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Live Food and Heating Gradients

Justin Collins was wondering about alternatives to frozen foods, given the
fact that the freezing process can do so much damage to the tissue of the
food organism to render it all but useless. He is contemplating using a
spare tank to grow out Brine Shrimp.

I've used live Brine Shrimp for a long time, years ago there was an aquarium
store here in Toronto which sold adult BS relatively cheaply so I was a
regular customer. My fish loved them but as that source is no longer
available I have resorted to feeding newly hatched Brine Shrimp to my fish.
I have attempted to grow them to adult size - it really is not very
difficult, but it is rather impractical. Newly hatched Brine Shrimp are VERY
nutritous, especially within the first 24-36 hours after hatching, due to
the fats present in the yolk sack. After this, their value as food declines
rapidly and will be dependant upon what they are fed by the aquarist. Yeast
is often used as a food for Brine Shrimp and while it will work, I doubt
that it results in very nutrient rich BS. Feeding algae to the BS would
probably be better but then you have to culture the algae separately, adding
yet another tank to maintain.

Regardless of their small size, newly hatched Brine Shrimp are eagerly
accepted and eaten by fish of ALL sizes. When I interoduce live baby brine
shrimp into any of my tanks the adult fish of all sizes go into a feeding
frenzy that would put a smile on any chef's face - they just sort of sail
thru the cloud of brine shrimp with their mouths agape, sucking in as many
of the tasty little morsels as they can injest. There is really no need to
wait until the Brine Shrimp reach adult size - it just seems like too much

The only time I don't use freshly hatched Brine Shrimp is when I'm trying to
raise a batch of Rainbow fish fry - they are too small for Brine Shrimp when
newly hatched. For these I use Vinegar Eels, which do the trick until the
fry are big enough to accept the Brine Shrimp.

While it may appear expensive, one of my best investments last year was a 16
oz. can of Brine Shrimp cysts. It sould last me for a very long time and
allows me to have live food available with 24 hours notice. I hatch them out
in salt solution in a 2 liter Coke bottle and bought a brine shrimp seive to
strain out the shrimp. Works like a charm.

Christopher Coleman also asked (as did I, a few days ago) about heating
gradients produced within a substrate by Dupla style heating cables. I'd
really like to see some of the folks who use substrate heating give some
feedback on this query. Is there a minimum / maximum / optimum gradient to
aim for when thinking of using substrate heating (again, I'm not interested
here in a religous discussion of the mechanism by which they work their
magic - if you don't feel they work fine - but several very reputable people
on this list have had excellent results using them and I for one trust their
word). As I said earlier, I was able to observe a 3-4 degree C gradient in
the substrate of my large show tank using a buried heating manifold but was
not able to say if it helped the growth of the plants as I didn't have a
control to compare my results with.

Mr. Booth, please get your thermometer out and let us know what kind of
heating gradient is being produced in the substrates of your tanks by the
Dupla cables.


James Purchase