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Hello.

Here is what I use for my Yellow-perch larvae.
[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]
[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]
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[/quote]
Try Optimal fish food.
/quote]

Wow, I purchased some optimal a few years ago but didnt realize they had expanded their offerings. Will have to keep them in mind. I did get a response from Aquamax but it was just someone reiterating the same info available on their website. They list the starter 100 as .8mm and the size of the fry powder as "powder". Guess it hasn't been measured.


-Jason
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Originally Posted by canyoncreek
One of the authors in the papers that your requested above is James Wetzel. He has two different 'handles' or registered accounts on the forum so maybe he will chime in.

I think thats actually how I found the paper. I read several of his threads on here and went looking for more of his info online. I found a place that I can buy the paper online for $12 so I will probably just do that.


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Maybe send Jim Wetzel a private message through the forum here. It will show up in his person email and I bet he'll zip the article over to you for nothing.

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Too late, I already purchased it.😆 Unfortunately the study fed baby brine shrimp for the first week or so and then transitioned to the commercial diet, so does not help me with day 1 feeding. There was also no mention of brands of commercial feed, but nutrition analysis was provided for each food tested. Looks like the one that performed the best had 54% crude protein and almost 19% lipids. There was some reference to particle size but, again, not really relevant for day 1.

This article has the most detail of bluegill fry zooplankton preference and would seem to suggest a particle size of 100-200 micron would be best. I bet the aquamax is not going to come close to being that small, but I am considering buying a lab sieve to filter down to that size(and do more grinding if needed).

Here is the article: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/etd/10/

Last edited by ColdSpringsFarm; 02/11/23 10:54 PM.

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Originally Posted by ColdSpringsFarm
Too late, I already purchased it.😆 Unfortunately the study fed baby brine shrimp for the first week or so and then transitioned to the commercial diet, so does not help me with day 1 feeding. There was also no mention of brands of commercial feed, but nutrition analysis was provided for each food tested. Looks like the one that performed the best had 54% crude protein and almost 19% lipids. There was some reference to particle size but, again, not really relevant for day 1.

This article has the most detail of bluegill fry zooplankton preference and would seem to suggest a particle size of 100-200 micron would be best. I bet the aquamax is not going to come close to being that small, but I am considering buying a lab sieve to filter down to that size(and do more grinding if needed).

Here is the article: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/etd/10/


IF you have a way to grind it (a burr coffee grinder will be best, a coffee grinder that "chops" it will create heat) I can send you a pound or two of this if you reimburse me for the shipping. I'll send it flat rate USPS.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

55% Protein, 15% Fat.

To measure how fine you grind it, I think you can get screen material or sieves of some very fine screen material. 0.0017" is the finest that I see, but it isn't cheap. https://www.mcmaster.com/sieve-separators/

Optimal Starter #0 is 48% Protein / 18% Lipid

The most important phase in growing a trophy fish is in the hatchery, nursery, and juvenile stages. Growth lost early in life will never be recaptured. When fish are very young, they grow at incredible rates gaining 15% of their body weight every day. As they age, this growth rate per day slowly decreases, so gains in early life yield exponential growth rates up until the fortunate soul find the trophy fighting on the end of a line.

The importance of highly digestible, highly attractive, and highly nutritious diets cannot be overemphasized. Starter feeds are formulated to deliver the ultimate in digestible protein, balanced amino acid levels, key antioxidants, fortified micronutrient levels, and innovative palatability enhancers for finicky eaters. By concentrating on these essential building blocks of growth and health, fish are given a superior foundation on their quest to be the next trophy. Optimal starter feeds incorporate over a decade of dedicated research, and we could not be happier with the results, and we are confident you will too.

Optimal Starters come in a range of sizes to fit your needs.
Starter #0 is a powder designed for the first feeding of tiny fry. This line is useful for those who hatch their own fish.
• Starter #1 is a crumble line for fish that are too big for a powder yet still under half an inch.

The smallest portion that you can buy is a 10# bucket.

Last edited by esshup; 02/12/23 09:25 AM.

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I may take you up on that. My aquamax powder is due to be delivered any day now. Let me check it out and see what it looks like. I am considering buying a grain mill attachment for the kitchenaid. I have a standalone meat grinder but I think the smallest plate on that would only get me down to corn meal size. A few seasons ago I ground about 1 cup of pellets down to a powdery crumble using the Ninja chopper. It did ok but it has two chopping blades that I think will dull pretty quickly with repeated use.

Grain Mill Attachment


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Quick update: We had a cold snap and I am seeing that the downside of an outdoor tank is rapid temperature fluctuations. I don't think its causing any harm to the fish, but the water temp dropped to around 48 overnight lastnight. The fish activity is way down in terms of eating and movement in general. I have seen the bluegill eat several times and before the temp dropped he was eating both pellets and worms. I still have not witnessed the RES eating anything but she looks plump so I suspect she is being shy and scavenging after I leave.

