Vinegar Eels (Turbatrix aceti ,Vinegar nematode) are in fact a nematode and are free-living nematodes which feed on the microscopic culture within the vinegar.
The vinegar eels are ideal food for fry as they are no larger than 2mm in length and are quite easy to cultivate at home. They can be kept in a simple jar or bottle, and are great for those unforeseen fry as well as those who breed fish regularly.
As live food is far more healthier for young fry, as well as small adults, the vinegar eel makes a perfect addition of protein to the fry's diet.
To keep a healthy culture of vinegar eels, you need a glass jar, wine bottle, or something similar, with either a tight fitting lid, or a wadding of filter wool to prevent infestation by bugs etc.
When harvesting the vinegar eels there are 2 schools of thought. One is for quick harvesting which is to use a coffee filter, then add the vinegar eels to a small jar or container of aged/tank water which effectively washes the vinegar eels before adding to the tank.
The other way to harvest the vinegar eels is to use a wine bottle, or similar narrow necked bottle, put a wad of filter wool into the neck down to the level of the vinegar and add clean water on the top. The lack of oxygen forces the vinegar eels to swim up through the filter wool and clean themselves as they get to the clean water. This is an overnight task, and as soon as you have harvested them, you need to remove the water and filter wool, before adding the lid again.
If you find you need more than one container of vinegar eels, then use some of the original culture to seed a 2nd, or even 3rd. This way you can rotate the cultures so you can rest one or two, whilst harvesting from the other one. This means that you will not over harvest your culture and impede the culture reproducing.
Top up the containers as and when needed, especially when harvesting as reducing the volume can lead to smaller harvests.
You will receive approximately 50ml of starter culture, which will be taken directly from my own flourishing culture, which will be more than enough to start you up.
Equipment needed to Prepare for your Vinegar Eel Culture
A glass container or bottle with a tight fitting lid, or wadding of filter wool to prevent infestation.
Cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
A small piece of apple (optional) for the vinegar eels to feed on.
Coffee filter for harvesting.
Pipette or turkey baster for removing culture from container.
Mix the vinegar with aged tap water (chlorine dissipates overnight) at a ratio of 50/50, and it all should be room temperature. Put in the apple at this point, if you wish to use it.
Keep the container out of direct sunlight.
Do not fill to the brim as this ensures a supply of air, also if using a narrow necked bottle, do not fill up to the neck as a large surface area is needed to ensure the vinegar eels get the oxygen they require.
Add the vinegar eel starter culture, and put on the lid to prevent infestation.
Within a couple of weeks your culture will be ready for harvesting.