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FAQs on Culturing Food Organisms: Tools, Materials

Related Articles: Culturing Food Organisms, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, ReproductionMarine Ornamental Fish CultureMysids,

Related FAQs: Food Culture 1Food Culture 2, & FAQs on Marine Food Culture: Rationale/Use, Sources (Info., Starters, Products, ...), Selection of Culture Species, Culture Techniques, Feeding Food Organisms, Culture Pests, Predators, Troubleshooting/Fixes, & Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 1, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 2, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 3Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 4, Frozen Foods, Coral FeedingBrine ShrimpAlgae as Food, VitaminsNutritional DiseaseCoral Feeding, Growing Reef Corals

Many organisms can be literally grown in "pickle jars" with good attention to water quality, careful feeding... Otherwise, refugiums, specialized culture systems... are available, easy enough to fabricate.

Setting Up A Small In-Tank Refugium'¦For Critter Culture -- 12/03/11
I spent this morning reading most of the refugium material here and in Anthony Calfo's book, but I have a fairly special situation and I hope that one of you fabulously kind experts can help out a beginner by answering a few specific questions.  Thanks in advance!
<<Let's see what I can do>>
I just put a small (6x8x12 inch) refugium inside my 65 gallon FOWLR tank.  I know it's small, but I only want a place to culture interesting critters, such as assorted worms, mini brittle stars, amphipods, and etcetera.
These won't survive in my tank (I assume) because I have a huge number of hermit crabs, which keep the substrate practically sterile.
<<Indeed'¦  The hermits will certainly decimate those critters they can reach in the upper level of the substrate>>
But I love hermits, so I am resorting to a refugium.
Unfortunately, my situation precludes any sort of external refugium, so I am limited to a small in-tank setup.
<<I see>>
Because my nitrate and phosphate are un-measurable and I have no significant algae problem, I do not care about denitrification or nutrient reduction.  My only goal is culturing worms, mini-stars, and amphipods for fun.
<<Should work>>
With this in mind...
1) Is my little in-tank refugium too small for what I want to do?
Will these little critters just keep dying off?
<<The 'populations' will balance to the space/availability of food.  I would suggest feeding the refugium for maximum benefit re'¦a few shrimp pellets every few days should suffice>>
If this is the case, do you have a suggestion for a fun thing I can do with this little in-tank refugium?
<<I would do just what you plan>>
2) What, if anything, should I use for a substrate?
<<Sugar fine aragonite, IMO>>
Shallow or deep sand bed?
<<2-3 inches>>
Rock rubble only?
<<Maybe a couple small pieces>>
<<As indicated>>
3)  Indo-Pacific Sea Farms sells an Ulva pod mat.  Is Ulva the best algae for my critters' refugium?
<<I prefer Chaetomorpha'¦provides an excellent matrix for many critters.  But get what you want as most any macro-alga will suffice here>>
Or should I use red Gracilaria instead, which is popular?
<<Up to you>>
Chaeto is also popular.
I know that I have to pick just one, so I want to pick intelligently and get it right the first time, if possible.
4) The refugium gets moderate light from the tank's lighting, actinic and 10K T5 bulbs.  I bought a small reef-type LED fixture to mount on the side glass of the tank facing in to the refugium, but it is shockingly bright.  Maybe I should not use it because the tank's light will be perfect?
<<Whatever macro-alga you choose will appreciate the bright lighting>>
Thank you very, very much for any guidance you can give me in this little venture.
<<Happy to share'¦  EricR>>
Re: Setting Up A Small In-Tank Refugium'¦For Critter Culture -- 12/05/11

Eric - Thank you for your fast and inspiring response.
<<Quite welcome Tim>>
You guys are so valuable to us beginners!
<<We are happy to assist>>
Because Indo-Pacific sells their pod cultures on Ulva mats, I guess I'll go with Ulva as the substrate.
<<Okay'¦IPSF has some really nice stuff, but you should also check out the cultures/kits offered by Inland Aquatics (http://www.inlandaquatics.com/)>>
I do know from reading WWM that I dare not mix algae due to chemical warfare.
<<Is best not to, agreed>>
I'll put in the aragonite and a little rock rubble today and order the pod cultures in a week or so, as soon as things stabilize.  This is so exciting!
<<I think you will likely find the refugium as interesting to observe as the main display.  Eric Russell>>

