Using rotifers for feeding zebrafish larvae

This is serie of important considerations when using rotifers for feeding zebrafish larvae.

Storage and conservation

• Rotifers can be stored at +4°C up to 2 weeks without harm in plastic bottle (keep the lid loose) or in breathable plastic bag and with algae feed (few drops).

Feed collection

• The daily necessary quantity of rotifers to feed fish is collected onto a new plastic bag


• Each bag is temperature-equilibrated (the rotifers are shipped chilled) by floating it in the culture water (or water at culture temperature) for 20–30 minutes.
RQ : if your refrigerated stock of rotifers is highly concentrated (i.e. 107 L-1), let them warming up at room temperature (or system water temperature) and dilute it 10 times (106 L-1) with 5 PPT salt water (or the salinity of you water system) before use (for production of salt water, see protocol).

Feeding protocol

• The rotifers can be dispensed to the fish according to previously published protocol (Martins et al., 2016).


• From day 5 to day 9, larval fish are typically fed into polycultures 3.5 L tanks with rotifers at ≈2×105 L-1 (Martins et al., 2016).
RQ : in another study, the mean rotifer density in polycultures was about 8×105 L-1 (Lawrence et al. , 2015).

Feeding strategy

• From day 9 to day 30 dpf, dispense a quantity of rotifers twice a day that is eaten in few minutes, until apparent satiation (Lawrence et al., 2015). For being consistent, use a pipette to dispense the same quantity of rotifers in all your fish tanks.

Sources and references

• Sandra Martins, Joana F. Monteiro, Maria Vito, David Weintraub, Joana Almeida, and Ana Catarina Certal
Zebrafish, (00), 2016. 
Toward an Integrated Zebrafish Health Management Program Supporting Cancer and Neuroscience Research

• Christian Lawrence, Althea James, and Scottie Mobley
Successful Replacement of Artemia salina nauplii with Marine Rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis) in the Diet of Preadult Zebrafish (Danio rerio).
Zebrafish, vol.12 (5), 2015