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Version 3.2 written & compiled by
John Clare, B.A., Ph.D.
Table of Contents
Background Introduction and Version Information What are Daphnia? Anatomy of Daphnia What kinds are there? Where can they be found/obtained?
Culturing Where can I culture them? Physical Requirements What do I feed them? How do I maximise the yield? Harvesting Maintenance Dos and Don'ts
Further Information Contacts Daphnia Related Links References/Bibliography/Credits
Introduction and Version Information This document is aimed primarily at aquarists and anyone wishing to culture
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Daphnia as a food for fish or other animals (such as young newts and salamanders). It is also aimed at anyone interested in learning more about Daphnids, and in particular, the genus Daphnia. Many of the culturing aspects of this document borrow from Kai Schumann's Daphnia FAQ. Interspersed throughout are useful tips from the live_foods mailing list (email@example.com). A full list of credits can be found in the References/Credits section. I wrote and compiled this document because despite the culturing aspect being well covered by Kai and a number of others, correct detailed information on Daphnia is hard to obtain from almost all sources except scientific journals/post-graduate theses, and the internet (though you have to really dig for it). There is also a lot of conflicting advice out there, most of which I have tested and have used this experience to "filter" out what I think is good advice from the bad before putting it in here. I have explained much of the scientific phraseology and terminology used below, but if you are having problems, or if you see some incorrect information, please contact me using this form. A note on volume: I use Imperial Gallons to measure volume. An Imperial gallon is 4.545 litres. A US gallon is 3.8 litres. - The first version of this document was written in August 1998. - Version 2.0 is dated December 1999. - Version 2.5 features fixed links and many new ones for suppliers and information (January 2000). - Version 3.0 features additions to the feeding section based on advice I've given on the Axolotl Mailing List, as well as new links and some dead links removed. If you spot any dead ones or you have one I should add, please let me know. - Version 3.1: Removed the photos and made some minor corrections. I'll put some up of my own ASAP. - Version 3.2: Added my own photo of Daphnia magna.
What are Daphnia? Daphnia (or Daphnids) are members of a collection of animals that are broadly termed as "water fleas". These are predominantly small crustaceans, and Daphnia belong to a group known as the Daphniidae (which in turn is part of the Cladocera, relatives of the freshwater shrimp, Gammarus et al, and the brine shrimp, Artemia spp). They get their common name from their jerky movement through the water. Apart from the jerky movements, the resemblance to real fleas (Pulex iritans, etc), ends: real fleas are insects and share only an extremely distant common ancestry with Daphnia, since both crustaceans and insects are arthropods. In this document, the terms Daphnia, Daphnids/Daphniidae are used interchangeably and though not technically the same, they should be read as such in all cases except that of species names which are absolute. These terms will be used to describe species of the genus Daphnia, especially D. pulex and D. magna. All species of Daphnia occur in different strains - sometimes the same species can look completely different, both in terms of size and shape, depending on its origin, and environmental factors at that location. As many of their traits will apply to other related genera, we will also touch on Moina, a group of close relatives. It is important to distinguish between Daphnia and other "water fleas" such as the various species of copepod (like Cyclops spp) and ostracod (Cypridopsis et al)
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Many foreign species have been introduced to America and Europe from Asia and Africa (the most notorious of which is Daphnia lumholtzi. general shape (and. ten live young per individual (the entire race is made up of females during this period). as opposed to parthenogenic reproduction which is diploid). The daphnia covered in this document feed on particles found floating in the water (phytoplankton. on average. The jerky movement. either through accidental introduction by man. Generation after generation of females can be born in this way.caudata. but the predominant foods are free-living algae (eg Chlamydomanas spp. daphnia reproduce by parthenogenicity. When food is scarce some eggs develop into males and the females produce eggs that must be fertilised (the sexes reproduce via haploid means. It is not uncommon to collect 20 or more species in one small area of lake bottom.the offspring are exact genetic replicas of the parent (clones). they can often be seen "blooming" in ponds and lakes as the concentration of algae builds up. and are shed with the carapace as dark brown/black saddle-shaped cases known as ephippia (ephippium is Latin for saddle). In the wild. colour) of daphnia are the best way to distinguish them without magnification. Volvox spp. Many aquatic insect larvae and other invertebrates also feed on cladocerans. which is native to Africa). fungi and decaying organic matter into animal tissue that can be used by larger animals. etc). bacteria and fungi. In the summer months. for up to twenty five times in their lifetime (though this number is usually far smaller. food availability and presence of waste products of their metabolism). i. These can 3 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Developing embryos are often visible in the mother's body without the aid of a microscope. with new females reproducing as early as four days old at intervals as often as every three days. minnows. half the number of chromosomes to procreate from each sex. etc) as soon as they arise. An important link in food chains of virtually every inland body of water. You don't need to be a mathematician to imagine the magnitude of a healthy daphnia population.Daphnia http://www. A few species of Cladocera are predacious but most are herbivores or detritivores. and a similar number in Europe (many of these species are found on both continents. In large lakes they are a major food source for many kinds of fish such as sticklebacks. the fry of larger fish and also larval amphibians. Parthenogenicity is the ability to self-replicate without fertilisation of any form (a type of asexual reproduction) . and any differences in the physical state of the clones is due to environmental conditions. temperature. The morphology and anatomy of Daphnids are discussed in detail in the Anatomy Section below. There are approximately 150 known species in North America.e. Parthenogenesis seems to have evolved to allow daphnia to take advantage of good conditions (food. to a lesser extent. but share many of the feeding habits of Daphnids. but also attached vegetation or decaying organic material). summer and early autumn (depending on temperature. These eggs develop into small embryos which then go into suspended animation. bearing. and females tend to produce a lot less than one hundred offspring). bacteria.org/daphnia/#cult2 which do not directly come under the scope of this document. cladocerans convert phytoplankton/benthic plants. Their prolificity is due to a great extent to their ability to replicate by parthenogenicity. or nature). during the late spring.
