were looking for. Our hatch rates went up significantly. We waste very little live brine where as previously many of the free swimmers/floaters were difficult to see and or hard to gather. Not only do we hatch, we also grow out. We grow out directly in the blenders with no need to switch housing containers. This specific hatchery had all of the features we were looking for ina hatchery and has yielded the best results for us and that is why I recommend it. Others may not need the functionality and specific features that we want or need. You could easily hatch brine in a Tupperware, storage container, beaker, soup bowl, drinking glass, etc. without the need for a store bought hatchery. But if you are in the market for a hatchery and share similar wants/needs, I recommend a blender over a dish, specifically the Ziss.
How do you do the grow-out part? Does the water need to be changed or just add spirulina?
 

moulton1853

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I grow Phytoplankton, have a separate pod culture and hatch brine shrimp. It is a lot of work but much more friendly on the wallet then buying everything all the time.

None are hard to do. The pod culture probably takes the most work and it’s not to bad really. Just have to keep an eye on it so ammonia doesn’t build up and cause it to crash. I start with a small amount of water and add more each week with phyto. After about a month I strain the pods out. Half go to the DT and half start the next batch in clean sw with phyto.

I have an in tank brine shrimp hatchery. I only use decapsulated eggs. Its set up in the refugium area of the sump. Every other day I dump the hatchery And start a fresh batch. Some eggs aren’t hatched but because they are decapsulated it’s fine. Because it’s in the sump ones that are hatched can make thier way up to the DT just like pods do so there is a constant supply of live foods
 
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G Santana

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I had never before grown anything for my fish, since joining R2R I have successfully used the search engine and now have a booming phyto culture, tigger culture and the old standby brineshrimp culture.

It's has gone very well all you need is a little direction and the willingness to try.
 

stephnjeph

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How do you do the grow-out part? Does the water need to be changed or just add spirulina?
If I am growing them out as live food for larger fishies I use less eggs to start the batch. A typical batch for me would be 1/4 tsp or 1.25 ml per batch. If I am growing the batch into adult size brine I will use about 50% of that. Once they have hatched I remove the air line and shine a light toward the outlet valve at the bottom of the hatchery. I allow 10 minutes for the shrimp to gather around the light source and the egg remnants to float to the top. In that ten minute period I prepare an additional clean hatchery and fill it half way with new fresh saltwater. Once I see that that the majority of baby brine have gathered at the bottom. I open the valve and drain the baby brine into the new hatchery. I only allow the large majority of shrimp through. I close off the valve rather quickly to prevent any egg debris through. The remaining baby brine are filtered our and fed to tanks. Once the baby brine are in the new hatchery I tint the water green with nannochloropsis and add air. Once they double in size I remove the air, add a light source to attract them, prepare a clean hatchery with fresh water and drain them in and add food source. I continue to do this every time they double-size until they reach the size that I want. The reason I continually do this is because the water will dirty very quickly due to the amount of shrimp. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of them on there. You don't have to grow out as many as I do which means you wouldn't have to change water as much. This method works very well for me simply because I can drain one hatchery easily into another without hassle and very little waste.

Edit: If you only have one hatchery like I did when I first started, I would drain the brine into a cup temporarily, rinse out the hatchery, add fresh saltwater and then add shrimp back into the hatchery.
 
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Lukeluke

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If I am growing them out as live food for larger fishies I use less eggs to start the batch. A typical batch for me would be 1/4 tsp or 1.25 ml per batch. If I am growing the batch into adult size brine I will use about 50% of that. Once they have hatched I remove the air line and shine a light toward the outlet valve at the bottom of the hatchery. I allow 10 minutes for the shrimp to gather around the light source and the egg remnants to float to the top. In that ten minute period I prepare an additional clean hatchery and fill it half way with new fresh saltwater. Once I see that that the majority of baby brine have gathered at the bottom. I open the valve and drain the baby brine into the new hatchery. I only allow the large majority of shrimp through. I close off the valve rather quickly to prevent any egg debris through. The remaining baby brine are filtered our and fed to tanks. Once the baby brine are in the new hatchery I tint the water green with nannochloropsis and add air. Once they double in size I remove the air, add a light source to attract them, prepare a clean hatchery with fresh water and drain them in and add food source. I continue to do this every time they double-size until they reach the size that I want. The reason I continually do this is because the water will dirty very quickly due to the amount of shrimp. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of them on there. You don't have to grow out as many as I do which means you wouldn't have to change water as much. This method works very well for me simply because I can drain one hatchery easily into another without hassle and very little waste.

