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Live rotifers  Brachionus plicatilis   in bottle.

Grown in the laboratory and fed exclusively with phytoplankton.

Excellent food for invertebrates (such as corals), small-mouthed fish larvae, and small crustaceans.

Genus: Brachionus
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Rotifera
Class: Monogononta, Bdelloidea, Seisonidea
Family: Brachionidae

General characteristics

Microscopic organisms that are part of plankton and play a fundamental role in the food trophic chain of aquatic ecosystems.
Its name is due to the characteristic movement of these individuals, which have mobile cilia at the anterior end of the body that they use for locomotion.
They have a high reproductive rate and this makes them quickly occupy certain places or niches.
Tolerant to environments with different degrees of salinity, temperature, pH and low oxygen levels.
It has two types of reproduction, asexual (parthenogenetic) or sexual. Under unfavorable conditions they create resistance eggs that can lie dormant for long periods of time.

Nutritional value

The biochemical composition and nutritional value of these organisms is directly related to the diet that we provide them (Example: It is not the same to feed with marine microalgae than with yeast).
The most widely used species of microalgae to feed them are Tetraselmis sp, Isochrysis sp and Chlorella sp. This phytoplankton is what will provide the rotifer with adequate proteins, lipids and carbohydrates for its correct nutritional profile.
The rotifer itself does not have an adequate nutritional quality, it depends on how it is fed in the days prior to its use. What your stomach stores and the eggs they have at that time is what gives it its characteristic nutritional value.

Advantages of rotifers as food

  • It is ideal as a food due to its small size, slow movement, ability to be suspended in the water column and relative ease of growing at high densities.
  • The size range of this organism is adequate for most cultured fish, 125-260 µm, which is an intermediate size between microalgae (20 µm) and brine shrimp nauplii (500 µm).
  • They have a high reproductive capacity. Under favorable conditions, they reproduce asexually, with females producing an egg in a matter of hours. They are capable of reproducing at only one day of age (unlike copepods or brine shrimp, which need 2-3 weeks).
  • Another advantage is that they support high densities in the crop.
  • They withstand variable conditions in the environment in which they are found (temperature, pH, salinity, oxygen, ...).
  • They have a slow movement that allows organisms with difficulties to feed on them in a simpler way.
  • By having a non-selective filtration (such as Artemia) they become ideal prey to be enriched as best suits us.
  • They are easily digestible.
  • Seawater is their most optimal medium but they live perfectly in a marine aquarium since they are capable of supporting highly variable salinity ranges (1-97ppm).

When to use rotifers and for what

  • The rotifer is not the natural food of marine fish larvae. However, since it was used in Japan as the first larval food in 1965, it has become the most widely cultivated live food in intensive aquaculture. For all this, it is widely used for feeding larvae of fish and marine crustaceans today.
  • It is essential as the first live food due to the fact that the Artemia nauplii is inaccessible to the larvae during the first days of life.
  • If our purpose is to create more zooplankton in our aquarium, we must add them at night so that they are not eaten immediately after casting them.
  • Widely used for feeding corals and fish larvae. It should be noted that it is especially recommended for the breeding of fish such as clownfish or seahorses since they have a very small mouth size and rotifers become the ideal prey for the development of these fish.
  • Ideal for feeding all the invertebrates in our aquarium: anemones, sponges, starfish, ...