Culturing foods for baby cephs

Discussion in 'Sources for Cephalopods and Food' started by gholland, May 22, 2008.

  1. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    With the (still remote) possibility of raising another generation of O. mercatoris on the horizon, I've begun thinking about trying to culture my own baby food. $20/bottle for Tigger pods and $36/200 mysids gets really expensive when you have to do it every 3 or 4 days! (One of you creative types needs to make a smiley of an octopus stealing money from a wallet!) I'm hopeful that planning this far ahead will give me enough time to generate a substantial population of feeders!

    Tigger pods - These were perfect for the first couple of weeks, but I've read some articles stating they require cooler temperatures than typical reef tanks for reproduction. A small LED next to the glass draws them to one spot for the baby octos to feed on.

    Mysid shrimp - These were great feeders. They swim along the bottom and walls where the babies can easily reach them, but most accounts indicate that culturing them requires an extensive set-up and a lot of work. Gjbarord once mentioned a low-effort method with two 10 gallon tanks that yielded ~100 mysid per week, but I never found the details on it.

    Copepods - I'm specifically referring to the larger species as shown in the link. Again, they feed on film algae on glass and also on fine hair algae, making it easy for babies to catch them. They are plentiful in one of my tanks where I don't clean the glass regularly (the one with no fish or shrimp) and would seem to be low-effort, but how fast do they reproduce and what kind of population density can they reach?

    Gammarus amphipods - These "scuds" require more effort for the babies to catch since they often hide in the liverock, but the larger ones provide a decent meal and they are extremely easy to culture... a tupperware container kept in the dark with the occassional addition of hair algae or fish pellets seems to work fine.

    Shore shrimp - I've had several pregnant females, but the hatchlings don't survive in a filtered tank. How much work is it to raise shore shrimp hatchlings to 1/4" size?

    If anybody has experience culturing any of the above or has recommendations for something else, I would really appreciate your input!
     
  2. marinebio_guy

    marinebio_guy Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    I've cultured or tried to culture most of those. The main problem is time and space as it requires a lot of both. Mysids are not to hard but you need a lot of tanks and food (baby artemia).

    Copepods require a lot of tank space and live food (phytoplankton), which you can culture yourself but again takes some practice and a lot of time.

    Shore shrimp you need live food for the babies (rotifers/artemia/phytoplanton) and then you will have to be able to spawn them when you need them which requires temperature control.

    Amphipods also require lot of space.

    So in the long run you can do it but it is not cheap and don't plan on having any free weekends because most of them require daily care. Just to give you an idea of costs and time I'm currently setting up the live food section of my lab to raise mysids, copepods, daphnia, rotifers, artemia, etc. and I've already spent $5000 and that is just for the basics (tanks, screens, artificial food) and I get free seawater. The main problem is octopus and cuttlefish eat so much, one baby cuttlefish should be fed about 3 mysids 2-3 times a day. So if you have 50 babies thats ~450 mysids a day which would require about 1000 or more adult mysids. If you still want to try raising your own food I would start with raising mysids as they are fairly easy once you can do that then try some of the others. And get the book Plankton Culture Manual it will help a lot.
     
  3. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Been there, done that

    I just can't get Tony to post my favorite creation entitled Octo Reality
     

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  4. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I love it! You did that?
     
  5. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Mysids: The baby artemia and daily feeding make these a no-go for me. Not to mention the whole separation to avoid cannibalism thing.

    Copepods: Not sure about the culturing phytoplankton thing... The ones I have seem to eat film algae on the glass and also hair algae. These still seem like a possibility...

    Shore Shrimp: Again, feeding the feeders becomes more work than it's worth. And for the price, I'll probably just continue ordering these. Once the babies can eat something this big, it's all downhill anyway.

    Compared to what? The other things listed here? Are you sure? These are the ones I'm most curious about and I actually already began a culture about a month ago. I have a stack of tupperware containers with gammarus under one of my tanks and I just throw a bit of hair algae harvested from my tanks in each one about once a week. Minimal effort. Minimal space. Maybe they don't produce as quickly as some of the other options, but I have plenty of time (to wait for a population to grow, not time to spend actively working at it). My first container started with about 20 adults and now it is swarming with juveniles. I think a hatch is on the order of 100? Seems hard to beat.

    I keep seeing numbers like this mentioned for cuttles... my baby 'podes never seemed to eat nearly as much. It took a dozen baby octopus about 5 days to go through 200 mysids. That's 3-4 per baby per day? I feel sorry for you cuttleheads! :wink: Then again, maybe mine were supplementing on gammarus.
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    In part, for a number of years I kept a subscription to a graphics website. Membership allowed you to use and modify the collection so the hand and money were not of my origination but I spent a lot of time adding my octo character (you will see two different flavors of this guy in the extended smilies) and getting the proper effect :octorun::cephdevil:

    (the devil was created for Monty in his devil's advocate roles)
     
  7. marinebio_guy

    marinebio_guy Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Yes, octopus usually do not eat as much as cuttlefish but octopus usually lay more eggs than a cuttlefish, but if you are just trying to raise a few then you could raise enough food for them. Depending on the species of copepod some will eat sparilina (powder) or algae that grows on the sides of the culture tank. You will get higher desities using the sparilina powder. In general copepods and amphipods aren't able to be cultured in high density (compared to rotifers/artemia which we raise to 500-1000/mL). But if you are just feeding a few ocotpus they you could do it in small tanks and lower densities.
     
  8. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    What about keeping several pair of peppermint shrimp and hatching those as feeders? One article I've read states that they will reproduce once a month or so and that the hatchlings can be raised on artemia nauplii for the first two weeks and that they will eat nauplii, phytoplankton, flake food, or baby copepods from weeks 2-4. Seems like this might be a little less labor-intensive than some of the other options discussed above. Or is that just a misguided perception because I haven't tried any of them yet? :wink:
     
  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You have to be very careful with peps. They are great for reefs and the control of aptasia but will attack small fish, especially if there are multiples. I am not sure if they eat their young as well (I would expect them to) so you would need a separation net that would allow the new hatch to escape or you would have to be there at hatching to separate. The only spawing I actually got to see with mine disappeared within hours but I do have a mandarin dragonette in the tank. As they get larger, they are bolder. This is fine in a reef but I would be very leary with any kind of babies if they reached any size at all. Ken (SealifeInc.net) saw a pair gang up on and tear appart some small convicts he had collected.
     
  10. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    When you say they will attack "small" fish... how small is small? We only have 4 fish total out of 7 tanks... three 2" firefish and one 6" engineer goby. But I expected to separate egg-bearing females out into a breeder net with a fall-through divider. Or maybe the "dishpan" method that Paul Sachs mentions on his website. I like easy... if it works.

    Will shrimp hatchlings (zoeae?) eat frozen nauplii or only live? I guess I'll find out... I have 10 gravid females in the batch of shore shrimp I got from Sachs yesterday.

    And off he goes... down the slippery, slippery slope... :goofysca:
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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