Fruit Flies And How To Colonise Them
Often we read articles and profiles on fish species and see their natural diet includes insects and invertebrates without realising that we can actually culture our own regular supply of insects without too much difficulty. The Fruit Flies are not only high in protein but also provide a valuable variance in the diet that keeps the fish interested in food, what do you think the fish prefer, flakes all of the time or the occasional meal of Fruit Flies as well to feast on?
They are often considered as a pest around the world feasting on decaying food and vegetation but prove to be invaluable to the fish keeper due to their small adult size ( adults only reach a size of 1/8 of an inch), their nourishment value far outweighs the time spent on raising them for food.
So how do we start to prepare a culture that we can enlarge and feed our fish with, the first step has to be to find a suitable container to house them in without allowing them to escape and taking over our abode. Any medium sized glass jar or plasti9c bottle is suitable but make sure that the neck opening is large enough to work with, the full explanation for this will become obvious when we explain the harvesting methods. The containers will need to be as sterile as possible, two reasons for this, we do not want our colony to be infected and die off, we also do not want to pass on any possible disease to the fish that will feed off our fruit flies. Plastic containers can be sterilised using the same solution that we sterilise babies bottles with, just make sure that it is rinsed well, glass containers can be sterilised by placing them in an oven on a low heat for an hour to kill off any bacteria.
A medium must also be added that the fruit flies can feed on and deposit their eggs, you can play around with your choice but the most popular seem to be puréed fruit or moistened cereals, experience will soon make you realise which works best for you, in my experience and after a lot of research, I found that puréed banana provided great results as long as it was kept free of any mould build up. Whichever medium you use it must be moist and placed at the bottom of the chosen container, the container will then need a seal to prevent the Fruit Flies from escaping, paper towelling or even a very fine netting secured at the top of the container will prevent this.
Of course you will then need some Fruit Flies to start off your project, cultures of the flies in the maggot stage can be purchased and they are usually sold mixed in the medium that the supplier provides, when adding this mix to the container all you need to do is simply mix the bought medium with your medium very gently and the maggots will soon start to devout the new food that is available. You can also purchase adult specimens ready to add to the container, these will soon start to breed and begin your colony.
Like all flies the next stage of the development will be the pupae stage, the maggots will move out of the medium and up the container to harden into pupae. After this stage the fully formed adults will appear and some of these should then be placed into a new container ready to start off a new colony.
To make life simple it is best to breed the flightless fruit flies, these can be harvested by simply inverting the container and allowing a few to fall into the tank, always make sure that the container is fully secured at the neck after harvesting, allowing just a few specimens to escape can create a pest hazard in your home and make you very unpopular with the other residents!!
The two main species of flightless fruit flies that are most commonly available are Drosophila melanogaster or Drosophila hydei and these are readily available from pet stores, they are also a common food for reptiles so check out that section when you are hunting for them.