17 July 2017

mosquito larvae: food!

I have read often about how great mosquito larvae are for fish food- perfect nutrition. Even about how to collect them, but I never really recognized them until I peered close into this puddle in my yard on top of a tarp, and saw tiny things jerking around in the dim water. Not too hard to get them with a gentle siphon of finger on end of straw. They're evasive, though- especially the bigger ones- if see or sense end of the straw coming, jerk down to the bottom and I have to wait for them to come up to the surface again. Their movement is very herky jerky. I've got some in my little idea of a container pond, too- in spite of having laid a piece of window screen over it apparently a mosquito got in.

I don't want to put the dirty water in my tank, though. To clean the larvae first I pour them through a fine mesh shrimp net, gets out most of the dirt. Then dump the trapped larvae into a small container of tank water. Let the remaining specks of dirt settle. Siphon out the larvae into another jar of clean water. Siphon back out of that jar individual specks of dirt that still get through. Then I hope it's pretty clean, or at least diluted enough. Doesn't take long to do.

Adult serpaes absolutely love to eat these little wiggly things. First time I gave one to Samblu he didn't seem to see it. Kept looking up to the circle of his feeding ring, wondering where the offering was, as the larva jerked down to hide among the plants. I watched but didn't see it come up again. So I don't know if Sam ever ate it. Later I offered him some when the tank light was on- he immediately snapped them up. Ate six. Ooh, he liked it when they wiggled around!

I really like this form of pest control! First time I did not realize that the roundish jerking things in same puddle were the mosquito pupae, which is the last stage just before they emerge as adults. I didn't collect them then, because I thought they were some other insect, and some are not good to introduce to your tank. When I knew what they were I make sure to get all of those from the puddle. I collect every other day, or every three days now. I must be doing a decent job of catching all the grown larvae before they hit the next stage, because last few times I didn't see any pupae at all.

I'm still unable to recognize the egg rafts, though. A fellow fish keeper gave me a tip: if I put the eggs in the fry box, when the larvae hatch out too small to see, the baby fish can eat them. But when I peer at the surface of the puddle, I don't see anything that looks like a raft of eggs. However today for the third time I collected from my jar the tiniest larvae (can barely see them at all) turned off the filter (so they wouldn't get sucked out of the fry box right away- they are tiny enough to go through that mesh) and dipped them into the water, then sat and strained my eyes for the longest time. I wanted to actually see the baby fish eat a mosquito larva, to know if it was worth the effort to gather up these tiniest ones- or if they were still too big for his mouth. Finally I saw the fry eat one. That was satisfying. I know I have good food for it now.

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