What is Infusoria? If you have landed on this page, either you are seeking information about feeding your newly hatched fry in your home aquarium or planning to breed your aquarium fish; therefore, you want to help the newly hatched fry to grow as most aquatic species do not exhibit any parental care, rather many species end up devouring their newborns.
You had probably come across Infusoria, Infusorian, as nourishment for newly hatched fry when you were looking for fry food information.
Whatever may be the reason for you to be here, let’s find out what is Infusoria? Where can you find it in nature? How to prepare Infusoria on your own? and all an aquarist needs to know about Infusoria.
What is Infusoria?
Infusoria is a plural noun, an amalgamative term for any heterogeneous microorganism, such as protozoans, rotifers, ciliate, unicellular algae, paramecium, euglenoids, daphnia, small invertebrates found in freshwater ways with decomposing organic matter; currently, over 2000 microorganisms are categorized as Infusorian.
It is highly nutritious, and newborns can derive all the nourishments only from Infusoria for the first few weeks of their lives; hence, Infusoria is particularly vital for anyone who wants to breed their aquarium fish.
The readiness with Infusoria can determine the success of proliferating your aquarium fish as freshly hatched fry entirely depends on Infusoria for nourishing themselves.
Where can you find Infusoria in nature?
Infusoria is found in all the water bodies in nature; ponds, lakes, rivers, any pool of water, even a puddle of water in the pothole in your street; likewise, your aquarium also contains infusoria. It’s just that what most aquarium holds is not sufficient for newly hatched fry.
Not all aquariums are designed to house Infusorians; hence the need for acquiring or culturing Infusoria arise. You can collect them anywhere you want as they are present in abundance in nature; however, as over 2000 microorganisms are classified as Infusoria, it is prudent to know where not to collect the culture.
Not all the microorganisms are apt for your fry; some of them are malice, undesirable, and dangerous for your fry. It has a long list of nasty elements present; however, some common gluttons are water boatman, dragonfly, water tigers, hydra, detritus worms, etc.
The larval predaceous diving beetles are mercenary predators that would voraciously munch on anything they come across, including your freshly hatched fry. Thus, the danger outweighs the benefits when collecting water from outdoor sources as a culture for your Infusoria; you are risking contaminating your aquarium with undesirable predatory animals.
Infusoria for Newborns
Most egg scatters such as Celestial Pearl Danios, Harlequin Rasboras, Tetras such as Ember Tetra, Neon tetra, Cardinal, Tetra, etc., do not provide any parental care, this includes Goldfish will scatter the eggs over plants and substrate and move on.
Also, some livebearers such as Guppies, Mollies, Platies, Swordtails, etc., do not stick around to fend their babies; instead, they willingly relish the newborns for an afternoon snack.
Consequently, it becomes aquarists job to fend the fry if they want to burgeon the aquarium stock. The first step in caring for the fry is to protect them from their parents and other adult fish; supply them with the essential nourishment for their survival and growth.
How to culture Infusoria on your own?
In general, the survival rate among newborns is pretty low, and it can further lower if they are not supplied with adequate nutrition. It takes about two weeks for an Infusoria culture to populate enough to nourish a batch of 50 to 100 newborns.
Culturing Infusoria at home is a relatively easy and straightforward task.
Required Supplies to prepare Infusoria
A mason jar used to store food preserves would work fine. Ensure to sterilize the bottle. You can use a minimum of 1 liter (4 cups) jar or above; the bigger the bottle better the possibilities for the culture to proliferate.
Water from an established aquarium, enough to fill halfway up the jar, promoting Infusoria, becomes efficient as the water from the established aquarium contains numerous microorganisms.
Toxin-free vegetable source or Commercial preparations
The nutrient materials can be anyone or multiple vegetables to promote Infusoria. You can also use commercially prepared and sold active culture. Vegetables such as Lettuce, Peas, Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Cucumbers, Spinach, Banana Peel, Grass, Potatoes, Cabbage, Milk, Rice, Yeast, Rabit pellets, etc., are excellent choices as a culture.
I recommend airstone to aerate the culture for faster and healthier culture.
- Chop the chosen vegetables into pieces. Ensure to blanch vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, etc., and deskin the peas and sprouts.
- Place the chopped vegetable in the jar and pour hot water over; let it sit for few minutes, throw the water, and refill the jar with aquarium water. Alternatively, you can fill the jar with aquarium water straight and place it near the window where the sunlight hits directly, or even a lamp over the jar can provide sufficient heat and light.
- You can either use an airstone to aerate the culture or stir the culture a few times a day with a wooden batten. It prevents water stagnation and scum from forming.
After a few days or so, you will notice that the water begins to turn cloudy and murky; let it sit for about ten days, then remove the decomposed vegetable from the jar.
Note: After a few days, you will begin to notice an unpleasant odor from the Infusoria jar; decomposing vegetable matter is responsible for this. Thus, it is necessary to keep the jar in a well-aerated room. The odor will not stay long as the Infusoria begin to proliferate, the odor will start to diminish, and the murky water will start to clear out.
As we have said, Infusoria are microscopic organisms; even a tiny amount of water from the culture contains lots of Infusoria. Hence, use a syringe or an eyedropper and spurt it directly into the aquarium/fry tank. Take care not to scoop any of the decomposed vegetable matter into the fry tank, as you risk building Ammonia and Nitrite at a rapid speed than the tank could handle.
You may feed the fry twice a day; you can decide on the quantity by monitoring the situation while feeding. Try not to over-feed as it can shot up the Ammonia level in the water more than the nitrifying bacterias can handle.
Alternate Method to culture Infusoria
Preparing a fry tank
Choose a 5 to 10-gallon (19 to 38 liters)tank size depending on the species; set it up to mimic your breeding tank or the main tank if you are using the main tank with breeders net for breeding.
You can use peat moss, and decomposing leaf litter provides sufficient organic matter for the Infusoria to multiply. Plants such as Riccia moss, Java moss, hyacinth, etc., are great to house all the needed Infusoria by the fry.
Once your fish has spawned, transfer the eggs to the rearing tank using a spawning mop; a bunch of java moss serves as an excellent spawning mop. You can leave java moss in the breeding tank or breeding net; the fish generally lay their eggs over the bush of plants.
If your fish is viviparous, then keep the pregnant fish in the rearing tank, and as soon as she finished giving birth, move the mother to a quiet place in a different tank; prevents her from eating her offsprings and helps to recover from the labor.
Most experienced aquarists choose to set up a separate rearing tank and vouch that the plants in the rearing tank supply the newly hatched fry and newborns sufficiently with the first fry food, Infusoria.
Infusoria for Betta Fry
In all likelihood, Betta fish breeders are the most ardent users of Infusoria; Betta fry are tiny when hatched, and the Betta lovers want the most of them to survive. Feeding Infusoria increases their survival rate during the first couple of weeks until they are ready to consume brine shrimp and other commercial flakes.
In my opinion, setting up a separate rearing is the best method instead of dealing with all the foul smell and risking contaminating the aquarium tank. Using plant litters and peat moss to produce your Infusoria and housing them amongst the plants such as java moss, Hyacinth, etc., is a far safer and cleaner way of taking newly hatched fry and the newborns.
You could share with us here your experience on rearing fry and newborns! Thanks!