Shoebill infusoria

paramecium caudatum

Shoebill infusoria are protozoan unicellular ciliated microorganisms. Widespread everywhere, and everywhere are the most important link in the food chain of any biocenosis. For the aquarist these protozoa are of interest as a food base for fry that have just emerged from the eggs.

speciesParamecium caudatum

Latin: Paramecium caudatum

Of course, today there are a large number of manufacturers of pet food and aquarium fish food. Among their products there are also feeds that are positioned as food for fry. But still not all fry are not satisfied with mixed fodder produced by the industry. For fry of some species require a live food object of certain sizes. Such small live food such as Paramecium caudatum newborn fry need only a few first days of their life. But the availability of such food in this case is a matter of life and death. Therefore, for the aquarist who wants to breed spawning fish need to be able to breed at home such an irreplaceable sometimes food, such as infusoria slipper.

Structure of the shoebill infusoria

The shoebill infusoria got their name for the external resemblance of their body shape to a lady’s slipper. The body length reaches 0.3 millimeters. Their entire body is covered with contractile cilia that act as a kind of propulsion, thanks to which the animal moves very quickly. For 1 second it covers a distance of 2-2.5 millimeters. This is a distance approximately 10-15 times longer than the length of the animal’s body.

paramecium caudatum
Внутреннее строение

This same mobility may be the cause of failure to feed them fry of some species, which because of their slowness can not keep up with such a fast food. The heroine of our story feeds on bacteria, fungi and unicellular algae. Food particles are not swallowed in the usual sense of the word, but are directed by coordinated movements of cilia to the mouth opening, passing into the pharynx. Once there, the food particle is enveloped by part of the cell membrane and immersed inside the cell plasma. Paramecium caudatum itself is incapable of differentiated selection of nutritious particles and spitting out ballast.

Another of the peculiarities of behavior to be considered in the breeding of this species of food should be noted sensitivity to light. Electric current. The optimal temperature for this species is 22-26 degrees Celsius. Water hardness is desirable up to 10°dH.

What are we going to do?

  1. Find a body of water inhabited by the microorganisms we need.
  2. To isolate a pure culture from this body of water.
  3. Create optimal breeding conditions.
  4. Maintain a viable microbial colony state.
  5. Clean the culture from ballast before feeding the fry.

Looking for cultural progenitors

Since the living creature we are interested in is freshwater, we go to the nearest freshwater body of water… an aquarium. The water is drawn at the bottom, preferably somewhere nearby was a slightly decomposed leaf of aquatic plants. If you are lucky, then you do not have to go outside. To check your luck and speed up the answer to the question: “lucky or unlucky?”, you can use a microscope or a powerful magnifying glass. Paramecium caudatum are clearly visible at low magnification of a microscope.

Take a three-liter bottle, fill it halfway with boiled and tempered water. Drop 1 – 3 drops of milk into it. Introduce into the bottle water from the aquarium, which presumably contains Paramecium caudatum. Inside the bottle lower the atomizer from the compressor and make a very weak aeration. Water temperature try to keep at 24 – 26 degrees Celsius. However, at room temperature, too, you can get quite satisfactory results. After about two to three days, the accumulation of animals can be seen with the naked eye.

Shoebill infusoria from natural water bodies

If you are unlucky, your aquarium was sterile, then for Paramecia will have to go to the nearest freshwater standing water body (lake, pond, large rarely drying puddle). Be sure to bring three small glass vessels with you. Why three? You will have to take three samples from the most likely locations of the object you are looking for. Namely.

Scoop the first portion gently near the surface of the water.

Fill the second jar with water from the puddle and put in it some organic residues lifted from the bottom – rotten twigs, last year’s leaves.

With the third jar we will do the same as with the second but instead of twigs and leaves we will pour a handful of silt taken from the bottom of the pond into it.

Now home. We put these three specimens in suitable conditions for a few days. After a few days, Paramecium caudatum multiplied, form clusters noticeable to the naked eye. Taking water from the places of their greatest accumulation with a pipette, transfer it to a previously prepared jar, as described above.

Shoebill infusoria culture purity control

Before charging the culture, it is advisable to check it under a microscope. If a drop of water contains foreign microorganisms, it is advisable to get rid of them. To do this, drop another drop of clean water onto the slide. The two drops are connected by a water bridge created with a toothpick or a sharpened match. The more agile shoebill infusoria will outrun their competitors in the marathon to the clear water. The bridge can then be destroyed by gently wiping off the first drop with a tissue. The second drop is transferred by pipette into the prepared vessel with bacteria.

