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. High losses often occur in the newborn phase because of water quality issues, predation, or simply not feeding enough of the right foods. 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 fish eating baby brine shrimp
If you talk to veteran breeders or fish farms that produce massive numbers of fish, they know that the #1 best food to feed fry is baby brine shrimp (BBS). Newly hatched brine shrimp have a nutrient-packed yolk sac that is chock full of healthy fats and proteins – perfect 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. To hatch brine shrimp eggs, you need to soak them in salt water and add aeration by an air pump. Once the water has reached 74-82degF (23-25degC), the eggs will be ready for harvest. Baby brine shrimp can be harvested within 18 to 36 hours. The recipe can be trusted as long as you have good eggs. Follow the instructions in this article.
Baby brine shrimp are approximately 400-500 microns in size and are suitable for many baby livebearers, African cichlids, and other species that lay larger eggs. If you hatch tiny fry from egg layers such as killifish or rainbowfish, baby brine shrimp is not suitable for them. 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 common name that fishkeepers use for these freshwater plankton, and there are many methods for culturing them. One of the most popular techniques is to fill a large jar with a few quarts (or liters) of old tank water and mulm, and then drop in a piece of banana peel, catappa leaves, instant yeast, or other organic matter. For faster results, warm the water to tropical temperatures of 78-80 degrees F (26-27 degC) and then add aeration. This will reduce the unpleasant 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. Depending on how often you harvest, the culture might last for between two and four weeks. 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. A new culture may be necessary if you are raising many children and require 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
You might find keeping infusoria too tedious. If this is the case, you can try vinegar eels. This teeny nematode or roundworm is very simple to culture and is approximately 50 microns in diameter and 1-2 mm in length. Make a mixture of half an apple cider mixture and half dechlorinated water in a long-necked bottle. Let them reproduce by adding some apple slices and a starter colony of vinegar eels. When you can see them moving near the surface, add a wad filter floss to the neck of your bottle. Add some water above the filter floss and a few drops of fresh water. 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. The fry will be attracted to their wiggling motions. They can also survive for several days in freshwater. 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
If you do not have access or time to maintain live food cultures, prepared foods are an option to consider. 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 favorites include:
Sera Micron Hikari First Bites Easy Fry and Small Fish Food – Golden Pearls Crushed flakes – Spirulina powder – Repashy gel food (in the raw, powdered form)
Powdered foods tend to float at the surface because of the water tension, so if you are feeding baby bottom dwellers, you may need to swirl the water to get the particles to sink faster for them. To avoid overfeeding the fish, we recommend using a small children’s paintbrush. Dip the bristles in the powder and lightly tap the paintbrush a few times over the fry tank to feed them. This will ensure that you don’t feed too many fry at once, as this can lead to water quality problems.
5. Green Water
Microalgae under a microscope
Infusoria is very similar in size to green water, but its color is much more noticeable because it is primarily made of microalgae as well as other phytoplankton which 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. A filter, air stone or other device is also useful to help the algae get enough oxygen and carbon. You can shine non-stop 24 hours per day with a light source such as a desk lamp 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.
A Few More Fry Feeding Tips
Because baby fish have baby-sized stomachs, they need to be fed mini meals at least 3-5 times a day. 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. Frequent feedings in smaller containers can quickly cause water to become contaminated and lead to fry death. Therefore, frequent water changes are necessary to ensure that the water is stable and clean. 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 is just one aspect of raising healthy fry, so keeping reading to learn about our top 5 tips for growing baby fish to become big and strong.