for example (H. Daphnia have a protein content of around 50% dry weight and a fat content of 20-27% for adults (4-6% for juveniles). dichromate ions). zinc and most dissolved toxins (e. pulses will be noticeable. Some species have been reported to have a higher protein content.U.org/daphnia/#cult2 survive harsh conditions and are quite capable of withstanding a dry spell if their pond dries up for a while. and daphnia are extremely sensitive to copper. They are also sensitive to metal ion concentration. even more so than to fish. which in increased concentrations can cause immobility and death. "they are what they eat". For example. potassium. When conditions improve again. This document uses D. like sodium. or Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids are often sold for this purpose). Daphnia are represented worldwide as a number of different species. magnesium and calcium. See the Maintenance section for ways to counter population fall-off. like the chloride or fluoride in tap water. and the male sex dies out completely until it is needed when conditions worsen once again. Even in an aquarist's culture. using up a lot of food and causing overcrowding. though in a good year there can be many pulses.caudata. be they from the same genus or related genera.Daphnia http://www. and then the numbers fall sharply and ephippia are produced. There are often pulses of population growth. they are very sensitive to halide concentration. pulex and its variants as its model (found throughout the northern hemisphere). which are extremely toxic to daphnia. and they can sometimes even survive freezing. As with most live foods. the egg producing generations begin producing live young once again (all females).g. In terms of nutritional information.A. when numbers increase almost logarithmically by parthenogensis. but its characteristics can be applied equally well to most other species. Daphnia have been proven to be very sensitive to poor water conditions and a number of research and industrial groups use Daphnia to test water quality. They are often used to monitor water quality so that only safe water is released into the environment by industry and water treatment plants. and so vitamin and other formulas are available as food for filter feeders like Daphnia and Artemia which will give them certain food values or an increase in a given fatty acid. The ephippial females of most Daphnids are easy to tell from their live-bearing counterparts because the developing ephippium is visible as a black spot towards the rear end of the animal. and Moina are quite often found to be 70% protein. Anatomy of Daphnia 4 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Once thought of as an animal of polluted waters. There are usually two of these pulses every year.F.
F. Swimming is accomplished by downward strokes of the large second antennae. Clare).caudata.Daphnia http://www. Daphnia tend to be almost kidney shaped. it is generally believed that all organic particles of suitable size are ingested without any selective mechanism. C. A carapace covers the body. shell gland. The post-abdomen bears two large claws used primarily for cleaning debris out of the carapace. and is used as a brood chamber. SG. rostrum or beak. The abdomen and post-abdomen (distal to the anus) is generally bent forward under the thorax. ovary. and leaf-like limbs inside the carapace that produce a current of water which carries food and oxygen to the mouth and gills. OV. BC. Protozoa. FA. compound eye. Their bodies are almost transparent and with a microscope you can see the heart beating. they may be removed by spines on the first legs and then kicked out of the carapace by the 5 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . In most species complex movements of the thoracic appendages produce a constant current of water between the valves. B. including the 4 to 6 pairs of thoracic appendages. brain. such as particular types of algae. R. 1925. intestine. INT. digestive caecum. Although there is some evidence that certain types of food. Small particles (less than 50 microns in diameter) in the water are filtered out by fine setae on the thoracic legs and moved along a groove at the base of legs to the mouth. CE. a simple eye). brood chamber. or bacteria may be selected by some species. (muscles not shown in fig 1). first antenna (antennule). H.org/daphnia/#cult2 Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 1: Anatomy of female Daphnia pulex (De Geer) (greatly magnified). When undesirable material or large tangled masses are introduced between the mandibles. ocellus. O. heart. and sometimes even their last meal (the gut may appear green if the individual has been feeding on algae).) Figure 2: Photograph of a female Daphnia magna (by John P. two doubly-branched antennae (frequently half the length of the body or more). (Fig 1 was greatly modified from Storch. possessing only a single compound eye (though they have an ocellus. diagrammatic. fornix.
