Complete Guide to Culturing Microworms

Microworm Brief Info

Microworms are not actually worms. They are nematodes belonging to the species Panagrellus. They are smaller in size then the newly hatched brine shrimps and have less ability to move in the water which enables the fry to easily catch and eat them. Also, while comparing the cost of brine shrimp eggs and the efforts required to hatch brine shrimp eggs, Microworms are thousands of times more economical and practical. And it is a continuous source of live food in case you are not collapsing all your Microworm cultures at same time.

microworm-culture

Culturing and harvesting Microworms is quite easy that you can do at home with very few requirements. Whereas the amount of the live foods harvested will be in a very remarkable volume that you can feed to your fry and small fish. Also, it is a very beneficial source of live food for small-size fish fry. As a first food, it will increase the survival rates.

Microworms vs. Baby Brine Shrimps

Microworms contain various fats and proteins that are vital for fry growth. Some say it is not as much nutritious as newly hatched brine shrimps but the point, it is smaller in size than the baby brine shrimp and more suitable for smaller size fry which will be at least better to take some nutrients than having nothing.

Most of the hobbyists reported that there is no visible difference on the growth rates of the fry fed on these two live foods. After the fry reached a certain size you can feed them with other commercial dry or chopped frozen foods to increase fry growth and at that point any Microworm – brine shrimp nutrient difference will be completely lost.

Culturing Microworms

To culture Microworms the necessary equipment and materials are listed below briefly;
– Plastic Container with lid (This could be even an old ice cream box)
– Unsalted Oatmeal/Corn meal or Baby foods made of wheats
– Water
– Yeast

The minimum above mentioned ingredients are more than enough to setup a good culture and harvest millions of Microworms. In addition, to improve your worms’ nutrient content, below mentioned but not limited additives/ingredients can be also used;

– Spirulina Powder
– Milk (small amount)
– Kitten foods
– Soybean Flour
– Vitamin Pills or Liquids
– Rice Flour
– Chickpea flour
– Other wheat or legumes flours
– and etc.

Preparation of the Bedding

1- Add the flours or other additions to the culture container and mix together.
2- Keep stirring the mixture while adding water in little amounts until it reaches a completely wet and dense consistency.
3- Press the prepared dough to make it flat in the container.
4- Make culture bedding at a maximum of 1 cm thickness.
5- Sprinkle a very small amount of dry yeast (a few granules) over the dough to a local part.

Starting Culture

To start your Microworm culture; you need to have first the starter culture. You can buy your starter culture from your local fish forums/websites or from any of the international web sites with a very cheap price. After getting your starter culture try to observe any worms wiggling over the bedding surface. If you can observe the worms you can pick some of these worms with a spoon and them directly into your culture container right over the sprinkled yeast. If the medium seems too dry you can mist some water after adding the starter worms.

In case you can’t observe the worms wiggling over your starter culture you can follow two different ways. The first is to add the starter culture with the bedding in a separate container and wait until the culture matured, then following the steps above. The second way is to directly add all the starter culture you received over the newly prepared bedding. If you are lucky enough to have at least a few (2-3 worms will suffice) live worms in your starter culture, within the following week you will have a good and healthy Microworm culture. After starting the new culture always keep the lids closed to prevent any contamination by other insects, dust or whatsoever.

Harvesting

After 7 to 10 days, the culture will get matured and you will be able to harvest some worms for feeding to your fry or small fish. For harvesting worms from your culture, you have to cover the lid completely to reduce the oxygen level inside of the container. By applying this method, you will ensure more worms climbing the walls of the container. Then you can easily scrape them with a plastic sheet or even with your finger from the container walls.

Besides, you can also try to put your culture over a hot surface such as radiator panels to force more worms to climb to the walls. This is the result of Microworm’s instinct which is telling it to escape from the heat. But note that this will reduce the culture’s performance in the long term. In case it is applied too often it may cause the culture to collapse. So, use this method when you need to harvest too many worms in an emergency. To harvest more worms, it is always best to have more cultures that can be easily set up.

Maintenance

Microworm cultures don’t require too much maintenance. The most important issues are keeping them wet enough to provide worms mobility in the container and preventing the contaminants to get into the culture. Some bugs may also leave their larvae or eggs in the culture if it is not closed/sealed properly. To prevent that kind of bug invasion you can open aeration holes but glue a piece of cloth or any other proper material over that holes.

Since the Microworms don’t burrow such as earthworms do in the bedding to make the food available for them, the culture needs to be mixed weekly. This will also help a little in preventing some unwanted bacteria blooms at the bottom by disturbing the anaerobic layers.

Even if all the maintenance is done properly the culture will start to smell bad in time. Thus, it is better to renew the culture periodically after making large-scale final harvests from the lasting cultures. The heating method can be useful at that time. Try to harvest as much as you can and use some part of the harvest to start new culture(s) to maintain a continuous culture and food source.

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