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Rotifer Culture

I figure this section will be sufficient to relay my Rotifer Culturing setup. At the end I will provide some links to articles I found helpful.

I started to raise Rotifers when my clownfish were routinely laying nice clutches on a specific, removable rock. The setup is very similar to that of Phytoplankton culturing.


Items needed

Live Rotifer culture/start
Rigid airline tube
Flexible airline tube
Air stone
Gang valve
Air pump
Wide mouth container or 5 G bucket
250, 125, 55 micron sieves
Light source
Phytoplankton food source


- locate a live culture of Rotifers; available online, LFS, and local members. I got mine from a split with Alan.

- Fill a container with water mixed to 1.019 salinity

- Add the Rotifer culture to the container, acclimate if temp difference is noted

- Add the air stone attached to rigid air hose and open the gang valve so you get a steady but light stream of air. You don't want to boil the water just turn it over a touch

- Add light source to the culture. There is debate if this is needed. In my mind I am raising Rotifers AND Phyto for food in the same bucket. Phyto needs light and the light will help add a bit of heat which also helps increase the rate of reproduction.

- Rotifers food source is Phytoplankton. You want to add some "green water" or Phyto paste to the Rot culture. The color consistency should be a light green. The Pic below gives you and idea for color consistency. When the Rots begin reproducing they can eat a ton of Phyto so don't underestimate how much to add. One of the articles says 1 Rotifer turns into 1,000 in one week. There is a tipping point though, too much and you can hurt your culture. This is why it is important to go by color and keep it consistent.


- A microscope may be beneficial to actually see the rots cruising and eating phyto. Its also beneficial to provide, without a doubt, your culture is active. Target has a super cheap [url=http://www.target.com/p/Elite-Microscope/-/A-10647847]microscope for $10[/url]. You wont catch a Pathologist using this quality but its OK for what we intend to use it for. (hint, the rots seem to always be at the edge of the slide cover)

- Harvesting rots should be done daily. Be sure to feed with phyto before you add to your tank or feed to your fry. You want them gut loaded to provide as much nutrients as possible. I don't use a sieve, I use a turkey baster and add a couple basters to my clownfish fry tank. Some will swear by the need to use a 125 micron sieve daily to capture the adults and leave the young to multiply. Which ever you see fit, thinning the herd is necessary to maintain a healthy and growing culture.

- Cleaning should be done weekly. A day before or so I mix 3 gallons of saltwater to a 1.019-20 salinity, add an air tube to get movement and mix thoroughly. The following day I turn off the gang valve to the culture and let everything settle for 10 minutes. If you look close you can actually see the Rots in the water. It almost looks cloudy or pixelated, if you can unfocus your eyes. My sieves are in pocket form like a filter sock. I slide the 250 micron into the 125 and both into the 55 micron sock. I then pour the culture water into the trio of filters. I pour off a little under 3 gallons into the washout sink. The rest I pour into the new 5 gallon bucket with 3 gallons of new 1.019 SW. All the approximately 5 G of culture water is poured through the trio of sieves.

- Reintroducing the Rots is pretty easy. I pull out the 55 and 125 from the 250, lay both filters in the new bucket with the tops hanging over the side. Now I leave the 250 micron sieve to be rinsed clean in the washout sink. There is nothing worthwhile in this sieve, just sediment. I take the 125 micron sieve to my display tank, turn inside out, and dip into the tank. This releases the adults only and my fish usually go after the sieve now, its funny. The 55 micron sieve is where the good stuff is. You can actually see a slight brown color in the sieve, those are rots. I turn the sieve inside out and dip a number of times in the new bucket.

- Be sure to add more phyto to the new bucket to regain the greenish color.

- A couple items to consider while doing all this

-Check salinity often. With my 5 G bucket I do lose some water to evaporation. I hit 1.030 once with no ill effect but I was careful in how quickly I lowered the salinity.

-Check ammonia periodically. If you add too much phyto or you are lazy like me you can get a buildup of garbage in the culture. High ammonia will obviously cause the culture to crash. I have gone 2 weeks without changing water and my ammonia was still not detectable.

-Some use coffee filters instead of sieves. I got all my sieves off eBay. I dont know any LFS that has these so I dont think I will step on anyone's toes. [url=http://stores.ebay.com/Monas-Resale/Filtration-Products-/_i.html?_fsub=1644050&_sid=84221305&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322]eBay Sieve link[/url] These guys were by far the cheapest I found for the sieves.

-***This is a must*** Be sure to house your rots underneath or a good distance away from your phyto culture. 1 Rotifer can essentially crash/eat a phyto culture. This is no joke because I know this caused my recent phyto crash. I believe I mixed up my turkey basters and dipped the rotifer baster into the phyto culture. Next morning my phyto culture was a goner.

-Might be a good idea to get a couple cultures going. If something goes awry, you have more to fall back on. Alan had his Rotifer culture crash and my phyto crashed, we swapped cultures and were back in business in no time.

Articles I found valuable
[url=http://www.brineshrimpdirect.com/c90/Raising-Live-Rotifers-Copepods-c199.html]Brine shrimp direct - Rotifer Section[/url]
[url=http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/9/breeder]Advanced Aquarist[/url]
[url=http://www.reef-geeks.com/forums/aquaculture-breeding-geeks/219-how-grow-rotifers.html]How to grow Rotifers[/url]

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