Culturing Greenwater Algae for Livefood

Greenwater can be considered an aquarium pest but greenwater is also used as a livefood source for baby fish. Learn about the uses of greenwater and how to culture it.

Greenwater is the common name for an accumulation of free-floating unicellular algae in an aquatic environment. When conditions are right, greenwater will multiply and this is called an algae bloom. The small particles of algae can reach large numbers. A thick greenwater algae bloom will make water appear a dark deep-green color.

Although the algae is commonly referred to as greenwater, the actual water is not green. The small algae particles that are suspended in the water column appear to make the water a greenish color. If the algae were to die-off for any reason then the algae would sink to the bottom and the water column would be clear again.

Greenwater is a type of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton basically means, tiny floating aquatic plant. Plankton is made up of floating particles in a water column and can include phytoplankton and zooplankton. Plankton are an important part of the food chain and greenwater is an important part of the fish keeping hobby.

Ghost shrimp larvae would surely die without a sufficient amount of greenwater but there are other fish that will benefit from eating live greenwater algae. Newly born baby guppies and bettas will happily snack on fresh greenwater. Greenwater can easily be cultured by anybody to use for live fishfood.

Greenwater can be fed to creatures such as newly hatched brine shrimp, baby fish and ghost shrimp larvae. Ghost shrimp larvae will usually die without a deep-green bloom of greenwater algae. Larval ghost shrimp will need greenwater up until they have molted into their final form when they will look like smaller versions of adult ghost shrimp. Any size daphnia will also need to eat greenwater. Daphnia won't survive without eating greenwater at least once every other day.

Greenwater is often cultured by aquarists as food for their baby fish. Greenwater is not dangerous to fish or other aquatic life in any way although it can easily be considered unsightly. Greenwater algae is usually an unwanted visitor in a fish tank that's meant for display.

For any number of reasons, greenwater can plague a particular aquarium. To get rid of greenwater in any aquatic environment you can try adding a finer filtration material, adding an aquarium filter or decreasing the amount of light that reaches the water column. More frequent water changes can help to clear up a greenwater problem, in addition to more frequent gravel vacs.

How to Grow Greenwater

Greenwater need bright light, aged aquarium water, organic debris and pond snails in order to multiply.

Greenwater are living algae, they require some maintenance in order to thrive. You can easily promote your own bloom of greenwater.

Here are easy instructions for setting up a simple greenwater culturing container :

Place a large plastic storage bucket outside in your backyard. Plastic buckets that hold around 40 gallons of water are cheap and available at most shopping centers. Greenwater will need to be cultured in a brightly-lit area so place the greenwater culturing bucket in a location of your backyard that's mostly-sunny. Fill the large bucket with water from your garden hose. Dechlorinate the water and wait at least one week.

By this time, the water in the bucket should be aged which means that the water is safe for fish. Add pond snails and small goldfish into your plastic bucket. Provide the fish with floating objects to act as shade. Feed the fish and snails daily or twice a day. Within one week, the water should be green and you can feed this greenwater directly to your other aquarium pets.

Tips for Growing Greenwater

Start your greenwater culture a week or two before you'll be feeding it to your aquarium pets. It usually takes about one week to establish a healthy greenwater bloom.

Chemicals such as chlorine will need to be removed from any water at least a few hours before adding it into a greenwater culturing container.

Use aged aquarium water any time that you fill your greenwater container or at least whenever possible. This includes any time that you are performing partial water changes on your greenwater culturing containers. You can also use bottled water when filling your greenwater culture but this won't fuel the algae bloom like aged aquarium water does.

Under-filtered or unfiltered ponds will usually grow dense greenwater blooms with no maintenance on your part.

If you plan to culture greenwater, don't add any animals that eat greenwater into the actual greenwater culturing container or else all of the greenwater can get eaten. There are many creatures that can eat an entire population of greenwater but the most common would be daphnia.

Chlorine or other harmful chemicals can quickly kill a large greenwater algae bloom. Some harmful chemicals to watch out for include, bug spray, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, ammonia, chloramines, etc.

Don't mistake an ammonia cloud for a greenwater algae bloom. If the water in your fish tank has become cloudy with a yellowish or brown tint, check the ammonia level in your aquarium water. If the ammonia level is measurable (above 0) then you should perform a partial water change and retest for ammonia. Ammonia clouds can happen fast and they often occur when a newly set-up aquarium is establishing itself.

A high ammonia level can also be caused by a large dead fish, decaying uneaten fishfood or anytime that the water chemistry is suddenly thrown off balance. A toxic ammonia cloud should not be confused with a green colored algae bloom or even a yellowish-green colored algae bloom.

Some ponds have an accumulation of creatures that are larger than greenwater and these creatures actually eat greenwater. The organisms appear to tint the water a brownish color instead of green. These organism are called zooplankton, they are also fed to certain baby fish. Many strains of zooplankton are highly nutritious.

If you are having a difficult time growing greenwater then try adding more organic substances into your greenwater culturing container. Organic substances include, fish that produce nitrates, leaves and other organic debris, large snails and pond snails, snail food, fishfood flakes, aged aquarium water, etc.

Greenwater are so small that they are one of the first foods available to many tiny aquatic creatures. In addition to feeding bamboo shrimp and baby fish fry with greenwater, daphnia and ghost shrimp larvae need to eat greenwater in order to stay alive.

Pond and aquarium filters, certain types of internal water pumps and live aquatic plants will prevent the growth of greenwater. If you are culturing greenwater as livefood then don't add any live plants or filters into your greenwater culturing container.

Harvesting greenwater can be done with any kind of cup or hard-plastic container. Simply scoop up a cupful of greenwater and if you're sure that the greenwater doesn't contain any predators such as dragon fly larvae or mosquito larvae then the greenwater can be poured directly into your fry, ghost shrimp larvae or daphnia tanks. The live greenwater can be used for anything at this point.

Greenwater can be fed directly to your baby fish or frozen for later use.