in water which has low oxygen levels. Four distinct periods may be recognized in the life history of Daphnia: (1) egg. though within a given species. a clutch of 6 or 10 eggs is released into the brood chamber. Typically. The time required to reach maturity varies from 6 to 10 days. modified post-abdomen. However. the shape of the rostrum and whether the 6 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . This serves to highlight the heavy emphasis on fast reproduction to take advantage of good conditions. those of main concern to the aquarist will probably be Daphnia pulex. Daphnia fed on green algae will be transparent-green in colour. size can vary greatly (female Daphnia magna can be between 3 mm and 5 mm). depending on the species. Daphnia tend to develop more hemoglobin to increase their oxygen uptake from the water. The colour is also moderated by what food is predominating in the diet. pulex 67%). is red in colour and this gives the see-through body of daphnia a red pigmentation. Daphnia typically invest most of their energy in reproduction (D. 1978). is highly variable depending on the species and environmental conditions (Pennak. that which has coordinatively bound oxygen. What kinds are there? There are many different species of Daphnia and closely-related genera. (3) adolescent and (4) adult (Pennak. is Daphnia hyalina. Moina are very tiny Daphnids and are often used as an easier-to-culture substitute for Artemia (brine shrimp) as fry food. An example of a species that seems to exist with very little hemoglobin in comparison to other members of its genus. magna 69%. Daphnia magna. The eggs hatch in the brood chamber and the juveniles. because young Moina are only slightly larger than newly-hatched brine shrimp. Colour is sometimes quoted in literature as a means of identifying species.Daphnia http://www. which are already similar in form to the adults. Adult daphnia range in size from half a millimetre to almost a centimetre. larger antennules. due to lowered metabolic activity. from the release of the egg into the brood chamber until the death of the adult. the shape of the ephippium. which are armed with a hook used in clasping. D. the colour of genetically-identical individuals can be quite different due to the adaptive physiology of Daphnids . and the various Moina species. Generally the life span increases as temperature decreases. The average life span of D.caudata. but this can be a very vague indicator of species because within a species (and even a strain). The average life span of Daphnia pulex at 20oC is approximately 50 days. Oxy-hemoglobin. magna is about 40 days at 25 oC and about 56 days at 20oC. Identifying Daphnia species accurately is best achieved using their size. (2) juvenile. The life span of Daphnia. while they invest comparatively little in growth (23%). Males are distinguished from females by their smaller size. are released in approximately two days when the female molts (casts off her exoskeleton). and first legs. Individuals of the same strain in oxygen-rich environments tend to be yellow or almost unpigmented. i. while those feeding on bacteria will be salmon-pink.org/daphnia/#cult2 post-abdomen. 1978).e. and first stage daphnia are not much bigger. It is usually found in the open water of lakes where dissolved oxygen is plentiful.
I obtained my Daphnia pulex strain from a local aquarist shop only because it happened to come in on some plants. Daphnia magna is quite rare. one of the appendages of the carapace near the post-abdominal is setose. magna males are 2 mm in length and females are 3-5 mm. Related species There are many other species of Daphnia/Cladoceran to be found throughout the world. pulex is very hard to distinguish from a number of closely related forms (some consider them seperate species. Generally. pulex. The males are usually 1. pulex. magna. magna has a wide temperature tolerance. and is usually fed to the same size of fish. Other than the size difference. magna's and the embyos in it are not parrallel.5mm in length).2 mm. their culture is almost identical to that of Daphnia.5 . magna is usually considered more "delicate" than D.B. it is usually very abundant. magna. some of which may have different traits to the "norm". They are very small in comparison to most Daphniidae (less than 0.caudata.3 mm. pulex (from the F. and there is only one extension from the top edge of the ephippium. magna.'s 1966 Key to British Cladocera). Although magna does produce ephippia. magna is shaped like a saddle. although similar to daphnia and other members of the Daphniidae. but the generic D. and in this respect can be very similar to D. However. Some of the less well-known are described below. it is like a smaller replica of D. In the wild. others sub-species. the two species are almost exactly the same in appearance. their use as a cheap alternative to brine shrimp as a first fry food has made them popular with many fish breeders. pulex is taken to have males of about 1. pulex from D. but where it does occur. Daphnia pulex . 7 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . with the top long side having two extensions beyond the rectangle at either end. pulex's smaller size. It should be noted that within each species there are usually different strains. and females up to 2. pulex. it is less inclined to do so than D. but it is this latter variety which I have found in the wild and identified as D.5 mm. The are a number of ways to distinguish D. However. The strain which I culture and know as D. the ephippium of D. the ephippium is more triangular than D. D. These include D. D.A.Daphnia http://www. galeata). since hybridisation is common. One example of this is D. D. pulex's colour ranges from yellow to almost red. tends to be larger than that described by many texts (such as that by the British Columbian Resources Inventory Committee). Moina spp are. Daphnia magna is the species normally associated with the name Daphnia by most aquarists. They range in colour from a pale yellow to salmon-pink. pulex and as a result it is not as tolerant of culture fouling as D. the embryos inside the ephippium (of which there are usually two in Daphnia species) are parallel. and their young are only about the size of newly-hatched brine shrimp. but it should be noted that these are much harder to come by unless you happen to live in a country which has the species in the wild. often this is affected by their food source. D. and it is like a curve-edged rectangle. Like all Daphnia spp ephippia.3. It has been a favourite live food source since the hobby began.5 mm and females 2. D.Although a species in its own right. D.org/daphnia/#cult2 post-abdominal extension is long/short and/or whether smaller appendages close to it are setose (covered with small hair-like structures). is quite distinct from the genus Daphnia. pulex produces ephippia quite readily in bad conditions. and although they are harder to acquire. but its optimum temperature is between 18 and 22 oC (64-72F).
