Wash your whiteworms

#1
I realize 97% of anyone who is accidentally reading this has no idea what I am talking about.
I like to feed my fish live worms and there are basically two types commonly available. Blackworms and whiteworms.

Blackworms live in freshwater and you buy them in water in small portions or online in big portions. A lot of people either can't get live blackworms, never heard of them or their wife won't let them put them in their refrigerator. My wife won't either and she can probably take me in a fair fight so I don't put them there. But this is about whiteworms which live in soil and I assume are just as nutritious as blackworms. But I am guessing.

Whiteworms have one big advantage in that they can live in saltwater for hours and keep wriggling around so fish can't resist them. I feed them (and blackworms) to my fish every day and built a whiteworm feeder for my mandarin because although mandarins love whiteworms, they are not the Tuna of the sea and by the time they decide to take a bite, the worms are all eaten by every other fish.
I will get to the feeder later.

You buy a culture of whiteworms on line and from there on, they are free. My culture is still going for over five years and all you need to do is feed them every two weeks or so.

You get the culture and put them in some soil that doesn't have fertilizer, insect or weed killer and keep it wet.


I feed them a piece of frozen bread with some plain, fully fatted yogurt. Along with the yogurt I add some Nutritional yeast but that is just dessert and they will grow without it. I use whole grain bread.

I put three pieces in my culture which is composed of a half a slice of bread. Put the yogurt side down.
In a few days the bread will form fungus. Don't worry about it as it doesn't seem to bother the worms, but I wouldn't eat it.

When the bread is really disgusting, full of mold and small, you can remove it and add a fresh slice. Feed that fungus covered mouldy one to your X, or bring it to the LFS that sold you that Ich infected tang and put it in some cheese cake.

Eventually you will get so many worms you don't know what to do with them. When my culture was young, the worms would crawl al over a cracker and I could take that out and feed the worms to my fish.
After a few years a transformation happened and my worms are much larger now. I don't know why but much fatter than those in the above picture. They also no longer like crackers. I have no idea why but maybe they saw a Starbucks commercial and their tastes changed. Now I have to scoop some out with the dirt and put them in a container. Fill with water and gently dump it out a few times. Then I suck out the worms with a baster. The worms sink and the dirt kind of floats.

After a while these very tiny, white bugs grow to cover everything. They will only stay in the damp earth so they won't climb into your bed at night and start a family between your toes. But I assume they eat a lot of the bread.

Every couple of months I like to get rid of them which is very easy.
I flood their container with cold water. The bugs float and are easily poured off. I do that four or five times until I don't see any more bugs. Then I put the dirt and worms in a net and let it drain until it stops dripping. Put it back in the container and you are good to go.

Here is a video of my mandarin in his feeder which is designed so that larger fish can't get in to eat the worms.


 
#2
Thanks Paul. I don’t have black or white worms, but I do have the much larger red wiggler composting worms. Your post inspired me to wash one and threw into my tank. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my coral hogfish look so happy, even though this worm was too large for it to easily eat. I’ll try to get my hands on some of the smaller black or white worms for them or at least try the juvenile red worms.
 
#4
Enchytraeus albidus


Contents

What is it?
This is a small white worm, similar to the common earth worm except it is white, 3-4cm (1.2-1.6") in length and about 1mm in diameter.

What do we use them for?
They are commonly used in the aquarium hobby as a live food for fish, amphibians and small aquatic reptiles.

How do we feed them?
They are easy and cheap to keep. You keep them in a dark, water tight (but not air tight) container with a lid.

Add enough food so they can eat it within 2–3 days, any longer and you risk it sprouting fungus and going off. Mix it into the soil so it becomes damp. The worms can't eat dry food.

Initially with only a few worms, you'll not need much. But as the days pass, you'll need to add more at each interval.

What do we feed them?
Feed with good amounts of fish flake, cooked rice, damp bread crumbs or damp biscuit crumbs. Basically anything that comes to hand that can absorb moisture and has a reasonable level of protein and other nutrients.

The quality of the nutrients in the food you feed these worms will ultimately be in turn fed to the animals in your aquarium.

Some foods tend to smell more than other. Try feeding rice flour or plain white flour made of rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat (protein 17%) (basically an off-the-shelf gluten free flour available from most supermarkets) as this doesn't smell bad and seems to ensure a huge population boost for the tiny worms when they hatch. Probably due to the tiny size of the food particles. Sprinkle the flour over the soil and then make sure you spray the flour layer with water so it is wet through.

Environment
Keep the worms cool (ideally between 10-21°C (50-69.8°F) , optimal is 15-21°C (59-69.8°F) . Above 29°C (84.2°F) they stop reproducing and die off [1].

Soil ideally needs to be around a pH of 7 and slightly damp to the touch. Mix in a little lime if it is too acidic.

As the population increases and they excrete waste, the soil gets more acidic and ammonia forms, so regularly change a portion of the soil or add ammonia absorbing chips like zeolite. If not the culture will crash and kill all the worms very quickly (often in a few hours and they'll turn to mush and stink very badly. Early warning signs to look out for are the worms climbing the sides of their container.

  • Ensure the container has air holes, they need oxygen to breath. But do not create large holes as termites and other small insects will smell the food and infect your culture. We suggest cutting a square hole in the lid and and gluing in place a square of fine nylon sheet over it as from a piece of window curtain.
  • A black container is preferable (or keep it in the dark) as the worms will try to hide from any light and therefore may be driven away from the food if it is on the surface.
Reproduction of the species
White worms are hermaphroditic. The worms exchange sperm cells during copulation with one another, and eggs are laid in transparent cocoons. Cocoons produced by young adults contained 9-10 eggs each, while cocoons produced mature adults contained 20–35 eggs each, and those produced by old worms contained 2–3 eggs each. The average for the total population in culture was found to be 10 eggs per cocoon. White worm eggs hatch in 12 days, and worms begin reproducing in 20 days. Each individual can produce as many as 1000 eggs over its life span (Ivleva, 1969).

Expect 10 worms to turn into ~100 within 30 days. If not, check pH of soil, temperature, moisture of soil and check food is always present. Too high or too low moisture will reduce reproduction. Read links below for more detail.



Keeping the culture going
As the culture grows you'll notice tiny micro worms increasing in volume on the lid or sides of the container. You'll find that over the weeks that you'll need to add more food as the population increases and it is important to keep the worms well fed if you wish the culture to grow.

Due to the fact that the culture can crash very quickly after a month or so, it is advisable to always have at least two containers of them at any one time. Once a month or two, take a sample of the oldest culture and place it in a new container with new soil. This will be your backup.

Culture crashing is believed to be caused by the waste toxin of
ammonia in the soil given off by the worms. So try added small lumps of zeolite to the soil or add 10ml of a ammonia neutraliser liquid like
prime, Stress-Lock or Ammo-Lock to 500ml of water, which you use to top up the moisture content of the soil. This will delay the crash.

  • Feed the worms flour made from only Rice flour. This type of gluten-free flour is high in protein and makes a culture far less smelly. A light sprinkling of flour every two days followed by a light coating of water with an ammonia neutraliser added will ensure your culture lasts for many many months. Occasionally turn over the soil to loosen it up.
 
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GraniteReefer

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#5
Great information and really neat feeder. Is your mandarin pellet trained? If so have you used this feeder to spot feed the pellets? I've been looking for a way to more efficiently put the pellets in front of my Mandy as he loves pellets but currently broadcasting them in his general direction is my method.