How to Culture Vinegar Eels for Fish Fry
Do you want to get into fish breeding, but don’t know how to feed tiny fry too small to eat regular food? Vinegar eels are a great option! This live food is easy to cultivate and is great for raising babies, until they are old enough to eat baby salt shrimp.
What Are Vinegar Eels and How Do They Work?
Vinegar eels, which are either white roundworms (or nematodes) that feed on microorganisms found in vinegar and fermented beverages, are harmless. Growing up to 50 microns in diameter and 1 to 2 mm in length, they are one of the smallest and easiest live foods to culture for baby fish. Breeders commonly feed them to newborn betta fish, killifish, rainbowfish, and other fry that require miniscule foods even smaller than baby brine shrimp (which hatch out at 450 microns in size).
Vinegar eels have many other advantages that make them ideal for feeding fish fry. They can survive for several more days in freshwater. They swim in the water column and don’t sink straight to the bottom. The babies love their wiggling movements, which encourages them to eat and grow faster than other micro worms. Vinegar shrimp are not as nutritious as baby shrimp but they can be fed until the fry reach the size where they can eat baby shrimp.
How Do You Start a Vinegar Eel Culture?
1. Gather the following materials:
– Starter culture vinegar eels from local fish auctions and online sources like aquabid.com – 1 container having a long neck (like an wine bottle) 1 backup container (like 1 gallon bottle or 1-gallon Jug) 1 apple – Dechlorinated tapped water 1 Filter floss or Polyester fiber fill (stuffing to make pillows and stuffed animals), 1 paper towel 1 rubber bands Pipette 1 funnel
1. The apple should be cut into small slices so it can pass through the container’s openings.
1. Divide the starter culture from vinegar eel into each jar. 2. The remaining containers should be filled with 50% vinegar and half the dechlorinated tapwater. Allow air to escape from the tops of the containers.
1. You can cover the container’s openings with a piece of paper towel and secure it with a rubber band. This allows the vinegar eels to breathe while preventing pests from entering. You can store the containers at room temp in a cabinet or on an unlit shelf.
The wine bottle is your primary culture and can be used to harvest vinegar eels. If the wine bottles are damaged or destroyed, the backup culture is in a larger container. You can leave backup cultures unfed for up to one year. Although the population may decrease, you should still have enough vinegar to start a fresh culture if required.
How do I harvest vinegar eels to feed my fish?
1. Leave the wine bottle alone for two to four weeks so that the vinegar eel population grows large enough for you to start feeding the fry. 2. When you are ready for harvesting, insert a wad if filter floss into the neck. The floss should be soaked in vinegar.
1. Gently pour some dechlorinated water into the neck.
1. Wait for 8 to 24 hours and the vinegar eels can travel through the filter floss into fresh water to obtain oxygen.
1. You can remove some vinegar eels with a pipette and then feed them to your fish fry.
The culture can be fed for several days at a time, sometimes up to a whole week. But eventually it will stop working. You can make several vinegar eel culture bottles if you have many fish baby. Give each bottle four to five days to let the culture repopulate.
How do I maintain the Vinegar Eel Culture
The apple pieces begin to fall apart around six months. You may also notice that the culture becomes cloudier. This is the time to start a fresh culture. You can use the old culture to fill a new container. The remaining apple slices should be added to the container along with a mix of 50% apple cider vinegar, 50% dechlorinated and half of the apple cider vinegar. In two to four weeks, your new culture should be ready for harvesting again.
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