Vinegar Eels (Turbatrix Aceti)
Vinegar Eels Background
Turbatrix Aceti or Vinegar Eels are a type of nematode that inhabits vinegars. They very tiny, and if you can’t see very close you might just miss them. The best way to see them is to hold a sample of them in a clear see through container to the light and look for the tiny worms wiggling. Vinegar Eels reach the size about 1/8 inch making and are an aquatic nematode. This means that the Vinegar Eels are quite happy living in a water environment like a fish tank for some time until your pets eat them. But, to truly live and reproduce they need to live in cider vinegar. The female Vinegar Eel give birth up to 45 young every 8-10 days, and live for an average of 10 months. Vinegar Eels do well at temperatures from 60-90 degrees. But, room temperatures 68-85 +/- a few degrees are best for optimum reproduction rates.
Why Vinegar Eels?
Vinegar Eels are very easy to culture, and we will give full detailed instructions below. Vinegar Eels take simple house hold ingredients to culture them, and they like aquatic conditions. So, you don’t have to worry about them polluting your tank when other food dies or flakes can rot. Unlike baby brine shrimp vinegar Eels will last much longer in your tank that is until your fry or adult fish eat them all up. But, like feeding any pet too much food can be devastating on a tanks population. Also, Vinegar Eels are a good food for larger fry or juvenile fish because they are still very small only 1/8 of an inch. When microworms, banana worms, or Walter worms are too small to feed, Vinegar Eels are the next step in a mix diet. Remember a mixed combination diet for your fish is the best way to utilize your fish needs.
How to Culture Vinegar Eels
There are several ways to culture Vinegar Eels. You just have to be able to meet their environmental needs. The container we provided for you, which your Vinegar Eels are in, is only a temporary home for shipping purposes.
Firstly, you will need a container or two to hold your vinegar eels in. Plastic transparent containers work best. Like an old see through juice container or a large clear pop container. A container that is wider than is tall is best because the worms like to congregate around the surface of the solution. The container must have a tight fitting lid with holes. We use a paper towel with a rubber band affixed to the neck of a bottle. Vinegar Eels are not picky about the light or dark, so you can pretty much store them anywhere. Vinegar Eels need air exchange to survive, but we need to keep out other pests from our Vinegar Eel culture. . It’s a fact Vinegar Eels smell sour. But they are supposed to smell because they live and eat off of fermenting apple in the vinegar culture. But, this smell causes other creatures to want into your culture like fruit flies. To keep the flies out, you need to either rubber band a paper towel over the top of your bottle / container or you will need to tape a paper towel tightly over the holes you created in the top of your lid. Be careful not to tape your holes though. The towel will allow for air exchange, but keep pests out.
Now, you will need to prepare food for your Vinegar Eels. There are a couple of recipes that you can start your Vinegar Eels on and I will provide a couple that can work for home culturing purposes.
- 1 Part Water to 3 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar, and Sugar: Take 1 cup non-chlorinated water and put it into a container. Next, take 3 cups apple cider vinegar and add it to your 1 cup water. Then, take 1 teaspoon table sugar and add it to the water and vinegar. Now, mix all three ingredients together. Make sure all are at room temperature, and now add this solution to your Vinegar Eel containers. Now add your Vinegar Eels to this.
- 1 Part Water to 3 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar, and Apple Slice: Take 1 cup non-chlorinated water and put it into a container. Next, take 3 cups apple cider vinegar and add it to your 1 cup water. Then, dice up 1/8 to ¼ of an apple. The more apples you put in the cloudier the culture will be. Add all your ingredients to your container or bottle, and make sure they are at room temperatures. Now, add your Vinegar Eels into you container.
- 2 Parts Apple Juice to 2 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar: Take 2 cups apple juice and put it in a container. Now, take 2 cups apple cider vinegar and add it to the apple juice. Next, add the mixture to your container / bottle. Finally, add your Vinegar Eels to your container.
Don’t be hesitant. You can experiment and make your own culture food mixture too. The Vinegar Eels need at least 50% of their culture to be apple cider vinegar because that is what they eat and live off of. You can take and divide the culture that we have shipped to you. Simply, divide in half any culture into two parts and add them to a new container with food. A new culture will take anywhere from 7-14 days for harvesting, but a strong culture takes a month. Harvesting times also depend on how big your new container and food supply are. The bigger the new container and food supply are the slower the begging harvest will be, but it will produce many more Vinegar Eels. You can control how fast your culture reproduces by controlling the temperature. Lower temperatures allow the culture to last longer, but reproduction and harvesting are slower. Higher temperature, and your culture will reproduce faster and harvesting numbers are higher. Remember Vinegar Eels are very small and you might just miss them if not able to see them up close. You will know when your Vinegar Eel culture is doing well, when you see them gathering around the edges of the top of the mixture.
When to Start a New Culture
You can expand your culture at any time after the culture establishes it’s self, usually after the initial 7-14 days. All you have to do is repeat the processes above. Otherwise, wait until your culture starts to die off and you don’t have that many Vinegar Eels left. This is an indicator that all the nutrients is used up, and the Vinegar Eel population is in decline. At this point, you need to get a container again, and repeat one of the steps stated above. If you keep your culture going, you will have a never ending supply of Vinegar Eels for your juvenile fry.
We always recommend never releasing live organisms into the environment. You should always use good hygiene practices with all cultures. Please wash your hands and materials after handling any culture.
Gifting or re-purposing a culture is always a good first option. But, if those options are unavailable you can follow these steps:
- Make a 20% bleach solution (2 parts bleach, 8 parts water) fully submerge culture and container in 20% bleach solution for 10 minutes. Rinse and Drain culture, container and bleach solution down the drain until bleach smell has cleared. Dispose of containers and materials in garbage.