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Re: Killies Diet in the Wild
Bill V. wrote: I vaguely recall "ants" meant termites and other insects. As
Hank has suggested the original characterization may be too narrow.
Dan, like you, a lot of us have tried feeding ants (like when we turn over
an ants nest in the back yard) and our results have also been dismal.
Bill's, Mach's and Hank's suggestions make real sense. (Comes the dawning!)
Somewhere scientists have written of the tremendous role that termites have
in making indigestible vegetable material available as protein to many other
creatures in the food chain, especially in tropical regions.
Tropical fish of the correct size will eat termites, but obviously you don't
want those around the house!
I'll bet in the tropics if a killie gets hungry enough, they will take an
ant. And as you have suggested, they may be more palatable species.
Ramon notes that in Scheel's ROTOW, Chapter II:
"The natural food for most killifish is terrestrial
That may be because the killies have already cleaned out most of the food
items in the water.
Stomach content studies also note that killies will take various tiny
crustaceans. Mosquitoes don't figure prominently in the stomach contents
reported up in some field studies. (Thomerson did find male guppies in
zonatus in Venezuela though.)
I wonder if this is absence of reported mosquitoes is partly because some
killie waters are so soft and acid that they aren't as productive for
mosquito larvae as some other waters. Also it may be that most mosquito
larvae hatched near killies are eaten when very young by the smallest
killies who would not likely be surveyed. Also mosquitoes are soft-bodied.
One could speculate that they digest so quickly that not much is left to be
E. Roloff, writing many years ago in JAKA, noted that in areas with a lot of
Aphyosemion, Epiplatys (and what would today be Fundulopanchax) there was a
lower incidence of mosquito born diseases such as yellow fever. In another
article he also made a case for using Nothobranchius for mosquito control
and indeed Nothos have been transplanted to fishless ponds in a couple of
instances in African countries. An unsuccessful Notho project was even tried
in Hawaii according to Mach Fukada.
Mention has been made of Aplo. lineatus being used for mosquito control in
rice paddies. The point of this is that killies are fairly opportunistic
feeders and certainly will cheerfully eat "mossies". As usual, "if it can
fit in the mouth of the fish, it probably will."
The Scheel books give a number of live food hints. Certainly so do the
archives of this list and the archives of the live foods mailing list which
includes a lot of killie people in it's roster.
Daphnia, blackworms, white worms, grindle worms, bloodworms (really an
insect larvae) and small red worms seem to be among the best foods for
I don't think we should over look the many commercially prepared foods
either. Feeding them frequently in small portions is good for the killies.
Alternate with frozen foods if live stuff is not available.
Surface feeding killies may respond surprisingly well to plankton (the small
krill). Don't let uneaten plankton stay in the tank though.
Some adult killies are hard to train to flake or pellated foods. However,
more often, youngsters can be taught to eat them.
Sometimes the killie fry will show no interest in dry foods.
When weaning those baby killies off of baby brine shrimp, put similar sized
gardneri or guppies (which ever is handy AND can be easily distinguished
from the killies being trained to dry foods). The gardneri or guppies will
feed enthusiastically and after a while the increasing hungry other fry will
"take the hint."
That is an advantage of raising killies in a densely planted tank. Some fry
will grow up in the plants. They will see adult killies eating flake food
and will begin to scarf up the scrapes left by the adults.
Along with keeping uneaten food items out of the tank (via snails, water
changes...), feeding killies as much of a variety as possible as frequently
as possible will please your killies. And, if some other temperature and
water parameters are met, "a happy killie is a spawning killie."
All the best!
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