|Live food - White Worms|
White worms (Enchytraeus albidus Henle, 1837) are an excellent,easily produced form of live fish feed and are particularly good for inducing fish to spawn. They are readily consumed by most fish and are also of a suitable size for very small fish as well as larger ones. White worms are an oligochaete and contain approximately 70% protein, 14.5% fat, 5.5% ash (minerals), 10% carbohydrates. Do not believe the myth that they are fatty and not good for fish health - in nature, benthic chironomid larvae and oligochaetes constitute one of the basic food sources for river based fish.
This primer on culture also applies loosely to grindal worms, which are a smaller relative of the white worm. White worms are hermaphroditic, i.e., each individual has both male and female reproductive organs. Adults are self-fertile because the sperm and ova develop at different times. The worms exchange sperm cells during copulation with one another, and eggs are laid in transparent cocoons. Cocoons average around 10 eggs per cocoon. The 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, ensuring plentiful food!
Growing white worms is an easy, enriching, non-smelly way of providing nourishing clean food for your fish. It doesn't require much attention - probably around a couple of minutes to scoop out some fish food and check that the food has been eaten. Obtain a box around 500mm wide x 500mm long by 200mm deep that has a lid, or something that you can use for a lid. An old hexagonal fish tank or plastic fish bowl or bucket will do equally well, the shallower, the easier it is to scoop out the worms. Sterilise the container by throwing in a capful of bleach and filling up. Drain and rinse it out, then go down to your local garden store and buy a coir peat block or some peat (must have no fertiliser added). Take it home and hydrate the peat block or wet the peat in a bucket. Then take handfuls of the hydrated mixture, squeezing the moisture out until it just holds together and fill your container until its around 10cm deep. Microwaving the peat after it's soaked until its too hot to touch will sterilise it to ensure we don't end up with any nasties or mites from the peat mix.
Add one of the worm cultures we supply and push a couple of the feeder pellets supplied down into the peat next to them. Put the piece of glass supplied (this definitely helps) on top of the worms and close the lid (make sure the box is not hermetically sealed by the lid - drill some holes somewhere if it is) and if the container is transparent, put in a dark place. White worms can't stand more than 30 degrees and more than 24 degrees will make them uncomfortable, so place in a laundry or garage etc to ensure they stay cool.
Maintenance of the culture now is basically reliant upon regular harvesting and feeding of your worms. When you are there check the moistness of the culture - damp but not soggy (if worms are all on the surface, it's too wet), smell (earthy not foul, if it is stinky, you need to allow to dry out a bit if its too wet, aerate the mixture by turning over the mix, or its time to replace some of the mix as its spent). Swapping out half your media every 6 months is a good way to ensure your culture doesn't crash and die off.
Foods can range from fish food (ironic?), bread, baby cereal, apples, bananas, potato, carrot etc basically anything lying around including cheap luncheon sausage. Placing a piece of moistened bread on top is a staple but i find quality cat biscuits and luncheon sausage work well as they have preservatives incorporated and don't tend to go mouldy like bread. Place in about half the size of the amount of worms added and this should disappear in two days. Its a good gauge to how many are in there according to how much food is being consumed.
To feed, lift up glass, take a scoop of worms and feed to your fish. You can rinse them, but we sterilised the bucket to ensure that what you take out should be worms and worms alone! Enjoy your fish enjoying the live food.....they don't move that way for flake food do they?