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Fry Foods and Feeding

33548 Views 40 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  1fish2fish
I saw this questioned asked and thought it deserved its own thread.

Fry need live foods, at least at first because live foods help the fry learn to eat. They will instinctively grab and gulp moving food whereas dried foods will be left untouched. It is best to have your foods cultured and ready to harvest before even putting your breeders in the tank.

Baby Brine Shrimp (aka BBS)

This is by far the most popular fry food among breeders. It is easy to cultivate, easy to harvest, and doesn't have odor issues as some other cultures will. This can be fed from the free swimming stage up to 1-2 months of age.

To culture brine shrimp you must order BBS eggs online. It is vary rare to be able to find them locally. It is best to order eggs that have a 85% or above hatch rate but other hatch rates work just as well, although you may have smaller numbers of BBS. Once you receive your eggs make sure to put them in the refridgerator.

When your ready to culture you will need to set up a hatchery. Most people make DIY hatcheries but you can also buy them offline. To create your own hatchery
It is fairly cheap and simple to create your own. BBS take 18-24 hours to hatch so most breeders set up two hatcheries 12 hours apart from each other so there is always a fresh batch of BBS ready to feed.

To harvest your BBS simply turn off the air pump and allow the BBS to settle, then use a turkey baster or a straw and suck up the BBS from the bottom of the hatchery. Rinse them with fresh de-chlorinated water and feed them to your fry. They will last about 12 hours from hatching if you keep the air pump running but most people throw them out.



Microworms (aka Micros or MW)

Microworms are a small nematode often fed before BBS because they are smaller than BBS. They are easy to feed and culture. Simply purchase a culture and follow the instructions given to you buy the seller. Basically you will take a plastic carton, fill it with a medium (usually oatmeal), and add your culture. Usually you need to give your culture 1-2 weeks to grow before harvesting so it is best to get the culture before hand. Store it in a room temp. dark cabinet.

To harvest simply take a q-tip (or your finger) and swipe some worms from the side of the container and dip it in the tank. Do not dip from the medium. Re-culture the worms every 2-3 weeks and your culture will last forever. You can feed micros solely for the first 1-2 weeks and it can also be feed in conjunction with larger foods for up to a month.

*There is some speculation that feeding MW can cause missing ventrals but this is strictly anecdotal and many breeders feed MW and produce fish with perfectly fine ventrals.

Infusoria

Infusoria is basically bacteria. It is many tiny organisms that grow in plants, etc. You can culture it or you can just add live plants to your spawning tank. To culture infusoria fill a jar with water and add live plants or even hay. Set it in front of a sunny window or a light for a few days and watch as the water begins to get cloudy. *It can take up to a month to get a good culture growing* Re-culture every 2 weeks.

To harvest simply suck some out and add it to the tank. Infusoria is really only good to feed for the first 1-2 weeks.

Additional information provided by pdxBetta..
Infusoria is protists, which can feed on bacteria. Bacteria are typically ~1µm (0.001mm), and have no nucleus, while protists are much larger and nucleated. Probably the most relevant protist in "infusoria" is paramecium, which is typically ~200µm (0.2mm), about twice the thickness of an average human hair. You can see paramecium (barely) with a magnifying glass, while bacteria require a high powered microscope.

The relationship between snails and protists is that snails digest bio waste, and protists can eat snail waste as well as bacteria and algae.

My fry live on "infusoria" from elodea and water sprite in the spawning tank for the first few days of free swimming, at which time I begin bbs, vinegar eels, and micro/banana/walter worms... whatever I have going. To see if you have protists, take a drop of water and put it on a piece of glass. Shine a bright light on it and look through a magnifying glass. You should see very tiny white dots zooming around.

Banana Worms (aka BW)

Banana worms are similar to micro worms. They are roughly the same size and are cultured and harvested the same way. They don't have the problem with missing ventrals that MW is known for.

Walter Worms (aka WW)

Just like BW, Walter worms are cultured and harvested just like MW. They are slightly larger but can still be fed as a first food. (They are a personal favorite of mine).