hyalina). and to most people. It tends to be more tolerant of acidic water than other Daphnids. or dragged slowly behind a boat. even hydra). one species looks the same as the other. and it is almost comical to watch an individual wheeling about in the surface film attempting to break free. hyalina is more often found in the open water of lakes. D. I have found that lakes/ponds located in limestone-based areas are good sources of Daphnia. otherwise the pressure of the water on the creatures caught in it may well kill them. but have never found D. hyalina is very transparent and as a result it is sometimes hard to see individuals in the water.org/daphnia/#cult2 D. Again this species is commonly found in Northern Europe. If you intend to obtain species from the wild. many "Moina" cultures are actually Bosmina cultures. magna. I use the inverted commas because most so-called D. In comparison to D. It is recommended that you obtain your daphnids from a fish-free lake/pond for two reasons: a fish-free lake/pond will mean there is more chance of obtaining daphnia because there will be less predators to eat them. The author has encountered this species on a number of occasions in the wild. the body shape slightly less rotund than that of D. The best time of day to obtain daphnia is when they bloom in large clouds where there is a high concentration of algae. despite the fact that is quite common in Europe. It is important that you screen any daphnids you obtain in this manner to ensure you don't introduce parasites and/or predators (almost anything can eat fish fry. Its body shape is shaped rather like a pea which has started to sprout. It is a very active species and can often be confused with other small daphnids without the aid of a microscope or high power magnifying glass. magna. and often exceeds 6 mm in length. and the "head" is less distinct as it doesn't extend as far from the body as it does in D. or alternatively. Starter cultures can be obtained via mail order in the US and Europe. I have obtained most of the species mentioned above in nature in my own country. pulex is far more readily available. Ireland (particularly the smaller variant of Daphnia pulex and D. in the evening before dusk in shallow water. Contact information for some of these sources can be found in the Contacts section. At this time the I'm not aware of any large-scale culturing of this species.caudata. D. "Daphnia magna" is probably the most known. pulex because D. magna. Simocephalus vetulus is a large daphnid which seems prone to being trapped in the surface film of water. But no matter where you are in the world. Where can they be found or obtained? The answer to this question really depends on your location and which species you wish to culture.Daphnia http://www. Bosmina coregoni is a rather small species (about 1 mm in length) and is found in weedy ponds and canals. the chances are there is a locally occuring species of daphnid which is as good as any for fish food purposes. and also if you're planning on using 8 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Interestingly. Try to ensure the mesh isn't too small and that the net isn't swept too fast. This is swept through the water at an even pace in a figure of eight pattern. hyalina in small lakes/ponds. hyalina is generally 3 mm in length. it is advisable that you use a fine meshed-net or sieve (or a home-made one made of muslin/net-curtain and a bent coat-hanger on a broom handle). Due to its small size it is more suitable for use as a fry food than other Daphnia. It is commonly found in Northern Europe. magna cultures turn out to be D.
For someone who only wants a modest amount of Daphnia per week. since fine bubbles can lodge inside the carapaces of daphnia. and eventually resulting in death (Artemia also suffer from this problem). because as you probably know. Just like ordinary aquaria. cultures can be maintained in two litre bottles. a light bulb in the lid which is on a timer makes it easy to keep indoors (you can get timers from electrical shops or from good aquaria outlets). Aluminium oxidises to form a skin of aluminium oxide. It is also important when putting a container in strong light that it isn't a dark colour (especially black). but what you keep them in is really up to you. thus providing greater stability for the culture. For an aquarium. Many people like to use children's blow-up paddling pools (I've used these in the past with great success). floating them to the surface and also preventing them from feeding. There are some things to bear in mind though when selecting containers: Is the container made of a material that won't dissolve in water. 9 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Airstones should be avoided.4 US) gallon plastic crates because I don't have the space for multiple aquaria. this section borrows heavily from Kai Schumann's FAQ and Franc Gorenc's article.g. very gentle aeration seems to be the key. it is desireable to have as high a surface area to volume ratio as possible to ensure that there is good gaseous exchange (though not very demanding. and it also helps stabilise the water conditions and acts against culture-fouling. dark colours produce more heat in the light than white or yellow containers.caudata. If you're keeping the "tank" outside in strong sunlight or with heavy illumination around. In theory this would seem to be a good idea for all daphnia as it not only helps increase gaseous exchange at the surface of the water. I have found that although Daphnia pulex does better with aeration. However. it is a good idea to use a container larger than 10 gallons as the water temperature will fluctuate less markedly. particularly polypropylene do this)? If you use a metal container. I personally culture them in 4 (3. Where can I culture them? Daphnia are undemanding in terms of what you culture them in. Daphnia appreciate a good oxygen supply). and/or leech chemicals into the water (some plastics. stainless steel is the safest because many metals will react slowly with water over time (e. with additions and changes by myself. daphnia from a fish-free lake/pond will almost be guaranteed disease free. I have found that Daphnia magna likes gentle aeration. Physical Requirements In places.Daphnia http://www. but small amounts of aluminium are released into the water).org/daphnia/#cult2 daphnia as live food for fish.
