How to culture Scuds/Amphipods/Gammarus

Scuds/Amphipods/Gammarus (Hyallela azteca)

Whether you call them scuds, amphipods, gammarus, or sideswimmers, these crustaceans are an excellent live food for fish and aquatic amphibians. To purchase scuds from me, send me a message through my contact page.

Here are the supplies you need to culture scuds/amphipods. You will need a culture container. You can use an aquarium, a bucket, or a bin:

Almost any size will do. I have cultured them in containers less than 1 gallon in size, but a bigger container means more production. I currently culture them in a 20-gallon aquarium, and have a constant supply of scuds.

Next, I recommend air air pump and airline. A sponge filter is optional:

Aquarium lighting is totally optional as well. The benefit of including it is that it will encourage algae growth, which not only helps improve water quality, but will provide food for your amphipods to graze on.

Amphipods/scuds tend to cling to surfaces, so the more surface area you can provide for your scuds, the better. I recommend adding filter sponges, plastic aquarium plants, and/or coarse gravel to your scud culture:

Amphipods hanging out on a filter sponge

I recommend against using live aquarium plants as surface area in your scud culture. Without fish to control their numbers, the scuds will eat simply eat the plants. You can throw extra aquarium plant clippings into your amphipod culture as snacks if you like.

As long as you keep your scud culture indoors, you will not need a heater. They live, thrive and breed just fine at room temperatures.

Feeding your scuds

To feed your scuds, you can use fish pellets or flakes as a staple diet. Don’t feed more fish food than they will eat in an hour or two. They will also eat aquarium plant clippings, and vegetables such as slices of sweet potato, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, etc. These latter plant-based foods can safely be left in the tank for a day to two. The scuds will also graze on algae that grows in their culture container.

Harvesting scuds

One of my favorite ways to harvest scuds is with a turkey baster:

Harvesting scuds with a turkey baster

The amphipods collect in the corners of the aquarium alongside the silicone, so I just use the baster to suck up a good number for my fish.

I sometimes also use a fine mesh net, although I end up kicking up a bit of detritus that way:

Maintenance of ascuds/Amphipods

In addition to feeding and harvesting, your scuds will need partial water changes. I try to change about 20-30% of the water once per week. I occasionally skip a week, which does no harm. I use a relatively slow siphon to avoid sucking up too many scuds:

Since you will want to remove some of the detritus that collects on the bottom of the tank, sucking up a few amphipods is inevitable, but you can pour the dirty water through a fine net to collect the scuds before discarding the water, and thus provide your fish with a treat.

Multies (shelldwellers) chasing down scuds

Tankmates for scuds

I like to keep daphnia with my scuds. Two live foods for the work of one! The scuds are rather messy eaters, but the fine particles of food end up in the water column, where the daphnia can eat them. See my page on culturing daphnia.

Check out my videos for more on culturing scuds/amphipods:

For more information on scuds and other live foods, check out my ebook:

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