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ZM Zooplankton Culture

An introduction to the highly successful ZM fish foods.

Freshwater Paramecia Culture Guide

Freshwater Paramecia are single celled organisms that are smaller than rotifers and have been used as a early first feed for larval fish. Paramecia are surrounded by cilia to aid movement and have historically been used in fish breeding projects under the label of infusoria. For best fry rearing results we recommend ZM-000 fry food is fed alongside Paramecia.

Traditionally Paramecia have been reared on a bacterial soup generated from the breakdown of boiled wheatgrains or mungbean seeds. For a cleaner culture the liquid suspension food Roti-Rich from Florida Aqua Farms can be used. In the last year we have been using a suspension made from the ZM Dry Invert Feed to rear Paramecia. This rearing option not only means the culture is enriched with high levels of vitamins and HUFA content it provides a clean culture with potentially less bacteria being transferred to the fry tank. These strategies give the hatchery manager more options to avoid bottlenecks in fry survival.

See the 5x hatcher station in the section below that may also be used as a Paramecia culture station. We have seen Paramecia cultures run with aeration will be dispersed throughout the entire water column instead of simply towards the water surface.

Marine Rotifer Culture Guide

Rotifers are smaller than newly hatched brineshrimp and vital as a first feed for many small fish species especially if enriched with live phytoplankton or HUFA enrichment.

As a basic guide for culturing marine rotifers: aim for a salinity of 15-22+ppt (1.0107 - 1.0160 SG), light of 500-2000 lux, temperature of around 25 deg. C, and gently aeration.

DAY 0: setup a new culture with 1 part mature culture and 2 parts new water. Aerate very gently to avoid stripping the eggs off the females. Add 10ml phyto or 1 drop of Roti-rich or ZM Dry Invert Feed suspension per litre of culture per day.

DAY 1-3: continue to feed at 10 ml phyto or 1 drop of Roti-Rich per litre of culture per day.

DAY 4: harvest 2/3 of the mature culture for feeding and use a 53 micron strainer to concentrate the rotifers prior to feeding. Use the remaining mature culture to set up a new culture.

New for 2104 we have introduced the 5x hatcher station for culturing rotifers on a five day batch cycle. No need for multiple stands this single unit convenient keeps all the equipment in one place and looks clean and professional. Each vessel comes complete with lid and rigid plastic airtube. The station will come with an air gang valve and airline to supply each vessel.

An alternate culture technique requiring less effort is: 2 part rotifer culture and 3 parts phytoplankton and simply harvest once the phytoplankton has been consumed and water becomes clear.

Freshwater rotifers can be cultured in a similar manner, however we've never found the densities reach the same level as the marine species.

Brineshrimp Culture Guide

Newly hatched brineshrimp have been a basic first feed for juvenile fish and inverts for a long, long time. In their cyst form the shrimp are already partially developed and simply need to go through a rehydration stage and final incubation before hatching out.

As a basic guide for incubation brineshrimp cysts: aim for a salinity of 30-35ppt (approx 1.023 - 1.026SG), light of 500-2000 lux, temperature of around 25-28 deg. C, and strong aeration.

To set up a new brineshrimp culture add 35g marine salt per litre and aerate the water to dissolve the salt. The rigid air tube should reach the bottom of the vessel to keep the whole water column in motion. Add the heater and be sure that rubber suction feet are used to mount the heater away from the hatcher sides to avoid damage to the plastic.

Add 2.5 - 5.0g (half to one flat teaspoon) of brineshrimp cysts per litre and adjust the flow with the plastic air valve so that none of the cysts are resting on the base. Incubate for 24-36 hours before harvesting.

Switch off the heater at least 30 mins before you are ready to start harvesting. After this 30 mins stop the air supply and remove the lid and airtube to allow the egg cases and hatched shrimp to separate. After 8-10 minutes the egg cases will be at the surface and the hatched shrimp will have sunk to the base.

Now using the beaker provided collect the hatched shrimp and if possible rinse them with fresh water before feeding to your fish. The remaining hatcher volume can be discarded to waste before rinsing the hatcher out (without using a detergent) and leaving to dry.

Marine Copepod Culture Guide

Copepods can be larger than newly hatched brineshrimp and have been identified as being more nutritionally complete and hence a valuable live food especially for juvenile stages. At ZM we have been culturing a hardy species of marine harpacticoid copepod that when mature measure approximately 2mm. Breeding females can be identified with the naked eye carrying egg sacks and the males with large claspers.

As a basic guide for culturing marine copepods: aim for a salinity of 22-30ppt (approx 1.015 - 1.023 SG), light of 500-2000 lux, temperature of around 20-25 deg. C, and gently aeration.

The copepods are reared in a mixed culture with rotifers as this technique has shown to be more successful. In the culture you will have both breeding adults and juveniles of various stages. The copepods are reared under similar conditions as specified for rotifers and we've found them to go longer without crashing. Some breeders have found a higher salinity of 30ppt can improve copepod productivity.

Apart from live phyto, Instant Phyto, and Roti-Rich another food we have successfully tried with copepods is the ZM Dry Invert Feed.

To separate adult copepods from juvenile stages harvest with a 250 micron strainer and retain the smaller copepods/rotifers for ongrowing.

Mixed culture movie: