Microworm culture

BarryH

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Getting interested in trying this after a kind offer of some starter culture. Where do I need to keep the pots with the culture in, warm, cold, light, shady? Any help would be really appreciated.
 

Wookii

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Now I'm successfully hatching brine shrimp for my mid-water fish, I want to try and culture some of these mirco-worms for my Pygmy Cory's on @dw1305 Darrel's recommendation.

I have a couple of initial; questions:

1. So I need a container or two with air holes in. I have some old maggot tubs from my fishing kit I can use - but given these need to be kept inside the house in the warmth, how does one stop the microworms escaping out of the air holes?
2. How do I go about seeding the culture at the start - do I need to order an initial batch of microworms to pre-populate? if so, can anyone recommend any sources?
 

BarryH

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I have a couple of initial; questions:

1. So I need a container or two with air holes in. I have some old maggot tubs from my fishing kit I can use - but given these need to be kept inside the house in the warmth, how does one stop the microworms escaping out of the air holes?
2. How do I go about seeding the culture at the start - do I need to order an initial batch of microworms to pre-populate? if so, can anyone recommend any sources?
Not too sure about seeding the culture but regarding the air holes, after watching a couple of YT videos, all they did was add a bit of filter wool to the lid covering the hole and kept this in place with a bit of tape.

There are some good round containers in Tesco for this purpose and, at the minute, in their "specials" isle, Aldi have really good sets of plastic boxes.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
do I need to order an initial batch of microworms to pre-populate?
You do, plenty of sellers of ebay normally, or I always have spare cultures.
There are some good round containers in Tesco for this purpose
I use old coleslaw or hummus pots and just prick a few small holes. If the worms start covering the lid and coming out of the holes you need to re-culture.

cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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Not too sure about seeding the culture but regarding the air holes, after watching a couple of YT videos, all they did was add a bit of filter wool to the lid covering the hole and kept this in place with a bit of tape.

There are some good round containers in Tesco for this purpose and, at the minute, in their "specials" isle, Aldi have really good sets of plastic boxes.
Thanks Barry - just wated a few videos, and I've seen the filter floss trick, thanks. I'll check Tesco's if I can get past the pasta and toilet roll panic buyers!
 

Wookii

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Hi all, You do, plenty of sellers of ebay normally, or I always have spare cultures. I use old coleslaw or hummus pots and just prick a few small holes. If the worms start covering the lid and coming out of the holes you need to re-culture.

cheers Darrel
Thanks Darrel.

Looking around on the internet, I read that the microworms can often be a little small (smaller than baby brine shrimp) - is that correct?

I've read that Grindal worms might be an alternative option, are a little lower maintenance, and are a little larger (10mm when adult) than the microworms - have you ever cultured those? Would they be too large for the Pygmy Cories?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I read that the microworms can often be a little small (smaller than baby brine shrimp) - is that correct?
It is.

The cultures I have at the moment has very small "Vinegar eel" sized worms, so they may actually be "Banana Worms" (Panagrellus nepenthicola). I used to keep separate Banana Worm and Micro worm cultures, but Banana Worms are really prolific and a little bit smaller, so there isn't really any requirement to keep both.
I've read that Grindal worms might be an alternative option, are a little lower maintenance, and are a little larger (10mm when adult) than the microworms - have you ever cultured those? Would they be too large for the Pygmy Cories?
Yes I have Grindal Worms as well and the Pygmy Cories are keen on them.

I've never been very successful at keeping <"Cereal mites"> out of the cultures. I think @Edvet is still using <"Seramis as a worm culturing medium">, which may be a better option.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Thanks Darrel. Is the Seramis a better option than the coconut fibre I see mention elsewhere?
I don't know, you would need @Edvet. I've always used ordinary potting compost (similar to coir), which is fine, but difficult to keep mite free. There may be advantages to coir, cleaning scrunchies and/or foam, I've just never tried them.

The main issue I've had with them (other than the mites) is that they are a bit <"prone to crashing">, where you lose the entire culture. Because of that I keep four separate one litre ice cream cartons, rather than one larger culture.

I've got better at recognising the signs of an imminent crash. These are:
  • Grindal Worms everywhere, all up the side of the carton and over the lid, often apparently a lot more Grindal worms than the culture actually contained.
  • <"Red worm"> "Canaries" on the compost surface.
  • Compost wetter than normal.
cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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Hi all, I don't know, you would need @Edvet. I've always used ordinary potting compost (similar to coir), which is fine, but difficult to keep mite free. There may be advantages to coir, cleaning scrunchies and/or foam, I've just never tried them.

The main issue I've had with them (other than the mites) is that they are a bit <"prone to crashing">, where you lose the entire culture. Because of that I keep four separate one litre ice cream cartons, rather than one larger culture.

I've got better at recognising the signs of an imminent crash. These are:
  • Grindal Worms everywhere, all up the side of the carton and over the lid, often apparently a lot more Grindal worms than the culture actually contained.
  • <"Red worm"> "Canaries" on the compost surface.
  • Compost wetter than normal.
cheers Darrel
Hmmm, I might have to make do with running two cartons. I only have small number of small fish, and they also get fed brine shrimp regularly, so I don't want to be generating more worms than I need for 2-3 small feeds a week.

