Infusoria Cultures at Home
Origins: Infusoria (a menage of one-celled or equally teeny multi-celled animals) get their name because they originate from vegetable infusions – pulverized vegetation in water. Don’t forget spontaneous generation. Lots of tiny critters live in infusoria. Some of the better known ones are paramecia (pic above) and rotifers.
Use: Aquarists feed infusoria to their tiniest fish fry. Example, gouramis start life too small to eat most foods. Even newly hatched brine shrimps are too big for gourami fry. (Betta fry are a little more aggressive in that some will rip the legs off newly hatched shrimp.) If you intend to rear the smaller egglayers (including bettas), you will need infusoria. You can start most anabantids on green water (mostly Euglena), but your yield drops considerably. You also get tremendous variances in size.
Size: About a 100 of these critters could line up across the diameter of a skinny human hair — skinny hair not skinny human.
Starting Comments: Your aquarium contains plenty of little critters to get your infusoria culture started. However, if you can get a start from an established culture, you will get better results faster. Established cultures contain a larger percentage of paramecia.
Starting Instructions: Make an infusion (instructions later) and add it to six quart jars half-filled with aquarium water. Let stand in an out-of-the-way place for several days. (Window sills in the sun can get too hot.) You will need about a week to determine whether your cultures are a success. Set aside a gallon of aged water for later use. Tap water contains chemicals designed to kill infusoria. For some strange reason, humans prefer to consume water with less nutrition in it.
Select Your Best Culture: Shine a penlight through your water. Look for “dusty-looking water.” Those dust-size particles are your infusoria. (Infusoria also make cloudy water in new tanks.) Not every culture establishes itself at the same rate. Pick your best culture and clean out the others. Start new cultures and inoculate them with your most successful culture. (If you use plastic or opaque containers, you cannot check which of your cultures are successful.) Selective breeding at its finest. Or you can start 100 cultures and grade them on the curve. Sign up the two best for MENSA.
Infusion Recipes: Standard recipes involve boiling hay or grass in water and using the cooled “tea.” One rabbit food pellet per jar is about the same thing. Other infusoria growers blenderize lettuce leaves. Some just grab a handful of aquarium plants and squeeze the juice (and infusoria) from them. In other words, you can invent your own formula.
OatMeal and Yeast: 1/4c oat meal and a pinch of activated yeast placed in a blender with just enough clean water to make a paste. 1 tsp of paste per 10 ltr. water.
Powdered Eggs: A tiny dab of powdered eggs also makes a great infusoria food. One packet of powdered eggs should last you a lifetime. Once you open it, store your excess in a sealed jar.
Infusoria Powder: Some manufacturers make powdered food combined with infusoria spores. They yield better than average results but are getting hard to find in the market place.
Infusoria Food: Perhaps we should make it clear that these infusions really feed bacteria (which are even smaller than your infusoria). The infusoria then eat the bacteria. Bad cultures are those that overproduce bacteria. Rinse out these stinky cultures and re-inoculate them.
Feeding the Fry: Pour most of your infusoria culture into your fry tank. (That’s one reason most spawning instructions tell you to use a half tank of water.) Then add more water and powdered egg to restart your infusoria culture.
Filtering Fry Water: Use a functioning (inoculated) sponge filter. Sponges will not suck in your fry. Sponges also grow tasty rotifers on their surface (which the fry eat). If you need to lower the water level of a tank full of tiny fry, put an air-stone on the end of a length of airline tubing. Use that as your (incredibly slow, but safe siphon). No fry will go down your drain.
Summary: You need infusoria for many egg-layer fry like bettas, but baby guppy’s like them also. They find plenty growing wild in your aquarium.
This is not a thing but a myriad of critters. There may be any number of critters in the mixture and my include paramecium, rotifers and the like. There will need to be some bacteria available for these critters to feed upon. The bacteria needs some decaying organic matter for food such as old leaves, hay, grass, manure, milk. A word of caution if you get the bacterial count too high, your neighbors blood pressure will skyrocket (let alone a spouse or a family) as the count rises so does the aroma (or perhaps stench). A very healthy bacterial bloom can be had with a relatively small amount of decaying material. Be patient. If the culture is not blooming in the first week, don’t add more material. Wait another week and re-evaluate.
In an appropriate container, a gallon glass jar is perfect, put a small handful of crushed lettuce or crushed hay and fill the container with water taken from your aged aquarium. The culture should turn cloudy in a day or a few days and then can be inoculated with some well aged aquarium water (to re-seed the process). It may take several days for the water to clear, but when it does you should be able to see clouds of infusorians hopping/glided/jefking/swimming through the water.
Using a magnifying glass, and a flashlight to backlight the culture should help you see the infusorians.
While these may not be the perfect food they are available year round and can be cultured in your fish room with little smell and cultured in a very small area.
Take a quart jar and fill it with distilled water. If you use aquarium water you may be introducing other organisms (see above) which may feed on the paramecium you are trying to culture. If distilled water is a problem for you, boil some tap water to kill bacteria. Boil about 15-20 kernels of raw wheat. Boiling softens the kernels and begins to break down the outer shell so that it can decay. Wheat can be found in health food stores and some grocery stores commonly called Wheat Berries. Add the boiled kernels of wheat and about a ¼ teaspoon of Brewers Yeast to the distilled water stir until dissolved. The mixture will be cloudy. Add your paramecium starter and set the jar aside (covered with a couple of small holes punch through the cover) at room temperature light is a good thing. The culture should be ready to use in 2-3 weeks. Start a new culture every 2-3 weeks to assure yourself of a good and ongoing supply. The culture will be good for about 2-3 weeks after it gets going. Temperature has a lot to do with the 2 or 3 week time recommendations. We have 2 sets of jars going all the time.