07.27.09

A Threefer…Not A Good Thing

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:40 am by livefood

In my whiteworm container with thriving whiteworms there are tiny red bugs throughout the soil and little white jumping things. Can you tell me what they are and whether I needs to get rid of them. Should they be there?

Natasha

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Natasha,

It sounds as if you have two extra critters to deal with. One harmless and the other has the potential of being devastating to the whiteworm culture. First the good news. The little white hopping critters are most likely a species of Springtails. They are harmless to the culture, actually a good food for frogs, newts, fishes and some lizards, but they will not harm the whiteworm culture.

The bad news are those little red guys (and gals)…mites. They will eat the egg cases of the whiteworms and you will see the culture decline and eventually become rather useless for whiteworms. The mites will infest any culture that is soil based. If you are working with Grindal worms they will get to those sooner or later.

About the best way to get rid of them is to start a new culture with sterile soil and cleaned worms. You can clean the worms by putting a good number of them into a glass of water and stirring the worms and cultue…the worms sink along with some of the culture and the mites tend to float. If you start with less culture and more worms you will have an easier time of the cleaning…to start with more worms feed in one location and let the worms come to the food. If you use moist bread as the food, the bread will easily dissolve in the stirring process…repeat the cleaning until you can see that the worms are void of culture…the mites will be gone with eat cleaning…oh, I need to tell you…after the stir the worm mixture, let them settle a bit and then decant the water thus pouring the floating mites off with the water…and I do mean repeat.

Don’t bother using the old culture container…if has mite eggs…you could bleach it if you have an attachment to the container…but clean to the point of sterile is good. Bake or boil the soil for the culture…of course letting it cool before adding the worms back into the NEW soil.

Remember that mites attach themselves to everything…climb on everything…wash your hands before starting new processes…place the new culture in a different location…I can almost guarantee you that the mites are not all in the whiteworm culture…and those that are not will find the new one unless you move it to a new location.

They are the absolute worst problem we have ever encountered culturing foods.

Avoiding them in the future is important. We use mite paper under and over the cultures to keep them away. We also don’t keep all of our cultures in the same location. We also wash hands between harvesting of different cultures.

This may all sound like a pain, but in the end it’s worth it…whiteworms are a great food.

Don’t worry about the STs…no harm, no foul…but the little red critters have got to go.

Take care,

-Jim

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07.20.09

How Much Greenwater Do I Need?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:24 am by livefood

Jim,
I have an 18 gallon storage tote made by rubbermaid. This is what I will culture my daphina in. I would like to get some green water, but I need a lot, so what should I do?
Thanks Brooks

Brooks,

A rough rule of thumb to follow regarding the amount of greenwater to support a healthy colony of daphnia is three to one. That is three gallons of greenwater to every gallon of daphnia. It seems to work pretty well except in situations (like mine) where the days become shorter in the fall causing the greenwater tanks outside to produce less or in those situations when the daphnia “bloom” because of temperature changes in the spring and early summer…in the first case there is not enough greenwater to go around because of lean greenwater and in the second there is not enough because of too much daphnia (like that should be a problem). In both cases we supplement the feedings (or use exclusively) a slurry or Gerber’s Sweet Potato baby food or Gerber’s Peas baby food and/or mixed with a small amount of yeast. In any combination the mixture should only create a very slight haze in the daphnia culture…a very small amount. We use approximately 1/2 of a “large” jar to feed 16 24 gallon cultures…so it’s not much per container. We just put the baby food in a large bottle (like a soda bottle), fill it with water and shake it a bit to throughly mix the stuff…very low tech but works very well.

In the beginning of your culturing you will probably experience lean greenwater cultures and probably should think about using the supplemental slurry feeding idea. It takes us about a week to a week and a half for a GW culture to get up to it’s full potential (relative for the time of the year and available sunlight and nutrients). Of course this is how long it takes us. In your location it could be different.

Out low tech greenwater producing system consists of a white (translucent) 50 gallon drum with the end cut off. It’s a tall 50 gallon aquarium with gold fish inside. We feed the goldfish old fish flakes and pellets…they love it all and make lots of fertilizer and the water goes green very quickly. The goldfish also eat all fo the mosquito larvae thay may have been in their tanks (I have never seen one in the tanks with the goldfish). We have 3 of these barrels for every two of our daphnia tanks. A 20 gallon tank of greenwater should support a daphnia culture in a 5 gallon tank or bucket. In your case, one of these 50 gallon drum would support the 18 gallon tub…no problem (except during blooms and the fall of course).

