Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Culturing Fruit Flies, other Insects. Supplements and Dusting.
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Philsuma
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Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby Philsuma » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:25 pm

Some Terms:

Culture or Culture Cup - This is the clear plastic, usually 32oz cup with a vented (holes covered by fabric screening) that contains the insects - Fruit Flies, bean beetles ect. They not only live in the culture cup, but they breed and reproduce in there as well. The word "Culture" is often abbreviated as CX or cx .

Dusting Cup- This is a clean clear plastic cup identical to a culture cup, only it is used to hold superfine powdered supplements- vitamins and calcium. For example, a "Culture Cup" gets opened and the feeder insects inside get tapped out and into the dusting cup to be swirled around and coated with superfine powder (dust) and then fed to frogs so that the frogs can acquire (eat) the powdered supplement.

Powder or Superfine Powder - Using this is referred to as "Dusting" and the powder coats the fruit flies and then the frogs eat the coated flies. This is the commercially available vitamin and calcium powders that are 100% necessary to use for raising and breeding poison dart frogs. Dart frogs absolutely must have it.

What type of fruit flies to buy ? melanogaster is the best choice for beginners. They have a 1 week (roughly) lifecycle (from egg to fly) and are far easier, forgiving of mistakes and predictable to produce than the larger and longer to produce- hydei. Both wingless and flightless flies are fine. Wingless tend to be better for those who worry about escaped flies, since at higher temps the "flightless" flies can, in rare instances, mutate and become "fliers". Flightless flies retain the wings but not the ability to actually fly and hold more vitamin supplement because of the larger surface area of the wings.

Hydei are larger and usually darker colored / black, and will eventually be the staple of larger frogs like auratus, leucomelas, and tinctorius. They take twice as long to cycle to adult, as the melos and their cultures can sometimes smell a little worse (stronger). These flies come in both gold and black morphs as well, which makes no difference for feeding out. These flies are climbers and a little more of “escape artists”.

D. melanogaster lifespan and ideal temperaturesFrom Wikipedia:

The D. melanogaster lifespan is about 30 days at 84 °F.

The developmental period for Drosophila melanogaster varies with temperature, as with many ectothermic species.

The shortest development time (egg to adult), 7 days, is achieved at 82 °F.Development times increase at higher temperatures (11 days at 86 °F) due to heat stress.

Under ideal conditions, the development time at 77 °F is 8.5 days.

At 64 °F it takes 19 days.

At 54 °F it takes over 50 days.

Under crowded conditions, development time increases, while the emerging flies are smaller.Females lay some 400 eggs (embryos), about five at a time, into rotting fruit or other suitable material such as decaying mushrooms and sap fluxes. The eggs, which are about 0.5 millimetres long, hatch after 12–15 hours (at 77 °F).The resulting larvae grow for about 4 days,while molting twice (into 2nd- and 3rd-instar larvae), at about 24 and 48 hours after hatching.During this time, they feed on the microorganisms that decompose the fruit, as well as on the sugar of the fruit itself. Then the larvae encapsulate in the puparium and undergo a four-day-long metamorphosis, after which the adults eclose (emerge).

Where to buy ? Try to buy your Fruit Flies locally and pick-up yourself if you can. This saves shipping costs and you get to meet your valuable local hobbyists. If you must mail order, use a site sponsor or a reputable / recommended fellow forum or board member.As a last resort, Petsmart and Petco have recently started carrying small vials of fruit flies, but the amounts and productions are suspect and the cost is prohibitive for such a small amount.

Media – Buy or Make your own ? I make my own media and I don’t have problems with smell, mold, or mites (other than the normal issues) Most media will produce a substantial amount of flies, and they all consist of pretty much the same main ingredients available at any given grocery store - a powdered confectionery sugar, a protein like brown powdered brewer’s yeast, a “base” of potato flakes, a mold inhibitor and some active yeast. Making your own media is at least 50% less expensive than buying it. When you are new to the hobby, however, you should just purchase ready made Fruit Fly media from an online sponsor / vendor or at a local Reptile show.

A simple recipe is this modified "Carolina" mix.

4 parts dried potato flakes (the base part)
1 part powdered (fluffy) confectionery sugar (the sugar part)
1 part BREWERS yeast (the protein part) available online, or at a nutritional store, like GNC
a dash of cinnamon (some say it helps the culture smell better as well as prevent mold)

Some white vinegar added to hot water (the liquid part). Methyl paraben is the scientific substance (both prevent mold)

This should be mixed with hot water to form a semi-firm mixture (not soupy or runny -think a little more solid than applesauce) then add excelsior (or other similar material like coffee filters) should be added to increase surface area for the flies. Finally add a dash of active baker’s yeast. Flies are then added after the mixture is cool.