org/daphnia/#cult2 Salinity . The production of hemoglobin may be promoted by high temperatures. and a high population.5 to 3. like brine shrimp. with the optimum being between 7. the higher the toxicity of dissolved minerals and gases. and likewise. and calcium. magnesium.0 are lethal to the young. even in small amounts. Never use distilled or deionised water.5 and 9. a pH of 9 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 8. not sea water. Municipal and well water may be contaminated enough to kill the culture. Some species have been observed in salinities up to 4 ppt. NOTE: in general. monitoring of pH and ammonia is not critical to success.2 and 8. They become immobile and eventually die with the addition of salts like sodium. they are often used to test waste-water from industry. Oxygen . the more extreme the pH. have found that Bio-foam filters (designed for fry-tanks) are ideal for aerating Daphnia culture. and salinities of 1. Dissolved minerals . I (and a number of others). Also. bleaches and other dissolved toxins. the toxicity is radically increased. Low concentrations of phosphorus (less than 0.Daphnia are typically freshwater organisms and there are no marine species of the Daphnia genus. However care should be taken to use them at minimal air flow to avoid over-agitating the water. Concentrations of only 0. pH and ammonia . their ability to survive in an oxygen poor environment is in their ability to synthesize hemoglobin.caudata.5. or rain water collected from areas of low/no air pollution (and rain water collected in cities or industrial areas is usually safe if left to stand for a week and only the top-most 3/4 used). detergents. 99% of Cladocerans are found in freshwater. but in alkaline conditions. remember that pH is a logarithmic scale . Daphnia are not tolerant of fine air bubbles.5 is acceptable. A small degree of temporary and permanent hardness in the water usually encourages growth and reproduction because Daphnia make use of calcium and other minerals in their chitinous carapaces.01 ppm copper will result in reduced movement in Daphnia. As with any aquarium venture. but will not affect the actual health of the animals themselves. magna tends to prefer harder water 10 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM .5 ppm) will stimulate reproduction. Also.A pH between 6. For this reason. as it does not have the minerals needed for growth. So it seems that on the small scale that we require. Daphnia are very sensitive to disturbances of the ionic composition of their environment.0 ppt are common in pond cultures in the Orient. The best source of water is from your aquarium water changes. Daphnia are not affected by the addition of nitrogen in fertilizers for the promotion of algae growth. and dissolved oxygen varies from almost zero to supersaturation. but concentrations higher than 1.Daphnia http://www.Daphnia are generally tolerant of poor water quality. Daphnia magna are quite resistant to phosphorus and can withstand concentrations as high as 5-7 ppm. but you could also use filtered stream or lake water (fish-free water bodies are recommended due to possible disease introduction to your fish aquarium by way of the daphnia). A slow aeration is needed with Daphnia as a large bubble column will strip the Daphnia out and kill them.a pH of 5 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 6. They are extremely sensitive to metal ions like copper and zinc. potassium. and the removal of larger particles from the water is an added bonus.In contrast to their tolerance of low oxygen. D. Like the Brine Shrimp. pesticides. the water used should be treated with aeration or de-chlorinator to remove chlorine before the culture is started. Ammonia is generally highly toxic to all organisms. and this will drastically impair Daphnia reproduction. and the remaining few species are mostly found in brackish.
Temperature . usually a lot less. algae won't grow on the sides of the containers where it can block the sunlight. and bacteria. an organic plant fertiliser. 1 for each day of the week. this will provide about 1 gallon of fresh green water every two days. The optimum temperature for Daphnia magna is 18-22 oC (64-72F). Add 1 tea spoon of Miracle grow per gallon. Daphnia have similar feeding habits to other tiny crustaceans (especially to the likes of Artemia). I usually add a very tiny pinch of powdered Tufa rock (often used in Marine aquaria) to my water because there is very little temporary hardness in the water I use and no permanent hardness whatsoever. yeasts (Sacromyces spp. but it usually speeds up the process if you "seed" the water with some algae from a container that has already has a bloom. and similar fungi). Algal spores are carried on the wind and will colonise the water. because there really only needs to be a small movement in the water). When this has turned bright green (within 2 weeks). and the abundance of daphnia is usually proportional to the density of algal blooms. This is repeated with each container as they turn bright green. 11 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Combinations of the above seem to have the most success (i. One method is to use 1 gallon containers. As you might be able to tell.two days later tank #3. This system is then seeded with green water in tank #1 . resisting daily variations of 5-31oC (41-88 F). 1. The best foods for culturing are algae (typically free-living green algae species which tend to turn water to "pea soup"). What do I feed them? This is a general section on feeding Daphnia. There are a number of ways to grow algae. magna at certain times of the year. pulex seems to do well at well at almost any temperature above 10oC. etc. Placing a container of water outside in good sunlight will usually guarantee a good growth of algae within two weeks.org/daphnia/#cult2 (170 mg carbonate hardness) and D. D.e. Each food type will be discussed in turn. pulex a little less hard (90 mg carbonate hardness). Algae Micro algae is consumed in great quantities by Daphnia.two days later tank #2 . and means of attaining/growing it. 2. can be used to grow algae (after all they're just plants). Moina withstand extremes even more. yeast and algae seem to compliment one another). their optimum being 24-31oC (75-88 F). pour it into a Daphnia tank. all of which are very basic and require little effort.Daphnia http://www. By bubbling air through the containers (an airpump with 7 side lines will do. Refill the container with water mixture and seed with tank #2 which should be about to turn bright green.Daphnia have a wide tolerance to temperature. Miracle grow. The higher temperature tolerance of Moina make this species a better choice where temperatures may rise above the comfort levels for D. I have summarised my own experiences at the end of this section. together with its advantages and disadvantages. These sit on a window sill which gets good sunlight for as much of the day as possible.caudata.
