Introduction: Prepping Greens for Aquatic Invertebrates
In this simple tutorial I will show you how I prep greens in bulk to feed to my snails, shrimp and silver dollars. It's cheap, easy and very nutritious. While I don't recommend this is the only food source, it's great for people just getting into snail or shrimp keeping while they experiment with various foods and zero in on what works best for them, as well as a great treat that gets my shrimp excited and very active!
Step 1: Get Your Greens! ORGANIC ONLY!
- I will be using mustard greens in this prep, as it's the most popular in my tanks and it's readily available in my area. Dues to the large number of shrimp and snails that I have, I prefer to lean towards making my greens mushier than not, but your boiling time will depend on your own personal preferences.
- This same process will work with the following greens that I have tried, and probably more:
- Mustard Greens (1 min for slow dissolve, 2-5 min for fast)
- Collared Greens (1 min for slow dissolve, 2-5 min fast)
- Spinach (1 minute for slow dissolve, 2-5 minute for fast)
- Zucchini Diced/ Sliced (30 sec - 2 minute boil, anything longer will turn to mush)
- Cucumber Diced/ Sliced (30 sec - 2 minute boil, anything longer will turn to mush)
- Asparagus (5 - 8 min boil) - I recommend cutting these in half vertically
- Celery (5-7 min boil)
- Kale (1 min for slow dissolve - 3 min for fast)
- Carrots (5-7 min boil, about 1/4th inch cuts)
The point of boiling/ freezing serves 3 purposes
- Boiling and freezing kills any tag-along pests that could bring disease or take over your tank.
- Boiling and freezing helps to break down the cell wall in your greens making it much easier for our invertebrate pals to munch on. The longer you boil, the soggier it will get, so just experiment and find out what works best for you!
- Freezing also makes it easy for you to make a batch once, and use it over the course of several weeks to a couple of months!
Invertebrates are incredibly sensitive to pesticides as well as fertilizers. I recommend only buying from local growers that you trust, and/ or thoroughly wash them prior to this process. Wouldn't hurt to give them a soak in dechlorinated water for at least an hour. Really don't want to take any chances here!
Step 2: Boil
- Bring water to a boil
- Dump your greens in there
- Cover with lid
- Set a timer
Step 3: Cut Some Wax Paper Dividers
Tear off a strip of wax paper and cut it into squares. They don't need to be pretty, they're just going to divide the greens while they freeze so you aren't stuck with one giant lump.
Step 4: Separate the Greens for Freezing
- Start by laying a square of wax paper down, then some greens, then wax paper, then more greens etc.
- Throw them in the freezer. This is where the second step of cell wall breakdown will take place. As water freezes in the cells, it expands and breaks them down further.
Step 5: Bag It Up!
After it's frozen, pull everything apart and throw in a ziplock bag, then back in the freezer. At this point you can take some out and give to your shrimp, or leave it in the freezer for a rainy day.
Whenever you want to give them a treat, or if you're in a pinch and out of food, break off a little piece and toss it in the tank.
Step 7: Enjoy!
Now you can just sit back and watch your friends go to town on their new snacks. Prepped mustard greens is a favorite in my RCS tank. They go nuts over it every time I give them some!