Micro Fauna Damage 04/28/09
Dear Crew:
I am in search of a study regarding the effect pump impellers may have on micro fauna and, if indeed there is significant mortality does impeller design along with GPH/RPM play a role in either increased or decreased
micro fauna mortality?
<I am unaware of any "studies" per se, but I do know that such things do kill many types of larvae (especially crustacean larvae apparently). This is why, when raising/breeding different inverts (such as crustaceans, snails, etc.) one must use a tank with an airstone and/or undergravel filters (or other such "gentle" form of filtration) to raise the larvae/juveniles (this is true of most fish larvae/juveniles as well). As
for other micro fauna, I do believe it just depends. Clearly, pod and worm populations of many species found in our systems seem largely unabated by such impellers.>
Thank You,
<De nada,
Sara M.>

Re: Micro Fauna, mortality via pumps  05/16/09
Sara M.:
You are probably correct that too much concern is being placed on the mortality of the micro fauna.
<Well, the thing is... what are your options? You have pumps, period. You could use only undergravel filters with no added circulation. But I wouldn't recommend it.>
It's just that I want to make it the best I can with the goal of a very healthy population of micro critters to perform energy transfer and feed the corals. I figure the less energy I put in the less burden to change it into something else, the better the water quality.
2 fuges, one for nitrate and phosphate export and one for micro critters with add on phytoplankton generators.
<Sounds great.>
Guess I'll have to go real slow and make sure the populations are up and well fed before adding any other life.
<Good idea!>
They in and of themselves will create a certain bio load.
<Not that much>
You brought up an interesting thought that I have been mulling around: the (return) underground filter. What forced this consideration was the debate of exactly what bacteria and at what level in a DSB and at what oxygen level perform exactly what! Some seem to think that all de-nitrification occurs only in anoxic (low but still detectable oxygen levels) and that bacteria living in anaerobic layers may actually turn nitrogen gas back into nitrate and ammonia!
<Uh... well, there's a lot of speculation about what may or may not go on in a DSB in an aquarium based on what appears to happen in nature. I'd think you'd have to have real problems before any of your bacteria starts
reforming ammonia from nitrogen gas in significant quantities.>
Thus, it is thought, moving water very slowly through a DSB would produce the wanted anoxic energy transfer to the desired nitrogen gas.
<Well, back up a bit... there are several reasons you do NOT put an undergravel filter under a sandbed. You put one, well, under gravel... or "crushed coral.">
Others say rubbish to that. Their thinking being that the negatively charged ions will naturally circulate water through the DSB.
<::sigh:: All good questions, but how to answer them? Well, I wouldn't bet on charged ions in a DSB creating enough current through it to accomplish much of anything (by itself). What DOES move water through a DSB is the
benthic micro fauna. These critters (worms, microcrustaceans, etc.), many you can't see with the naked eye, "stir" the sand almost grain by grain.
If you have a well populated sand bed, you shouldn't have to worry about "dead zones" in your sand. "Dead zones" as in, not where there's no cell phone reception, but as in places where the grains are not getting moved enough to prevent bacteria from causing the grains to adhere together, forming sand cement (this is definitely bad). >
Your thoughts?
<My friend, I wish there was more to tell you... the unfortunate truth is that we just don't know a lot about how DSBs "work" or function (or fail to) in aquariums. We hardly understand them well in the wild. However, it does seem certain that, in order for a DSB to be of any use as a biological filter, it needs to be heavily populated with benthic organisms. These orgasms don't usually get sucked up into pumps because they stay down in the sand. Some of their larvae might be damaged by pumps, however, it seems that enough survive to allow people to have very live/active sand beds (even with a lot of pumps).>
Sara M.> 

