Water fleas Daphnia as fish food

Raise water fleas

Breeding live water fleas is one of the most popular live foods in the aquarium industry. Usually the giant water flea Daphnia magna is used for this purpose.

Advantages of water fleas

Water fleas are a very easy to breed live food, which triggers an above average hunting instinct in the aquarium inhabitants. The food is accepted by most ornamental fish and keeps them vital. This is due to the fact that water fleas are very rich in fibre. But many nutrients are not contained in the water fleas. Therefore they would be unsuitable as sole food.

  • easy to grow
  • high fibre
  • good acceptance by fish
  • Outdoor breeding possible

Grow water fleas in the house

As already mentioned you can also breed water fleas in the garden or on the balcony, but let’s have a look at the breeding in the apartment first. Even the inexperienced aquarium operator can breed water fleas. To get a functioning breeding going, you should start with about 100 fleas.

Required breeding tank

Either you take a 10 litre bucket or a small aquarium up to 60 litres. It is important that the water which you fill in has been stagnant for at least two days. Or you can use water from the rain barrel. You don’t necessarily need a fizzy drink but it is recommended to let the water circulate a little bit and not to let food residues settle so fast. Set the fizzy stone or air pump to a low setting so that there is not too much movement.

Basically your breeding doesn’t need any filtration or lighting, but I still recommend a place by the window. This way the fleas have daylight and the water stays in the right temperature range. Pay attention to a shady and a sunny area. In the sun the floating algae develop super, which is one of the best foods for the fleas. However, the heat is very strong here and you may end up outside the recommended temperature.

Water temperature

Inside, it is advisable to control the water temperature, so you get the best breeding results. The ideal temperature is 15-25 ° C. Outside this temperature range, water fleas also live, but they do not multiply in the desired quantity.


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Nutrition of the Daphnia

The diet is also relatively simple. You can either put ramshorn snails, spring bubble snails and turret lid snails into the aquarium or feed them with ready-made food. The disadvantage of ready-made food (except for the algae powder) affects the water quality. With the snails the water flea feeds on the excrements. At first sight this seems to be the more natural way of feeding but you have to feed the snails with fish food and this also affects the water quality.

With the following types of food for Daphnia you can do without snails:

  • Spirulina powder (mix with some water beforehand)
  • Dry and fresh yeast (pea-sized quantity with 60 litres of water)
  • Floating algae
  • Microplan
  • Liquicella
  • Microcell
]Make sure that the water is only slightly cloudy. When the cloudiness disappears, it is the right time for the next feeding. If you want to combine the two types of food, you should use spring bubble snails, as they are much more robust and more resistant to water pollution.

In my opinion the best feeding method is spirulina powder or live floating algae. If you buy spirulina, do not take the expensive powder from the shops, but buy it in the supermarket or on the internet. People also consume this powder and it is many times cheaper. I have read at one or the other dealer and author that overfeeding with these natural products is not possible, but I think that is nonsense. According to my own tests the water fleas, thus also the Artemia breeding dies if too much of the feed is added. So keep to the slight cloudiness and everything will be fine. The better you feed the Daphnia, the more often you can harvest.

The harvest

You can harvest every 5-10 days, depending on the size of the aquarium. Make sure that you do not overstrain your stock. Otherwise the breeding will slowly die.

Breeding water fleas in the garden

If you want to breed the fleas in the garden, you have made a good choice with the Daphnia. You can take a rain barrel, a cement bucket or even the table (if there are no fish in it). Here you have an easy game and you don't even have to feed them. If you have just started breeding, you can put some spirulina powder in the tank. By the way, the beneficial insect also fights floating algae in the garden pond. This means you kill two birds with one stone. You don't need to control the water temperature, just let nature do its work. Find a place for the pond that is not too sunny and not too shady.

If the production in the rain barrel is not productive enough for you, then feed a pack of dry yeast every two days at 250 litres.

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