The pump/filter setup is working really well but its not the ideal design for this tank. The filter surface sits off the bottom about 4 inches so it does not trap any sediments. I tried to set up the tank with a slight slope toward the bottom drain in hopes the sediments would end up there and be sucked out during water changes. That didn't really work very well with the first attempt, so next time I 'm going to try brushing it over in that area before I open the valve. Worst case I guess I will be using a siphon vacuum.


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Fast water temp changes have been noted as a cause for many fish health and death issues in publications. The fast temp changes cause lipid regulation issues which cause issues at the cellular level. That is one reason many pond meisters put them inside or at least where temp can be somewhat controlled.

Last edited by ewest; 02/14/23 11:12 AM.















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The Ninja Chopper might create heat when chopping up to the fine powder, it does when using it to "grind" coffee. Look into a coffee burr. You can grind pretty fine with it and it won't create heat. The Chopper type coffee grinders won't chop uniformly, which the coffee burrs will.

Honestly, if you don't have the equipment to grind to a consistent, correct size, you will be better off just buying the correct sized feed. You will need to screen the fish feed if you make it yourself after grinding it to ensure that you are getting the feed the correct size for the newly hatched fish.


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The aquamax fry powder came in today.. This is a picture for reference. The smallest mark on the ruler is 1/64 inch, or approx 400 microns. Its hard to see in the picture but there is lots of powder sized particles that I estimate are 200 microns or smaller.

I think it will work well, but I may try to get an 80 mesh sieve to remove the particles larger than 200 microns. I think the feed would work just the way it is but no since in letting the larger particles go uneaten the first few weeks when they will be needed as they grow.

[Linked Image from dl.dropbox.com]


-Jason
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Just realizing I have not posted any updates over the last week so where do I start?

I got impatient with the female RES activity so decided to try to catch a few smaller "dither" fish to try to make the larger ones more comfortable. In the process I ended up catching two more mature RES that I believe are female. So I have the male BG breeder, 3 potential female RES breeders, and 3 small bluegill in the 2-4" range. My thought process is that I can observe the 3 females to increase odds of finding one that is more content with tank life as I have still not witnessed the original female RES eating anything. The small fish were eating bits of worm and fish food 2 hours after stocking.

The water temp has been marginal for activity up until the last few days. Over the past weekend we had another round of freezing overnight temps which had the water temp down to 48-50. I added a 300 watt aquarium heater to try to moderate the temperature swings. Its way undersized for an uninsulated 275 gallon tank but seemed to keep temps above 50 the second night of freezing air temps.

During thetemp drop, activity of all fish dropped significantly. Even the male BG was just hanging out on the bottom not taking red worms. I left Monday for a two day trip to Cherokee NC. During that time, I intentionally stopped feeding and at the same time we had daytime temps approaching 80. I was hoping to trigger a feeding g frenzy when I returned and it worked. The male BG ate at least 4 whole red worms and 2 meal worms. At one point he came within 6" of the surface to grab one, so I think he will eventually take floating pellets. After he and the small fish were filled up, a worm made it to the bottom and the smallest of the 3 res breeders darted over and inhaled it! A few minutes later it ate another. I still did not witness the two larger RES eating, but they are showing signs of being more comfortable by swimming around more freely and being slightly territorial. They do this neat thing where they flare out their gills as they peck at the invader. One thing I have noticed is the smallest of the 3(the one that ate)seems to have a bolder body coloration. The gill flap colors are quite dull, but it makes me concerned that it may be a male. Water temps are now in the upper 60's. None of the fish looked terribly egg laden when I stocked them but I have to remind myself the warm spell is way early.

Lastly, my seive arrived. It's supposed to be 80 mesh(.18 mm). I got 2 of them for $16 on Amazon. I have not tested them yet but the mesh looks super fine.
80 Mesh Seive

Last edited by ColdSpringsFarm; 02/23/23 10:18 AM.

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Ok, I broke out the Seive and tested the Aquamax fry powder. So far I have sifted 188 grams with 90 grams being smaller than 80 mesh. So 48-50% below 200 microns. Something that is interesting is the larger material is noticably darker. Hopefully I am not affecting nutrient balance too much with the sifting.

[Linked Image from dl.dropbox.com]


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Just a heads up. The biggest predator of BG and or RES fry/eggs is other BG or RES. Those small fish you added may need to be removed - keep an eye out for them.
















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Originally Posted by ewest
Just a heads up. The biggest predator of BG and or RES fry/eggs is other BG or RES. Those small fish you added may need to be removed - keep an eye out for them.

Oh yea, goal is to have only the breeder pair by mid march. Just wanted to see if they sped up the acclimation process for larger fish which they seem to be doing. It's also kind of nice to have a clean up crew for feed leftovers.


-Jason
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Took some slow motion video of the male CNBG eating a cricket. I love that pop sound as they inhale it!

Attached Images
bluegill_topwater.jpg
Last edited by ColdSpringsFarm; 03/02/23 11:27 AM.

