• You liked BFD7 now you should join this forum and of course become a club member to see what CCA is all about.
  • Thank you to everyone who registered and showed up for the BIG Fish Deal #7.

My attempt to co-culture dero worms (microfex) and moina

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Inspired by this posting about 10 years ago, plus the fact the I'd like to get away from hatching bbs, I've decided to try to co-culture dero worms and moina. This is my attempt to chronicle it. I see all kinds of postings about this from 5 to 15 years ago, but can't find anything current. My suspicion is that if this was truly an awesome and super productive co-culture that everyone would be doing it so I'm skeptical, but I'm also teleworking and have plenty of time on my hands these days and decided to finally try it.

To that end, I purchased 2 portions of dero worms about a month ago. They've done very well in a shoe box sized plastic bin eating algae wafers with aeration and 90% water changes every few days, but I can't see it scaling well or housing the (eventual) moina well. So, I picked up 2 - 10 gallon aquariums (thanks G Goonie ) for the culture (pictured in the next post) equipped with well seeded sponge filters and transferred about 1/3 of the worms to each tank reserving the final third to continue in the plastic bin.

Once these get going, my plan is to buy a moina culture. From everything I've read, the dero worms eat food, their poop sustains infusoria and then the moina eat the infusoria so I want to give the worms at least a few weeks in their new home before introducing moina.

After the moina are introduced, water changes will come from the established aquariums above the culture tanks in order to provide "aged" water.

Stay tuned for updates!
 

Becca

CCA Members
Curious to see how this goes. I've never had a Daphnia culture make it more than a few weeks even with very consistent care.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
I squeezed out a dirty sponge filter into one of the cultures after reading that the worms will happily eat detritus. An interesting thing happened in that the worms spread out and formed their own little clumps in the detritus. Originally it blanketed the bottom.

Each of the balls of detritus contains a small mass of dero worms.

D8C7C9D3-1047-4793-8D80-7AA98FBB4BC9.jpeg
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
It seems that I now have a hydra outbreak in one of the cultures. I'll try to post a picture late. I had a problem with hydra in one of my tanks a while ago (months) and had recently squeezed the sponge filter gunk from that tank into the currently infested culture. That's my best guess for how I infected the culture.

I suppose that one on hand this might mean that the worms are producing infusoria in sufficient quantity that the moina won't starve when they're eventually introduced. On the other hand, the hydra will feast on the moina when they're introduced.

Any suggestions for elimination? I've been reading that hydra can be killed by salt, heat and nuclear bombs. I'm thinking of trying of trying the salt option and hoping that the dero worms will tolerate it because I'm sure that the other two options will certainly kill them. I assume that the dewormers that kill hydra will also kill dero worms.

Obviously, this is why you have backup cultures.
 

Becca

CCA Members
Ugh. Hydra.

Can you just remove the dero worms and try again? LOL.

There are a couple of treatments I know of - Hydrogen peroxide (can't remember how much per gallon) and fenbendazole (1 drop per 5 gallons). The fenbendazole will probably kill your worms, though I'm not sure about the hydrogen peroxide.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Ugh. Hydra.

Can you just remove the dero worms and try again? LOL.

There are a couple of treatments I know of - Hydrogen peroxide (can't remember how much per gallon) and fenbendazole (1 drop per 5 gallons). The fenbendazole will probably kill your worms, though I'm not sure about the hydrogen peroxide.
The other culture is still good so I may go with the nuclear option
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
I've decided to kill the hydra with heat. Luckily I have a few inkbird controllers and a heater that will just turn "on" to get the tank up to 105F. Maybe a few worms will survive, but I doubt it.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Quick update. The hydra are gone, half of the pond snails are still alive and it seems like all the worms are doing well. Fed them half of an algae wafer yesterday and it’s almost eaten today.

Oh, and my moina are arriving next week. If got some nice infusoria cultures going a couple of weeks ago to tide them over.
 

