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When a fellow aquarist gave me my first Vinegar Eel culture, I was somewhat skeptical. In fact, I outright scoffed at his bottle of infested salad dressing. But when I discovered that I could totally replace greenwater with Vinegar Eels, I felt rather foolish. Most of us B. Splendens breeders know how notoriously small Splendens fry can be, and consequently how ridiculously small their first foods must be in order to be ingested. For Splendens, Vinegar Eels are still on the large side of the spectrum for acceptable first foods, but it works! So well in fact that I have since stopped brewing greenwater in the garden and traded them in for a more discrete bottle of apple cider vinegar. Here's a cool vid that i managed to capture:

CULTURING
As far as simplicity goes, you can't get any simpler than vinegar eel cultures. Many people still use the "Apple Slice" method, but I'm a big fan of the "Sugar" method, which I feel makes for a "cleaner" and more predictable culture. You'll need the following:

You'll also need a bottle or container with which to culture your Eels. I like to use plastic cookie jars but you could easily use 2L soda bottles or 1gal milk jugs. But be careful that if you use a jug/bottle with a small opening, remember not to fill it to the brim but to a level where there is a wide surface area on top of the fluid (as picture above where the vinegar is filled to a level where the diameter of the bottle is largest. This is because the eels congregate near the surface where there is most oxygen. We will use this to our advantage when harvesting them. This surface congregation is quite evident in this pic:

Here's a pic of the Rubbermaid plastic jar that i like to use. Note that I cut out the top of the jar to allow air in. There is also a piece of cheese cloth (or any thin fabric) to cover the top of the jar and keep flies out:

My favorite recipe is as follows (scale as required):
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1/2 gal aged & dechlorinated water
1/2 gal of 5% Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix above until all the sugar has dissolved.

Yep! Done! That's all you need to do! Now transfer the mixture to your chosen container and then transfer some of the Vinegar Eel filled culture from the old culture to your newly mixed culture.

 

Cover and store in a cool place. I like to keep it in one of my spare kitchen counter cabinets, next to my microworm culture:

 

HARVESTING

There are a couple of harvesting methods available, but i find that i get the best results from the "Narrow Neck Bottle & Filter Floss" Method.

You will need:

  • A bottle with a thin neck (like a beer bottle). Clear bottles work best because it allows you to see what's going on inside the bottle. The larger the volume of the bottle the more vinegar eels you will be able to collect. And the skinnier the neck of the bottle, the more effectively you will be able to separate the vinegar from the water above.
  • A wad of filter floss large enough to slightly snugly plug the bottom of the neck of the bottle.
  • Some String / Thread. I find that fishing line works best because cloth strings or cloth thread tend to wick the water out of the bottle and you'll end up with a nasty vinegary pool of water at the base of your bottle.

The technique is simple.

1. Clean the bottle thoroughly so that no trace of its previous liquid occupants remain.

2. Pour the vinegar eel culture from your jar into the collection bottle (A funnel will help lots). Stop filling the bottle when the liquid level reaches just below where the neck begins.

3. Fluff the filter floss so that it is nice and poofy, then tie one end of the fishing line to it. This is so that you can easily retrieve the filter floss later on.

4. Squeeze ball of filter floss so that it fits into the neck of the bottle and poke it down the neck with a pen or pencil. The floss ball should be just slightly snug but not tight. Push the floss down past the base of the neck and it should poof back up.

5. Pull up slightly on the fishing line to lodge the floss firmly at the base of the bottle neck.

6. Fill the rest of the bottle with aged aquarium water up to just below the mouth of the bottle. If this is done correctly, the filter floss should prevent the water and the vinegar from totally mixing. The specific gravity of a 5% acetic acid (vinegar) solution should be above 1.01, which makes it denser than pure water.

7. The eels (while searching for air) will migrate through the filter floss and into the water where it is easily harvested using a pipette, syringe or turkey baster.

Here's my rendition of the setup.

vinegar eel harvesting bottle


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On the urging of my friends, I started this website by putting together the original (and quite successful) B. Macrostoma pages. Since then it has grown to include much more aquarium related information. All this time I've provided all this info and lots of free e-mail support to anyone who needed help. The advertising on this page helps out a little to offset the cost of webhosting. So if you see something that you may be interested in listed within the GoogleAds banners, then please don't hesitate to check it out.
I thank you all for your great interest in my articles and I hope to keep hearing from you guys, even if it is just dropping me a note to say hi. God Bless!
On the urging of my friends, I started this website by putting together the original (and quite successful) B. Macrostoma pages. Since then it has grown to include much more aquarium related information. All this time I've provided all this info and lots of free e-mail support to anyone who needed help. The advertising on this page helps out a little to offset the cost of webhosting. So if you see something that you may be interested in listed within the GoogleAds banners, then please don't hesitate to check it out.
I thank you all for your great interest in my articles and I hope to keep hearing from you guys, even if it is just dropping me a note to say hi. God Bless!

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