Adopting Wild Cleaning Crew for Aquarium

June 13th, 2017
Different tiny little aqua creatures live in all freshwater ponds or lakes.
The Pool pond between West 101st and West 102nd in Central Park NYC is my favorite place to go for picking freshwater plants and water “bugs”.

Get an empty plastic bottle.
Fill it up with water from the pond.
Try to get water with plants.

Aqua plants are home and food for many tiny aqua creatures.
I caught some filamentous algae.
It comes with…many tiny living “things”.
You may see them moving across the water current.

It is easier to get aqua plants using a stick.

Put the plant in the bottle.

Previously I got seed shrimps, cyclops, daphnia, snails, nymphs, and others from this pond.
Check out my videos for details.
Here you can see some of the little critters of interest.

Close the bottle and take it home.

We have to identify and separate beneficial creatures from those that may be dangerous.

Get a couple clear plastic cups.
Fill the cups up halfway with dechlorinated water (tap water left in an open jar overnight).

Use a pipette to catch and transfer little critters.
They are distinguishable by body shapes and movement patterns.
Get 5–10 of each type in a separate cup.

Add dechlorinated water.

Add some plants to the cups.
Here, I put some moss from the park.
Check my videos on plants I grow in aquariums.

I put some different moss in the other cup.
We have made nursery aquariums for breeding selected wild cultures.

Feed them with fish food flakes 1–2 times a week.

Let your creatures multiply in numbers.

Meanwhile, try to identify them.
Look for info in libraries and on the internet.
I add a couple snails in each nursery to see how well they can get along with wild cultures.

Remember! Those critters and wild bacteria can be harmful!
Many of them can be seen only under microscope.
By end of the 1st week, I isolated cyclops and seed shrimps in one of the nurseries.

Here you can see them.
They get along with the snails that I added previously.
It’s time to check if they get along with my fish.
Attention! Test all wild cultures only on unwanted fish isolated in a separate aquarium.
Your fish may get sick and die!

I have newborn guppy babies (that I don’t mind to lose) in this nursery aquarium.

Use a pipette to transfer 5–10 wild culture critters to the testing aquarium with guppy babies.

Here I got some of the critters in the pipette.

Release them to the fish.
Let’s get some more of them to the fish.

Fish eat some of them right away.
Some of the critters may survive and start breeding in this aquarium, cleaning it at the same time and serving as snacks for the fish.
I would have to dispose both nurseries with all their content if fish get sick or die in the following couple days.

Identification of your wild culture helps to set up the cleaning crew for your aquariums.
I found 4 different type of critters in this sample.

This worm-like critter is most likely a nematode.
It moves in an S-shaped pattern.
It eats decaying organic matter (fish poop and fish food).
Guppies eat nematodes.

I see Cyclops (Copepods).

There are some tiny Seed Shrimps (Ostracoda).

There are some Daphnia.
Keeping any of this and other little critters in aquariums equipped with filters is pointless and often is a sign of a “dirty” aquarium.
Removing filters from an aquarium and giving them time to digest the “dirt” is essential for making a healthy natural aquarium ecosystem.
It takes a great deal of daily observation to maintain such ecosystems.

These tiny “bugs” like sunlight.
Their population grows as algae or other food source builds up.
The population density of all creatures goes up and down in cycles.
It makes sense to set up a couple larger size nurseries for breeding them continuously.

In this example, the daphnia goes in a 3 liter bottle filled with algae and populated with cyclopes and seed shrimps.

I wait 2–3 days after testing each type of wild creature before testing the new type.

My fish survived this time.
I wish it was always this way.

Different samples of wild cultures have different critters — it took me months to identify some of them.
The largest is a dragonfly nymph.
The most dangerous was a fish killing bacteria.

Adopting tiny wild creatures is an interesting adventure for me and beneficial for my aquariums.
Check my video about how I use them to keep aquariums clean.
Have fun and happy aquariums :)



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