How to Keep and Maintain Blackworms
bought at the Local Fish Store (Normally)
Most Fish stores purchase their
worms from large farms that culture blackworms for the fish
In the past many types of worms
were harvested from natural conditions, leading to a wide
of creatures received with the
worms as well. But today the cultures are fairly clean,
on the source your local
merchant uses. If they are not available to you through a local
they can be ordered from the
same farms online, generally about $20 - $25 a pound.
That said, most blackworm
cultures will often contain a number of small leaches that live
feed on the blackworms. If you
are feeding cichlids or larger fish, the leaches are just exctra
protein. Personally, I remove
them with a set of tweezers, I do not know if they pose any harm
the fish. They are white rather
than reddish brown, oval shaped, and somewhat stiff looking.
are no harm to us, and can be
easily removed. I do not know if they pose any harm to the fish.
Blackworms work somewhat well
for local shops, because they can go fairly long periods without
eating. The better shops will
have installed a continously circulating water system for the
worms so they do not
deteriorate quickly, and when you receive them you can assume
gone 4-10 days without eating.
Many fishkeepers find out when
their shop receives its order, then picks them up as soon as
possible after delivery.
Gradually the worms die off, becoming slimy and limp. However,
be brought back to their
natural health and vigor, providing far better nutrition for
and over time they will even
reproduce. Here's what you do-
Once you bring the worms home,
put them into a plastic shoebox type container and gently pour a
little bit of aged aquarium
water over them to separate them, and free up any dirt and
Then pour it off, and keep
doing so until the water runs clear. The worms need to breathe,
more than about 1/2 lb. (by
weight) should be kept in any single container.
Then drain down the water until
the worms are exposed. Sprinkle a dry fishfood that has been
crushed between your fingers.
Use a fishfood that contains both a vegetable and meat component
(most commercial general use
fishfoods are perfect- Tetra min, for example, works fine). Some
people claim the worms are
vegetarian, I have not found that to be the case. After 10-20
the worms will have eaten the
food. They can eat a fair amount- I will often keep feeding them
until food is left uneaten.
Then rinse again, once again until the water runs clear, then
just enough water to cover the
worms, and keep them in the refrigerator. You may choose to keep
the container covered, with air
holes, as they will venture up the sides of the container. Rinse
feed daily. they can go a
couple days without eating if necessary, but as they eat a lot,
they put out
a lot of waste, so daily
rinsing is important if they are to be kept healthy.
Within 2-4 days they will become vigorous and wiry with a dark
red color. I feed them to the fish
with a turkey baster, and the
blackworms will live for months in the aquarium if not eaten
For special smaller fish there
is a way to culture them in the tank where they are available to
fish 24/7. Take a round butter
container and put about 3/4ths of an inch of gravel over the
Place the container in the
aquarium, and gently squirt a dollup of worms over the gravel
from a turkey
baster. The worms will fall to
the gravel and anchor themselves, heads up, in the gravel. Once
gently squirt a mix of water
and crushed fishfood over them so it settles on the gravel. The
will stay where they are
anchored, and will even reproduce. I have kept small colonies
killie tanks for many months.
Larger fish, of course, will make short work of a few worms in a
container, but for fry or a
pair of smaller fish it is ideal.