Collecting Copepods In The Sea 8/18/08 Hi, Bob and gang. How are you guys? <I'm fine... a bit bleary eyed in CT, but rallying, thanks> I just popped over to my friend's place and saw that he had a green spotted mandarin fish in his 50 gallon mature tank. Seems he just bought the fish a week or two ago. The mandarin is still pretty plump and according to my friend, he's been nipping at stuff on his live rock. After telling him how difficult it is to maintain a mandarin in a tank smaller than 100 gallons without supplementing with live copepods, he's been trying to look for live copepods. I've also been helping him hunt for any LFS selling live copepods but to no avail. We're both living in Malaysia and it seems the LFS here aren't that clued up about copepods. Most don't even know what we're talking about but they're still selling mandarins and also seahorses! Anyway, to cut a long story short, I suggested we try to get the live copepods from the sea. <Lots of folks do... I have> Since he lives literally 200 meters away from the sea, he can get seawater very easily. However, my question is how can we catch the copepods? Do we just scoop up 2 liters of seawater and hope that there are some live copepods in there?!? <Mmm, really need to sieve much more volume than this> I can see there is small fish fry swimming in a relatively calm part of the coast. Am I right to assume that if the fish fry can survive, there's sure to be live copepods (or something else to eat) about? <All sorts of life... during different times of day/night, tides...> I just need to know what is the best way to capture live copepods from the sea. Do they gather at the water surface, on surface of rocks or simply swim about in the water. Is there a best time to capture these live copepods? <Yes, but need to experiment a bit...> Then after capturing them, what steps should he take to ensure he doesn't introduce any contaminants from the seawater into his tank? <A tough question... best to keep all the "catch" in a separate tank (can be simple... all new water, sponge filter, air powered...) and sub-net some to feed...> I'd basically like to help him ensure there's a steady supply of live copepods for his mandarin. Thanks for your help, Bob & gang. Charles Tang <Do see the Net re... Plankton Nets... you might be able to fashion one yourself... if you can find suitable netting... need to find/borrow a boat to drag, dip it along... a jar or two... or a plastic cooler/esky... Bob Fenner>

Adding A Refugium to grow Plankton 11/18/03 Guys, <and gals... don't forget Marina, Sabrina and Ananda :)> How do I go about adding a simple ABOVE THE TANK refugium to grow plankton ? Regards Lyndon <simple enough... take your refugium vessel (small aquarium, Rubbermaid bin, whatever) and drill a  small hole for a bulkhead fitting in it. This refugium is to be fed with water returning from the sump or from a powerhead in the display. Water gets pumped up to it, and overflows through the bulkhead back down into the display aquarium. For pod culture you will want a dense matrix like spun polyester (coarse pond filter pads) or if you light the sump, living Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae. Its that simple. We have extensive coverage on this topic too in our new book Reef Invertebrates by Calfo and Fenner. Anthony>

Zooplankton reactors 8/27/03 Hi Crew! <howdy!> Need more of your excellent advise. I'm in the middle of reading Mr. Calfo's terrific "Book of Coral Prorogation," really liking it a lot. <thanks kindly :) >   Now to my question: I'm looking into a Zooplankton reactor by AB Aqualine. They sell two; a Plankton reactor for zooplankton cultivation, and a Plankton LIGHT reactor for cultivating microalgae. They say that one should use the alga in the Light reactor to feed the zooplankton in the regular reactor. Meaning you should buy both. Is this really necessary? <there is some truth here... algae feeing many microcrustaceans (zooplankton)... the best coral food (more eat zoo than phyto)> Could you not buy the regular reactor and then feed the zooplankton there with a prepared, store bought phytoplankton like DT's? <perhaps... although certainly not nearly as good. I'd sooner see you build a DIY phyto reactor than use bottled supplements> Would really appreciate your help. Marion <best regards, Anthony>