** I feed all three (MM, BW, and WW) at once because these worms have different nutritional values and some take longer to sink then others which gives optimum chances of the fry eating them**

Vinegar eels (aka VE)

Vinegar eels are nematodes found naturally in unpasturized vinegar. They are slightly smaller than MW and make an awesome first food because they swim in the water column rather than sinking. They can live in the tank for a few days before dying which helps with water quality (although that is not a reason to neglect water changes). They can be fed for the first two weeks and as long as the fry can see them you can continue feeding them long after 2 weeks.

To culture VE simply get a jar, fill it with water and vinegar and add some apple slices. Order a culture of VE and add them to the jar. It takes VE about a month to really get going unless you order a large culture. Keep in a dark cabinet at room temps.

To harvest simply suck some VE out and filter it through a coffee filter. Rinse with tank water and then dump the eels in the tank. Re-culture once a month.

Grindal Worms (aka Grindals or GW)

Grindal worms are related to the earth worm. They make great foods for fry 1 month and older. They can even be fed to adult fish.

To culture select a medium (mine are being cultured using green scrubber sponge), wet it and add your culture to the top. Take a piece of rigid plastic and add some fish food (flakes work well). Wet them and put the plastic fish food side down on top of the culture. Feed daily

To harvest simply lift the plastic and rinse the worms/food off into a container, rinse again until all the dirt/food is gone and all you have left is worms.


Dried Foods/Frozen Foods

You can begin incorporating dried foods into your feeding regime as early as 2 weeks. Do not expect them to be well received but keep at it and eventually the fry will begin to look at it as food.

Great dried foods are:
Hikari First Bites- can be fed as a first food but are usually not eaten
Golden pearls- BBS eggs that are unhatched
De-caps- BBS eggs that have had the shells removed (these may be the same as golden pearls.. I'm not entirely sure).
Chopped frozen blood worms
Frozen mysis shrimp
Frozen Daphnia
Frozen brine shrimp
dried brine shrimp
HBH betta bites
NLS Grow
Attinson's Betta Pro


Food is only secondary to water quality when it comes to raising fry but it is still important. Feeding lots of food and feeding high quality food will only improve the quality of your fry. Remember.. just as feeding a variety to your adult fish is the best way to ensure health, feeding a variety to your fry will give you nice healthy fry.
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I've fed BBS the entire time. Never had a problem.
do infusoria need a air pump to survive? I have a planted tank on my windowledge (no fish , dont panic lol) will it be full of infusoria? Its been there for a week?
Some people think that feeding BBS too early or over feeding it can lead to swim bladder problems. Personally I just find it to be messy, expensive, and a hassle so I stick to cultured worms. Its all a matter of preference.

Infusoria do not need an air pump. If you have live plants you already have infusoria because organisms will naturally grow on the plants. Putting snails into the spawning tank also helps to create infusoria.
So can i just take water from the planted tank on the windowledge and put it in the fry tank and it will act as food???
In theory yes but I only use infusoria from plants as food for a day or two after the fry are free swimming. Then I start using cultured foods like VE or MW
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How long can you feed infusoria for? Is there a certain size where they stop eating it or can't see it any more? Or can you feed it till they don't need live food any more?
Infusoria is very small and can only be feed for a week.. maybe two.
My infusoria culture has live plants so I made a homemade sponge filter to grow the bacteria and give the plants oxygen :)
I'm resurrecting this because I wanted to share some good experiences with my current spawn.

From the beginning I've fed almost solely frozen BBS (baby brine shrimp). For the first two weeks I did incorporate live micro worms and infusoria but not to the extent I had in my previous spawns. I found that the fry took very well to the frozen BBS. Of course I do keep snails in my tank so they have a constant supply of infusoria for the ones that didn't take as well to the frozen.

I've found that starting with the frozen foods early has made the fry more accepting of dried foods (starting with NLS grow in week 5). There are still some that won't take the dried foods but that's to be expected.

These fry are 6 weeks old and being fed frozen daphnia, frozen BBS (because there are still a few small fry), and NLS grow. They are growing extremely well on this.

