Culturing fruit flies for dart frogs
How to get started culturing fruit flies
In this article we will outline the basic steps and care how to culture flightless fruit flies as the main staple diet for dart frogs. Maintaining a steady food supply and learning how to breed fruit flies efficiently can make or break any size frog collection and while there are many products and recipes out there, its all basically just ‘making flies’ and they really don’t care what brand that you use, the most important thing to remember is to keep a routine when you make them and when you throw them out.
A few things to keep in mind when making your own cultures for dart frogs.
- Expect to pay around $1.50-$2 per culture (cheaper if you reuse cups).
- Flies breed best in warmer temperatures 75-80.
- Mites are inevitable and no one can avoid them, you can only keep them in check for a short time.
- All cultures stink eventually, its totally normal.
- They are only good for 30 days.
- Hydei are big, stinky and take up to 14-21 days, melanogaster are small, don’t smell as bad and usually take around 14 days.
What you will need to culture fruit flies like a pro
We prefer our own fruit fly culturing media as it produces consistent Hydei and melogastnar steady for 30 days but there are many home made media recipes out there and the cheapest, most simple actually works really well or we offer a fruit fly culture kit.
- Fruit Fly Culture Media
- 32 oz cup w/ fabric vented lid
- 30-40 Fruit flies (per new culture)
Cheap fruit fly media recipe
6 cups potato flakes,2 cups brewers yeast, 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon.
Setting up the Cultures
Every brand is a little different in how you mix the media so go with exactly what is printed on the instructions. When culturing fruit flies the end product is basically the same so brand preference is all about smell and your budget as the flies don’t really care. The frequency of when you make cultures (weekly or bi-weekly) and how many that you need to make takes a little time to work out, I generally like to have 1 new producing culture every week for every 2 frogs, every 7 days I make new cultures.
- Mix your chosen fruit fly media with boiling hot water depending on your location and season you may need to add little extra water or not, just get the consistency of something like apple sauce and let them sit (covered) for a few hours to cool down.
- Once the cultures are room temperature you can add a small amount of the elixor (about the size of a tennis ball) there is no need to pack it tight if your not shipping them.
- Add about 50-75 flies, no need to be super accurate just keep in mind that too many at the start can cause them to boom too much initially and crash the culture.
- Mark the date on the culture as they REALLY need to be discarded at 30 days even if there are still flies. At this point the mites will take over and out compete the flies quickly spreading to your other cultures.
How to store your fruit fly cultures
I like to store my cultures in 46 quart plastic storage containers or whatever size that you need just so its enough room the cultures don’t touch each other.
Dust the bottom of the container about 1/4 inch deep with DE or No-Mite and set your 32oz fly cultures in 16oz deli cups so the fly cups aren’t directly in the powder and not allowing them any contact with the other cultures.
In the end its not an impenetrable fortress as the mites are relentless in their quest but it definitely gives you an upper hand keeping them contained and under control.
Maintaining healthy fruit fly cultures
Try not to let your cultures get over populated. Dump some out if you just have too much, it happens and its better to dispose of some rather than have the entire culture crash from lack of air.
Don’t let your cultures dry out. Spray them with a little water and add more the next time.
Clean your containers every once in awhile and don’t keep them near your frog tanks.
Throw out cultures 30 days old!
Common questions about culturing fruit flies
Is it hard to culture fruit flies?
Not at all provided you stick to a routine.
How many fruit flies do you need to start a culture?
Typically only 50-75 fruit flies per new culture.
why are my flightless fruit flies flying?
This is usually caused by an invading fly to your culture or temperatures are too warm.
What is the best fruit fly culture media?
I like our Froskr brand but consider your budget first then convenience , they all do the same thing and if you have the time make your own.
Where can I find fruit flies for sale?
We don’t sell them because I haven’t figured out a fool proof way of shipping them affordably. If you need some with your fruit fly culturing kit you can contact us and will get you some to start with.
How to keep flightless fruit flies from escaping?
Some are going to get out, luckily they can’t fly but if too many are escaping your vivarium try feeding a little less.
What can further be done to prevent so many mites?
You have a couple options that help… but nothing is 100% effective at deterring all mites. This is a war and the battle field are your bins with your healthy fly cultures at stake, the idea here is to prevent the mites from traveling between cultures by killing whoever does try and get across with microscopic shards of diatomaceous earth that pierce the mites exoskeleton causing them to dry out and die (I don’t like mites). It sounds crazy but used correctly its harmless to anything bigger than a mite without an exoskeleton. Why I have to say it but that’s the world we live in today but please don’t go sniffing the stuff or eating it.
- Diatomaceous earth: This powder causes damage to the mites’ exoskeleton, which in turn causes the mites to dehydrate, its super cheap, and works decent enough for the price, lasts about 1 month.
- No-Mite powder: Basically diatomaceous earth with some added natural ingredients that bother the mites even more so they don’t go near it as much making it last a little longer between changes. I prefer this as it works well and lasts about 2-3 months.
Directions: All that you need to do is dust the bottom of your bin or container that you set the fly cups in. I usually add a good amount that completely covers the bottom with a thin layer of powder. Don’t stack or allow fly cups to touch each other as that gives mites a clean bridge to bypass the powder.
You can even dust the flies to sort of ‘knock off any mites’ when you make new cultures as its totally harmless to flies and frogs, the files will actually just shed it off un-bothered and you will transfer less mites to the new cultures.