Caring for Your Blood Worm Ranch
Inside scoop on Chironomidae species from Aqualand

 
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Different Watersprite

Blood Worm Factoids

Origin

Still bodies of water

Maximum Size

About an inch

Life Cycle

10-12 days from egg to adults. 

Temperature

Room temp

Water

Aerated and sponge filtered

Potential Invader

Mosquito larvae

Foods

Very fine organic matter

Lighting

Immaterial.  Dark best.

Containers

Covered plastic shoe boxes

Maintenance

Daily monitoring for pupae

Harvesting

Harvest at night with a net



We borrowed this pic of freeze-dried blood worms from Hikari's website.  Since we sell their frozen and freeze-dried blood worms, we don't think they'll mind too much.  Their frozen ones look bright red.  They add extra vitamins to make them even better.

LA Pic
Here's a chironomid midge captured from the wilds of Iowa.

Blood Worms or Black Worms?  Blood worms are really the larval form of one of the chironomid midges -- insects rather than worms.  You could compare them with the transparent glass worms.  California blackworms, on the other hand, are a cousin to earthworms.  We used to sell live glassworms captured in the wilds of Minnesota during the "ice season."  Hikari sells them too --  frozen in thin sheets.  Fish like 'em.

LA Pic
Blood worms leave their tubes in any unused container full of water.

LA Pic
Iowa black water pond with blood worms on bottom.

Origins:  Blood worms grow wild in ponds, pools, and lakes.  We even find their tubes in aquaria that have set unused for a period of time.  Blood worms live in the mud.  Glassworms swim in the water.  Both can produce huge swarms.

 

LA Pic
Thawed formerly frozen blood worms -- very tasty to the pickiest eaters.

LA Pic
Compare them to our free-swimming glass worms.  These guys eat fish fry.

LA Pic
You can crowd glass worms successfully.  These have survived three weeks.

Appeal:  Fish love the taste of blood worms – even the pickiest eaters.  The hemoglobin that colors them red is an excellent iron source.

Size:  Full-grown blood worms grow to about an inch.  Their size makes them ideal for two to six-inch fish.  Once they pupate, the smaller fish sometimes have trouble eating them.

Adults.  Looking very much like mosquitoes, the non-biting parents lay their eggs in water and flit off.  Adults live three to five days.

LA Pic
Bloodworm egg blobs tinted by algae.

Eggs:  Look – under the water -- for blood worm eggs on sticks and grasses near the shoreline.  They look like little blobs of snot with 50 to 700 tiny dots in them – very much like pond snail eggs, but with lots more tiny dots.  Bring these blobs home and culture them.  They hatch in 24 to 48 hours.

Negative Phototropic:  Blood worm larvae avoid the light.  You could probably get faster growth by putting black plastic sheets over them.  They construct tiny tubes in which they live during the day.  This makes them difficult to harvest.  The pros harvest them at night, when they emerge from their tubes.  Shutting off their aeration also causes them to come out.  Harvesting at night also keeps your neighborhood mosquitoes well fed.

Containers:  Covered plastic shoe boxes will keep out mosquitoes.  Uncovered containers are easier to aerate.  You may want to use a 10-gallon aquarium so you can aerate it.  If you've ever put water-filled containers out to grow mosquito larvae,  you've also grown blood worms.

Foods:  Blood worms eat “micro foods.”  You can find commercial versions or make your own.  Pros raise them on chicken manure, horse manure, and other waste products.  We’d normally recommend mystery snails to clean up the excess food, but you can easily imagine those rasping tongues devouring tube after tube of blood worms.  Partial water changes may be necessary.

 

Feeding Schedule:  The pros use three grams per 1,000 eggs.  Have fun counting the eggs.  Just sprinkle some food on top.  You’ll probably need to monitor and feed every two to six days.  This will help you keep track of their size.  Feed small amounts.  Overfeeding can wipe out your entire culture.  Aeration helps.  We garned this info from a Singaporan doctor presenting an Aqualogy Seminar a number of years ago.  We still hope to visit him in Singapore.  Singaporans raise these critters right in their fish rooms.  They put skeeter netting on their windows.

Water:  Good, old aquarium water or de-chlorinated tap water will work.  Avoid extremes in pH levels.  Their water “wears out” after four to six weeks.  Their waste products "wear out" their water.  That's also the reason we change the water in our fish aquariums.

Starting Out:  Start with a half-dozen containers.  Try different quantities of egg masses in each.  You’ll need to experiment to find out the best procedures for your purposes.  Work with different foods and blood worm egg amounts.  Keep notes to see what works best.

Harvesting.  Net these guys out at night.  Turn off your airstone and net away.  Keep your excess in the fridge.

Next Generation.  If you let some of your larvae pupate and turn into adults, they will lay eggs in your uncovered containers.  The adults need no food.  They live only to breed, lay their eggs, and continue the species.  LA.

© 1998, © 2003, © 2004  LA Productions.

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

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