Resting Rotifers, Rotifer Cysts (Branchionus plicatillis)

Rotifers produce a “resting” egg or cyst, much like Artemia (brine shrimp).

However, rotifers reproduce asexually, and a single rotifer can multiply at a rate of millions of rotifers in a few days.

Florida Aqua Farms has pioneered collecting rotifer cysts and offers vials of lab-cultured rotifer eggs. Rotifer cysts can last for over two years if stored in a freezer.

Rotifers can easily be cultured. Hatching and feeding start within 24 to 36 hours, and reproduction as early as 18 hours after hatching. We now carry the resting cysts of the saltwater rotifer Branchionus plicatillis.

These are the “L” strain variety, which is 130-340 microns in length, compared to brine shrimp, which are 450-500 microns long. Smaller strains may be cultured by consistently sieving standard cultures for smaller rotifers and culturing those individuals. They are manufactured by Florida Aqua Farms Inc.

Rotifer facts

  1. A single rotifer can reproduce and multiply to 1 million rotifers in 5 days.
  2. More than 70 species of fish have been documented to have been reared on rotifers.
  3. 100 rotifers will reproduce and multiply to 1 billion in only 20 days.

Growing Your Own Rotifers Is Easy!

Just Follow These Simple Instructions.
Maintaining a healthy reef tank and excellent coral growth can be as easy as establishing the food web’s fundamental building blocks. By providing your reef tank with live fresh zooplankton (rotifers, Branchionus plicatilis) and phytoplankton, you will be setting these basic building blocks to maintain a healthy reef ecosystem. For the hobbyist enthusiast interested in breeding, raising fry, or propagating coral, these two essential food elements are easily cultured.

Place Resting Rotifer cysts in a wide shallow dish that provides a large surface area to allow for gas exchange and fill with half an inch of culture water. (Culture water for rotifers is prepared by sterilizing 250mL of ro/di water in a microwave for 7-10 minutes on high. Allow the water to cool to room temperature, now using your brand of salt mix to a specific gravity of 1.0069-1.0107.)

Drip a small amount of prepared culture water into the vial of Resting Rotifers to help hydrate the cysts, shake well and pour into your wide shallow dish.

Cover the dish with clear plastic (such as Saran Wrap) and provide continuous light using a fluorescent 6500K light and one actinic. (This lighting should provide you between 500-2000 lux.) Keep the temperature at 77 F (25C).

Hatching will start in 1 to 3 days.

At the 24 hour mark, assume that hatching has begun, whether you see any rotifers or not, add a small amount of phytoplankton (enough to turn the water a very light green colour), or add a drop or two of Roti Rich enrichment (just enough to slightly cloud the water.

At 48 hours, transfer your culture of rotifers to a larger vessel (capable of holding 500mL). Add 500mL of prepared culture water (as outlined previously). Again feed your culture fresh phytoplankton (just enough to turn the water a light green) or add a few drops of Roti Rich (just enough to turn the water cloudy).

At 72 hours (third day), simply stir and feed your live rotifer culture again.

At 96 hours (fourth day), transfer your culture to a 2-liter container, and add 2 liters of prepared culture water. Again feed with phytoplankton (add just enough phytoplankton to turn the water a light green color).

If Roti Rich is used add just enough to cloud the water slightly.

Important: In the beginning stages of culturing rotifers, it is important to provide food routinely but never in excess. Excess food will impede reproduction by shifting pH values.

Secondly, always start your cultures in small volumes and slowly work to larger vessels; this is because you want your culture always to be greater than bacteria. It’s nature’s old rule: The strongest survive. By starting with small dense cultures and slowly working to larger vessels, will ensure success.

Continue to provide 12 to 24 hours of medium to low lighting, and maintain your culture at a temperature between 70-80 F (21-27C). Provide enough aeration to maintain good circulation.
After 7 to 10 days, your rotifers’ culture should be dense enough for you to start harvesting. Rotifers are best collected by using a plankton collector.
It’s that easy!