raising tig pods - tiny 2.5g tank experimental culture #2

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2nd attempt at raising tig pods is officially underway.
Original attempt was outdoor lazy banana leaf method I found online - that is still underway but seems to be failing. Suspect Texas temperature and full day direct sunshine is too much, but that pod culture experiment still underway.
2nd attempt is indoors using tiny 2.5g tank I picked up this weekend from Dallas North Aquarium. Added 2 bottles of tig pods, 2"x1.5" banana skin, new clean saltwater, poured 1 capsule of spirulina powder, started with 300ml live phyto, repurposed my refugium sump light (5k LED $3.50 light - thanks Melev's Reef for tip!), little bit of tape to track water level and fingers crossed!
This morning pods were all over, but once light turned on, pods are all clustered along top... is it for light (probably)... is it for oxygen (did not add air stone purposely, based on other outdoor pod culture experiment's directions)...
Buy my live phyto cheap from online guy - would LOVE local someone if you make extra phyto then PM me - hate that shipping companies are making so much money with people not buying local. I'd be glad to support someone local, even if just 1x buy. I am getting mixed species phyto as my usual purpose for it is trying to out-compete green hair algae but don't know that pods or main tank care what species I use.
Welcome advice and comments.
indoor pod culture on Oct 21 2021.JPG
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Indoor pod culture in tiny 2.5 gallon tank going FANTASTIC. Have begun daily feeding pods from tiny tank to main tank. Found brine shrimp net was too 'net like' with scoop and tiny tank is bit gunky so I ordered flat pod/brine shrimp nets that are shaped like tiny tennis racquets instead of like fish net shape. These are working out really well. I went with a cheap 5 pack of nets because didn't see anything cheaper - I like having the extras so after feeding I can rinse, dry and reuse nets. Worry either hair algae or Vibrant in main tank will somehow interfere with indoor tiny tank pod culture - but may be needless worry.
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October 26, 2021 update - seems pods reproducing enough moving to 2x daily pod feedings. Inside tiny tank is going VERY VERY well. Feeding spirulina may prevent 2x daily feedings - Spirulina is MESSY! I don't like catching bunch of Spirulina in net, so this morning I scooped pods before feeding Spirulina. LOVE this 'lazy banana leaf' pod method! Just feed bit of spirulina, stir with stick from yard, and harvest.
Many many more are lower in tiny tank. Usually I can't see them at surface so not sure if stir brought them up or they are waiting for spirulina. I ran net thru water column and took picture, then fed pod tank. Here is tiny tank photo.

indoor pod culture on Oct 26 2021 pods in net.JPG

Thank goodness for this INDOOR pod culture experiment because....

My outdoor pod experiment seems to have failed... it stinks... EEW. That 55L or 13.5 gallon storage bin outdoor experiment would have had capacity for WAY more pods. Suspect Texas heat as my backyard is southern facing, no shade and by backdoor sat on cement pool apron which may have amplified heat. Others around country reported outside working well, and while indoor worked for them as winter way to get by, no one recommended indoors. I added same light I used in my refugium that had macroalgae exploding ($3.50 5K LED bulb from home improvement store) so perhaps that is why my indoor culture going so well vs other reports.
If anyone has questions, feel free to PM me.
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Turns out Lazy Banana Leaf (Peel) Culture method can fail if heavily overfed by fish sitter if you travel for a week... sigh... Last night raced to DFWMAS partner LFS bought 3 bottles of Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods. 1 bottle straight into display tank in case mandarins hungry. Two bottles into replacement tiny tank. Now I'm using cheap plastic party beverage dispenser so if I need to reduce water volume its just a quick spigot opening... Remember: [LAZY] Banana Leaf (Peel) Culture (giggle)... This next experiment I can be even lazier since never supposed to clean anyhow. Did two bottles instead of 1 because I want to be pulling out pods in 3 days.
Details: Added fresh mix saltwater to newest tiny "tank" (beverage container). Drained original tiny 2.5 gallon tank, strained sludge & 1"x2" banana peel into new smaller container. New water with sludge looked sludgy still, so strained water again, put new saltwater again in beverage container, put 2x strained sludge into beverage container (looked just a bit gunky). Added 2 bottles of Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods. Added 150ml live phyto from online seller. Added spirulina capsule contents equivalent to beverage container - this is tiny amount of spirulina powder. Found egg crate and put on top of beverage container to support shop light with 5k LED light bulb. Only been a few hours, but pods doing well.

