Red Worms

Red worms are better known as fishing bait than for feeding tropical fish or small reptiles and amphibians.  They are easy to raise, and are a meaty treat for medium to large tropical fish or other small animals.  I raise red worms to feed Blue Gularis, one of the larger killifish. 

I use a plastic a storage tote, about 7 gallon size, for a culture container.  Newspaper and brown cardboard make up the culture medium. Both of these materials are torn up into approximately 1” X 2” pieces.  I only use cardboard with no coatings and no printing.  Some color newspaper ink is toxic, so I only use paper with black printing. Black ink is usually made from soybeans and is safe.   It seems that more and more of the newspaper is in color so it takes some looking to find sheets with only black printing. The Sunday paper’s TV listing in my paper is printed in black so I grab that for the worms.

The paper must be moistened. It should be damp, but not dripping.  Worms need grit to help digest their food, so add some fine sand. Finding worms to start your culture is no problem.  Just go to a bait shop and buy a few dozen. You can also buy them on line. Buy the red wrigglers. They are more prolific than common garden worms or night crawlers.

Feeding the worms is easy. Just use vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Don’t use any meat, bone, or dairy products. Basically anything you would put into a compost pile will work.  Actually a big movement in green living is vermiculture where people compost their vegetable waste in bins in their homes with worms. You can be ecologically friendly and produce free food for your tropical fish!

My culture is placed on the basement floor to keep it cool. The container had some small holes near the handles.  That seems to provide enough ventilation with the cover on.  There is no odor from the culture.

It took me a couple of months before the worms were ready to start harvesting.   Depending on the size of your fish, you can feed the whole worms or cut them up into smaller pieces.  I usually just find a few half grown worms when I am feeding the Blue Gularis.  There will be worms of all sizes in your culture.

Add more paper or cardboard as it breaks down.  I just put it on top, and put new food on top of that.  After a year or so you will want to remove some of the composted paper.  Take out about a third of it every 4-6 months as needed. Pick out the worms and return them to the culture.

Red worms are an easy to culture food for your larger tropical fish.


Red Worm Box

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