though don't use human faeces unless you want typhoid or worse. If you're using yeast. the water will go cloudy after a time. and these will leech out of the dung into the water and reproduce. and easily acquired/cultivated. but it is recommended that no more than half an ounce of yeast per five gallons of water be fed every five days.Daphnia http://www. consider adding some algae to the water as this will counter any fouling which may result from adding the inactive yeast (this isn't so important with activated yeasts). Bacteria are a good food source.. although the food value doesn't tend to be as high. and most antibiotics or growth promoters which were fed to the animal will break down if the dung is left to dry for a while) and tying it in a nylon bag (such as tights/pantyhose). then drip the liquid into the tank at a rate of 16 fluid ounces per five to eight days. Typically. Yeasts There are two general kinds of yeast that we need be concerned about . and hanging this in the water with the daphnia.. Within a few days it is usually cloudy with bacteria. Activated yeast is generally a better food to feed because it will not foul the water as quickly/as much as the inactive kind. Some bakers yeasts come with added ingredients like Calcium Sulphate and Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to aid fast activation of the yeast. indicating that the bacteria are starting to multiply. other than the fact that it requires bi-daily maintenance / renewal. This should be changed once a week for maximum effect. and almost any kind of yeast are suitable for daphnia cultures. brewers. but care should be taken when adding this kind of yeast because Ascorbic acid can give pHs less than 6. Animal dung (including human dung. Bacteria Bacteria have a similar food value to fungi. However. yeast is far better than any other food except some bacteria. and the calcium sulphate gives vital calcium for the daphnia's carapaces.activated and inactive. but they generally reproduce faster than fungi and algae. The only downside is the smell of the decaying matter (which can be pretty bad at times). cow or sheep dung (dried for two reasons: it's easier to deal with. I have never had any pH changes when using such "mixes" in moderation.) contains copious quantities of bacteria from the digestive system. These are harmless to daphnia cultures. Do take care not to overfeed inactive yeast as it will foul the culture and therefore kill your daphnia. However.org/daphnia/#cult2 The advantages of algae as a food are that it is very easy to culture and it is excellent for growing daphnia.caudata. and there is a minimum of fuss when preparing it for the culture. dog biscuits or other meat-based food into a few gallons of water with some added aquarium water. An important 12 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Bakers. which are far from ideal with Daphnia. Bacteria are "cultured" by taking 5-6 ounces of dried horse. The only slight disadvantage is that it's not quite as good a food as algae (the daphnia need to consume more weight of yeast than algae to get the same food value). especially inactive yeast. Another method is to soak the dung for weeks until it decomposes into a nutrient slurry. which have almost as high a food value. There are no disadvantages really. The advantages of yeast as a food are that it's easy to acquire. Another way to culture bacteria in a hurry is to throw a handful of salmon (or trout pellets).
but I think that bacteria are just as nutritious. I've tried animal's blood and found it ok. 13 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . and dried blood. If you do you'll release all of the nutrients at once instead of over a few days and you can get the bacteria going out of control. Some of My Own Experience Unless you have a very large container. The only real difference is that the food value isn't as high as the corresponding weight of yeast. I should mention that I also keep water slaters (the European fresh water louse) in my daphnia cultures because they break down solid waste and prevent the pellets from being covered in fungus and floating at the surface. ideally in the early 20s celsius / ~70F. I fertilise the water with salmon pellets (the Indiana University Axolotl Colony's at the moment . The amount depends on your container size and current daphnia population.org/daphnia/#cult2 thing to remember is that horse dung usually contains tetanus (also a bacterium). and the same amounts and care should be taken when administering them. I would say for a 4 foot long aquarium one or even two handfuls is enough to fertilise the water if there is an already healthy population of daphnia. get yourself a bag of frozen peas and one of carrots. some species can act as a parasite vector. wheat flour. but the pellets win in my opinion. If you have less. You're looking for the "juices".May 2000). This contains particles of a size small enough for daphnia to sieve from the water (less than 50 microns). They do pulse though. As a guide. followed by algae and the mixture I mentioned above. this is reliant on temperature. I've used this a few times. It gives just as good a result. then don't use as many pellets or the bacteria population will go out of control. I've been maintaining two populations since June 1998 and they have never completely died out. so take any liquid and squeeze the mulch to get all of the liquid from it. like an outdoor pond. so care should be taken when handling it (make sure you have no open cuts/sores on your hands or arms).Daphnia http://www. I haven't bothered feeding green water to daphnia since 1998 so draw your own conclusions. I would have to say that I mainly agree with this. I don't think "green water" is worth the effort. Blend these until you have a mulch. The fresh water louse is a crustacean that looks like a wood louse and it is not a fish louse (louse is just the name). In that case it's mainly the blood that is the fertiliser. Mix about 80% peas and 20% carrots together and then stick them in a food blender. People recommend green water as the best food for daphnia. One final note on pellets . I don't recommend snails in the culture either because for one thing. Too much and you foul the water and everything dies. Other Foods These include bran.don't crush them much first. These should be considered similar to inactive yeast. and also because they use up calcium and that's reserved for the daphnia! I've heard of ground-up liver in water being recommended. It's far more concentrated than water with algae in it. but I'm just too lazy most of the time to bother with anything except rotting pellets. so use it sparingly.caudata. If you want a recommendation for a quick fix substitute for green water.
Therefore airstones should be avoided (unless used in a bio-foam filter in which case the air bubbles combine together). especially water changes. They trap larger particles in the water (they don't trap algae). and therefore the more frequent the water changes. Some people like to keep a light on 24 hours a day for their daphnia tank as this can encourage faster growth and reproduction. and help break them down. However. This is really dependent on what rate you're "running" the culture at. Carry out regular maintenance as described in the Maintenance section. Harvesting When it comes to culturing Daphnia. but 14 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . there are proven measures that increase the productivity of a culture. The outlets are usually very good at aerating the water. see the Harvesting section). This encourages constant growth and also keeps the daphnia from exhausting both the oxygen and the food in the water too fast for it to be replaced. but care should be taken to use them at low to minimum flow to avoid over-agitating the water (we want some aeration. I haven't had a fouled culture yet while using a bio-foam. The only problem with aeration is that fine bubbles can lodge underneath the daphnia's carapace and float it to the surface and preventing it from feeding. Good aeration (good in so far as the manner in which the water is aerated. Some species prefer no aeration. but Daphnia magna seems to do well with it. you probably won't need to do this once your culture gets going. However. but are ideal for daphnia. One important note though . The more food you feed. if not an exact science.caudata. releasing nutrient for the algae to feed on. It allows you to keep more daphnia in the same container. or coarse airstones (or better yet. but be aware that output levels will drop if there is a build up of metabolites/toxins/etc in the water.Daphnia http://www. no airstones) should be used instead. the faster the water will be fouled. (which counters stagnancy and fouling). This could lead to crashing. Cull/Harvest the culture regularly (again. any will do).org/daphnia/#cult2 How do I maximise the yield? Daphnia production is relatively simple. not a torrent). harvesting may be the aim of the exercise. These are commonly used in fry tanks. I haven't tried this myself. It also circulates the water.continuous 24 hour periods in which the daylight is less than 12 hours and with a temperature significantly below 18 Water changes: some people recommend you change up to 75% of the water in a culture every day. This is really up to the individual. A good method (tried and trusted) of aerating the water which I have mentioned previously is the bio-foam filter (there are a number of models available. not good as in quantity) is probably the largest contributing factor for good production. It minimises the possibility of algae growing on the walls of the container. and it also keeps inert food in suspension which is more conducive to most daphnia feeding habits.