One final question, what is the best food to give the worms? I see that most guides seem to suggest dried dog or cat food, but then I have also seen other places suggest using dedicated fish food since it will add more appropriate nutrition to the worms gut, and be more beneficial for the fish?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I see that most guides seem to suggest dried dog or cat food, but then I have also seen other places suggest using dedicated fish food since it will add more appropriate nutrition to the worms gut, and be more beneficial for the fish?
Mine <"mainly get rolled oats">, I used to use "instant oat cereal", but grinding up <"oats is a lot cheaper">. I use a pestle and mortar. I had one anyway, if I hadn't I would have carried on with the "ready brek" type instant porridge cereal.

I've had the same culture for the last ~12 years, so they do fine on oats as a staple diet. Oats are <"nutritionally quite good"> anyway.

I tried them on dry biscuit cat food, but they didn't seem to eat that as readily, and it smelled. I add a bit of cooked vegetable, but I assume that this is mainly eaten by the earthworms.

Because you feed your fish BBS anyway I wouldn't be too concerned about the GrIndal worms diet. I feed a lot of live food to my fish as well and I'm assuming that this covers their nutritional requirements. In the winter the fish get a bit more dry food a long with the worms.

cheers Darrel
 
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Simon Cole

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@Wookii We use Wainwrights dry cat food. Some dry cat foods will work and others really do not. The cultures crash. It's always good to read somebody thinking about gut loading. That was why I chose it over fish food.
Darrel - I never thought of rolled oats - what a good idea.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I never thought of rolled oats - what a good idea.
I'm pretty sure that someone suggested it to me when I originally got the Grindal Worm culture. I think I got them from Mark Breeze (Apistogramma keeper "microman") originally, but it may have been the advice on the KilliFish Web site <"Culturing Grindal Worms">.

<"Caudata.org"> is another useful source for live food tips.

cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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@Wookii We use Wainwrights dry cat food. Some dry cat foods will work and others really do not. The cultures crash. It's always good to read somebody thinking about gut loading. That was why I chose it over fish food.
Darrel - I never thought of rolled oats - what a good idea.
Thanks Simon - what was your reason for choosing the Cat food over the fish food - just for avoiding culture crashes?
 

Simon Cole

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High quality dry cat food seems to have superior nutritional content over fish food.
Basically it comes down to how the products are deliberately formulated and tested, but also the fact that quality is a major factor driving industry competition. So I feel more assured.
The 30 essential amino acids and essential fatty acids (fats carry soluble vitamins D, E, A and K) are usually known and included.
Water soluble B vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine, Pantothenic Acid, Niacin, B-12) and vitamin C are typically added.
Minerals are also added, but there is no industry standard for this component.
Price is also a major factor.
Some dry cat foods are better at not crashing the culture than others. Typically you would have 4 tubs of worms in a sealed box to stop the mites from getting in, so if one crashes, you can carry on.
When I look at the nutritional content of fish food it feels like more of a guessing game.
 

Wookii

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Right, so my starter culture arrived from eBay today, and my coconut coir and tubs arrived from Amazon, so two cultures are set up already. I have ordered some Seramis too, but it’s going to take two weeks to arrive (hence the coconut as a stop gap). When that arrives I’ll set up a third tub.

upload_2020-3-13_16-57-31.jpeg


I couldn’t resist testing some of the worms with the fish, as there were quite a few left in the delivery bag. They went down a treat - the tiny little Chilli Rasbora went the craziest for them, but two tiny worms and their little bellies were bulging!

The Cory’s were a little slow off the mark, but seemed to be hunting around the substrate for them. Do grindal worms bury themselves in the substrate? When I looked for the ones I’d dropped in I couldn’t really see any?
 

Simon Cole

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Yes they do. Flat bottom tanks are always better, but shrimp will usually help to pick them up. My pygmy corydoras would route through the sand for them, but they do burrow in within about 5 minutes. Drowning the worms first is a slightly better option. In fact I typically scrape them off the coir and collect into a pot of water before feeding. Welcome to the culture club :D
 

Wookii

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Yes they do. Flat bottom tanks are always better, but shrimp will usually help to pick them up. My pygmy corydoras would route through the sand for them, but they do burrow in within about 5 minutes. Drowning the worms first is a slightly better option. In fact I typically scrape them off the coir and collect into a pot of water before feeding. Welcome to the culture club :D
Thanks Simon. How long do they typically take to drown? I’d read that microworms can take 10 minutes but couldn’t find anything specifically on grindal worms.

So I assume those lost in the substrate so far are going to drown and rot now! :facepalm::banghead: . . . I’m amazed nowhere on the internet that I read during my research mentioned that!
 

Simon Cole

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About 30 minutes. Another option would be a feeding dish and pipette.
They're not going to rot - you should have a few detritus worms in the substrate; something will find them.
A fantastic investment my friend.
 
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