If there is no microscope, it is necessary to at least make sure that the sample does not contain small crustaceans, which are also not averse to eat Paramecia.

The shoebill infusoria and the bacteria to feed it

For the reproduction of bacteria, which actually feeds on Paramecia, milk is needed. Milk culture is the most productive, but also the most unstable. This is due to the very rapid development of sour milk bacteria, which compete with Paramecia for oxygen. If the bacteria too much infusoria slipper infusoria suffocate. So working with a milk line you need to be very moderate with feeding. 1-3 drops of milk 1-2 times a week is quite enough.

The culture on banana peels is more stable. Banana peel fresh or dried is placed at the bottom of a jar with steadily boiled water at the rate of 1 cm cubic per 1 liter of water. After a few days there will be enough bacteria to populate the container with infusoria. The possibility of using dried peels makes this method suitable for use at any time of the year.

The method of obtaining a large number of bacteria on hay decoction is also widely known. 10 – 20 grams of hay are boiled for 20 minutes. Then the decoction is cooled and decanted. It is stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator inside a tightly closed container. For use, it is diluted with clean, tempered water two to three times.

In general, bacterial mass can be obtained on anything. Any organic residues will become a substrate for the reproduction of these microorganisms. So on the pages of books you can find references to culture obtained on rutabaga, carrots, dried lettuce leaves.

Here are described methods proven by many generations of aquarists. Which of the bacterial cultures more like infusoria – I can not judge.

paramecium caudatum
Деление клетки

How often should the crop be reseeded?

It is not recommended to use Paramecia culture for longer than twenty days. This is due to the fact that, like all living organisms – Paramecia, as well as their food base – bacteria release the products of their vital activity into the environment. Since our colony of food microorganisms is in a closed volume, then gradually this volume is filled with slags to such an extent that there is self-poisoning of living organisms by their own products of vital activity. The culture gradually withers away.

Considering that the fry need such small food only 3-5 days after their birth. Twenty days interval is quite enough to charge the culture in advance and get enough feed by the required date. It is better to store the pure culture at +3-+10 degrees Celsius. The bottom shelf of the refrigerator is quite suitable for this purpose. If you decide to store the pure crop at home, you should remember that it should be reseeded several times a year so that it does not die.

And now it’s ready. In the jar you can see characteristic clusters of living mass. On a microscope slide or under a powerful magnifying glass can be seen only infusoria slipper. We are waiting for the appearance of fry.

And so it happened. A caring aquarist just like “HEAR” as his charges ask for food. What to do next?

How to feed fry infusoria?

Further, in the simplest case, we take a pipette a few drops of water from the place of greatest accumulation of live mass and drop it into the spawning ground with hungry fry.

Plain and simple… What could be the pitfalls in all this simplicity?

Stone one. Characin species are very sensitive to bacterial contamination. Therefore, to avoid trouble take Paramecium caudatum and put them in a liter jar with clean water without food substrates for bacteria. We keep the food in this way for about a day. Deprived of food bacteria will stop multiplying, and those who got inside the jar – eat infusoria shoes, which in the wild also play the role of sanitarians. After this self-cleaning from bacteria infusoria can safely feed starving fry. For uninterrupted supply of food, it may be necessary to put on cleaning two – three banks with an interval of 1 – 2 days.

Stone two. Fry are voracious creatures. They need a large amount of nutrients to meet the needs of a rapidly growing body. They cannot eat the daily dose of food at one time. So, the feed intake should be split – several times a day. And what to do if you have to work or go to school and leave to care for fry will not give? Then it is necessary to establish a slow but constant supply of feed. The easiest way, in my opinion, is to use a dropper. Another old proven method – the infusion of infusoria inside the aquarium with fry on linen moistened thread.


Here’s an article like this. I wrote it, reread it. Everything seems clear. But this is for me and those who have already done it all more than once. The darkest spot in this almost detective story is working with invisible people. Good if you have access to a microscope. But what do you do if you don’t? The main thing is not to despair! Experience, which comes with time and after several unsuccessful attempts, and the microscope can replace. I can only advise to do all of the above long before the expected spawning, so that when you need – to be confident in your abilities and know exactly what at any given moment do your hands. And what your eyes see.

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