Raising Rotifers to Feed to Clownfish Fry

Keeping rotifers can be a difficult task because they are almost microscopic and eat special food.  Clownfish fry will only eat live rotifers so don’t even bother with dried or frozen rotifers.  This also goes for flakes and powdered food.  Rotifers are one of the best foods to use for breeding clownfish because they reproduce quickly, and provide excellent nutrition for the newborn fish.  The rotifers are only as nutritious as the food that you feed them.  Make sure to get a good food for the rotifers, such as Rotifer Diet or Nannochloropsis.

Rotifer Culture Supplies

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Air Pump
  • Airline Tubing
  • Rotifer culture
  • Rotifer food such as Rotifer Diet
  • Rotifer sieve or coffee filter

You will need a live rotifer culture.  I usually get my rotifers from Reed-Mariculture.  They have the best quality rotifers and always arrive alive.  When you receive your culture, check the salinity of the water in the bag.  Usually it is around 0.017.  Fill the bucket with the same salinity water and add the contents of the bag to the water.  Add rotifer diet to the water until the water is the desired color.  It should be a light green color.  Make sure the water is well aerated.  An air stone and an air pump should be used and set on the lowest setting.  You just want to aerate the water and not boil it.  Check the water color often to make sure that it is the proper color.  When you first get the rotifers, they will eat a lot of the algae in the water.  You should check the water every day to make sure that it has enough algae.  Feeding RotifersFor the first 3 days, you should not harvest any of the rotifers.  This will allow the population to return to normal.  After 3 days you will need to harvest the rotifers every day.  You should harvest the rotifers whether you have clownfish to feed or not.  Use a rotifer sieve available on ebay or a coffee filter.  Pour the rotifer water through the filter until about 1/3 of the water has passed through the filter.  Next you will need to wash the rotifers off of the filter.  Soak the filter or sieve in the clownfish fry tank water or wash the rotifers off of the filter into the tank.

Clownfish fry will not eat much for the first 12-24 hours after hatching.  They will still be using the nutrients from their yolk sacks.  After about 24 hours they will be looking for food.  You will be able to see them eating the rotifers.  The clownfish will be swimming around the tank and come to something and stop, bend their tail and then dart forward.  This is how they hunt for food.   Every week you will need to change the water in the rotifer tank.  I usually take out about 2 gallons of water out of the bucket.  I start a siphon and run the water through the coffee filter or sieve.  Anything in the filter is put back in the bucket and the water is replaced with fresh saltwater.   Good luck with your rotifers.

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10 Comments to “Raising Rotifers”

  1. felisa — October 23, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

    we have recently discovered eggs from our lemon colored clownfish and don’t know what to do. I will go to the teed-mariculture site to order what you recommended but the question we have they are currently in a reef tank with other species of fish like a yellow tang etc. Do we need to move the rock with the eggs and the anemone and the parent fish to a different tank?? will the bigger fish eat the eggs or the babies when they hatch??? I didn’t want to disturb them and they look to be close to day 5 on the eggs> Can I feed as you directed above into the reef tank or will the rofiter mess up the tank or other fish. What to do??? We do have another tank with less in it but not sure we can catch the parent fish and get the anemone and rock out without harming SUGGESTIONS>>>>>> please advise

  2. Scott — October 23, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

    Please ask questions in the forum at http://www.saltwaterfishcare.org/

    You do not need to move everything to another tank. Allow the eggs to be taken care of by the clownfish parents. When it is time for them to hatch you can either siphon out the hatching babies or move the entire rock to another tank. If you don’t, the babies will most likely get sucked up by your filtration in your main tank or eaten by the other fish. They also would have a hard time finding food (rotifers) in a large volume of water. In order for the fry to survive they need to be in a separate tank. See you in the forum.

  3. Michael — December 3, 2008 @ 12:10 am

    I am on my 6th attempt at percula fry. I have come to realize that the live rotifer is going to be the best (and only) bet in keeping them alive and growing. I have an order of live rotifers coming from livebrineshrimp.com before the eggs hatch on Friday night. What can I purchase at the LFS to keep the rotifers alive and multiplying?

  4. miki — March 17, 2010 @ 1:10 am

    i bought clown fish 2days ago…can you please tell me how to feed time?

  5. Scott — March 23, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

    Feed your clownfish one time per day with different foods including a good flake food, frozen fish food such as mysis shrimp, and pellet food.

  6. becky — December 9, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    have eggs now am starting my rots tomarrow how do i change the rot water dailey and not kill them and what salt level should i start with

  7. mason — September 24, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    is there any other way around not feeding the fry rotifers

  8. Scott — January 7, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    No only live rotifers will work. You might get a 1 out of 1000 will survive with something else but very slim chances. Clownfish need the nutrients in the rotifers to develop.

  9. krzjaz11703 — October 5, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    HELP! babies just hatched, they have rotofers in the tank, a heater with air stone under it so they don’t hang out to close and cood themselves. they are all at the bottome of the tank, is this bad? they jump up then nose dive and they are only an hour or so old. the water is the water from the tank they hatched in when we siphend them, 10 gallon tank, water temp, ph, salinity and everything is good. are they supposed to lie on the bottom?

  10. robert — March 2, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    okay i am wanting the cheapest rout possible to start a saltwater tank im gonna go with a 35 gallon tank live rock and live sand filter and LIGHT im only going to be putting clowns in it is that all they need to successfully produce eggs? ID LIKE MY FIRST TIME TO BE SUCCESFUL

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