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Now here's a curious little animal. When you open the top of their culture they all seem to panic and start to jump around frantically. Not too long ago, we read in a WWW article that these critters are more nutritious that fruit flies. Maybe so but the Springtails, an insect-like critter from the Order, Collembola, are so small that the larger fishes need to spend a significant about of energy simply to forage.
All of the harvesting methods we have been able to find are time consuming or laborious for the number of Springtails that result from the effort. We we developed our own system and it's way too easy to dismiss it's simplicity. But more of the harvesting after the culturing.
We primarily use Springtails when feeding young juveniles in the 1/2 inch to an inch size. If the fish are a mid-water feeder or a bottom feeder this food source may have little value. We only use
them on fishes that will take from the surface. The Springtails are so small, they get caught in the water's surface tension and if uneaten will stay on the surface. This is definitely a top feeding fish's type of food. While this unique food is useful and has a place in our own situation, we don't believe that it will ever have the same benefits of Grindal worms. But given it's unique surface quality, we grow and use Springtails in some pretty decent quantities.
Springtails are frequently considered a pest culture when they invade Grindal cultures and Whiteworm cultures. That should be a hint for you on several levels. Springtails enjoy the same conditions as the worms. Cultures of Whiteworms and Grindal worms should be isolated form Springtails cultures that is unless you want to contaminate the worm cultures. Contamination of the worms may seem insignificant in the beginning but the Springtails are voracious eaters and will sometime out compete the worms for food, thus making the worm cultures extremely unproductive.
We use a plastic shoe box and put a mix of 50-50 garden soils and coconut fiber into the box to a depth of approximately 2 inches. One of the secrets of Springtail culturing is that they like a damp, perhaps moist environment. The proper dampness would be a little dryer than either Grindal or White worms. But when you give the critter ideal conditions, they will pretty much stay subterranean and you will have a real tough time harvesting them. So to get around the hiding in the medium challenge, we keep the medium significantly wetter (read not significantly damper...we're talking wet here) and therefore not allowing the Springtails perfect homes. They stay on the surface of the medium when the medium is too wet for them to live in it. For harvesting the way we do, surface living is a good thing.
We feed the Springtails baby Oatmeal...the same stuff we feed our Grindal worm and Whiteworm cultures. We feed them the same way as with the worms and like the worms we use a piece of glass on the top of the culture with the food sprinkled on surface of the medium and below the glass. The piece of glass is only about 4 inches by 8 inches...long and narrow for better control of the harvest technique.
To harvest the Collembola...get ready to read this...it goes quickly. We lift the glass out off of the culture medium, invert it over a tank so that the surface that was touching the medium is not facing upwards...then we give the glass (which will be covered with Springtails) a little puff of air...we literally blow the edible bits onto the surface of the water...told you it was too easy.
"We grow food not bait"