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Fruit fly culture crash...in 18 hours?
#1
Today I fed the frogs from my second most recent culture, which has been producing for a while. I made a new culture today and went to fill it with flies from the other one.

The feeder culture was quite energetic when I fed the frogs; in fact I "lost" (down the sink) more flies than I have in quite some time because they were so peppy. 18 hours later, when I poured them into an empty container, they barely trickled out, and just being tapped into the container stunned or killed a few of them. It's seething down inside, not empty or dead at all. I've put it somewhere it can get even more light, just in case that's an issue.

Meanwhile, two old cultures from March are doing far better so I used one of them to start the new culture. (I've basically given up on trying to prevent mites. I've tried everything, but so far they've never managed to kill a culture before I had to throw it away, so it seems good enough to me. I do have new and old cultures in different drawers, though.) The one that seemingly crashed looks no different from the others, no mold and no more mites.

My questions:

1. What the heck happened to that culture in 18 hours?
2. Should I be worried that I fed the frogs from it earlier today?
A girl named Joey.
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#2
Joey,
A question--
You say it is "seething down inside"--does this mean you can see masses of flies moving around at the bottom of the cup? Are the flies somehow trapped from falling down when you tap the cup, upside down?
P. Terribilis orange, R. Imitator Cainarachi Valley, D. Leucomelas, D. Auratus, D. Azureus, P. vittatus, D. cobalts, D.Oyapok, Bombina Orientalis
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#3
Could be too many flies in culture,and die off because of ammonia build up.Are these melanogaster,or hydei? I would not worry that the frogs would be affected by the ff's. I like my ff's out in the open,not in dark closed cabinet.and kept in ambient room light,on mite paper.Dust ff's w/calcium just before making a new culture.and don't just dump flies in,let them slowly crawl out and into the new culture-this will really cut back on mites.
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#4
1. Fruit Fly culturing at the 'Hobby level' is very much 'mad science. There are a ton of variables as to what could have happened.

2. Are you afraid the flies are sick or diseased and would hurt the frogs ? Short of seeing a fume or chemical issue, I see no reason to think the flies are dangerous.

Bottom line IMO....make sure you stick to a culture making schedule - 1 day / SAME day every week. My cx making day used to be Sunday. Do not skip this day...ever. If you have just the one viv, I would make 2 new cultures every week.
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#5
DianeCarter Wrote:You say it is "seething down inside"--does this mean you can see masses of flies moving around at the bottom of the cup? Are the flies somehow trapped from falling down when you tap the cup, upside down?

Yes and no, in that order. :wink: There's nothing in the way of them coming out, they're just sluggish. When I put them in the viv they mostly just sat there, whereas normally they scatter in all directions.

Captain Ron Wrote:Could be too many flies in culture,and die off because of ammonia build up.

I definitely agree that could be it, because I did recently increase the number of flies (melanos) with which I start a culture, based on someone's video. I'll cut back next time and see if this happens again. They're not in the dark, though. They are in one of those Sterilite two-drawer cabinets, and while it is in a closet, it's gigantic and always open onto another very large bathroom/dressing area that has big windows and skylights, and lots of direct and indirect light. (The flies get only indirect, but plenty of it.) Normally I have excellent production and very peppy flies.

Oh, and thank you for the tip about the mites, but that hasn't helped, nor did dusting and then putting them in a strainer to get the dust & mites off. I haven't tossed a culture that was killed by mites yet, so I'm not putting more energy into control other than the usual precautions (paper towels with mite spray, cleaning & disinfecting work surfaces, not adding directly from culture, etc.).

Philsuma Wrote:2. Are you afraid the flies are sick or diseased and would hurt the frogs ? Short of seeing a fume or chemical issue, I see no reason to think the flies are dangerous.

Thanks to you and Ron for easing my mind on that. Just wanted to make sure!

Quote:Bottom line IMO....make sure you stick to a culture making schedule - 1 day / SAME day every week. My cx making day used to be Sunday.