Culture Containers / Cups ? glass or plastic containers are fine, some of us use glass (mason jars with the metal lid removed and a coffee filter inserted) while most use plastic 32 oz large "deli-type cups" which can be ordered online. Both can be used and cleaned continually even after many years. I have plastic culture cups and lids that are well over 5 years old. Most glass jars can be obtained free, from different sources or used food items and the popular 32 oz plastic “deli” cups with screen lids only cost @ 50-70 cents apiece. I personally find that the commercial fruit fly 32 oz cups are by far and away easiest to use. The LIDS MUST BE VENTILATED....at least somewhat. The FF and larvae need to breathe.

Culturing tips: when making a new culture pour flies into a small container (like another clean 32oz plastic deli cup) and shake with dust. This will allow you to easily transport the files to a new culture.
Make new CXs (cultures) once a week when the newest flies emerge. (Use these flies)
label your culture lids with dates in sharpie or similar way help prevent mites by keeping old (older than 5-6 weeks) CXs out of the culture/ frog-room area. Mites can decimate even the best cultures. Try to make your new cultures on the same day of the week and do not forget or skip a day. This will allow proper overlap and ensure continued proper production.

When should I make new cultures? This is one of the most important questions to ask. To ensure continual fly production, I find it best to make at least one new culture EVERY WEEK - and more depending upon how many Frogs you are feeding. Pick a day of the week and STICK TO IT. Don't put it off or make excuses or blow it off, as it will come back to hurt you and you will have a "gap" in your FF production. This is referred to as a Culture ROUTINE and it's one of the most important bits of advice I can offer - to go by that routine, no matter what. New cultures should be made from more than one boom from separate cultures. Try to take flies from at least three different booming cultures, and make separate NEW cultures from these - thus maximizing your chances of success with the new culture and production. NEVER mix flies from different cultures. You will breed fliers that way.

How long does the "standard" wingless Melanogaster Fruit Fly live ? - About 30-35 days


Two Kinds of Yeast ?!!?

Yep:

1. Baker's Yeast. The small, off-white-ish grains or sometimes little balls found in little foils packets or small dark coloured glass jars. This yeast is ACTIVE, or alive. It gets sprinkled on top of the freshly made culture and allows for the breakdown of the FF media. The maggots can then consume and process the media more easily, this way. FF that you transfer or "seed" a new culture should also have some active yeast on their legs and this can help the breakdown process as well. I always use some baker's yeast though, and don't fully rely on the FF's to drag some over with them. This is the yeast that you sprinkle a bit on the top of the freshly completed culture.

2. Brewer's Yeast .This is a fine brown powdery substance that adds protein to the culture and is an mixed-in ingredient that should be in every media mixture. It's usually found in health food grocery store aisles and comes in a small tub with a pop top. This is the most expensive ingredient and some people tend to skimp on it, which results in markedly decreased FF production.

Culturing fruit flies is very easy and only takes practice and confidence to master.

Good luck and remember to start culturing before you get your frogs, don’t let them suffer due to your inability to maintain their food properly.

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly culturing Questions

Postby itskris » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:58 am

How much FF media should we be putting into the deli cup or mason jar?

How many FFs should we seed the new culture with?
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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly culturing Questions

Postby Philsuma » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:45 am

itskris wrote:How much FF media should we be putting into the deli cup or mason jar?

How many FFs should we seed the new culture with?



I add about 1/2 inch of the dry media - enough to cover the bottom of the cup thoroughly. When you add hot water to the dry media, it will expand in volume. Seasonal (ambiant room humidity) and geographic variables also come into play and will effect final size and consistancy - too wet or too dry. A little experimentation will allways be in order here - another reason to practice culturing prior to obtaining your first frogs.

Seeding seems to work best with @ 50 or so flies. Be sure to count them (kidding).

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Girlwithafrogtattoo » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:00 pm

Another fly I've really come to love is the Turkish Gliders. I picked up a culture at the Hamburg show in Feb, and those things reproduce like mad. I haven't had any bad experiances with them, and just use a recipe that is similar to the modified "carolina mix".

I did have a question about the mold inhibitor. Has anyone ever tried using LorAnn Oils Preserve-it Mold Inhibitor? You can get a 4fl oz bottle for @$10, just wondering if it would be safe for cultures.
Preserve-It Mold Inhibitor
Product Number:6070-0500
Contains: Water, Potassium sorbate. Kosher Certified.

