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Zebrafish Husbandry 101: Live Food vs. Dry Food

Have you ever wondered what type of food you should be feeding your zebrafish? Optimally, zebrafish will be fed both live food and dry food, as both provide unique benefits to your fish at different stages of their lives. This video provides a look at food portioning and feeding schedule, and how we grow and maintain our live food (rotifers).

Interested in learning more? You can view the rest of our Zebrafish Husbandry 101 series here, and learn more about our zebrafish services here.


Feeding Your Zebrafish: Choosing the Ideal Nutrition

One of the main aspects of husbandry is what we feed our zebrafish, we feed our fish, a mixture of dry food and live food we feed Zebra Feed by Sbarro’s as our dry food, which comes in four sizes and for our live food, we feed rotifers. The smallest feed that Sbarro’s provides is less than 100 microns. It’s a powdered form that even the smallest baby fish can eat. As the baby zebrafish grow, they can start to eat larger foods, such as the 100-200 micron pellets, 200-400, and then finally the 400-600 micron pellets as adults. Our baby fish get fed three times a day with the smallest food. About the amount that’s at the tip of this spatula. And our adult fish get fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening with this one sixteenth teaspoon scoop.

Choosing the Right Zebrafish Food

Here’s an infographic of a few of main types of live food that are fed to zebrafish. They include Artemia or Brine Shrimp, Rotifers and Paramecium. We chose to grow rotifers because they’re very nutritionally dense. They’re easy to grow and grow in very dense quantities. This is what a young, healthy zebrafish looks like when its belly is full of rotifers and dry food.


How to Set Up Rotifers for Zebrafish Nutrition Enhancement

So here is our rotifer setup. We have a small mini fridge that is kept at four degrees Celsius with our algae in it, which has a peristaltic pump attached to it and pumps out algae to rotifer buckets every couple of hours. These rotifer buckets are five gallon buckets with an airstone on the inside to keep it aerated as well as filter floss to catch any debris. We do daily bucket dumps of about 20-50%, depending how much ammonia has built up in the bucket overnight or throughout the day. Additionally, we also replace the filter floss every day to help keep the debris down in the bucket and reduce the ammonia. These rotifers are harvested every day and they’re a staple for the diets of young zebrafish. We also feed them to adult zebrafish to improve their breeding and to give them a little treat.

Effective Rotifer Harvesting

To collect the rotifers, we dump each bucket through a 120 micron filter and a 50 micron mesh, the 120 micron mesh collects any algae and debris in the 50 micron filter collects the rotifers. Removing this excess debris helps to keep the ammonia down.

And here is our rotifer harvest. We rinse the rotifers into a beaker using a spray bottle with five parts per thousand salt water. Rotifers can survive in saltwater ranging from 5-40 parts per thousand, with 15-20 parts per thousand between being the optimal salinity. We can keep this rotifer for harvest on our bench top to use throughout the day, however, we need to add an airstone and some algae to feed them. They will easily survive in the five parts per thousand salt water, however, they will not breed very readily.

About The Author

InVivo Biosystems

InVivo Biosystems provides essential services to help pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, biotechnology companies and academic research institutions around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. An expert in CRISPR genome editing, InVivo Biosystems creates custom genome edited C. elegans and zebrafish models to enable aging and other disease studies. In addition, InVivo Biosystems provides in-vivo analytical services to produce data and insights for companies that need to make go/no-go decisions quickly in early-stage development of new compounds.

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