Pod Factory Follow-up - 8/28/03 Anthony: I appreciate your reply.  I actually tried numerous "dress-up-the-refugium" tricks to get my wife to agree, but so far no luck.  I'm sorry for the confusion that this medium brings to the picture, <heehee... no worries> but when I wrote "remote, detached refugium", I meant completely detached, like in another part of the house with no plumbing to the display system.   <that would truly be a refuge from the predators in the display <G>. Actually... it is officially a plankton reactor at that point. Do check out the many DIY plans on the net using that keyword phrase. Aqualine Buschke make a plankton reactor set (phyto and zoo) that's very nice> I have 4' of wall and a 4' tank, no room under it and not "allowed" to go above it.  Can this work?   <sure... it will simply be a plankton culture station. Martin Moe has also written about making this in his classic "Beginner to Breeder" handbook> How would I get the pods to main system then, siphon?   <a plankton sieve (net) and usually a light to attract them. Many supplies for such culture can be found at Florida Aqua Farms. For rotifers and phyto at least> The only other option I see is to get one of those HO types, but the largest I've seen is like 7gal.  Is there another option?   <depends... if your goal is for plankton generation, you really need to be thinking plankton reactor and not refugium per se> Is a 7 gal HO a waste of time for my 55?   <likely so if it is a decorated fuge... but not a problem if it is a plankton culture vessel> So, either way, would LS, LR, CF and Chaetomorpha be good enough?  Still with pinch of food?  I have RI, CMA and BOCP-V1, so I will review refugium section in RI.  You guys & gals are the best, Rich <thanks kindly, my friend. Indeed... as much as I love refugiums... it sounds like you would be better served here by a more clinical culture station. Many folks just use a few pop bottles or one gallon glass jars on a shelf. Easy to clean and keep cultures going. Many possibilities here :) Best regards, Anthony>

Breeding bugs in my refugium 08/06/03 I have a large system,450 gal fowler in house, draining into a 500 gal predator tank and a 300 gal refugium in the garage, they in turn drain to the sump, then back to 450 to complete circuit. I feed both the fowler and predator tanks heavily and the system has been running as set up for 6 months and is working to perfection. No water or algae problems. Refugium has deep sand bed,8 inches, live rock. It's only resident is a small Fimbriated moray that I removed from predator tank and put in the refugium as I was concerned he would be eaten by the 3 foot tessellated moray that lives there. After about 6 months as set up, I was hoping to see a huge population of bugs in the refugium by now, but even with a flashlight, I only see a few. I am assuming that with the fowler with heavy bioload draining directly into the refugium and the messy little Fimbriated moray, that there should be ample food to sustain a huge population of bugs. Lots of rubble on bottom. oyster shells etc. along with the live rock. Was thinking of sinking a plastic milk crate stuffed with filter pads in the refugium to see if this home may be more to their liking, plus giving me a way to harvest the little buggers, and maybe asses their population better. Any ideas? Refugium has NO residents other than the small eel. Thanks in advance. <Well, actually, your idea sounds really good. Have you thought about lighting the refugium and adding macroalgae (I'm very partial to Chaetomorpha myself)? I'd say try both, and see what you get. You may also want to try direct feeding the refugium too, something finely ground. Hope that helps, PF>

Plankton reactor 7/15/03 Hi, crew!  Do you have recommendations on a plankton reactor?  I'm familiar with Sue Wilson's method, but I'm for anything that will simplify and automate the process.  Any views on AB Aqualine Plankton's reactor? Lawrence M. Benjamin <I am generally impressed with most all of Aqualine's product line. I find them to be reliable and well developed. I have no practical experience with their model but would be likely to try it on the merit of their name. Do give us a report to share if you do. With kind regards, Anthony>

