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Live Foods from the Wild
Part IV –
Types of Wild Foods
A presentation for
The Angelfish Society
March 20, 2010
by Tamar Stephens
About this presentation
This is Part IV in a series of presentations on live foods
from the wild.
Previous presentations in this series:
Part I Nutritional value of wild foods. (Sept. 19, 2010)
Part II Where to find wild foods. (Oct. 17, 2010)
Part III How to Collect Wild Foods (Feb. 11, 2011)
(Previous presentations can be found at
The rest of this series will cover:
Part V: How to culture wild foods
In this presentation
 Daphnia
and other small crustaceans
 Brine shrimp and larger crustaceans
 Microworms
 Earthworms
 Aquatic insects
 Terrestrial insects
Daphnia and other small
Photo from Wikipedia
Daphnia aka “water fleas”
Daphnia are among a group of small crustaceans
commonly called “water fleas” because they move in
short jerky movements, reminiscent of the jerky jumps of
fleas. Their body shape is also similar to that of a flea.
Daphnia and other “water fleas” are not insects. They
breath through gills.
Size varies with species, ranging from 1/50 of an inch up
to about 1/5 inch in length.
They have no swim bladder and are denser than water,
so need to constantly move their branched “swimming
arms” to keep from sinking.
Branched “swimming
arms” are in constant
motion to keep daphnia
an other “water fleas”
from sinking.
From Wikipedia commons
Where can you find daphnia?
Daphnia eggs can lie dormant in the mud over
winter, and hatch in the spring.
Daphnia are present in most freshwater aquatic
habitats, but large concentrations are most likely
to appear under these conditions:
Water temperature between 65 – 75 °F
Calm water, such as pools, ponds, swamps
Decomposing organic matter (produces bacteria that
Daphnia feed on)
Absence of fish as predators
They seem to be attracted to light so will come near
the surface on sunny days.
Brine shrimp and other large
The most common larger
crustaceans are:
 Brine
shrimp (Artemia)
 Amphipods
 Fairy shrimp (Eubranchipus)
Brine Shrimp (Artemia)
Newly hatched brine
shrimp are widely used
for feeding angelfish fry,
and fry of other tropical
fish species.
Brine shrimp are found in
the wild in salt water
lakes worldwide, but not
in oceans.
Adults grow to be about
1/2 inch long.
From Wikipedia commons
Sometimes called
“freshwater shrimp”
 Very active, swim
backward and upside
 Usually found in the
bottom of streams,
ponds, or swamps,
where they may hide in
the gravel
From Wikipedia commons
Fairy Shrimp (Eubranchipus)
Close relatives of brine shrimp,
but live in fresh water.
Adults are 1/4 to 1 inch long.
Usually found in seasonal
freshwater ponds that dry up
at some time during the year.
They can be found under the
ice in late winter and early
Defenseless, so they don’t
appear in ponds with
carnivorous insects or with
Very nutritious; excellent food
for adult angelfish.
From Wikipedia commons
Microworms (nematodes)
Microworms, sometimes called
“threadworms,” are nematodes. They
are tiny, colorless, cylindrical worms.
Some species are aquatic and some
are terrestrial.
They make an excellent food for fry.
Aquatic species can be found in the
bottom of freshwater bodies where
heavy growths of aquatic vegetation
and soil are present.
Terrestrial species are often cultured
by aquarists for feeding newlyPanagrellus redivivus from
hatched fry.
Wikipedia commons
Earthworms and Relatives
Earthworms are segmented
Feed in humus-rich soil.
Burrow deep to avoid the cold.
Light sensitive, so will be found
at the surface during warm
nights, where they come to feed
on decaying vegetation
One way to collect is to lay a
burlap bag in a shaded moist
place and cover it with tea
leaves, coffee grounds, and
other bits of organic garbage to
attract earthworms.
From Wikipedia commons
White Worms (Enchytraeidae)
White worms are a relative of
the earthworm. They are
smaller, growing to a little
under to a little over an inch in
length, depending on species.
Usually found in moist soil
feeding on remains of
Easy to culture, so it is
probably easier to buy a
starter culture than to try to
collect from the wild.
Aquatic insects, insect larvae, and
 Springtails
 Mayflies
 Caddisflies
 Bloodworms
 Mosquitos
Springtails get their name from
their ability to leap into the air
several inches to either escape
predation or simply move to
another location.
They are very small, from 1/100
to 2/5 of an inch long.
They live on the top of the water
and can be found on the surface
of ponds from temperate to arctic
They contain more digestible
material per body weight than
Have been reclassified – no
longer classified as an insect.
From Wikipedia commons
Mayfly nymphs or naiads live
on stream bottoms under
rocks, decaying vegetation, or
in sediment. They mold
several times as they grow,
and are in the nymph stage for
6 months to a year. Adults
only live a few hours – long
enough to mate and lay eggs.
The adults are eaten
extensively by fish in the wild,
especially trout, but the
nymphs are more useful for
aquarists as fish food.
Adult mayfly – from
Wikipedia commons
Caddisfly larvae live on the
bottom of moving waters.
Concentrations may be found
underneath flat stones.
Caddisfly larvae construct
cases that they live in. In some
species the cases are in fixed
locations, but many species
have movable cases that they
live in. Cases are constructed
from various materials such as
leaves, bits of vegetation,
sticks, stones, etc.
They need to be dislodged
from their cases to feed to
tropical fish.
Caddisfly larvae emerging
from its case. From
Wikipedia commons
“Bloodworms” are not really
worms. They are larvae of
midges (Chironomidae) and are
usually bright red in color, hence
the name “bloodworms.”
The larvae are often referred to
as chironomids.
They can be found extensively in
freshwater habitats in almost all
kinds of water. They are most
abundant on or in the mud
bottoms of lakes, ponds, pool, or
They are a very nutritious food
for angelfish.
An adult midge resemble a
small mosquito in
appearance. Photo from
Wikipedia commons.
Mosquito larvae
make an excellent
food for angelfish.
Mosquit0 larvae
can be found in
calm waters
throughout the
Egg rafts can also
be collected and
the larvae hatched.
Many more insects
Many more insects and insect larvae can make
excellent nutritious supplements to the diet of
your angelfish. Maybe this presentation will
inspire you to research this topic more fully.
Just a caution – not all live insects or insect
larvae are safe for your aquarium fish, so get a
good guide to identifying insects, and research
them a little before adding an unknown to your
I hope you enjoyed this
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