Edit: If you only have one hatchery like I did when I first started, I would drain the brine into a cup temporarily, rinse out the hatchery, add fresh saltwater and then add shrimp back into the hatchery.
Thanks! I figured they'd have to be transfered to clean water. Got excited when you said you grew them out in the same container. Thought you might have meant no transfer was required. ;Woot
 

stefan.buehlmann

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I grow a few. I grow multiple cultures of nannochloropsis as it is my staple food source for my pods. The nannochloropsis is grown out in six 1 litre bottles and harvested every other day. I sell off what I don't use in that time between harvests. I have multiple ziss brine shrimp hatcheries set up for baby brine. I hatch daily and again sell off what I do not use. The brine left over is fed nannochloropsis until used or sold. The tispe, tigs, and cycs are all grown out in blacked out 5 gallon buckets. I have three separate cultures of each which are also fed nannochloropsis. I harvest regularly to keep my pod populations up as I have many pod eating fishes. I sell off from time to time whenever I am doing water changes. It works moderately well but takes up a little time each day, alot of space, and looks like a mad scientist lab. Been running it all since 2009.
Hi Stephen, could you please share your exact protocol of how you do the copepods? I struggle a lot. I have isochrisis to feed them, but a good population of pods slowly dies after 6 to 8 weeks. I do weekly water changes… but it doesn’t work.
 

stephnjeph

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Hi Stephen, could you please share your exact protocol of how you do the copepods? I struggle a lot. I have isochrisis to feed them, but a good population of pods slowly dies after 6 to 8 weeks. I do weekly water changes… but it doesn’t work.
My first step is insuring that I have a consistent reliable food source. For me that is nannochloropsis. Second I prepare their habitat. For most of my pods I use black 5 gallon food safe buckets. For tisbe I use white. Make sure they are food safe buckets. I always have 3 sets of pods running per species. Ex. 3 buckets of tisbe, 3 buckets of tigs, 3 buckets of cycs. Third I ensure I have the necessary accessories needed for their survival. Lighting for a proper day night cycle, an air pump to provide oxygen and circulation to the water, and of course fresh clean saltwater.

Once I have attained necessary items to start my pod colonies I set up my habitats. I start by thoroughly cleaning the food grade buckets. I then find a suitable place to start my colonies. Somewhere that maintains a steady indoor temperature without large swings. I add my clean pre mixed salt water, I use Tropic Marin for my salt mix simply because that is what I use on all of my tanks and for me it is easily obtainable. I then set up the air pump. I have an industrial grade pump running all of my air fed products, but you probably won't need that much. I would suggest running two separate colonies so you would need one air pump with a splitter. I make sure that the air isn't aggressively spewing out. It is a slow trickle of a couple of bubbles per second or so. No wild water movement. I then add my light source which doesn't have to be anything fancy just a simple LED that provides white light. I put it on a timer 10 on 14 off. I have used 12 on 12 off previously and it worked fine as well. If it is a new habitat, I allow it to run for 4 weeks without pods and a few ml of phyto. If it is a new habitat but I already have an established colony, I spilt my colony 50/50 and balance out the water with no need for a short cycle. Once the habitats are prepared I order my pods. When the pods arrive I tint the water green heavily with my food source. I then add my pods. Over time my water will get less and less green showing that the pods are eating. I continue to add nannochloropsis regularly to keep the water a darker shade of green. When I am ready to harvest I wait for them to eat a good portion of nanno so that the water is a bit more clear and then harvest 50 percent. I filter the pods through a 53um filter and immediately introduce them to the tank. I top off the water that I removed, tint the water green, and wait for the next harvest which is typically every 2-3 weeks. I always run multiple colonies in case one crashes and once established do not allow cross-contamination between them. That is pretty much all I do. I check salinity from time to time to see if I need to add RO/DI water to compensate for evaporation, but that is about all. I hope this helps. Feel free to shoot me more questions if you have them and I will do my best to answer. Good luck with your pod colonies!
 

Kingston

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My first step is insuring that I have a consistent reliable food source. For me that is nannochloropsis. Second I prepare their habitat. For most of my pods I use black 5 gallon food safe buckets. For tisbe I use white. Make sure they are food safe buckets. I always have 3 sets of pods running per species. Ex. 3 buckets of tisbe, 3 buckets of tigs, 3 buckets of cycs. Third I ensure I have the necessary accessories needed for their survival. Lighting for a proper day night cycle, an air pump to provide oxygen and circulation to the water, and of course fresh clean saltwater.