more daphnia usually means more water needs to be changed.if conditions are good. and to avoid sudden changes. If you're culturing below about 25 oC.Daphnia http://www. Overcrowding is a serious danger otherwise. the Daphnia will concentrate on the surface where they're easier to harvest. The key to avoiding population fall-off/crashing is to have constantly good conditions. If you go on holiday for a few weeks. so a supplemental feeding is required for best effect. or the addition of dangerous chemicals to the water. They will resume normal activity when the water warms up. and even if they did. but just small enough to catch the adults (some people prefer to drain 1/4 of the tank into a net. In daylight/roomlight. Either change most of the water or take the mulm and put it in a new container . then it's generally a good idea to begin culling only midway through the second week unless you started out with a large number of daphnia (or your culture is growing like crazy already). Even if you have to wash the culled ones down the sink because you have too many. but should increase again in the following season. don't despair. try to use a net which has a large enough mesh to let young daphnia through.0046 density). so adequate circulation is required to keep them in suspension during feeding. and most bound amino acids are lost.caudata. Remember that if you're keeping your colonies outside. culture fouling. Maintenance A daphnia culture requires very little maintenance other than partial water changes (the amount really depends on the volume of water and the number of daphnia in the culture . But remember to cull regularly. This is because a lot of cultures take a few days to settle and start reproducing. even ephippia will not survive for very long in strong chemicals like bleach or even mild acid).org/daphnia/#cult2 it's also essential. When culling. 1. such as large temperature drops. Not more than 1/4 of the population should be harvested daily. the ephippia should hatch within 4 to 8 days (if you accidentally poisoned the culture with chemicals. Should your culture die off. Harvested Daphnia can be kept alive for several days in the refrigerator in clean water. and let the tank settle. but the harvest may vary according to the quality of the population. when you stop the aeration. otherwise the culture could become unstable. The nutritional quality will not be as good because they have been starving for several days. and replace the water with new fertilised water. Fish will not feed on frozen Daphnia as readily either.more water usually needs less changing. and in an hour all free amino acids. you may need to obtain a new starter culture because the daphnia may not have had time to produce ephippia. Nearly all the enzyme activity is lost in ten minutes. and in this way you do two jobs at once). Of course this kills the Daphnia. to a maximum of 50% per week). the population will naturally decrease in winter. Do feed your daphnia on a regular basis. still cull them. They also will not be as nutritious as the nutrients rapidly leach out in the aquarium. don't be surprised if your daphnia have produced ephippia and the population has decreased while you were away! 15 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Daphnia can be stored for long periods by freezing them in a low salinity water (7ppt.
and our cultures may be poisoned or die off for no apparent reason.caudata. Ammonia toxicity increases with higher pH. killing them in short order. this could be disastrous for the daphnia. Don't overfeed . otherwise they will not reproduce at a high rate. it 16 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . this will inhibit the population growth of your culture . Do cull/harvest your cultures at least once a week to avoid overcrowding.again. it must be left to stand or aerate the water for 24 hours to drive off the chlorine gas (fluoride is usually very low in concentration and isn't really something to worry about). If your water contains lots of ammonia. Any metals in the water can often be toxic to daphnia. DOs Do make sure you age your tap water and have a good idea of what's in it: If it contains chlorine (chloramine will also put chloride into the water). Do try to maintain a constant temperature (about 20oC is ideal for most species). and will probably just produce ephippia. DON'Ts Don't wash your hands with soap/detergent just before you put your hands in a daphnia culture unless you've _thoroughly_ rinsed your hands because soap and detergents are toxic to daphnia. Don't put your daphnia in a container of dense algae (and don't change too much water from the tank for algae water at one time) because algal blooms tend to raise pH to very high levels (over pH 9). and coupled with even a low ammonia concentration. Even the best of us will have accidents on occasion or have an emergency.if anything. Do make sure you have adequate water hardness for your daphnia. Do carry out regular partial water changes. underfeed your daphnia to avoid fouling and toxic build-up of ammonia. To counter this.org/daphnia/#cult2 Dos and Don'ts This section is intended as a reminder of things to remember and a precaution against simple mistakes people often make without realising it. aerating the water vigourously helps drive off ammonia (although it takes a lot longer than with chlorine). Some can inhibit population growth (see the section on Physical Requirements).Daphnia http://www. Don't keep all your eggs in one basket (or daphnia in one container). Do feed regular modest amounts of food (this will depend on the culture size). etc.