JLW

CCA Members
So, Dero worms were a big splash for a while. They're "mini blackworms," and were supposed to be the food to replace all other foods. Unlike blackworms, they're fairly aquatic, and won't dry / drown. They're smaller, so better for small fish. But they never really took off, and I haven't heard of anyone culturing them in years -- I'm actually curious where you got yours.

This isn't without reason, and I hate to be discouraging, but they fizzled out for good cause. They're really, really slow growing -- no one ever really figured out how to get them going in sufficient quantities to really keep their fish fed. There's also the issue of their hooks. When you look at them under a scope, they're covered in bristles and hooks, which makes them really rough on small fish -- negating a lot of their advantages.

That said, they're eaten in the wild, and I imagine that fish can handle the bristles and hooks. And, you might be successful in culturing them.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, Moina are the best "daphnia" you can ever culture.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
So, Dero worms were a big splash for a while. They're "mini blackworms," and were supposed to be the food to replace all other foods. Unlike blackworms, they're fairly aquatic, and won't dry / drown. They're smaller, so better for small fish. But they never really took off, and I haven't heard of anyone culturing them in years -- I'm actually curious where you got yours.

This isn't without reason, and I hate to be discouraging, but they fizzled out for good cause. They're really, really slow growing -- no one ever really figured out how to get them going in sufficient quantities to really keep their fish fed. There's also the issue of their hooks. When you look at them under a scope, they're covered in bristles and hooks, which makes them really rough on small fish -- negating a lot of their advantages.

That said, they're eaten in the wild, and I imagine that fish can handle the bristles and hooks. And, you might be successful in culturing them.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, Moina are the best "daphnia" you can ever culture.
I have to admit that I'm more interested in the Moina than dero worms. Feeding the worms is more of a way to keep a steady supply of food around for the Moina without overfeeding them. The occasion worms to feed my fish is just a bonus.

I bought the worms here, but they seem to be sold out now:
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Added the moina today to both cultures. Fingers crossed!

I typically buy a bag of daphnia from Frank Cowherd Frank Cowherd when we have regular meetings so that’s all I’m used to seeing, but the Moina are TINY. Fed them them some infusoria and I’m hoping that they’ll do well.

Unless something really changes, then I’m just going to switch to weekly updates.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Here's my weekly update!

The Moina are doing very well. I've gone from a few hundred to (tens of?) thousands in the past week. I've been supplementing their food with squirts from an infusoria culture and I suppose that I should start harvesting them soon. Crushed egg shells have been added to both cultures to add calcium for their carapaces. Thanks for the suggestion Becca Becca

The dero worms seem to be doing well also. They're taking their sweet time in getting to a critical mass so I haven't started harvesting them yet, but I'm a patient man and there are definitely more than when I started.

There are pond snails in the culture, which I suppose officially makes it a polyculture rather than a co-culture and they're also multiplying like crazy.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Anyone have a recommendation for a net with small enough holes to catch Moina? I had been using a sieve for my bbs and I might try swirling that around in the tank, but I think I'd like something with a handle. I already have a brine shrimp net, but I think those are for adult brine shrimp and that the Moina will just pass through it. In fact, I tried it and that's what happened ;-)

Thanks!
 

JLW

CCA Members
When I've cultured moina, ceriodaphnia, or D pulex, I had the same problem. They do make baby brine shrimp nets -- and they'll make it through them, but you'll get a lot, still. I found the best way to do it was with a syphon tube.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
I think I’m going to pull the plug on this soon. The cultures just haven’t been productive relative to the effort I’ve been putting into it. Especially compared to how easy my white worm, grindal worm and banana worm cultures are.

I just want to thank the people who followed this and gave really useful advice.

JLW JLW you were right; this is not a super culture. I suspected that from the start and now my curiosity has been satisfied.

I think I’m going to put the dero worms into the sump for my 135G tank. Plenty of detritus in there to feed them and maybe they’ll be successful there with minimal effort while removing detritus.
 
Top