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Old 12-24-2019, 11:03 PM
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Default The business of flies

Flies are a pita, I'm not sure if I truly understood if it would have made a difference. I keep 4 saltwater aquariums with some difficult rare predatory fish that eat live food, and keep 2 feeder tanks; so I'm not shy to high maintenance. But these flies and feeding are a real pita.

While researching the subject, feeding seemed simplified and no big deal. My main lrs made it seem like no big deal. We'll skip the accidental spills and the escape to find little flies crawling all over, really no big deal. But keeping cultures going and keeping a constant food supply has really become a challenge. One weeks culture crashed and now I find myself playing catch up. It's only been a couple of months having my frogs, but I can see how this plays into the high mortality rate. I did a bioactive vivarium and the maintenance of the habitat is very minimal, but the maintenance of these flies are high maintenance.

We have a few lrs, most of which I consider very good stores, but you'll never find a producing fly culture for sale. Even when they have fly cultures they'll have a few crawling around, barely enough to start a culture and one feeding if you are very lucky. I've seem cultures dated 1 month hence and no visible flies, but for sale. When the weather permits, online orders seemed to be hit or miss, and then there's the shipping charges.

So the point of this post is for newbies to really research if they have what it takes, for this business of flies. Other food sources are even less available or appropriate.
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Old 12-24-2019, 11:25 PM
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Controlling mites and timing when to produce new cultures are easy tasks but crucial. Very minimal investment for the business of returns.
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Old 12-24-2019, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

I've been 'doing this' (hobby) for over 14 years.

Culturing fruit flies is both 'the easiest and the hardest' thing about this hobby - Sun Tzu.

There is a HUGE percentage of the general public that believes feeding flake fish food to fishies is a f'ing inconvenience.

The growth rate for the Dart Frog Hobby, as you can expect, is minimal.

There is no easier way. No easier food. As you say, deal with it and either sink or swim. All we old heads can do, is be as candid as f'ing possible.

Good thread and great title BTW.
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Old 12-25-2019, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

If the flies that are available locally won't produce for a month, buy 2 now and get ready. You will find, especially when starting out the whole process will be easier if you buy pre-formed medium: Repashy, NeHerp or Josh's frogs. And make more than you think you'll need. Make them weekly, establish a schedule until you have a bit too many and get the rhythm. I make 7 cultures one week, and then 8 the next- but i have a lot of frogs. I just made 4 (which I do twice a week) and it took less than 10 minutes. Waiting for the kettle was the biggest time-suck. Some cultures may fail (but very few) and a lean week is not a huge problem- that will get rarer as you become more adept at it.
Before you know it you'll have more flies than you need, and then you'll start thinking: Hmmm, should get a couple more frogs?

And BTW: Josh's frogs can set you up and deliver quickly if you get in a pinch. Then you'll have another strain of flies. I keep 4 strains currently.
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Old 12-25-2019, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Melanogaster produce the fastest, they're a great beginner fly. Hydei cultures take much longer to take off. To be safe I'd just make fresh cultures every week.

I've experienced crashes, but only when I didn't add enough water to the media and cultures dried out in the winter months (dry air from heating).

I've always felt safer with P. terribilis in that I can feed them crickets (pinheads up to quarter-inch) if necessary, but that's just my paranoia. With a set routine and a couple of extra cultures in case of error, I've done fine over the years with thumbnails, tincs, terribilis, whatever...now that being said, I'll echo what others have said for newcomers to the hobby:

No way around flies, and learn your flies to avoid heartache.

After years of keeping herps that ate crickets as a staple, I actually appreciated the whole fruit fly thing for a good long time.

What to do in case of emergencies depends on where you are and what you're keeping. Have a contingency plan in place beforehand so you don't need to figure it out on the fly.

(See what I did there?)
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Old 12-25-2019, 01:05 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Culturing fruit flies can be like so many other things in life: an absolute nightmare until you realize how childishly simple it is.