Pod production in a Juwel tank  Crew -  <Wayne>  I have a question. I have a 4 month old system built round a Juwel 110 litre tank. 32 inches * 14 * 16 inches water depth. 2 times T5 lights, 1600 litres per hour water movement not inc. a Prizm skimmer that does indeed skim. I have I think 17 or 18 kilos of live rock in there, a number of Palythoa and Protopalythoa and a 4 inch Sarcophyton. Also despite the immaturity of system I have nice algae inc. Padina, some Caulerpa, and purple branching stuff + good coralline growth. With the live rock came the usual offenders inc. some white sponges that are now growing nicely in a cave. Fishes to date are a common clown and a 6 line wrasse. I also have an inch of sand. I considered DSB but didn't as getting a cleanup crew here in Norway is surprisingly tricky, and so far not as much has come out of the live rock as I expected, except only a handful , 2 or 3 brittles. I also have a boxing Stenopus shrimp (so no other shrimp), 2 blue leg hermits and some Trochus. And lots of serpulids have appeared.  All nice except I'd like more copepods , amphipods. So all is well, but as it's a Juwel system I have a corner unit built in filter box. Currently I have nothing in it, as I am afraid of nitrate problems, but I am now considering using it as a small (4 inches * 3 inches * 16 deep) pod farm rather than having a pile of live rock debris on the (small) floor of the tank.. What should I put in it to encourage this - I'm thinking along the lines of 1 to 3 inch bits of live rock? Bioballs would be easier but a nitrate trap.  <I am familiar with Juwel tanks and do think your idea is a good one... mostly small pieces of stacked LR and possibly some plastic filter media, like Eheim's Grob Flocken...>  Also as an aside everyone always says the nitrogen cycle bacteria for fresh and salt are different but actually the only 'scientific' paper I recall seeing said they were (surprisingly) the same? Any comment Keep up the good work!  Wayne Oxborough  Norway  <Similar, but different bacteria involved... try a computer search bibliography with the name Tim Hovanec next time you can get to a large college library with BIOSIS connection. Bob Fenner>

Pod culture, carbon Hello Anthony, Bob et al ! <Hi Roger>       Thanks to all of you, your assistance is Priceless.       Read a lot of FAQ's, still haven't found a sound answer.   Just finished building an 22 gal acrylic sump.  Was going to be a wet/dry but I read the section on bio-balls!  Modified it now to a 22 gal refugium. <Ahh, "a stitch in time, saves your mind!">   My Nitrates have long been 0.2 but I'd still like to incorporate a 4' sand bed and really would like to make this a pod factory.  I'll start gathering some LR rubble from the LFS but in the interim, is there anything else I can add to optimize the space? <Some macroalgae> Would lava rock work as a good habitat for the pods? <Not really>   In essence, what would constitute "prime" pod habitat ???? <Mounded LR, macrophytes... there are actually MANY organisms considered "pods" that live in diverse habitats.>       Second question.  I have access to commercial grade anthracite coal used in water purification plants.  Particle size is about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long.  Can I use this without harming the tank inhabitants (fish, corals and inverts)? <Likely yes... talk with the "folks in your lab" re this application, find out how much "free" phosphate this product is likely to leach... get their input on preparing it (likely at least soaking for a day ahead of use) and try just a few ounces (in a Dacron bag) to see what sort of effects...>   I "think" I remember reading that "activated" carbon is actually anthracite plus some process.  Could you explain the process or the difference?  What makes carbon "activated" <Not in a short space... Again, I encourage you to ask these questions of the "lab"... and the Net for that matter! Bob Fenner> Thanks a ton !   RJS   Redding, California