EDIT: Hindsight is 20/20 - it wasn't the heavy spirulina powder addition but lack of RO/DI water top offs. Evaporation makes water more salty.

Years back at start of COVID, Reef Nutrition was hobby club monthly meeting guest speaker, and their discussion of live foods got me started on this path, lazy banana method has kept me on it, and because of it all, my fish are fat and happy. Link to Reef Nutrition recording is available below, though this is in the Premium Member (paid $25/year) area (link might not work for free members but if you dig around you can likely find it wherever it was found to put in the Forum Event Videos archive (since it wasn't done thru zoom and put on club YouTube):

Reef Nutrition says "a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.025 for this species of copepod is ideal."

Pods breed faster in lower salinity. In fact, Reef Nutrition website has great guidelines:

Perhaps 2023 monthly meeting schedule will bring back Reef Nutrition and your hobby club can get the next recording on the new and growing DFWMAS YouTube channel - can never have enough pods!
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Google is being weird and people can't find Europe guy's post that inspired me with lazy banana leaf (peel) method, so here it is:

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2022-08-12 indoor pod banana experiment.JPG
Hoping everyone is treating their aquarium to pods. So many ways to get pods. I am a fan of lazy banana leaf (peel) method, either outdoors using above link info (didn't work for me), or my indoor modified version (this thread) I am still using indoor lazy banana peel method.

I have two cultures of Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods (prefer size - can see them easier - look like "sea ants") and 1 culture of Algae Barn Eco Pods (mix of pod types - gets even smaller ones growing but has some Tiggers so I know when something is in my brine shrimp type net).

My biggest and only problem long term has been controlling salinity as I do not have an ATO for tiny tanks. My painters tape, blue tape gives me marking where I can judge my evaporation. I'm lazy about controlling freshwater top off, which makes water more salty and impacts my pod breeding rates. When I'm traveling, then pods really get no top offs. When I'm not traveling, I'm lazy. Poor pods. Reef Nutrition lists an optimum salinity right on bottles they sell - also known as your starter culture bottle.

tiny ATO using recycled bottle.jpgtiny ATO using recycled bottle - instructions.jpgtiny ATO using recycled bottle - more details.jpgtiny ATO using recycled bottle - thickness.jpg
Many thanks to member @Ejc_1978 for me pointing towards these tiny ATOs found at Amazon https://a.com/d/0M9xKRn for Clscea Aquarium Auto Top Off System Water Filler Compensator. They'll be great on my little beverage container pod cultures. All I have to do is add either soda or water bottle - not too big of bottle because my beverage containers are thin plastic. My 2.5 gallon tank is glass and sturdy - if I'm luck one will fit on it, too.

Today I cleaned up my salt creep, lowered overall water levels (to reduce future salt creep), adjusted my "ATO" blue painters tape ("HTO" human top off... me!) appropriately. Sometime next week I'll add in the tiny ATOs I just ordered. There are many ATO options, so don't feel you must limit yourself to these - do whatever works for you!

There are now several sources for live phyto locally, in addition to some LFS (thank you Blue Blade (Hans) @hnurge and David @Dinkinsaquaticgardens for stepping up to help DFW!) I found bottle of phyto I bought couple weeks back and today treated pods to bonus snack since they will be getting ATO love too! Food love for my pods. Mostly my pod cultures just get that powdered spirulina and I'm about halfway thru the 16oz jar I bought for about $21 last Fall.

Somewhere along this experiment I've upgraded from stir sticks that fell from tree to acrylic sticks I bought online. Pods don't care, they just like an occasional stir though since I added airstone into each tank I stir tiny tanks less. Scooping out pods can also be considered 'stir' but when I'm taking out pods I'm trying not to also take out spirulina because it's messy and its food so pods keep breeding.

