Saltwater live foods can easily die and pollute freshwater tanks if they’re not completely eaten within a few hours. Daphnia, also known as cyclops, water fleas, or water bugs are little fully freshwater crustaceans that dart across the top of the water. These little guys are an amazing live food for picky freshwater fish that might not otherwise accept pellets or frozen foods, and daphnia can even be just an occasional treat for fish like Bettas, Pea Puffers, Badis, Livebearers, Rainbows, Killifish, and more! Daphnia is such an amazing live food because it helps picky eaters, it improves the color of your fish, and even acts as a laxative for fish suffering from bloat!
Daphnia helps picky eaters because of the way these little crustacean darts around the tank. This sudden and unexpected movement activates hunting instincts in fish, compelling them to eat or hunt the daphnia. Even picky fish or stressed out fish will usually go after the daphnia, making it an amazing tool for both switching fish onto pellets and frozen foods, but also for getting fish to eat when they may otherwise be too stressed out. Not only can daphnia help stressed out fish start eating again, it can also help them return to their vibrant colors.
Daphnia appears bright orange, just like many other foods that are known to make fish more colorful, like krill and river shrimp. This orange color is a natural carotenoid pigment, and when ingested by the fish can make them brighter, and its colors more vivid. Over time daphnia can make your fish amazingly colorful, and even help them stay healthy.
Daphnia acts as a naturally occurring laxative, which is amazing for fish with bloat. Bloat is a condition where fish have air trapped in their bodies. Bloating can happen if a fish is fed the wrong food, like an herbivore getting fed carnivore pellets, or from overfeeding. Bettas are especially sensitive to bloat, and daphnia is a natural way to help them pass the air stuck inside them. If a betta gets bloated, the best solution is to fast the betta for three days and then feed the daphnia.
Daphnia is an amazing live food, but it has uses outside of being a food as well. Daphnia are filter feeders, and they love eating green-water. Green-water is a pest phytoplankton that can quickly turn a clear tank so green that it’s impossible to see the fish inside. Daphnia eats this green-water, and with the phytoplankton gone the tank will turn clear again.
Overall, daphnia is an amazing live food for smaller freshwater fish, especially picky eaters, it can make fish display brighter colors, be used medicinally to treat bloat, and even be used to eradicate pest phytoplankton.