How To Grow An Infusoria Culture

“A variety of twenty infusoria and rotatoria.” Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

An Infusoria culture can help feed your aquarium fish. Making infusoria cultures does not require a starter culture or kit. This is because Infusoria is present in all organic matter. At times, Infusoria can be seen living in the substrate of aquariums, hidings in between pebbles and plants. Generally, populations of infusoria do not proliferate due to predation by most fish.

Infusoria is a great food choice for fry, who typically are not big enough to eat brine shrimp or micro worms.

What is Infusoria?

German natural scientist Martin Frobenius Ledermüller named these organisms Animalcula Infusoria between 1760 and 1763. This derives from German for “infusion animal.”

The term Infusoria refers to a collective of minute organisms like Ciliates, Euglenoids, and small invertebrates. These organisms are commonly found infusions of decomposing organic materials, hence the name Infusoria.

Rotifer

Microorganisms classified as Infusoria include paramecia, euglena, cyclops, rotifers, daphnias, volvox algae, vorticella, and more. There are currently over 2000 microorganisms classified as Infusoria.

Infusoria for Fish Fry

In most species of fish, the fry is free-swimming and searching for food right after they hatch. Fishkeepers must supply the fry with enough food to ensure their normal development. Infusoria cultures, as opposed to flakes and other dried food, provide fresh protein-based nutrition which the fry can use to grow faster and healthy.

The survival rate among fry may be lowered if they are not provided with adequate nutrition. Infusoria culture can grow quickly and provide an easy yet effective feeding method for newly hatched fish.

It typically takes between 7 to 14 days for an Infusoria culture to a population size that fits our purpose. Fishkeepers must, therefore, plan ahead and begin their culture at least 2 weeks before the fry is set to hatch.

Once the fish have hatched, you may begin to feed them Infusoria.

Fishkeepers are known to collect samples of infusoria from local ponds and lakes. This, however, is not recommended. By doing so, fishkeepers run the risk of contaminating their aquariums with a cornucopia of pest animals and flora, such as water fleas and hydra.

How to Grow Infusoria Culture

What you need

  • A jar (at least 4 cups, or 1000 ml capacity). Make sure that the jar is properly cleaned if you are using an upcycled jar. In my experience, using a bigger jar increases the possibility of a successful culture.
  • Water from an established aquarium, enough to fill the entire jar. This will promote the growth of infusoria, as the water from the aquarium already contains a variety of microorganisms.
  • Toxin-free vegetable matter. The vegetables listed below are good choices for this setup, however, the are many other vegetables that fit our purpose. Fresh and canned goods may be used. It is recommended that you a variety of vegetables, as this will increase the success rate of your culture. Personally, I create my infusoria culture with potatoes, skinned peas, and lettuce, and algae wafers.
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Frozen peas (remove skin)
    • Carrots
    • Cucumbers
    • Green sprouts (open them up)
    • Spinach leaves
    • Potatoes
    • Green cabbages
    • Algae wafers
  • A syringe, a pipette or a turkey baster.

Instructions

  1. Chop the vegetable into small pieces. Peas should be skinned, to allow the bacteria easier to access the inside of the pea. Place the vegetables in the jar and add boiled water.
  2. Boil water, and fill the jar halfway. Let the vegetable sit in the water for about 3-5 minutes. After this, remove the water from the jar.
  3. Add the aquarium water to your jar.
  4. Place the jar next to a sunny window. The light of the sun will break up the pieces of vegetables into, thus encouraging bacteria to proliferate.
  5. Stir the contents several times a day to prevent stagnation. This will also prevent the formation of a scummy

After a few days, you’ll start to notice the water becoming increasingly cloudy. As the vegetables begin to decompose, bacterias will begin to proliferate.

The decomposing vegetables will create an odor, but that shouldn’t be an issue if left in a well-aerated room. As the Infusoria population begins to increase, the odor will disappear and the water will become increasingly clearer. This indicates that your Infusoria population is reaching maturity.

Infusoria will begin to feed on the bacteria After 7 to 14 days, you should have a decent amount of Infusoria in the aquarium.

When you are ready to feed to your fish, use a syringe to take the Infusoria to your aquarium. To best of your ability, try to avoid any of the remaining decomposed vegetables. To do so, you can point the syringe in the middle of the jar where you’re less likely to absorb vegetable remains.

Ensure that your fish are not overfed. Since Infusoria are so tiny, it can be hard to estimate how much is needed. A single drop of water may contains hundreds of Infusoria.

You should therefore slowly add infusoria drops to your aquarium and monitor the situation. If you add too many infusorias, you run the risk of poisining your water.

Aquarium water typically contains less bacteria than our veggies in a jar method. This means that most infusoria will not survive in the aquarium for long. If too many die at once, the aquarium ammonia levels may spike and put your aquarium inhabitants at risk.

Infusoria for sale

Live Infusoria cultures are available for purchase in pet stores, local fish stores, and on-line. These can help you build-up Infusoria populations in less time than the previously mentioned method.

However, you do not need to purchase Infusoria cultures in order to have a succesful batch.

Infusoria for Betta Fry

Betta fish breeders are perhaps the most avid users of infusoria. Since betta fry are quite small when they are newly hatch, it is impossible for them to eat even the smallest of micro worms. Feeding infusoria can greatly increase the survival rate of your brood and promote faster growth. This goes for many other species of fry can eat infusoria as well.

If you have any questions or comments on the topic of infusoria culture, please write us in the comment section below.

References

Empire Biota: Taxonomy and Evolution 2nd Edition “Empire Biota: Taxonomy And Evolution 2Nd Edition”. Page 273.

Infusoria. Seriouslyfish.Com, 2020, https://www.seriouslyfish.com/glossary/i/infusoria/. Accessed 30 May 2020.

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