Looking forward to talking about pods with anyone who is interested and has passion for this hobby.
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Just to share notes here:
i started some outdoor cultures also back in April. with moderate aeration, and in the shade of a large tree they are all still doing fine. it has been a hot summer, so i expected them to cook -, but having made it to mid august i don't think that will be a problem.
Shade is likely essential - they get morning and evening sun but are mostly in shade from about 10am to 7pm.
I feed a mix of spirulina, ground peas, and brewers yeast every 3 days.
the 30g/65L plastic bins were from big lots - i had to build a wood frame to keep them from warping/sagging when full of water.
I top off about 3 gallons of water per bin once a week (when there is no rain). I aim for a salinity of 1.020, but have seen it as high as 1.027 before topping off.
the biggest issue so far has been the pecan flowers/nar-nars that fell in the spring. i plan to build a screen to prevent leaves from filling the bins in the fall.
I have not done any water change on the outdoor pod tank. with a screen top i don't think one would be necessary, however it is getting harder not to stir up the mulm when scooping pods, so it may get a vacuuming soon.
I do occasionally see variations in the culture density, but its not as drastic in the large outdoor culture as in the much smaller indoor ones (with lids - aka no evap issues). It seems water volume is the best way to have stability, and stability is the best way to get good results.
Outdoor culture is practically zero maintenance. I check it daily for a minute and remove any leaves or debris that floats on the surface. every few days a dump a spoonful of food, and every week or two I dump half a bucket of RO water in if there was no rain.
Indoor cultures i do the "right" way - and are a lot more trouble - live Phyto every few days, 50% water change weekly and cleaning the jars, Mixing new saltwater up just for them, lights on timers using electricity, etc. Honestly its probably less than an hour a week - and they do produce well, but 10x more effort and 10x less return than the big outdoor bin.

- THANK YOU LISA for your inspiration and help (and the tigger pods i got from you last year are the dominant species - i love them)

I don't do water changes on my indoor tiny tanks. I did it once at Michael's insistence, but I vowed never again. Reminded him my method is lazy banana leaf (peel) method... emphasis on LAZY - L A Z Y is what initially sold me on trying out this pod method.

Wishing I had backyard tree to shade another outdoor experiment - likely my full sun on cement pool surround cooked my outdoor pod experiment (also cooks my feet out there!). So very glad to hear and see your above outdoor cultures are doing well. Wishing I had any backyard shade as your above is very inspiring!

Glad to hear those pods started you off well, but credit goes back to Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods, also available in the food fridge from nearly every local fish store carrying saltwater fish in the DFW metroplex - here is a picture of the bottle
Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods.jpg

Curious if you are using banana peel in your cultures. For my indoor cultures, the banana peel bits turn black but when I don't see the little black square of banana skin any more, I'll tear off another bit of peel about nail size big and toss it into tank(s). I haven't yet done an experiment without the banana "leaf" as the European guy mentioned it was needed for potassium. If you aren't using banana skin, then maybe it isn't needed.

You mention 'mulm' becoming a problem, but its why I refer to my indoor cultures as 'dirty' ... I always see most pods down on it when not stirred. I feel they love eating at it and without buildup of excess spirulina and waste settled down there, my pods don't do as well. If my salinity is stable staying in low range, pods are eating more of it so I need to feed enough powdered spirulina to keep up with what they eat. My tiny tanks don't have enough water volume to scoop up pods without also scooping up some of the bottom debris - it's why I refer to my lazy method as 'dirty'

If you do vacuum bin bottom in future, please let us know what impacts that has on your pod production.
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so, I did use banana peels for many months. but they all wore away and i forgot to replace them, so i have gone 3-4 months without them. re-reading your post also lined up well with my wife buying more banana's - so i added them back now :).
I do think they may help boost the population, but i can say for certain they are not required if you feed the culture Phyto and/or spirulina a few times a week. I am pretty sure the reasoning comes from Daphnia/scud culture processes - where you add manure/vegetable clippings that decompose and act as a nutrient source for bacteria and algae that the culture eats. the banana peels break down surprisingly slow and consistent - i think its that metered rate of nutrient release that make them work well for this.
Toying with the idea of swapping out my 2.5 gallon rectangle tiny tank that started it all - refer thread post #1 - with another picnic beverage container.

I like looking up thru the bottom of my 2 beverage containers to gauge how much spirulina is left, because I can forget to feed those little guys. I try to keep more in there in the bottom so they have plenty.

Rectangle tank is also getting extra light from my macro alage tank grow light, so it seems more scroungy and has the least pods at this time based on my three tiny cultures. It makes me think about doing a water change on it... and if I do that, I would really enjoy spigot to drain out water & all... but of course tiny tank lacks that beverage container feature. In August above, I reference only water change attempt so I'm guessing it has been a year since I tried water change.

Annual water changes doesn't sound like that much work... but if I could make it even easier 'next time' if I do a tank to beverage container switch, then I think I should consider it...
the beverage containers are really neat - but - keep in mind you can buy those spouts - i think i got 4 for $10 on amazon - and add it to any tank/container