Mix Culture Daphnia and Tubifex worms

Discussion in 'Advanced Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by immoya, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. immoyaNew MemberMember

    I just wanted to share my rescent experience culturing Daphnia together with Tubifex worms because most information I found on the internet is not really on how to culture Tubifex, but on how to keep them alive or clean before feeding the fish with them. Few sources actually explain how to culture these worms and most of them say that they are difficult to culture, that they produce a very disgusting smell, and that overall it is not worth the effort. However, I have to say that they do not require a lot of maintenance and for sure do not produce bad smell. And, for those of us who like to spoil our fish, giving Tubifex worms as treats is a great option.
    In the video below, you can see my mixed Tubifex/Daphnia culture. This one started as one of my Daphnia (only) cultures that I keep outdoors, but because I was afraid of losing my live food supply (Daphnia) due to the low winter temperatures, I decided to add some few Tubifex worms (parasite-free from a German supplier bought online) to culture them together in a mixed culture. Now there are plenty of worms in a coarse filter sponge I put as a substrate for them to hide, but (surprisingly for me) there are also tons of free living juvenile Tubifex worms in the water column. The number of these juveniles has increased dramatically in the last week, so the culture seems to be doing fine. Actually, as Tubifex thrive in cold water, they are probably outcompeting the Daphnia in the same tank. This is likely just the result of Daphnia don't doing well in cold water, as the number of Daphnia in my other Daphnia-only cultures has also decreased dramatically due to the cold weather (see my other video for the Daphnia culture below). In any case, if the Tubifex keep doing well in this culture, I will have soon a good source of live food for my fish during the cold months of the year.
    I keep my Daphnia/Tubifex in an established plastic container with algae, aquatic plants and two stems of lucky bamboo. I feed them every day with yeast and do some water changes but actually not too often. The water is constantly moving due to an air hose that is bubbling 24/7. This is important for several reasons: it keeps water oxygenated, it promotes circulation of food particles and in addition it prevents (or slows down) the water surface from freezing when the temperature drops drastically. I have also read about some other more complicated set ups for Tubifex culture, but if this one works in the long term I am not going to try them (like making a two-container culture where the upper box has the Tubifex and the water constantly circulates from the lower box via a pump that ends up in a spray bar on the top box to ensure constant water flow on the Tubifex). I also found that a lot of people use sand or other types of substrate, but I think that it only complicates collecting them. I will keep using coarse sponges as substrate, so I will add some more for the adult worms to hide and feel save there. It is actually very easy to collect them from these sponges. I will also seed another tank with some Tubifex as a backup, so probably I will post updates of this culture when appropriate.
    Please leave your comments/questions on how to culture Tubifex or Daphnia.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  2. Redshark1Fishlore VIPMember

    that's very interesting and I'm surprised that nobody else has commented.

    Luckily I don't have fish that depend on live food but I have a water butt outside from which I harvest daphnia.

    I start this off clean at the beginning of the year, adding some plant food dissolved in the tap water and after a few weeks when the water is green I add some daphnia to start the culture. This gives me sufficient daphnia for regular feedings though there is insufficient in winter so I then just reserve the culture for my African Dwarf Frogs which I love to see hunt the daphnia.

    I haven't tried adding tubifex worms but shall do so next year. This year I have a lot of midge larvae similar to bloodworm (but brown not red) and they were highly mobile living on the sides and base of the plastic water butt so were easy to harvest. I also usually have mosquito larvae that hang at the surface and are also loved by my fish.

    I have boosted the numbers of daphnia by ten times when feeding yeast but as my culture became foul in summer and as I don't actually need that many I have stopped feeding in this way.

    My culture has no time consuming input from myself and remains clean as long as I start it fresh annually. It is aerated by the wind and the surface is always clean. In addition the birds use it frequently to drink from which is a bonus.
  3. immoyaNew MemberMember

    Hi Redshark,
    Thanks for your comment. The same happened to my Daphnia cultures during winter time, but I hope I wont have to stop the culture and re-start again (of course, unless that they die). This is how my outdoors Daphnia pulex cultures look now (as in the video). However, during warmer months, these cultures also produce at least 10 times more than that, and then I could feed my fish with living Daphnia on a daily basis. Even though that they manage to survive the cold weather, the amount of Daphnia produced now is very low and not enough to even feed my fish once a week.

    How many gallons do you have in your water butt? That is for sure way more than what I have here. I guess that that will provide a more stable environment for them (in terms of temperature and food availability). I should probably get one of those to stop doing water changes on them. Currently, I do some water changes using water from my fish tanks, but probably only once every four/six weeks (sometimes more). I wish I could stop using the air pump in my current Daphnia (only) set up (and depend only on the wind for oxygenation as you do), but unfortunately the place where I keep my cultures receives almost no wind. On top of that, I am afraid that the yeast I use as food won’t be suspended for consumption and end up fouling the water. I feed my Daphnia with a little bit of yeast (suspended in lukewarm water) once or twice every day in warmer weather or now in winter time every other day. I am not sure whether it would be a good idea to not have circulating water in the Tubifex cultures, as I have read that they really require water flow to thrive. So, if you are going to add Tubifex to your Daphnia cultures, probably it would be a good idea to consider using an air pump too. Besides that, both creatures are actually way too easy to maintain in high numbers and great treats for our animals.
    By the way, my fish (goldfish) also do not depend on live food, as they happily eat almost everything you give them) :). Though, they had a lot of constipation (and buoyancy) problems due to various brands of pellet food I used to use, but once that I started feeding them with living food their health (constipation, color, behavior) changed/improved dramatically. I know that many people may say that they are only goldfish, but I like to spoil mine a lot and give them only the best for them. And as you said, culturing daphnia in high numbers is almost efordless, and so far it seems that culturing Tubifex is very easy too. I am sure that your frogs and fish will love them too.
  4. Redshark1Fishlore VIPMember

    My water butt is around 20 gallons. I know this after filling it with a 2 gallon bucket.

    I'll add some tubifex next spring (after saving some daphnia and spring cleaning the water butt) and see if it does anything, but in truth I'm quite happy doing what I am doing as described above.

    I fed some daphnia to my planted cube aquarium today. I think it has been milder than I would expect so they are breeding albeit slowly.

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