Top 5 Tiny Foods to Feed Baby Fish for Healthy Growth
Breeding fish is such a fun and rewarding part of the aquarium hobby, but while it can be easy to get fish to spawn, raising their tiny babies is where the real challenge begins. High losses often occur in the newborn phase because of water quality issues, predation, or simply not feeding enough of the right foods. We will be discussing 5 foods that are small enough to feed even the smallest fry. This will help them grow fast and last for the next few weeks.
1. Baby Brine Shrimp
Peacock gudgeon fry baby brine shrimp
If you talk to veteran breeders or fish farms that produce massive numbers of fish, they know that the #1 best food to feed fry is baby brine shrimp (BBS). Freshly hatched brineshrimp have a nutritious yolk sac full of healthy fats, proteins and nutrients – ideal for feeding baby fish. The fry will eat more of the brine shrimp eggs to grow faster and stronger because they are a live food. To hatch the brine shrimp eggs, simply soak them in salt water, add aeration with an air pump, and heat the water up to 74-82degF (23-28degC). Baby brine shrimp can be harvested within 18 to 36 hours. This recipe is reliable as long you purchase good eggs. So, follow these instructions.
Baby brine shrimp can be used by many species, including African cichlids and baby livebearers. They are about 400-500 microns long and suitable for many species that lay more eggs. The baby brine shrimp cannot be eaten if the eggs are small and are being hatched from egg layers like rainbowfish, killifish, and tetras. The remainder of the article is focused on smaller “starter” foods. It is recommended that you switch to Baby brine shrimp when the fry become large enough.
Freshwater plankton under a microscope
In the wild, most baby fish eat microorganisms such as protozoans and invertebrate larvae ranging between 20-300 microns. Infusoria is the common name that fishkeepers use for these freshwater plankton, and there are many methods for culturing them. One of the most common methods is to fill up a large jar using a few quarts (or even liters) old tank water. Then add a piece of banana, catappa leaves, instant yeast, or other organic matter. Warm the water to tropical temperatures between 78-80degF (26-27degC) for faster results and add aeration to minimize the smell. Soon the water will start to cloud as bacteria starts to digest the food. The water will then become clearer as the infusoria eats the bacteria.
You can harvest the eggs using a pipette, turkey baster, or a spoon. The life expectancy of the culture will vary depending on the size and frequency of harvesting. To extend the life of your culture, you can add more food to the jar every week and top it off with tank water. You can also use a turkey baster or turkey stoker to clean out any gunk. If you are raising many children and require constant infusoria supply, it may be necessary to start a new culture each 1-2 weeks. You can simply pour the old culture water into the new jar and add a food source. Then, fill the remainder with aquarium water.
3. Vinegar Eels
Vinegar eels being harvested in a bottle neck
If keeping infusoria sounds too time-intensive, try your hand at another live food – vinegar eels. This teeny nematode or roundworm is very simple to culture and is approximately 50 microns in diameter and 1-2 mm in length. Mix half of the apple cider mixture with half of the dechlorinated waters in a glass wine bottle or other long-necked container. You can add some apple slices, a starter culture for vinegar eels and then wait for them to reproduce. After they are visible wiggling around near the surface of the water, you can harvest them by placing a wad or filter floss in the neck and adding some fresh water to the top. You can quickly scoop them out using a pipette, and then feed them directly to the baby fish. Their wiggling motion will attract the fry, and they provide longer access to food since they can survive in fresh water for several days. Our detailed instructions will help you create your vinegar eel cultures that can last up 6 months.
4. Powdered Fry Meal
Sera Micron fry food
You might consider purchasing prepared foods if you lack the time or resources to keep alive food cultures. Depending on the brand, fry food is usually available in a powdered format that can be weighed between 5 and 800 microns. It is important to offer a variety of diets so that baby fish don’t become nutritionally deficient. Some of our favourites are:
Sera Micron Hikari first bites Easy Fry and Small fish food – Golden pearls Crushed flakes, Spirulina powder, Repashy gelfood (in the raw or powdered form).
Powdered foods tends float at the surface from water tension. This is why you might need to swirl the water if you want the particles to sink quicker for baby bottom dwellers. To avoid overfeeding the fish, we recommend using a small children’s paintbrush. To feed the fish, dip the bristles into the powder. Lightly tap the paintbrush several times on the fry tank. This technique ensures that you do not feed the fry too much at one time, which can end up deteriorating the water quality.
5. Green Water
Microalgae under a microscope
Green water is very similar to infusoria in size, but the green color is more prominent because it’s primarily made up of microalgae and other phytoplankton that create energy through photosynthesis. Hobbyists are usually trying to figure out how to get rid of green water in their aquariums and ponds since it makes it harder to view the fish and plants. However, it has many benefits – such as purifying the water, making it harder for adult fish to predate on their young, healing minor ailments, and serving as a food source for baby fish and daphnia cultures. Fill a large container, such as a jar or aquarium, with old tank water. For microalgae to thrive, you can add liquid fertilizer, fish foods, or any other organics. Some people also like to use an air stone, filter, or other device to agitate the water surface and encourage gas exchange, helping to ensure the algae gets enough oxygen and carbon dioxide. Use a light source like a desk lamp to shine directly on the container non-stop for 24 hours a day. The water will turn greener over time and be ready to feed the fry.
Here are some more Fry Feeding Ideas
Baby fish need small meals every day because they have tiny stomachs. Also, it helps to put the fry in a smaller container or aquarium so that they don’t need to swim as far and waste as much energy finding the food. Fry mortality can be caused by frequent feedings in a small container. It is important to make frequent water changes to ensure the water stays clean and stable. Dean, master breeder, created a rack with fry trays that drip and circulate water from a larger tank down below.
Feeding is just one aspect of raising healthy fry, so keeping reading to learn about our top 5 tips for growing baby fish to become big and strong.