Feeding shellie cichlid fry – update

10″ 14 gauge Luer lock, stainless needle and 30 ml syringe purchased from Amazon. Photo by the author.

Back in August, I posted about a nice way to feed shellie fry. I have subsequently improved upon that method. The syringe and water line tube work great…until they don’t. What I discovered is that, over time, the tube end that connects to the syringe will “stretch” such that the connection point isn’t airtight. What happens is 1) air gets in between the tube and the syringe, preventing a good suction and 2) just a little bit of air will allow whatever food you’ve been able to pull into the tube to invariably flow back out before you can remove it from the food source. 

Since there is no good way to ensure the connection point is airtight over time, I had to find a more permanent solution. So I did. 

I ordered some 10″ 14g stainless steel dispensing needles with threaded luer locks. As long as you have luer lock syringes, these blunt end needles will screw onto the syringe tip, creating an airtight seal. See the photo above. I used them last night for the first time and they worked great, as well or better than using a small portion of water line tubing. Use caution though. Because the inner volume of the needles is so small, just the slightest plunge of the syringe (when loaded) sends a fine stream of whatever is inside jetting out. Plunge too hard and you will blow the syringe contents way beyond your target, blow any sand or small particles everywhere, and subsequently blow the fry away if any are close. Getting the food close to the fry is the point here, so over-plunging the syringe in this case is really bad.

The inner diameter of the needles is, however, more than large enough to easily draw in decapsulated brine shrimp eggs (non-hatching) or crushed flakes, two of my favorite fry foods. An added bonus when using this method to feed is that the stainless steel needles are quite thin and inflexible. This will allow you to also more easily get food to fry hiding inside rock crevices and caves. 

I already had some luer lock syringes, but the bundle I ordered from Amazon included three 30ml syringes. As I mentioned, the needles are blunt tip so you don’t need to worry about accidentally piercing your skin with the tip. The syringes that were included in the bundle are really overkill because you only need a very small amount of fry food, way less than the capacity of these. However, if you have multiple tanks containing small fry, having a 30ml syringe is actually a good thing. 

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