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Time for another update. A lot has changed. I had the largest of the small dither fish die inexplicably last week. Went out one morning and he was laying on the bottom. When I scooped him with the net he fluttered a bit. He was alive but almost seemed paralyzed. I through him back in and came back 2 or 3 hours later.....still alive but motionless on the bottom. I pulled him off out again and inspected him. No signs of illness or stress. The night before they had all eaten a bunch of red worms and then there was a 10 degree water temp drop overnight. But none of the other fish acted stressed at all, so it's a real mystery. The water tested fine but I decided to reduce the fish load. All the mature fish were eating so the small fish had served their purpose. I removed them and one of the larger female RES. I am doing one 15-20% water change per week.

Feeding has gone pretty well. The male bluegill is a little piggie and makes feeding the RES difficult. He will eat anything I throw in there. I have tried to switch to Aquamax pellets because the live foods are messy and costly. The RES have eaten the pellets but it's hit or miss. They much prefer meal worms. The larger RES has even taken crickets from the surface.

I made some setup changes. As you can see in the video above, there is now a spawning pan with pea gravel. No one has shown any interest in it yet. Yesterday I got worried about the RES as the Male CNBG was being very territorial....to the point that the smaller RES was at the surface with some fins sticking out of the water. If either of them got close to the bottom the CNBG would chase them. Sooo, I decided to Intervene. I built a divider with some plastic mesh. The male gets the side with spawning pan to himself. My thinking is that the RES are not gravid yet, although I see some growth in their bellies. I also think feeding will be easier and allow me to hopefully feed train the RES. Once I confirm female/gravid status I will remove one RES. I suspect the larger RES will be the keeper. She is a better eater and seems to stand her ground a little more with the BG.


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I had a break through with the RES yesterday. I was still struggling to get them to consistently eat pellet feed. Worms, meal worms, crickets were no problem....but only the sporadic Aquamax pellet. As an experiment, I softened a few pellets and rolled them into meal worm shape, then let them air dry. I only had a few but the large RES inhaled them as soon as they started sinking. I guess the old fishing wisdom about matching the hatch is accurate! So I went about trying to find a way to efficiently making more "worm pellets". Now don't laugh at me, but my daughter's playdough extruder was just the ticket! grin. I extruder 3 plates worth and then oven dried them at 200 degrees for about 1 hour. I am hoping they will allow a transition to normal pellets soon. They usually stay on the surface for about 10 seconds and then start a slow wobbly sink. The larger RES has already taken a few from the surface and she ate 6 or 8 pellets in a row this morning.

One additional benefit of the extruder is if I need pellets in heart or star shapes, no problem! laugh
[Linked Image from dl.dropbox.com]
[Linked Image from dl.dropbox.com]
[Linked Image from dl.dropbox.com]


-Jason
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If you look at the Optimal Fish Food Pellets, that's what they look like - worms/grubs of different lengths.


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Originally Posted by esshup
If you look at the Optimal Fish Food Pellets, that's what they look like - worms/grubs of different lengths.

It makes sense and I do remember the optimal bluegill I bought years ago being more pill shaped. It's interesting having the tank setup to observe feedings. Even the male BG which is an aggressive eater seems to struggle with the largest size pellet in the Aquamax MVP. They fit into his mouth but he spits them out and back in several times, I assume until they are soft enough or small enough to swallow.


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Clever idea, Jason! But if I used the oven to dry fish food, there would be a bear market in the Domestic Tranquillity Index.


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS -86




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Originally Posted by anthropic
Clever idea, Jason! But if I used the oven to dry fish food, there would be a bear market in the Domestic Tranquillity Index.
Hahaha! Between her and my 3 girls I am not sure how I am still allowed in the house. I did attempt to clean up before she got home but got the, "why does the house smell like dead fish" question. 😂


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The next few days could prove to be interesting as the male bluegill has begun the most aggressive nest building that I have seen. I should probably start a recap of what has happened since my last post.

The challenge of feeding has become a distant memory. The "worm pellets" I made were effective for transitioning the redear to pellet feed. All 3 now readily eat pellets from the surface. In fact, the smaller redear will hit pellets so aggressively that 2/3 of her body comes out of the water!

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but I decided to put a divider in the tank to separate the bluegill from the redear. He was harassing them to the point of pectoral fins getting ragged so I decided to give them a break. I removed the divider a week or two ago and at the same time I removed the larger RES. I did this because the smaller one is visibly bloated with eggs and the larger one is not. I did not want to risk having a male RES around for the spawn.

So now I have a hopeful pair. The RES is still being harassed by the male BG to the point of hiding behind objects in the tank, so I am not sure if they consider themselves a pair or not.🤣.

I will try to get some pics of the nesting tomorrow. At some point I guess I will have to decide if manual intervention is needed(egg/sperm stripping). And if it comes to that, I will be flying blind as I have not found a definitive guide on that process!


-Jason
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Nice report. Please keep us apprised of the matchmaking.
















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Good job Jason!

Even if you set up everything correctly, love can be fickle!

If it doesn't work this year, then I hope you try again next year utilizing your increased knowledge base. Do you have space/money to try with a few more pairings? That may give you a greater chance for success.



P.S. I have noticed of few of the Pond Boss members have the arcane powers to perform effective rain dances. Maybe you can get some of those same people to brew you up a fishy love potion! grin

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