It is rare to see such visibly obvious results as demonstrated in the side-by-side test of APBreed’s Compact Culture System with the way I typically culture rotifers. Arguably you don’t even need to read the details; look at that photo! In my first installment, I unboxed the CCS product. This time, I’ll tell you how it performed in my fishroom…
Typically, I feed a routine amount of prepared microalgae daily, harvesting on a more as-needed basis, utilizing nothing more than an airstone for circulation. I maintained this routine with three 5 gallon setups; one was the new Compact Culture System, the other two were set up as I have run rotifers for years. To fully embrace the APBreed Compact Culture System, I also departed from my dearly loved RotiGrow System (specifically RotiGrow Plus) to instead use APBreed’s liquid, refrigerated version, RGComplete.
In a matter of weeks, it became abundantly clear that utilizing the Compact Culture System’s filter dramatically cuts down on the particulate waste in the system. But the real kicker was when I got behind on my rotifer harvesting and I crashed cultures; the CCS kept on going, while my traditional cultures were goners.
An interesting side note; using RGComplete I experienced a foaming of the surface that I hadn’t seen when using the RotiGrow Plus. Eric Henry, Research Scientist and Process Engineer at Reed Mariculture, offered this explanation. “RGcomplete actually has antifoam properties—a pleasant surprise we did not anticipate. Foam is generated by the organic substances released by rotifers and bacteria in the culture, and the ultimate source of these substances is of course the feed itself. The more rotifers you have, the more feed they require and the more foam you make—this is true with all rotifer feeds. You will find that when foam accumulates, it rapidly disperses when you dose RGcomplete. So foam accumulation is a sign that the feed has been consumed and at that point the rotifers are underfed. But this conspicuous accumulation of foam only happens when the rotifer population is high enough to require relatively high feed rates.”
To perhaps over-simply Henry’s explanation, if your culture is foaming, it’s time to feed!
To summarize my experience, I think it’s fair to say that you can grow a lot of rotifers very quickly with the CCS and RGComplete. The filtration offered by the CCS seems to add a new level of stability to small-scale rotifer culture, and there is big merit in that.
I personally found the RGComplete a little less forgiving than RotiGrow Plus, but that could also be due to the fact that as time progressed, the refrigerated liquid met and then passed it’s “use-by” dating, whereas RotiGrow Plus, while a bigger investment, has a massive shelf life in deep freeze, meaning that small portions thawed periodically remain fresher than a larger bottle of liquid. Of course, I bend the rules quite a bit in my rotifer culturing; the RGComplete product makes perfect sense for small scale at home culturing, especially if purchased in smaller amounts so you go through the feed in a timely fashion before expiration; for a couple 5 gallon cultures, maybe see how long it takes you to go through the 6 oz. before you graduate to the 16 or 32!
In discussing this review with Eric Henry, I learned there is another option with RGComplete – buy the liquid and freeze it out in portions. It’s been confirmed by Henry that RGComplete will do well with freezing, which 0f course will dramatically extend the shelf life of the product. So you can get a larger bottle (presumably a better value) at portion it out (eg. using ice cube trays). You can simply then thaw only what you need to last a short while, and you won’t have to worry about the product spoiling as long as you use it within a reasonable amount of time. I should note – thaw products like this in your refrigerator; it’s been said that thawing products like these at room temperature can cause algal clumping, so just play it safe.
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