Phytoplankton, reactor   7/4/06 Hi folks. I have been wondering if a AquaMedic Phytoplankton reactor would be useful in my reef tank. I have a 180 gal. reef tank with a DSB ( 275gal. total system water). Two refugiums are also running on this system. <Very nice> The first is a live rock with a DSB with blue light. The second is an upstream fuge with Chaeto and no sand with light running opposite. The tank has been running for seven months and I have gone thru the predictable algae bloom sequences. But the most fascinating event is when the macro algae vanished for no apparent reason. During the fifth and the sixth month I was battling Derbesia turf in numerous location on my live rocks. Early in the set-up I put two Emeral <Bam! Emerald> crabs in hopes to control this Algae. In addition I put a Sailfin Tang and a bunch of Hermits crabs and a variety of Algae eating snails to control it. Since the snails eat only Micro-Algae and the Emeralds might eat the turf Algae I wasn't convinced that they were guilty of eliminating all of turf Algae. My own theory is that I think the loss of algae was from the maturing of the whole system and the uptake of nutrients from the two refugiums. <Very likely the principal factor> All parameters of the tank are in normal range. Phosphate were high in the first three months and then zero. Currently my fish and coral list is Purple tang, Sailfin tang, Lemon Peel Angel, Lawnmower Blenny, Mandarin Goby, Sandsifting Goby. Coral: Ricordea, Euphyllia ancora, Frogspawn, Mushroom, Feather Duster, Crocea Clam, pulsing Xenia. My questions is does the lighted refugiums/scraping of algae off the grass provides enough Phytoplanton to feed the tank on a constant basis? <Mmm, plankton... is floating not attached... but likely the reproductive events of the glass-attached algae are contributing some algal plankton> I like the Idea of the reactor feeding some of my inverts plus provide foods for the zooplankton in my refugiums. <Me too> But Is it already happening anyway? <To some extent, yes> My other question is how do Copepods travel from the refugiums to feed my fish and Corals? <Yes... get "sucked up", pumped, or overflowed (depending on make-up of your systems components...)> Does it take some human intervention like stirring of sand or shaking of the refugiums? <Mmm, nope> Thanks for taking the time to answer every e-mails that come your way including mine. Sincerely Stephan <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Water Noise vs. Flow Rates IV - 07/03/04 Thanks Eric! <<Always welcome Dominique>> I will eventually send you a picture. <<Great!>> I think I'll wait a few weeks and give you a report on how things are going with my new flow rate together with a picture. <<Sounds fine>> I feel better about it since you told me it is possible it works and not necessarily a dead end. <<Hee hee!  Time will tell...>> I also want to send you a picture and links regarding my tank cover. <<Please do>> I am very pleased with the result and I think some aquarists may be interested. <<Indeed>> Not a new concept for sure, but it's what I found that looks best and is least invasive.  You really don't see it much.  For me it's all the advantages of an open top -even visually- without the inconvenience (carpet surfing...). <<I am interested to see...evaluate its ability for light penetration>> I am also working on a plan for continuous plankton culture integrated to an automated water change system.  Maybe you can tell me if you think it's silly. <<Not "silly" at all...though I would need more info to give an educated response.  My immediate concern would be how the plankton will be "introduced"...new raw seawater can be quite harsh/hard on delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) marine life>> I will be happy to experiment with this but if you think it's not worth it then maybe I won't go there. <<Let's see what you have in mind...>> My sump is drilled and a 1" pvc is going to go from the sump to the apartment's drain.  In the closet I placed a 210L plastic container with new aerated saltwater with a MagDrive on a timer (Neptune Jr.).  I think you follow me: new saltwater comes and excess water goes in the drain... <<With ya so far matey>> Now the new saltwater would go first in a 8L container next to the fuge.  That 8L would contain a phytoplankton continuous culture.  They would be under T5 bulbs like the rest of the sump.  No fertilizer used and I understand it will be a lower production than intensive batch culture.  No contamination, water comes from the new saltwater reserve (sterilized first).  New saltwater would come to this 8L each 4 hours for a total of about 2.5L per day (that is around 30% water replacement). <<But not "daily" right?  This would be a weekly/bi-weekly process?>> That 8L container would cascade partly directly into the fuge and for another part in a second smaller container (4L) that would contain a rotifer culture (Brachionus plicatilis).  That 4L container would itself overflow into the fuge.  So the 4L also gets a 30% per day water replacement rate.  Is it crazy?  Do I need a shrink? ;) <<Mmm, maybe <grin>.  A few things to mention...1- changing 30% of your system water on a "daily" basis is too much, too often.  This would be a continuous chemical/physical/biological shock to the system...2- flooding your cultures with new, raw seawater will likely cause them to crash...3- Adding and draining the water from the same location (sump) will result in much of the "new" water wasting down the drain.  I don't want to squash your creative urges, but do take these points under consideration and perhaps come up with an alternate plan.>> Dominique <<Be chatting my friend, Eric Russell>>

