Top 5 Tiny Foods to Feed Baby Fish for Healthy Growth
Breeding fish is such a fun and rewarding part of the aquarium hobby, but while it can be easy to get fish to spawn, raising their tiny babies is where the real challenge begins. The newborn period is often a difficult time for fish due to water quality problems, predation or simply not providing enough food. Let’s discuss 5 tiny foods you can feed your baby to speed up their growth and help them get through the first few weeks.
1. Baby Brine Shrimp
Peacock gudgeon fry baby brine shrimp
Baby brine shrimp (BBS) is the best food for fry, according to fish farmers or veteran breeders. Freshly hatched brineshrimp have a nutritious yolk sac full of healthy fats, proteins and nutrients – ideal for feeding baby fish. Their jerky swimming movements make them a great live food. They grow faster and more quickly because of their lively swimming movements. The brine shrimp eggs can be hatched by soaking them in saltwater, adding aeration using an air pump and heating the water to 74-82degF (23-25degC). The baby brine shrimp will be ready to harvest in 18-36 hours. As long as you buy good eggs, the recipe is very reliable, so follow the instructions in this article.
Baby brine shrimp can be used by many species, including African cichlids and baby livebearers. They are about 400-500 microns long and suitable for many species that lay more eggs. Baby brine shrimp are not recommended for hatching small fry from eggs like rainbowfish, killifish, or tetras. The rest of this article will focus on smaller starter foods. We strongly recommend that you switch to baby brine shrimp once your fry have grown sufficiently.
Freshwater plankton under a microscope
Most baby fish in the wild eat microorganisms like protozoans or invertebrate larvae. The range is between 20 and 300 microns. Infusoria is the name fishkeepers commonly use to describe freshwater plankton. There are many ways to cultivate them. One popular method is to fill large jars with old tank water and mulm. Next, add a banana peel, catappa leaves or any other organic matter. Warm the water to tropical temperatures between 78-80degF (26-27degC) for faster results and add aeration to minimize the smell. Soon, the water should become cloudy as bacteria breaks down the food, and then it will turn clear as the infusoria consumes the bacteria.
You can harvest the eggs using a turkey baster, a pipette, or a pipette. The culture can last between 2 and 4 weeks depending on how often it is harvested. You can extend the life of the culture by topping off the jar with tank water, adding more food every week, and using a turkey baster to remove some of the decomposed gunk at the bottom. You may need to create a new culture every 2-3 weeks if you have many babies or need constant infusoria. Just pour water from the old culture into the new jar, add a food source, and fill the rest of the jar with aquarium water.
3. Vinegar Eels
Vinegar eels being harvested in a bottle neck
Infusoria is too time-consuming to keep alive, so you might try vinegar eels instead. This tiny nematode, or roundworm, is easy to cultivate. It measures approximately 50 microns in size and 1-2mm in length. Create a mixture of 50% apple cider mixture and 50% dechlorinated water inside a wine bottle or other long-necked container. You can add some apple slices, a starter culture for vinegar eels and then wait for them to reproduce. Once you can visibly see them wiggling near the surface, harvest them by adding a wad of filter floss in the neck of the bottle and some fresh water above the filter floss. The vinegar eels will swim towards the fresh water above, so you can easily scoop them out with a pipette to feed the baby fish. Their wiggling motion will attract the fry, and they provide longer access to food since they can survive in fresh water for several days. A vinegar eel culture can last up to 6 months, so follow our detailed instructions to create your own.
4. Powdered Fry Meal
Sera Micron fry food
You might consider purchasing prepared foods if you lack the time or resources to keep alive food cultures. The powdered form of fry food can range from 5 to 800 microns depending on the brand. You need to ensure that your baby fish have a varied diet. This will prevent them from becoming nutritionally deficient. Some of our favorite foods include:
Sera Micron Hikari’s First Bite Easy Fry and Small Fish food – Golden Pearls Crushed Flakes – Spirulina Powder – Repashy gel food in the raw, powdered version
Powdered food tends to float on the surface due to water tension. You may need to swirl water to get them to sink faster if you are feeding small bottom dwellers. A small children’s paintbrush is recommended to avoid overfeeding fish. To feed the fish, dip the bristles into the powder. Lightly tap the paintbrush several times on the fry tank. This technique ensures that you do not feed the fry too much at one time, which can end up deteriorating the water quality.
5. Green Water
Microalgae under a microscope
Green water is very similar to infusoria in size, but the green color is more prominent because it’s primarily made up of microalgae and other phytoplankton that create energy through photosynthesis. Hobbyists are usually trying to figure out how to get rid of green water in their aquariums and ponds since it makes it harder to view the fish and plants. But it can have many benefits. It purifies the water and makes it more difficult for adult fish to predate on their younger, heals minor ailments, and provides food for baby fish and daphnia culture. Start with a large jar, aquarium, or other container and fill it with old tank water. You can add liquid fertilizer or fish food to make the environment nutrient rich for the microalgae. Some people also like to use an air stone, filter, or other device to agitate the water surface and encourage gas exchange, helping to ensure the algae gets enough oxygen and carbon dioxide. For 24 hours, shine a lamp or desk lamp directly on the container. After several days, the water should start to turn more and more green and will be ready for feeding to the fry.
These are some additional Fry Feeding Tips
Baby fish need small meals every day because they have tiny stomachs. Also, it helps to put the fry in a smaller container or aquarium so that they don’t need to swim as far and waste as much energy finding the food. However, frequent feedings in small containers can quickly foul the water, leading to fry mortality. This is why frequent water changes are essential to maintain the water’s stability and cleanliness. Master breeder Dean addresses this problem by creating a rack of fry trays that constantly drips and circulates water from a larger aquarium down below.
Feeding healthy fry is only one aspect. Keep reading to find out our top 5 tips to help your baby fish grow big and strong.