You'll get over the hump, cougareyes, and you'll forget all about the troubles.
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Old 12-26-2019, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

It helps to run more cultures than you actually need. It may seem wasteful, but it gives you a backup in the event of a crash, and the ability to spare a culture for another local frogger who may be in a pinch.
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Old 12-26-2019, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

This.

A local group of froggers is your most important aspect. You back each other up. You share resources.

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... and the ability to spare a culture for another local frogger who may be in a pinch.
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Old 01-05-2020, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

First post here...but thought it might be appropriate on this thread.

My biggest deterrent from entering the hobby years ago was the idea of fruit flies, and culturing them.

That said, I'm just over a year into it now - and enjoying it immensely. Some great advice here, especially to use pre-mixes (I use Repashy myself).

One little tip I started doing, is that once a month I make an extra "double" culture. Every week I make 1 new culture, and discard my 1 month old culture. But, this extra "double" culture I use to negate against crashes etc., and find I can get it to boom for an extra week or so, and get it to at least produce for a solid month, because I have doubled the water/mixture amounts.

I culture only D. melanogaster flies, and I know the frogs are fine for at least a week with no food source beyond microfauna in the tank. This helps me sleep at night in case of an all out crash! Couple that with 3 large springtail cultures, it's a good constant food source. Add on some good contacts (pet store/hobbyists) and you are in a pretty safe situation.

This setup effectively feeds 4 vivs (5 R. imitator, 3 R. summersi, 2 O. pumilio and a grow out of 4-8 imitators) with no issue - even with an occasional FF crash (which is rare, but has happened a few times).

Just some short experience from another newer hobbyist here, if it helps at all.
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

I'm enjoying my frogs, still not the flies so much. I wanted to play a bit of a devil's advocate, because many times people overlook the challenging and negative attributes of a hobby. I didn't see the negative side of keeping available food, so I can see how challenging it can be for a newbie, like myself. I keep difficult to keep predatory saltwater aquarium fish, and am brutally honest about their feeding requirements, while the hobby as a whole misrepresents these challenges to sell more fish.
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:22 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Cougareyes,

Home fly culture is certainly the most economical generally speaking and many people do it dependably and cheaply.

I, however, am happy to pay for the convenience of someone else doing the culturing: I get 4 cultures (2 new, 2 producing) from Josh's Frogs delivered every 5-6 weeks (enough to feed my 15+ thumbnails for that duration). It costs ~$45 per order so less than $10 per week. I don't have to worry about mites or genetic decline and the only cleaning I do is to spray the plastic bin I keep the fruit flies in with rubbing alcohol between one batch and the next.

If culturing is your main pain point and $10 a week doesn't break the budget you might want to give retail flies a shot.
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:43 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

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Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
Cougareyes,

Home fly culture is certainly the most economical generally speaking and many people do it dependably and cheaply.

I, however, am happy to pay for the convenience of someone else doing the culturing: I get 4 cultures (2 new, 2 producing) from Josh's Frogs delivered every 5-6 weeks (enough to feed my 15+ thumbnails for that duration). It costs ~$45 per order so less than $10 per week. I don't have to worry about mites or genetic decline and the only cleaning I do is to spray the plastic bin I keep the fruit flies in with rubbing alcohol between one batch and the next.

If culturing is your main pain point and $10 a week doesn't break the budget you might want to give retail flies a shot.
The reptile, etc. culture where I live is booming, yet there is never a producing fly culture to be had. I'm managing, I'm just pointing out how this part of the hobby was glossed over and simplified when I did my research. I spend $120/month for live food for my fish plus frozen food, so the expense is not the gripe. I've ordered producing cultures from Josh's, paid the $39 shipping fee and got cultures with barely enough flies to even feed once and start another culture. My cultures are going well now.
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:50 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Greetings again,

It's good to hear you're cultures are now working well.

Quote:
I've ordered producing cultures from Josh's, paid the $39 shipping fee and got cultures with barely enough flies to even feed once and start another culture.
It sounds like you got a bum culture (and you paid for next-day shipping). I've been getting cultures for over 2 years now and a producing culture typically gives 4-5 weeks of flies. Do you keep your cultures at 76F?

