Raising Infusoria - As Easy as Bad Tank Maintenance.
by R. W. Wolff
My method to raise infusoria started out well intentioned. I picked up some paramecium
cultures, rotifer cultures, and a green water culture. The green water is kept in the same method as the other two, but it sits in east and south facing window sills.
I started the cultures in plastic shoe boxes. The temperature at this point is around 70-74 degrees. I had seperate paramecium, and rotifers of a few kinds, or at least different sources. I keep the shoe boxes topped off with aged water. My tap water is like rain water, but I am sure any kind of water is fine, as you will find out soon. I added some ramshorn snails ( trying to select for red ones, wild caught orginally from my area). I have one with pond snails in, they seem to work too. I feed the snails Purina Game Fish chow. Any pellets will work, preferably floating. More on that later.
Needless to say, in a year or so, I had all the cultures mixed. Plus some other things showed up, most useful as food too. Cyclops, blackworms, some little wiggly worms - forget the name- a type of bristle worm? Also
occasionally daphnia, drain fly larvae and some others would show up. The only unwanted member of this motley crew was planaria.
How did this all happen? I did not change water, just kept topping it off. Sometimes the snails would be feeding on the bottom, run out of O2 ( my guess anyways) and die out. That is when the drain fly larvae and cyclops would do better. A sludge built up eventually in the bottom of these shoe boxes. As long as no snail die offs happened, the blackworms would do well in the muck. To really get the cyclops cranking, just really pollute the water, but try to keep a balance that the snails keep alive. I kept this going a whole winter one time in two of the shoe boxes.
I keep a small light on 24 hours for no reason in particular. I feed the cultures when the snails have eaten all the pellets, or appear to have. Sometimes they sink out of sight in the muck. To harvest the broth of infusoria, I use a turkey baster. Shoot that into a container, and then again at the tank I want to feed, suck it back out of the container and with the baster and shoot it in the tank. Just be careful not to disturb the muck on the bottom of the shoe box. Keep at least two of these shoe boxes going, in case one really crashes.
I have had these going for over four years, and think I only cleaned the muck out once. Planaria are not a problem, since you suck the water trying not to get muck. They cruise along on surfaces like snails. The green water though I have had to clean out the mud at least yearly. Otherwise a red tide will bloom. If this happens don't panic, but DO NOT feed this too your fish. Dump it all out. Don't rinse the container. Just refill with clean aged water. Set it back in the window and add some new snails and start over. In less than a week the culture should take off again. The same happens with the infusoria.
This might sound a slobby, but infusoria does best in this mess. Also, I think the mix of various tiny critters is good. Variety of food helps fish grow better, and this is crucial with fry. I have not had trouble with this mucking up my fry tanks, even those that are small two gallons. I can fire a whole baster of green water and infusoria into these small tanks. The foam filter and fish feeding on them takes care of it, in the longest a day. Just use your nose. They will have an off smell, but should not be repulsive, as long as you don't stir up the muck on the bottom, then it can smell really bad. In established cultures like this, it usually settles back out in less than a half hour. The snails also are great food for certain killis and other fish, especially the very small ones.