How to Care for Your New Grindal Worms
Aqualand's inside scoop on Enchytraeus buchholtzi
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Well established starter culture of Grindal worms.
Sex Stuff: If you’ve ever hunted nightcrawlers, you know how these smaller cousins breed. Both participants in the process lay eggs which hatch and grow rapidly.
Temperature: Unlike their larger cousins, nightcrawlers (45 F) and white worms (55 F), Grindal worms do best at room temperature. You can keep them right next to your fish tank if you desire. And you can feed them the same food you feed your fishes if you prefer.
Keep Covered: You need to cover your cultures to keep out invaders that eat the same food: fruit flies, mites, and springtails. You also want to keep out larger critters that will eat your Grindal worms: ants and mice.
Aeration: You will need to let air into your culture or your worms will suffocate or drown in their own waste products. Punching multiple pinholes in your container’s side should do the trick – holes too large will enable fruit fly invasions. The pinholes we punched in the Rubbermaid containers “healed” faster than a vampire’s wound. So we cut holes in the tops and pulled filter floss into them to keep out invaders.
Size: Adult Grindal worms max out at about ½ inch. Most of your harvest will consist of smaller worms. You can easily sort them by size if you prefer. Size makes little difference to most hungry fishes.
Sorting by Size: Put a glob of worms in a water-filled pint jar and swirl the water in a circle. The larger worms settle to the bottom first. You can pour the smaller worms into another container. Feed the larger worms to your larger fishes (actually larger small fishes) such as bettas, killifish, guppies, tetras, barbs, angels and other community fish. Catfishes -- especially corydoras -- love any size worms. Picky eaters like glassfish and spiny eels slurp them eagerly. All livebearers love Grindal worms.
Foods: Grindal worms will eat a variety of foods of grain origin. Some worm wranglers feed them table scraps (treating them like compost worms). Grain-based products work better: baby cereal, instant oatmeal, cornmeal, and bread. White bread works best because the preservatives in it keep it from molding for a long time. The Iron Kids crust-less bread works great. Other hobbyists prefer to feed their worms fish food, figuring that a gut load of fish food will most likely meet their fishes nutrition needs best. We tried chicken food because we have a 50 pound sack of it. We prefer white bread moistened with tap water. Remove the crust. Treat them like an eight-year-old kid.
Housing: Our local dollar store has Rubbermaid sandwich containers at two for a dollar. These have nice tight lids and work well. They are just the right depth for Grindal worms.
Culture Medium: You can
culture your Grindalworms in potting soil or good old
Feeding Technique: Feed small amounts that your worms consume daily. Add more food as your worm herd increases. Over feeding encourages the growth of mold. We used white bread because it strongly resists mold. Whole wheat gets moldy fast.
Feeding Schedule: Once your worm herd gets going, harvest your worms daily or at least every other day or they will overpopulate your container. They multiply very rapidly. A new culture will come “on-line” in a couple weeks. If they start crawling up the sides, they are overpopulated or too wet. If overpopulated, start another culture. If too wet, add more dry media or take their lid off to let them dry out a bit.
Harvesting Technique: Lay a sheet of glass or plastic atop their food. As the Grindal worms cluster around the food, many will adhere to the cover sheet. Lift it up and scoop your tasty worms off with your finger. Feed to your small to medium fishes.
Last Word: Do not feed Grindal worms exclusively. Vary your fishes diet. And wash your hands after playing in the dirt. LA.
© 2005 LA Productions
© 2005 LA Productions
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