Last edited by kimcmich; 01-13-2020 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:41 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

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Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
Greetings again,

It's good to hear you're cultures are now working well.



It sounds like you got a bum culture (and you paid for next-day shipping). I've been getting cultures for over 2 years now and a producing culture typically gives 4-5 weeks of flies. Do you keep your cultures at 76F?
How do you manage to keep them alive? My cultures boom and stay alive for 2 weeks tops. Then the fruit flies all die
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

@Lucano,

I get a consistent 4-5 weeks of production from my cultures (sometimes as long as 6-7 weeks). A 2-week shelf-life for a culture implies something is wrong:

1) You could be over-feeding from the culture and not leaving enough adults to lay eggs for the next generation. I think this reason is less likely.

2) Your culturing medium could be a bad mix that sours too quickly for your flies to have anymore than 1 or 2 generations. Possible.

3) You might be mixing, or letting your cultures become, too dry. If your medium drops below a critical moisture value, the flies can't reproduce. Also possible.

4) Your flies' genetics might have been adversely selected. It works like this: You create cultures by seeding adult flies from other cultures. If you always seed from young cultures you end up selecting for flies that produce early in the life of a culture but not well after the first or second generation... and if all you have is cultures that produce for 2 weeks and then fail then all you have for seeding is young cultures! In that case you need fresh genetics: You need an older producing culture to use, in addition to a younger culture, for seeding. (Likewise, you don't want to use only cultures that are "old" for seeding because you can select against the genes that help flies in their first or second generation - you want genes for both early and late production.)
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:48 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Quote:
Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
@Lucano,



I get a consistent 4-5 weeks of production from my cultures (sometimes as long as 6-7 weeks). A 2-week shelf-life for a culture implies something is wrong:



1) You could be over-feeding from the culture and not leaving enough adults to lay eggs for the next generation. I think this reason is less likely.



2) Your culturing medium could be a bad mix that sours too quickly for your flies to have anymore than 1 or 2 generations. Possible.



3) You might be mixing, or letting your cultures become, too dry. If your medium drops below a critical moisture value, the flies can't reproduce. Also possible.



4) Your flies' genetics might have been adversely selected. It works like this: You create cultures by seeding adult flies from other cultures. If you always seed from young cultures you end up selecting for flies that produce early in the life of a culture but not well after the first or second generation... and if all you have is cultures that produce for 2 weeks and then fail then all you have for seeding is young cultures! In that case you need fresh genetics: You need an older producing culture to use, in addition to a younger culture, for seeding. (Likewise, you don't want to use only cultures that are "old" for seeding because you can select against the genes that help flies in their first or second generation - you want genes for both early and late production.)
You were perfectly clear. I think points 2 and 3 could be very possible. I was thinking of injecting water in the media with a syringe every so often.
I was also thinking of getting bigger containers (fellow folks in the States use the equivalent of a 1 liter cup, that seems impossible to find here)
Lastly I might change the media a little. I currently use a (very!) simple recipe.
Potato flakes, brewers yeast, sugar, water and vinegar. That's it. It worked really well so far though. Since you mentioned it, I might be adding too much vinegar (?).

Anyway, thank you very much for the reply.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Fruit Fly culturing is 'Mad Science'.

There are a multitude of variables to getting it right.

Very frustrating for new hobbyists and why we recommend using a premade media mix to start.

Once you get it down, it's pretty easy and not too time consuming but for people that sigh when they have to buy flake food to feed fish and that level of pet care...well, you can see why the dart frog hobby grows very slowly if at all.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:16 PM
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Default Re: The business of flies

Back when I was in college, in genetics lab, we had to raise flies. Instant potato mix and equal amount agar with a pinch of yeast.

The amount of flies we raised was crazy. But we also had about 24 cultures and would selectively breed and hybridize strains.

Counting sternopluero bristles on the males was very tedious under the microscope, and FlyNap fumes....
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:22 AM
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Is it good practice to buy and introduce a new batch of flies every now and then?
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: The business of flies

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Is it good practice to buy and introduce a new batch of flies every now and then?
sure, why not.
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