Rotifers - Discussion and Education

Discussion in 'Reef Nutrition' started by Reef Nutrition, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Reef Nutrition

    Reef Nutrition Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Thanks to @Bryn for motivating us to get a thread going about rotifers. If anyone wants to chime in about how they culture these animals, please do so. I am going to talk about how Reed Mariculture does it and why our products and protocols were developed. We are also going to talk about how rotifers can be cultured to feed to corals and fish. This tiny animal has many applications and its nutritional profile can be controlled. Rotifers can be cultured in buckets and very large volume tanks. How you feed and harvest this animal is important. Also, just like with our reef tanks, waste export is an integral part of the system.

    We provide live rotifer cultures to aquaculture and the hobby. The majority of customers that buy rotifers from us are breeding marine ornamentals and food fish, and they use the animal as a live prey item for the early larval stages of development. There is now a surge of individuals and retail stores interested in culturing these animals to feed to their reef and potentially populate the porous rock. Let's dive in right now and then allow the discussion to evolve. Questions and experiences are MOST welcome.

    What is a rotifer???

    Rotifers are small (50-1000 µm) zooplankton that occur in freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. There are roughly 2,200 species across the globe. The word "rotifer" is derived from a Latin word meaning "wheel-bearer" because of how the cilia at the corona appear to spin like a wheel.

    S rot 40x-8-EH.jpg

    Rotifers feed on microalgae and bacteria and are consumed by a wide variety of fish, shellfish, corals, and other organisms. They are used extensively in aquaculture and aquariums because of their very high reproductive rates (as great as doubling or better every 24 hours), ease of culturing, optimal size for larval fish, and nutritional profile that can be tailored to the needs of prey species by use of special feeds (such as RotiGrow and N-Rich).


    In a healthy culture all the rotifers will be females and will reproduce clonally. In a stressful environment males will be produced and the rotifers will reproduce sexually and create encysted eggs. Under optimal conditions rotifer culture will double in the population every day.

    The most commonly used marine rotifers are the species Brachionus plicatilis (L-type) and Brachionus rotundiformis (S-type and SS-type). Reed Mariculture supplies pure cultures of both strains. Brachionus plicatilis (L-type rotifers) has a typical lorica length of about 160 µm. This species is euryhaline, capable of thriving in salinities of 5-40 ppt. Brachionus rotundiformis has a typical lorica length of about 90-150µm. This species is also euryhaline.

    The next segment will be about bucket culture!

    Chad
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017

  2. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    This is great Chad! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. Bryn

    Bryn Well-Known Member MTRCMember

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    Following along, and thanks for the work you are doing.
     
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  4. leahfiish

    leahfiish Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    This is great! Following along!
     
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  5. CastAway

    CastAway Prone to wander, never lost. R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Tagging along.

    They’re like little suitcases for microalgae.

    Does one feed a rotifer culture algae, or, is it more convenient to inoculate an algae culture with rotifers?
     
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  6. GonçaloS

    GonçaloS Member

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    Great thread! Following! Thanks for the work..
     
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  7. Mark Gray

    Mark Gray Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2018

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    Following
     
  8. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Adding these to my half pallet Chad.
     
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  9. Nathan33

    Nathan33 Active Member

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    Following!!! Thank you!
     
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  10. Bryn

    Bryn Well-Known Member MTRCMember

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    Ok Chad, let me ask the following.

    Rotifers, do they freely float, or are they more likely to hide in rock or sand, or attach to a surface?

    Other than Phytoplankton what else do they eat if anything?

    Thanks
     
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  11. vertigo01

    vertigo01 Well-Known Member

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    Count me in.
     
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  12. Leslie Tabor

    Leslie Tabor Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    This is awesome! I am waiting for my first order to come...I have my first "clutch" of eggs from my clown fish due any day!
     
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  13. Snuggs

    Snuggs Well-Known Member

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    Following
     
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  14. Reef Nutrition

    Reef Nutrition Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    So rotifers have a proclivity to attach to surfaces with their "foot" and actually excrete an adhesive substance to help them anchor in one spot. The foot actually looks more like a tail. Some are even colonial. When exposed to turbulent water conditions, they will free float and swim around constantly filtering out food particles. Our rotifers are cultured in a turbulent system so that the phytoplankton and rotifers stay homogenized and it also helps to oxygenate the culture. A stagnate culture can't support a high density rotifer population, which defeats the purpose of mass-producing them in a small vessel.

    In general, wild populations of rotifers feed on small organic particles, bacteria, microalgae and ciliates. This is a very general statement about the entire phylum. Reed Mariculture only cultures 2 cosmopolitan species out of the 2,200 global pool, so our rotifers are substantially different than others; especially since they are fully domesticated onto marine phytoplankton and have never been known to eat ciliates, so it's tough to say if they would easily switch to other feed types/species of microalgae, especially those naturally occurring in a reef aquarium.

