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Brine shrimp as live food for fry and small fish

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Brine shrimp as live food for fry and small fish

Post by alexmtl on Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:29 pm

Most people have an opinion on what constitutes the perfect food for their fish. Particularly for fry, I think many people find their choices rather limited vs what can be provided to the larger mouths.

Brine shrimp are remarkable in their protein and nutritional content owing to the amount of yoke as a newly hatched nymph. Nature provides an impressive reservoir of food in order to sustain the hatchling. Nature in ultimate wisdom, has created a two day food sac to jump start the embryo once rehydrated in the dry pool bed. If you ponder how the brine shrimp has survived in its current form for millions of years, one of the successful survival strategies has to be the newly hatched nauplius. Consider that bacteria and food source needs to be in bloom once the pool has been resurrected by rainfall, the survival of the young shrimp would depend upon the establishment of bacteria blooms, usually building within the first 72 hours of water availability.

As a young boy, I had Sea Monkeys. I could not figure out how they would instantly hatch when adding the second package. I remember the magical moment when I saw the jerky movements of the newly emerged shrimp. As I watched them each day, the shrimp would elongate, then develop more "fins" that I now know as appendages. The shrimp took about a month to develop into an adult, and then begin to reinvigorate the container with young nauplii, born live. Truly a miracle and wonder to watch.

Brine shrimp (Artemia spp.) are a life that should be respected, as all beasts large and small. What I hope to share with you is that brine shrimp conveys an unreproducible advantage to your fish as a food source. I will not be quoting scientific articles, though if you would like them I could probably reference them, just do me a favour and read them and offer your best opinion.

While there may be advocates of finely powdered foods, frozen BBS, and freeze dried preparations, I submit to you this thought. Fish are a product of genetics and environment. We, in man's ultimate wisdom can scientifically reproduce exact protein and nutrition content in an artificially contrived food. However what is lacking is the ability of the artificial food to move, jerk and escape, thus eliciting a naturally predatory feeding response from the fish. This I believe is an important behavioural component in the life and development of the fry. In nature, plankton and micro fauna fulfill this niche in the diet. Without this natural movement and opportunity to exercise natural predatory behaviour, the fry develop tame perhaps less vigorous, and definitely further away from the natural order of innate response.

Back to the brine shrimp. I am a self confessed daphnia failure. I was hoping to provide a natural sustainable food source that would jerk, jump, jiggle and get the fry to "chase". I have no substitute for the compact and convenient cyst that I buy for $6.99 a vial at the LFS. In my opinion, nothing beats BBS for the instinctive behaviour elicited.

How do you culture brine shrimp? Are you a fan? Have you success with other foods? Looking forward to your opinions and experience.
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Re: Brine shrimp as live food for fry and small fish

Post by caoder on Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:45 pm

I tried culturing BBS for my betta fry when I was breeding them... too bad its such a hassle with daily commitments of time and energy. I used a commercial brine shrimp hatchery with the black box and a clear bottle for the shrimp to go into. I understand that its not an ideal environment for the bbs and only having 1 was a major disadvantage as they would run dry after a day and I would not have a new stock until the following day. I have yet to try my hand at other cultures due to this experience. I kept up the brine shrimp for a couple of weeks but decidedly all my new fry rearing endeavors involve a algae infested moss tank and slightly dirtier tanks with lots of live food for a few fry at a time to survive on. So far it has been successful as I don't even have to feed my fry. Currently I have 6 of the P. furcatus fry being raised in a 10g moss algae and shrimp tank without feeding. They have been in there for roughly 2 weeks now and their bellies are always full, they are also taking powdered flake food as well so the most difficult stages of rearing fry is past.



Also... I don't have nearly enough fry for the amount of bbs is produced even by a little bit of eggs. I may do that again once I see a desire to have more than a few fry per spawn.


Last edited by caoder on Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Brine shrimp as live food for fry and small fish

Post by GaryE on Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:55 pm

I love brine shrimp, and have bought it by the pound since the early 90s. I'm trying to phase it out due to its price - largely due to the shipping price though. I'll probably break down this winter and spend on a couple of pounds.
I recycle a coke bottle - a 2 litre plastic one. With a little silicone and airline, and some cutting, I have a great tool ready to use for a couple of years for about 20 minutes work. It's easily cleaned and gives me enough bbs for many tanks, for no real effort.
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Re: Brine shrimp as live food for fry and small fish

Post by alexmtl on Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:05 pm

Looks like the infusoria have proven to be an excellent food source. I seeded my Neo. elegans with Paramecium and they have a sustainable and readily available food for the smaller fry. I did notice however that as the fry got bigger they needed a larger food type, hence my favour towards BBS. I guess you have to match mouth size to food source in the species.

I choose not to be fancy in hatching BBS. I want simple, non dedicated, not expensive easily attainable equipment. Off to the dollar store. I use the plastic food storage container, flat, translucent, about 1.8L in size and I have four of them. I keep 2 running alternately. One is in BBS hatch mode while the other is "starting" the eggs. I use the dollar store rock salt. Yes ! it has iodine. I use 2 tablespoons per pitcher (another dollar store buy). I add hot tap water to the salt and then let stand for a few hours, then add small sprinkles to the container. For the amount of fry that I have, this has been ideal for me.

In the past I tried the 2 L coke bottle, the aeration stone, the hatchery, the buckets. These techniques are aimed at hatching efficiency and massive hatches. I desire neither. I simply want enough BBS in small quantities. Often I hear about the mass hatches being put into freezer for later feedings. But this defeats the purpose of live, jerky, fresh nauplii. I choose not to buy frozen BBS and I only want enough to feed, and certainly not mass hatch to feed all the neighbours fish.

The nauplii are best when less than 12 hrs old since they begin to consume the protein and fatty yolk. In the mass shrimp hatcheries, you have extended hatches which may keep the BBS alive longer, but then the yolk has been consumed.

Simply, I use small containers, no air stone, aiming for small hatches every 24 hrs.
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