If you have questions along the way, please do not hesitate to ask them.

Take care,
- Jim

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07.13.09

Feeding Horses

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:20 am by livefood

Hi Jim .Actually , maybe you can help me with something .I am also looking for a source of salt water amphipods(gammarus shrimp) and I have tried for MONTHS to get them from Florida Aqua Farms , but keep getting the run around from them.I am feeding two six inch hungry horses that are trained onto frozen foods because they are captive bred but like live treats . Any ideas ? I will be mailing out your check today for the vinegar eels. Thanx again ,
sincerely ,
Lorraine

Lorraine,

There are only a couple of saltwater gammarus and they live in inter tidal zones. Not all that easy to breed as their needs are somewhat contrary to generally accepted fish keeping practices. It seems to be more difficult to get fish keepers to think “dirty” than one would think. All gammarus are detritivours…and if something isn’t dying in the tank, they don’t have much to eat. While they seem to be grazing on algae, they are probably eating the decaying material and leaving the fresh stuff behing. We feed ours “cichlid pellets” to make sure that they have enough to eat. FAF may only have the gammarus on a seasonal basis and/or a tide related availability kind of thing. We don’t work with saltwater varieties as we have other local options.


To your question…it seems from conversations that we have we other horse keepers, frozen is the primary food (like yours) and if they suppliment with anything it’s either brine shrimp (not all that nutritious on it’s own) or they use a freshwater critter and drop small amounts in front of the horses…mysis shrimp for example, young grass shrimp is another. The other option, which is common with clownfish folks is living near the ocean and collecting plankton on the tide…a common practice in our area. In 15 minutes you can collect a whole lot of plankton…but getting to a suitable collecting spot is the trick. I have yet to hear of gammarus in a plankton pull.

To the brine shrimp…easy to come by in most areas but nutritionally deficient UNLESS you “gut load” the critters with some food within several hours of feeding the horses. SELCO is a common gut load product and is great for the purpose (full of HUFAs in combination). A slurry of sweet potato or peas (from baby food by Gerber) can also work…the SELCO is probably superior for the purpose and a whole lot easier :-) There is a product called “Golden Pearls” which was designed in part as a shrimp feed…and it is also a good gut load product (rich in HUFAs etc). The gut loaded brine shrimp become a superlative food as opposed to non-gutloaded ones.

I know…a little more info than you wanted. Hope is gives you some options.

Take care,
Jim

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07.06.09

My Maggots Don’t Mature

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:12 am by livefood

“After a number of successful cultures during the summer, I made a batch of food, added flies, maggots developed as expected and climbed the walls and mesh, the maggots developed … and developed … and developed. No flies ever emerged. The culture died from lack of developing flies.

This has happened a couple of times.

??? Suggestions or explanation ???

(I actually have lost my culture of flies with this last crash - my fault for getting down to only one container developing. I will order more when I need a new culture. At the moment the frogs are all big enough to eat crickets. But I did want to understand what went wrong so I didn’t just repeat my error.) - Alan

Alan,

I have to think about the question a bit. It’s an odd situation. My first reaction was that you were dealing with flies which had become too old to be fertile (fruitflies are much more fertile and productive in the first half of their lifespan), but that can’t be the case because you speak of many maggots which seem to be doing maggotty things. You don’t mention pupae, are you getting the maggots to pupate or do they just continue to crawl around before dying?

It they are get stuck in the pupae stage you might be talking about too much moisture in the container…the pupae shell has to be fairly dry (hence the need to crawl away from the food) so the fly can emerge. A different closure system would solve that. We use sponge stopper which let a fair amount of moisture to escape.

If the maggots never pupate, I’m at a loss (not for words, obviously, just solutions).

Usually challenges fall into a couple of broad categories…catastrophic and other…catastrophic meaning everything dies in a very short period (a freeze for example). That is the easy one (usually) because you can look at a point in time and for events that triggered the event. The “other” is the slow route where you tend to have to look at many issues. Nutitional deficiencies can be an “other”, a few degrees too hot or too cold…where the flies (or maggots) will linger but not die all at once. In the other cases I usually look at the biology of the environment first (resulting in the moisture idea).

If you want to discuss this more, let me know. It’s an interesting problem.
The solution is probably very easy, once the cause is figured out of course.

Take care,

Jim

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