Yup, that's my day too! At any one time I usually have two older but still producing "backup" cultures, one younger feeder, and one or two growing and/or about to pop. (Unfortunately due to my illness there are occasional Sundays when I just can't do it; fortunately making the culture is so quick & easy* that it's not frequently a problem.) There's always a lot of flies in the cultures I toss, so right now I'm keeping it to one a week. I also have a thriving springtail culture as backup.

*When I say "easy" I'm not bragging about my noob-level skills, I just mean that it's not remotely taxing, so even on bad days I can still do it -- just not on really bad days.

Thanks everyone for your input! I've had crashes, but this was something new to me.
A girl named Joey.
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#6
ZenMonkey Wrote:paper towels with mite spray
FWIW mite sprays and paper towels were not effective for me. I switched to mite paper and it was amazing how many dead mites quickly accumulated. I moved culturing locations to get my new cultures away from any mites that may have been lingering in the area, switched to mite paper, and started using the dust and sift method. Those three things got my mite problems under control.

I found that the cultures would shift around in sterilite bins and it was hard to keep them from touching. I line my sterilite bins with mite paper, then I use a strip between cultures of different ages. The strips of paper in between the cultures (each "row" is a different week in this bin) helped keep any mites that may have been in the older, established cultures from crawling from lid to lid within the storage box.
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I keep three weeks of melanogaster cultures in the bins, and they rotate out on the fourth week. The 4 week old cultures get fed off, but I don't use them for seeding. I have fewer hydei cultures (one bin for standard, one for golden) and I keep them for ~8 weeks without issue using this method too.

Philsuma Wrote:1. Fruit Fly culturing at the 'Hobby level' is very much 'mad science.
I agree with that! This is what worked for me...maybe I just had some bad mite spray or I didn't use enough, but I'm an advocate of mite paper now...good luck!
Jim from Austin --- Lorenzo keepers PM me about a US breeding program
lorenzo | nominant fants | highlands | summersi | bakhuis | azureus

http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs
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#7
joneill809 Wrote:FWIW mite sprays and paper towels were not effective for me. I switched to mite paper and it was amazing how many dead mites quickly accumulated.

You know, I did try mite paper, and while it did accumulate dead bugs (they seemed more like gnats though), it didn't seem to have any better effect on the mite population inside the cultures. We seem to have had opposite experiences regarding cultures touching, because with the mite paper the cultures always slid around. What I do now is spray a double paper towel and when I put down the culture and press, it makes a shallow impression on the paper towel that the culture sinks into a little and serves as sort of a holder once the impression dries. So two together wobble but don't slide or touch when I open the drawer. Not nearly as elegant as your solution, but it works for me.
A girl named Joey.
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#8
I am new and don't know much about culturing but has anyone tried putting their cultures in a shallow pan of water to keep the mites from moving to other cultures and keep gnats from escaping?
Surrie
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#9
Yeah I agree the mite paper is pretty slick.

I know a guy that keeps his cultures in big pans of soapy water (I believe water alone won't do the trick, breaks the surface tension I think). Another likes mite powder on tin foil. Lots of methods out there to experiment with.
Jim from Austin --- Lorenzo keepers PM me about a US breeding program
lorenzo | nominant fants | highlands | summersi | bakhuis | azureus

http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs
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#10
Oo, interesting thought about the water. I might have to try that one. And yeah, I believe the soap sucks very light insects down instead of letting them float and escape. I use a small shallow dish of apple cider vinegar mixed with a drop of dish or hand soap and it is an excellent death trap for escaped flies.

(Phil's comment about "mad science" often occurs to me when I realize I am breeding animals that I either feed to giant rapacious predators, force to breed, throw away, or lead to a soapy death. Kind of evil when you look at it that way! Which I don't for real, it just amuses me.)
A girl named Joey.
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#11
Lol I never thought of it that way I will begin making cultures next week I think

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Surrie
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