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The Bug Farm
San Rafael, CA 94903  USA

2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, J.Atchison

Paramecium for Aquarium Fish including Betta Splendens fry

Use these for:

Betta fry
Killifish fry
Gourami fry
A vital part of "infusoria" 
small fry usually from egg laying adults...use only until the fry can be switched to vinegar eels, microworms or baby bnne shimp
  Ask us more about Paramecium

Telling your friends that you are culturing paramecium at home will really add a touch of over the top scientific aura to your hobby. You too can amaze your friends...just don't tell them that their easy.

Just a little more work than boiling water, but you have to be careful with the directions and amounts of ingredients (whereas with boiling water the list of ingredients is shorter, paramecium has some ingredients). A good rule of thumb to remember with paramecium is that too much of a good thing for these "bugs" and they will not survive.

Paramecium live in water and will eat bacteria that are generally found in aquariums. Now the paramecium won't do too well in the aquarium as there is not enough bacteria to keep them multiplying and of course the fish eat the paramecium. It's best to culture the paramecium outside the tank and introduce them as needed.

We like to keep smaller cultures rather than large one. We used to try to culture them in one-gallon jars and now prefer to use half gallon and one-quart jars. Notice that jars are mentioned.Redundancy is a good thing for you will find that paramecium can cultures can bloom and crash with some ease. We also prefer to use glass vessels as opposed to plastic. We like the glass versions because you can wash them in a dishwasher, cleanliness being a fairly significant concern with protozoans in general.

One of the great things about this food source is that they will live for a long time (days and weeks) in a fresh water tank. Of course if you over feed and the paramecium don't find enough to eat, they will die and foul the water, but the up side of the deal is that you can feed once a day and expect that the fry will be able to feed at will.

Another feature of this culture is that it is very easy to start and to maintain. Feeding is also easy.

You need to start with clean material. We thoroughly wash the jar(s) and boil about 1- quarts of water...add 10-12 kernels of "wheat berries" or whole wheat kernels to the boiling water and continue to boil until the berries/kernels are soft.We keep the rolling boil for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat source. When the water has come back to room temperature we put the water and the boiled wheat into a quart jar and cover the jar with a plastic bag. We just loosely cover the jar with the bag. Air getting to the water is OK; we just don’t want dust and other airborne contaminants. For larger jars, we just use an appropriately greater amount of water and wheat berries.

Remove the water, cover and let it come to room temperature.

When the mixture is definitely at room temperature, we add of the starter culture. We add only one half as an insurance measure. The next day, we look at the culture with a magnifying glass and look for the shimmer of paramecium swimming in the water. When we are convince that the culture has survived, we add the second half of the starter or start a second culture.

Place the culture in a place that will not get too much light. The light will create an algae culture. The culture should not be placed in the shade. If you keep the cultures out of direct sunlight and away from bright household lighting, you should be able to keep them going for quite some time. Room temperature is preferred over warm or cold. If you are comfortable, so are they.

The wheat berries are a source of food for bacteria which is the food that the paramecium feed upon.

In a week or so, the culture should start to bloom. About every two weeks you will need to start a new culture and/or refresh your current one. When that occurs, boil a half dozen berries and when they are cool, add them to the existing culture. We like to have a couple of cultures developing so that if one develops a problem and crashes we are not left without paramecium for our small fish. If when you check in two weeks the culture is still doing OK but seems to have peaked its production you can add two boiled wheat berries to the jar of water to encourage a new bloom of bacteria. The paramecium feed on the bacteria. You can also add a drop of "Liquifry," either formula 1 or 2 as food for the paramecium. You will probably need to start a new culture from scratch about once a month.

An alternative to the wheat berry concept is to use cornhusk. Both the wheat berries and the cornhusks provide a decaying material for bacteria to feed upon and the paramecium feed on the bacteria. While the Liquifry will probably not directly contribute food for the paramecium, it feeds bacteria, which, in turn are eaten by the paramecium.

Harvesting is a simple matter of taking some of the culture and adding it to the tank with the fry. You can use a turkey baster to suck some up and squirt it into the tank. You can also take a portion of the culture and create a slow siphon into the take of fry. Either way, the food gets to the fish. they will find the food.

Harvesting is easy. In the case of a healthy culture, the water should be clear and should not smell. If the water is cloudy or the culture smells rotten, there is too much uneaten bacteria in the culture. Wait a few days until the culture is clear and "sweet" before you feed you fish. The paramecium will survive in the tank until eaten. If not eaten immediately, they will feed on bacterium in the tank until the fry find the paramecium.

Remember that you might not be able to see the paramecium very well, but the fry will see them just fine. Although the food source is small, it will furnish nourishment for the fry and from which you should expect the water to become fouled. You need to change the water as you would with other more obvious food sources.

"We grow food not bait"


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