Note however. etc. the fish you feed them to may be slowly poisoned. there should only be a weak flow of air through the filter to avoid too much water flow). Salisbury. Don't add fresh tap water to a daphnia culture unless you want to kill them all with the chlorine. and some will also stock D. North America/Canada 17 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . Use an open airline tube or a bio-foam filter (the latter contains an airstone inside in the apparatus. England. in high concentrations. and it could also poison the culture. Wiltshire. but the bubbles are not fine enough to harm the daphnia when the bubbles emerge into the tank. directly to the culture. magna. SP2 9JJ.org/daphnia/#cult2 is best to seed as many water vessels. These will usually stock D. This will ensure you will be able to "restart" without too much fuss. because the fumes/gas can be toxic. Don't use insecticides near your daphnia containers.caudata. aquariums. Don't keep your daphnia in the dark for days at a time as this can stimulate them to produce ephippia. Contacts This section is a list of addresses/phone numbers of suppliers and information in Europe and America. UK. and even flower window boxes with daphnia when the culture is first obtained. pulex. Suppliers Europe Blades Biological (Daphnia pulex only) Kent.Daphnia http://www. Don't use airstones in a daphnia culture. Ph: 01342 850242 Living Lunch (mixed species) 50 Hazel Close. and don't leave your daphnia container in a room that was just painted/varnished/etc. Don't add miracle grow. UK. It won't be much use. and even if it doesn't kill the daphnia. Bemerton Heath.
Windermere . Ph: 800-825-8522 LarvaTech (see Links section) P. USA. USA. F. send a message to majordomo@actwin. Box 641541.net.org/daphnia/#cult2 L. and then information (daphnia/daphnid specific links and more general ones). University. Castle Rock. then suppliers. Ph: 601-236-4687 Blue Spruce Biological Supply (see Links section) 701 Park Street. I've ordered various live foods and they're 18 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . CA 90064-1541. Ph: 1-877-603-4085 Information Europe Freshwater Biological Association (see Links section) The Ferry House.O. it more than makes up for this with its quality). S. CO 80104. no matter what the question is (even though it's not the most active list on the net. Cultures (see Links section) Internet Department.com with the line "subscribe live_foods" in the message body. Ambleside. USA.caudata. Living Lunch. The address is livefood@aquaria. To subscribe. based in southwest England. Post Office Box 607. Cumbria. LA22 0LP.Daphnia http://www. Los Angeles. The Live Foods mailing list is very informative and the subscribers are immensely helpful. MS 38677.015394 42468 Daphnia Related Links The links section is divided into mailing list links. UK.
Gives a good insight into the development of new/different strains of a species. including Daphnia magna as well as other Daphnia species. Actwin's Live Food FAQ. A good intro to Daphnia culturing (Kai Schumann's Daphnia FAQ). LarvaTech also supply Daphnia cultures. A study of Daphnia retrocurva reproduction .com's "Feeding Your Fish Links": Some links to Daphnia sites among other things. written by Sky Sterry. Blue Spruce Biological Supply are a good supplier of biological specimens and equipment. Information on non-indigenous crustaceans in the US (specifically Daphnia lumholtzi). supply laboratories but they also supply private individuals.quite interesting as it details the influence of enviromental factors and predators on Daphnid morphology. Daphnia Physiology: A little information on Daphnia Physiology. The Krib has a lot of fishy information.caudata. 19 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM . based in England. including a collection of Daphnia articles (which includes the Daphnia FAQ by Kai Schumann). Some good information about Moina. Blades Biological. Population Structure and Daphnia .Daphnia http://www. Viviparous's Daphnia Page: Very well worth reading. About. LFS Cultures supply live foods. is a detailed study of differentiation between isolated colonial groups of the same species of daphnia. The Journal of Plankton Research is published online and occasionally has some articles on Daphnia. Jan Parmentier and Wilm van Egmond's Web Site at Microscopy-UK is well worth a look. It is a fascinating publication and back issues can be found in the online archive.this paper.org/daphnia/#cult2 always friendly and helpful. Nutritional Value of Daphnia. and the overall changes over time. A study of the ecological genetics of Daphnia and the genetic structure of Gammarus populations. The Daphnia Parasite Picture Gallery: And you thought Daphnia were weird enough without having to worry about their parasites! The Soil & Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax: Information on Daphnia in the Metro Halifax region.
March 2001.caudata. References/Bibliography/Credits Pennak.Pond Watching (198x).A key the the British Species of Freshwater Cladocera with notes (1957-1966). The Fish INformation Service (FINS) has an online archive of many mailing lists (including a live-foods list. as well as FAQs on live food. John . JP . Legal Deposition meant I was able to find books in the library there that are very rare. The Freshwater Biological Association is an independent association founded in 1929. Clegg. but members have access to their library. -John Clare. dating back more than three years). Many of the sites mentioned in the links section Sterry. Genetic Analysis of Daphnia magna ephippia at Hull University. August 1998.org/daphnia/#cult2 Daphnia: A nice site on culturing Daphnia. Kai . May 2000.Freshwater Invertebrates of the US (1978). DJ & Harding. anywhere in the world. July 2002. Proudly hosted by Caudata. Schumann. Scourfield.The Observers book of pondlife. The subscribers to the Live Foods mailing list (see the Links Section). Many snippets of information from a variety of Zoology and Limnology books.org 20 of 20 8/31/2012 1:25 PM .Daphnia http://www. Robert .Daphnia FAQ. They also carry out research and publish many helpful species keys as well as articles in scientific journals. Paul . December 1999. I have been lucky in my life to have attended Trinity College Dublin for my Bachelor's degree. one of the finest freshwater libraries in the world. They are not only extremely helpful. Membership is open to anyone. too numerous to mention.
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