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Natures Gems » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:00 pm

try to ask the more experienced keepers about that mold inhibitor. The guys that have been into this the longest can probably advise you. I'm the play it safe type guy.

i use only natural ingredients in my fruit fly cultures and always make more cultures than i need. for the dry ingredients i use high quality nutritious ingredients as to ensure healthy flies for my frogs. my media consists of potato flakes, powdered sugar, brewers yeast, a teaspoon of spirulina. i use a water and vinegar mixture for the wet ingredients. it works very well for me.

assuming you are what you eat stay away from methyl paraben or any other mold inhibitor but i do know that frog keepers use it. i think the key to deciding would be to ask the most experienced guys on the forum. if they've been using it or if they stay away i would trust their opinion.

I'd be curious if there was ever any study or research on the subject but i doubt it.i just choose not to use it myself. i want to food items that the frogs are consuming to be nutritious and feel the frogs will be as long as i play it safe. hopefully the old timers to the hobby find your question and reply what they feel about mold inhibitors.good luck

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Philsuma » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:57 pm

^^ Agree. Use a natural mold inhibitor if you must. Cinnamon, white vinegar...that type of thing.

90% of the time, the mold is something unique to some excelsior or the area of your basement where you keep the cultures and can easily be corrected without chemicals.

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Philsuma » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:15 pm

any other natural mold inhibitors ? Blueberries ?

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby frogfreak » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:19 pm

I know a guy who used to sprinkle blueberry powder on the surface as a mold inhibitor. It seemed to work well for him.
Glenn

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Lady Bullseye » Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:52 pm

Would it damage a growing culture to spray or otherwise put some white vinegar in to stop mold on the surface? Not the black mold. White/bluish "fluffy" kind.
I read that it works while preparing the culture, and will do that from now on, the recipe I was using didn't mold, but new media I'm using molded on day 3 after starting it.
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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Philsuma » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:35 pm

Sure...I would experiment with adding some vinegar - a tablespoon to start with and then maybe more. Not a problem.

There's a TON of trial and error for everyone's FF culturing and no two hobbyists methods and production are the same !

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Questions

Postby Philsuma » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:49 pm

Dart Frogs are more than ok eating small flies. Tiny flies. Heck, they eat mites and smaller stuff in the wild. The biggest dart frog, teribillis, breeds just fine on a staple of small melanogaster.

Some people think they need a bigger fly - like hydei and that's just incorrect.

Hydei are so much harder to culture...new people should first get melanogaster down pat. Much easier.

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby Philsuma » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:10 pm

D. melanogaster lifespan and ideal temperaturesFrom Wikipedia:

The D. melanogaster lifespan is about 30 days at 84 °F.

The developmental period for Drosophila melanogaster varies with temperature, as with many ectothermic species.

The shortest development time (egg to adult), 7 days, is achieved at 82 °F.Development times increase at higher temperatures (11 days at 86 °F) due to heat stress.

Under ideal conditions, the development time at 77 °F is 8.5 days.

At 64 °F it takes 19 days.

At 54 °F it takes over 50 days.

Under crowded conditions, development time increases, while the emerging flies are smaller.Females lay some 400 eggs (embryos), about five at a time, into rotting fruit or other suitable material such as decaying mushrooms and sap fluxes. The eggs, which are about 0.5 millimetres long, hatch after 12–15 hours (at 77 °F).The resulting larvae grow for about 4 days,while molting twice (into 2nd- and 3rd-instar larvae), at about 24 and 48 hours after hatching.During this time, they feed on the microorganisms that decompose the fruit, as well as on the sugar of the fruit itself. Then the larvae encapsulate in the puparium and undergo a four-day-long metamorphosis, after which the adults eclose (emerge).

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby pnwbare » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:47 am

Just an interesting article on the subject of fruit flies.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/is-organic-better-ask-a-fruit-fly/
-Dan

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby tazman » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:46 am

Check out the 5 year University study that found carotenoids added to the fruit fly media has health benefits to the frogs eating them.
I like blue frogs!
Tom

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby Philsuma » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:33 pm

Culturing fruit flies - the hands down staple food of our hobby is BOTH the easiest part of the hobby...and...the hardest part.

Easy because if you make your own media, it is pennies-a-year for one culture every couple weeks. Very cheap.

Hard because it ain't like fish food where ya open a jar and ' there it is. You have to put the time in, and experiment and add more water sometimes, less water sometimes, ect ect

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby Armson » Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:33 pm

tazman wrote:Check out the 5 year University study that found carotenoids added to the fruit fly media has health benefits to the frogs eating them.


Link?

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Re: Some Standard Fruit Fly Culturing Info and Questions

Postby Armson » Tue May 10, 2016 1:32 pm

Found it.....
http://tulane.edu/sse/eebio/people/cori ... 2013-2.pdf


This is an extremely good read, I am going to have to disagree with Phil regarding environmental parameters being more important than nutrition.

-Byron


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