Our cultures will contain a few ounces of medium loaded with worms. The advantages of microworms over brine shrimp is that they are smaller, live much longer in freshwater, cost almost nothing to buy and raise, can be gut-loaded before feeding them to your fish and will not introduce any fish disease.
Micro worms (Panagrellus redivivus) are tiny nematodes that small fry love to eat. They are 2-3 mm in length at the most and very thin. They are constantly wiggling, which attracts fry feeding instincts. Micro worms also live in water for days (in an experiment ours lived over a week submersed in water before we stopped the experiment), so they do not as readily foul your tank from overfeeding. They are easily cultured and you can produce many for feeding to your fry within a week or two - even from the smallest of cultures. In fact, we don't see the need for anyone to ever purchase more than a starter culture. The difference between a "starter" and a "ready to feed" culture is a few days of allowing them to multiply. They reproduce at incredible rates. They ship well in cold weather as long as you choose a shipping method that gets them to you within 2-3 days. They handle warm temperatures better than the white worms do.
White worms are very sensitive to heat and cannot handle sitting in a mailbox or outside in the sun on a warm day. Cultures are NOT guaranteed to arrive alive.
White worms (Enchytraeus albidusare) a great source of live food. They grow to about 1.5" inches in length. The food value is fantastic - approximately 70% protein and 15% fat - great makeup for fish. White worms are super easy to culture, but do not multiply as fast as microworms. It will usually take about 3-5 weeks for a culture to multiply to the point where you can harvest worms on a regular basis. Of course, this depends on how many fish you want to feed.If you do not see a box with Tabs below it means your display is too small for this feature to work. For this additional information you should view this on a device with a larger display.
How to set up a microworm culture - Prepare a food medium of oatmeal or cornmeal with enough water to make a mixture with the consistency of yogurt. Spread to no more than 1/2" thick in a plastic container that has a cover. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dry active yeast on top of the culture depending on the size of the container. Add the starter culture and cover. Put some air holes in the top of the cover so they can breath but flies cannot enter. We cut a hole in the lid of the container and fill it with 50 ppi Foam for the perfect air exchange.
After a week or so, the culture should be teaming with worms. They will start crawling up the sides where you can scrape them off with a small knife to feed to your fry. Start a new culture every week or two from the old one and that way you will always have a fresh one producing well. Throw out the old one when it starts smelling foul - usually in the 3-4 week range. Keep in mind that the worms are what your fish eat. You don't want them eating foul culture medium. Adding spirulina powder to the culture, greatly increases their nutritive value. They grow very rapidly in warm temperatures.
Be very skeptical of anyone selling Walter Worms or Banana Worms. The ones we've purchased have proven to be identical in all respects to Micro Worms (checked size and shape under a microscope and experimented with survival times when submersed in water). If they exist (we have our doubts), we wonder if anyone has kept pure cultures that will actually be any different in use from micro worms. Save your money unless the seller can prove that they actually have a different nematode. Most don't have a clue what they really have. The couple of sources we bought from, still have Banana Worms and Walter Worms for sale, even though we informed them that they are identical to their microworms. Hmm...
Culturing White Worms Choose culture containers appropriate for the amount of fish you expect to feed. Most use plastic shoe boxes or plastic sweater boxes, but aquariums and even large wooden boxes will work if you need a lot of worms. Give them a mixture of peat moss (Coco Peat is even better) and soil. It should be very moist, but not dripping wet. Give them a good food source. The better the food they eat, the more nutrition they pass on to your fish. Don't feed junk like white bread, or cornmeal. It's no better for them than it is for you. We feed them one of our high quality flake foods and spirulina powder. Make sure they eat all you give them within a day or two, or it will rot and cause problems.
White worms multiply fastest at temperatures between 50 F. and 65 F. In hot climates, it's best to put the culture container inside a styro with a frozen soda bottle to keep them cool.
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Learn more about culturing live foods in these articles.
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