Re: cleaner shrimp with parasite? And useful input re "pod" culture     2/23/07 Afternoon Crew... I hope you are all well. <Yes. Thank you> Update on the cleaner shrimp: It did indeed moult and seems to be doing well - now a pristine beastie with all the dark spots on the shed carapace. <Ah, good> Strangely, they don't look anywhere near as dark now. <We could speculate a while here...> Since this I have been looking at all shrimps much more closely and have noticed it on friends cleaners and on blood shrimps and cleaners at LFS near here - most of them hadn't noticed and didn't have a clue what it was. Except for GM in Northampton (well done lads). <Ahh!> On a slightly different but still fishy tack... many people seem to have difficulty keeping Dragonets due to their specialized food requirements. <Yes> Can I encourage you all to start a marine "pod farm". It is very easy. I have a 5 litre mineral water bottle with 4 litres of my tank water in. I bought two inoculums from www.reefworks.co.uk and stand the whole thing on my south facing window-sill in my workshop. 3 weeks later I had a mass of pods all zipping around like mad. They are very un-demanding, I give then a level tea-spoon of plain flour each week to supplement their diet of algae and detritus. Put an airline in and let nature take it's course. Now, each week I give the bottle a gentle shake and pour two litres of the mix into my tank and replace it with two litres of pristine indo-pacific from the tank. A week later the pods have made up their missing numbers. I do this at night so the pods can get established without the Chromis getting in on the act - they love them too. <Ah, yes> Some of them are bound to survive so each week I am bolstering the existing population - I might even get to a stage where I can dispense with the "farm", but not just yet. I'd rather have these helpful little creatures at plague proportions than my Mandarin getting skinny. <Agreed> The filtration copes with the grunge from the water (discoloured but not smelly) with no problems - the only sign being the next day my skimmer gets a good head on it from the waste protein from the flour :o) <I see> Take a look at the attached pic, on a 2x2 inch square of the bottle there are perhaps 200 pods of varying sizes from tiny specs that I can just about see to 2mm long fat females with egg pods in tow (the doubles) - I reckon 16 or more in this one shot - and every surface of the bottle is similarly covered All the best and keep up the good work Hendy <Very nice... and thank you! For sharing. You've greatly added to many peoples success, enjoyment by relating your observations, success. Bob Fenner>

Bacteria, Establishing Nitrifying Microbes  4/6/07 Hi, there, <Hello, Mich here.> I'm looking for some fresh bacteria to put in my new saltwater enclosed system, I built for raising Mysid shrimp. <There is a product called Bio-Spira on the market that may be used.> My system is 8-30gal tanks and one 90-gal tank, with a 40-gal filter tank, for filtering I used crushed coral and live sand, so far I have no fish or shrimp. I need to know how can I either start my cycle with chemicals or fresh bacteria, which is very hard to find?!! <Mmm, if you have live sand you have already seeded you tank with the appropriate bacteria, now you just need to give them time to multiply.  Please read here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm  > Please let me know what to do. <Hope this helps.> Thank you, <Welcome!  -Mich>                                                              Brett

Continuous rotifer production?   4/11/07 Hello <Hi there>      I've been trying to get a continuous rotifer production system rigged into my reef.   <Mmmm, can be done... best as single species cultures... dripped, or periodically pumped/metered...> I am currently working with B. plicatilis, and will be trying rotundiformis for their smaller size as soon as I can find a source for the ss strain.   <Okay>      I am using a 7 gallon bucket with a dosing pump to overflow 1/3 of the bucket into the system daily, and feeding with Nanochloropsis cryopaste <This needs to be "whipped", to bring back into suspension> and using an ammonia binding agent, "Ultimate".  I expect to see some problems with production related to the higher salinity and pH of a reef system, but hope they will adapt.   <Plicatilis should... is quite commonly employed in marine fin fish culture...>      I was hoping you have knowledge of someone who has gotten a system to work and perhaps I could learn vicariously rather than directly from their experience! Charles Matthews M.D. <Mmm, what in particular are you looking for here? You've seen the "standard" pet-fish works (e.g. Frank Hoff) I take it. Bob Fenner>