Once I have attained necessary items to start my pod colonies I set up my habitats. I start by thoroughly cleaning the food grade buckets. I then find a suitable place to start my colonies. Somewhere that maintains a steady indoor temperature without large swings. I add my clean pre mixed salt water, I use Tropic Marin for my salt mix simply because that is what I use on all of my tanks and for me it is easily obtainable. I then set up the air pump. I have an industrial grade pump running all of my air fed products, but you probably won't need that much. I would suggest running two separate colonies so you would need one air pump with a splitter. I make sure that the air isn't aggressively spewing out. It is a slow trickle of a couple of bubbles per second or so. No wild water movement. I then add my light source which doesn't have to be anything fancy just a simple LED that provides white light. I put it on a timer 10 on 14 off. I have used 12 on 12 off previously and it worked fine as well. If it is a new habitat, I allow it to run for 4 weeks without pods and a few ml of phyto. If it is a new habitat but I already have an established colony, I spilt my colony 50/50 and balance out the water with no need for a short cycle. Once the habitats are prepared I order my pods. When the pods arrive I tint the water green heavily with my food source. I then add my pods. Over time my water will get less and less green showing that the pods are eating. I continue to add nannochloropsis regularly to keep the water a darker shade of green. When I am ready to harvest I wait for them to eat a good portion of nanno so that the water is a bit more clear and then harvest 50 percent. I filter the pods through a 53um filter and immediately introduce them to the tank. I top off the water that I removed, tint the water green, and wait for the next harvest which is typically every 2-3 weeks. I always run multiple colonies in case one crashes and once established do not allow cross-contamination between them. That is pretty much all I do. I check salinity from time to time to see if I need to add RO/DI water to compensate for evaporation, but that is about all. I hope this helps. Feel free to shoot me more questions if you have them and I will do my best to answer. Good luck with your pod colonies!
@stephnjeph...where do you buy your pods and nanno from?
 

stephnjeph

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@stephnjeph...where do you buy your pods and nanno from?
My nannochloropsis food supply (Micro Algea Grow) comes from Florida Aqua Farms. I have been a loyal customer for ages. They also sell nannochloropsis cultures in the form of live liquid and culture disks. If ordering from them I suggest a disk. If you know anyone near you that cultivates nannochloropsis, you can always build your culture with a starter acquired from them. Be sure that their nannochloropsis is propagated using proper techniques and clean sterile equipment for each new culture otherwise you could easily run into a culture crash or potentially introduce unwanted bacteria into your tanks.

Nannochloropsis culture disk (my preferred method of starting a culture if I am starting from scratch and purchasing retail)


Micro Algea Grow


My pods came from one of the facilities we manage and process data for. Few have access to large scale aqua culture testing facilities so I suggest Algaebarn for your pods. They are one of the more popular options for pods and have a decent reputation.

Algeabarn Pods


I don't typically sell my pods as it is difficult to guarantee any specific numbers in regards to population. I do sell live dense liquid cultures of nannochloropsis as well as isocrysis. It is more economical to pick them up locally as to avoid shipping costs (I am in Ohio). I usually do $15 per 1 litre. Regardless, you can start a culture either way, liquid from a reputable reefer and/or liquid or disks from a retail supplier.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out any time. My daily schedule is typically packed solid but I can usually squeeze in enough time to respond.

Good luck with your cultures
 

ectoaesthetics

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I tried to grow tiggerpods and they all ended up dying not totally sure why, I had them all in a food safe 5 gallon bucket. Ill probably try again at some point, anyone have advice? Or a good YouTube video they went off to make one?
f you ever try them again try it in a bucket in your yard outside. Works best in a shady spot unless you live somewhere with cooler temperatures. For what it’s worth it has always been easier for me in the yard.
 

jjencek

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At one point I had 3 colonys of 3rd gen saltwater guppy I breed for a friend's lion fish

I had 8 cultures of nanocloropisis
I had 8 colonys of bbs going growing them to full adults in 4 of the cultures
I had 4 colonys of mysis going
I had 4 colonys of rotifers going

All to support and feed the banghi cardinals and the dwarf sea horses I was breeding

None are easy to raise but hatch bbs is by far the easiest of them all but actually raising them was hard

I had twice as many running as needed so I could have a 50 percent crash and not run out of food using one of them just start the 2 that crashed at any given time
May I ask what you were feeding the BBS to grow? Would nanochloropsis work?
 
BRS

What is the best "cleaning product" or home recipe for cleaning reef tank equipment?

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