Frozen foods might be a great alternative for those that don't want to or have the room to culture many live foods. I still recommend having at least one culture of micro food available for the first week or so.
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I'll also be posting my experiences with frozen foods because I'll be using frozen BBS with my next spawn.
How do I keep my infusoria from smelling? I am also not sure when it goes bad. I have tried several things. First I used fresh water only to realize I should have used tank water. I used tank water in a glass jar, with a lid, lettuce and an algae tab or two. I have tried aerating, leaving the lid off.. adding a pond snail..it still smells bad after a day or two. I tried using a different plant....still smells terrible. What am I doing wrong? Does it always smell that bad? I read somewhere that if it smells it isn't good to feed the fry. So far I am fryless so I have time to try again.
My cultures rarely ever smell bad unless they are past due for re-culturing.

I've never cultured infusoria because IMO it's only good for a day or two so I don't know what it is supposed to smell like.

VE are by far the least smelly since the culture is mainly vinegar. My microworms usually don't start to smell for at least a month.

My grindal and white worms are smelly because they have to be kept in dirt and I think the dirt that they came in had a high manure content.
I have micro worms.. but I was under the impression that the fry couldnt eat them the first week or so... The micro worms are really easy.
Fry can eat micro worms as soon as they are free swimming. The same goes for Vinegar eels and Walter worms.

I prefer to start with vinegar eels for the first few days because they're a little bit smaller and are better swimmers so they're great for fry who hang out near the top.
brine shrimp choice

well brine shrimp can actually be fed when born. some breeders (like me) feed them once they're born because my fry's gorge on them. they eat and eat till they're really plumpy. i think different size strains of betta have different strains of fry's so some will eat it once born
I just thought I would post my successful feeding schedule with one of my spawns. :)

Day 3-1 week- Vinegar eels

1 week-4 weeks- BBS

At week 4, I started feeding decaps.

The fry took the switch from live to dry foods very well. I'm so glad they did, because decaps are actually more nutritious than live BBS. I plan to eventually introduce frozen BBS,frozen daphnia, and NLS Grow to their diet.
what are decaps? All my eggs died again....I am thinking my male is infertile. I am going to try with a different pair next week while I am off for the holidays
Sorry to ask a question in a thread but this seemed like a good place to ask. At some point in time (probably 1-2 years from now lol) I'll be breeding. I don't want to bother with BBS because they sound messy and difficult. How does this scedule sound?

1. Start feeding vinegar eels on day 3.

2. Feed vinegar eels until week 2.

3. Slowely start introducing chopped up frozen blood worms, along with vinegar eels throughout week 3.

3. week 4 stop feeding vinegar eels and feed frozen BS and chopped blood worms. Introduce golden pearls during week 4.

4. start feeding small pellets and more frozen foods and maybe still feed golden pearls during week 5 or 6 (which one?)

5. feed regular feeding around week 7 with full blood worms and pellets and more frozen BS!

I think I'm a bit late with some, but how does this sound?
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Sorry to ask a question in a thread but this seemed like a good place to ask. At some point in time (probably 1-2 years from now lol) I'll be breeding. I don't want to bother with BBS because they sound messy and difficult. How does this scedule sound?

1. Start feeding vinegar eels on day 3.

2. Feed vinegar eels until week 2.

3. Slowely start introducing chopped up frozen blood worms, along with vinegar eels throughout week 3.

3. week 4 stop feeding vinegar eels and feed frozen BS and chopped blood worms. Introduce golden pearls during week 4.

4. start feeding small pellets and more frozen foods and maybe still feed golden pearls during week 5 or 6 (which one?)

5. feed regular feeding around week 7 with full blood worms and pellets and more frozen BS!

I think I'm a bit late with some, but how does this sound?
I think you'll find that you won't be able to feed chopped blood worms at 3 weeks.. blood worms are very hard to chop and even harder to chop fine. I would advise feeding frozen BBS (you can get these at petsmart) if you don't want to do live BBS.

The golden pearls are small enough that you could incorporate them into your feeding schedule early but I would still try to stick with something like BBS.
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