    So now I am going to hypothesize because there is no unequivocal proof that rotifers will populate a reef tank, but it's totally possible and really needs to be explored by a determined aquarist with a microscope and heaps of patience. ;) Oh wait, that's me! LOL I will be conducting an experiment, so look below for my proposed strategy. Considering their natural tendencies for settling on surfaces and consuming more than just phytoplankton, it stands to reason that they could find their way into your reef tank's nooks and crannies.

    Some recommendations for doing this in a reef tank would be:
    • Turn off all pumps and wavemakers
    • Add like 100,000 rotifers per 30 gallons
      • We sell 1 million for $20, not counting shipping
    • Give them 30 minutes to an hour to settle into the tank
      • A determined aquarist would also shoot them into the rock with a transfer pipette
    • If you have a refugium, definitely get some in there as well
    • Come back in a month or so, take a transfer pipette, jam it into a small reef crevice, extract the sample and take a look under the scope

    Since there are other organisms living in the reef rock (copepods, isopods, amphipods, etc) there is the potential for competition and predation. Fish predators will also affect the rotifers ability to populate and reproduce. The rotifer population may do very well in the right tank and not so good in another. This is also a huge challenge: not all reef tanks are created equal.

    Questions? Comments?

    -Chad
     
  15. Bryn

    Bryn Well-Known Member MTRCMember

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    Brilliant reply, great explanation. Thanks Chad.
     
  16. Ranjib

    Ranjib Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Great article! Thank you for writing this.
     
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  17. Bryn

    Bryn Well-Known Member MTRCMember

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    Ok Chad, before we go any further into cultivating Rotifers and Phytoplankton I would like to ask this question.

    I have a brand new *** tank, 40g breeder setup as a self contained unit. I have a refugium area as well as a sand and rock area (will supply pics soon), all in the same tank. My intention is to feed my frags which are Acans, Favia, and Zoa' s copepods, and phytoplankton, and I plan to add Rotifers as well.

    Do you think this tank setup might have a chance of being self sustaining, especially with no fish present? I guess this will be similar to what you are suggesting doing.

    Last question, what is your recommendation of which Rotifers, copepods and Phytoplankton combunation to put into this tank?
     
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  18. Mohammad D. ALMUTAIRI

    Mohammad D. ALMUTAIRI Well-Known Member

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    this is a wonderful subject, I definitely gonna keep an eye on.
    thanks Chad for sharing this great experience.

    can't wait for what coming next..
     
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  19. orr2003

    orr2003 Active Member

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    I am currently culturing rotifers for clownfish fry rearing and very interested in enriching rotifers with Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC 501.
    Do you have any experience with adding this strain of probiotics in with the rotifers? I came across this study (long read but worth it) and am very intrigued.
    http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/298/2/R359

    I have not seen any mention of it on the forums but from the study seems like an outstanding approach.
     
  20. Reef Nutrition

    Reef Nutrition Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Rotifers: I would recommend rotifers in the genus Brachionus as they are the most cosmopolitan and are currently available in aquaculture and the hobby. We offer 2 different species: Brachionus plicatilis and Brachionus rotundiformis. The former might have a better chance at populating a tank because it's optimal temperature range is in the upper 70s to low 80s. The latter has a higher optimal temperature range. Temp requirements might not matter in the long run as these animals may adapt the system over time since they have the potential to rapidly reproduce.

    Copepods: I would recommend copepods in the Harpactacoida and Cyclopoida orders. Copepods from these two orders tend to be benthic and hardy. They live in intertidal and supralittoral coastal zones as well as estuarine environments. The other good thing about these copepods is that they are cultured by many and sold by a few. We offer the Harpactacoid copepod - Tigriopus californicus - aka Tigger-Pods, and the Cyclopoid - Apocyclops panamensis. These 2 animals can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions including: temperature (eurythermic) and salinity (euryhaline).

    Phytoplankton: I actually have no recommendation because the microalgae that we culture, and others, have very special requirements in order for the culture to succeed. They need adequate light, complex nutrients and proper water chemistry. You would literally need to add F/2 media to the tank, and that could be bad for the corals. Even if they reproduced in the tank, you would have to find a way to manage it so that the algae doesn't get out of control or die off completely, potentially polluting your tank. Algae also has nitrogen a phosphorous requirements. These compounds are also bad for the tank since nuisance algae also takes up the same things. The competition from nuisance algae will be problematic and potentially cause serious problems for the corals. Your best bet is to either purchase a multiple species blend from us - Phyto-Feast or SDaquarist and find a way to auto-dose small amounts, multiple times dailyt from a small refrigerator or low temp wine chiller, or grow your own algae. If you chose the latter, I recommend that you grow at least 3 species of algae - Nannochloropsis, Tetraselmis and Isochrysis or Pavlova. Continuous or semi-continuous phytoplankton input will be very good for the rotifers and copepods.

    Chad
     
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