Growing live food in refugiums    4/4/08 Bob, <Mike> Another question about feeding/refugia. I am still looking about for food items to place in my refugium and have already started a green water culture (used Dt's and it's growing so I guess there really are live phytoplankton in there! :) ). <Yes... unlike some others...> Ideally, I would like critters which are well adapted to salt water and are prolific reproducers. I really would prefer to use food items that will survive/prosper in my display tank so as to avoid water quality issues. Unfortunately, the starter cultures I can find all have apparent negatives. Penaeus Vannamei (temperate species) Tigriopus Californicus (cold water species?) Mysidopsis bahia (cannibals) Palaemonetes vulgaris (brackish water?) Brachionus plicatilis (also brackish?) <Can be adapted to marine strength...> Do you have any recommendations from this list (or not on the list) ? Mike <Might I ask what your intention is... are you growing food/s for specific organisms? I would grow a general mix through the use of live rock, macro-algae... Bob Fenner>

Re: growing live food  4/5/08 Bob, <Mike> My goal is to keep some of the more difficult corals (such as Dendronephthya spp). My logic goes like this: live food - good (if it'll stay alive); dead food - bad (it rots!). I have a refugium now which is generating a variety of food for my tank and am planning to bring a larger refuge on line. I understand the Dendronephthya have been shown to capture phytoplankton as at least part of their diet but I assume they also use zooplankton as prey. <Mmm, yes... I STRONGLY encourage you to delve a bit into the non-pet-fish literature here. Nephtheids have been maintained/fed in culture... Foods should be grown outside the system IN ADDITION to maintaining a healthy refugium> I'm happy to raise food for my tank in stand-alone cultures but I'm not sure which are my best choices. <As stated, there is a body of useful information on specific unicellular algae and zooplankters of small size, their augmentation through Selco-like materials> I have seen 'white' shrimp cultures for sale as well as 'glass' shrimp. <Too large> I've ordered some 'salt water' rotifer cysts. I'm not sure about the longevity of Tigripus since they would seem to be from a fairly cold source (at least when I dove off Catalina I thought it was pretty cold :>). <Agreed. Inappropriate. Look for J. Charles Delbeek's input (U. of HI's Waikiki Aquarium)... I think in Aquarium Frontiers...> I'm splitting my phyto cultures now and I think I will have plenty of food for raising zooplankton. I've noticed that Paul Sachs has copepod and amphipod products for sale but I'm a little concerned that these were wild caught. Mike <Are you coming out to the MACNA this time around... in GA? I'd chat with Rob Toonen there re as well... for ref. input. BobF>

Copepod Production 5/9/08 Hi, <Hello> I have a 55 gal reef with 75 lbs of live rock that has been set up for nearly 1 yr. At first I started with a primitive filter system (a BioWheel and very cheap skimmer) while it was difficult to keep my nitrates low, I had tons of copepods. I have upgraded to a sump (sorry don't know how many gallons) a refugium (with 3" of miracle mud, live rock rubble, and macro algae) and a better quality protein skimmer. My nitrates have consistently stayed at zero for over 6 months, but I never see any copepods. <Being eaten?> I even try to look past the macro algae in the refugium and I never see anything there either. I've seeded the refugium several times with copepods, but I never see the population increase. What can I do to increase the pod population. I am asking because I want to eventually keep a Mandarin Dragonet, but want to make sure that I can supply his needs by increasing the pod population in my display tank and by culturing them in a stand alone. Many thanks for your assistance. <You're welcome and do read here and related FAQ's/articles below text. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/Pods/pods.htm James (Salty Dog)>

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