Rotifer Culture


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Why do we need it?

New born larvae cannot see more than 1-2 bodies away and their instinct only allow them to "try" to eat something that moves right in front of them. Rotifer is the food of choice to raise larvae.

Some clownfish larvae would eat non-live food, such as frozen rotifer or pulverized flake, but the successful rate is about 1% compare to 90% from the commercial hatchery. My personal successful rate is 100%, just for comparison. :D

To start a rotifer culture, you'll need:

1. Container - Pretty much any container will do
2. Air pump
3. Rigid air tube - you can get that from pet store air line/pump area. Cost about $1-$2 for a 3 footer.
4. Rotifer Starter culture
5. Food for Rotifer - either using the commerical product such as Rotigrow or live phytoplankton.

For the container, preferably using a white color one for easy cleaning. We'll talk about it in the later post regarding maintenance. I got mine from Home Depot.


Air pump, nothing fancy. Pick the biggest one you can get since you'll need it for the phytoplanktic as well. At first I used the Whisper Air Pumps and hoped that it would be as quiet as it names imply. Later on i found out the Tetra Whisper Deepwater Pumps is much stronger and much quieter.

This is one of the Whisper Air pump I have:

Rotifer. I got mine from reedmariculture. But all you need is just a small bottle from someone to start your own.

Rotifer Density in the rearing tank

Rotifer density is one of the most important point. Since larvae cannot see more than 1-2 bodies away, you must have a minimum of 15 rotifer per ml in the rearing tank. It doesn't matter if you have just 5 larvae or 50 larvae in a tank gallon tank, you still need 15 rotifer per ml or the larvae will starve to death. This is the number 1 reason that most people cannot get their larvae to survive more than 2-3 days.

How can you tell if you have 15 rotifer per ml? I think everyone here would have those Ammonia, Nitrate or whatever liquid test kit. They come with a little glass tube that measure 5ml up to the line. 1/5 of it is 1ml. :)

Scoop 1ml of the rearing tank water out and count the rotifer using a 20 or 30x jewelry lope. You can get a jewery lope from Amazon for under $10.

1ml of rotifer water and a jewelry lope:
Wow....awesome write up, wes!!! Great pics, and great descriptions.
Thank you. But it's not finished yet. :) Need to take some picture for the harvest and maintenance part.
Im glad you are putting these up Wes, i think they are a much need addition to our articles!
And the article continue...

1ml of rotifer water and a jewelry lope:

Now, count it:
[ame=]1ml of Rotifer - YouTube[/ame]
Harvesting Rotifer and maintenance

Harvesting Rotifer and maintenance

This part can go quite long. I'm going to write out what I do daily as points for now, and expand it later on on each point.

I feed the larvae 3 times a day and this is my routine:
1. Pour 1/3-1/2 bottle (2L) of phyto into a container. The container is mainly for enriching the rotifer before feeding them to the larvae.
2. Refill the phyto bottle with clean salf water.
3. Scoop or siphon out 1/5 of the rotifer culture from the 5g bucket into another container and filter it using a 53um sieve. Put the sieve that contains the rotifer into the phyto you repaired in step #1.
4. If the rotifer culture bucket looks clean/good, pour the filtered rotifer culture back into the bucket (to save some work and money). If the water looks bad, dump the water and refill the rotifer culture bucket with aged clean salt water. If you haven't replace the water with clean one for a few days, replace it anyway.
5. If the rotifer culture water bottom have already collected a thick layer of black stuff, carefully pour almost the entire bucket of rotifer into a clean bucket without the bottle dirty stuff.
6. *** do other daily cleaning routine such as siphon out the dirt at the bottom of the rearing tank. Prepare more salt water at 1.018 for both the phyto and for the rotifer culture water replacement.
7. After finishing the daily chores, pour the enriched rotifer into the rearing tank. Pour the phyto into both the rearing tank to keep it green and/or pour it into the rotifer culture to feed them.

Try to be consistent on how much phyto you pour into the rotifer culture. Too little, the rotifer will starve and die and crash your culture. Too much, they'll reproduce too much and your feeding will not be able to keep them all alive in the next couple of days and they'll starve and die and crash your culture.