How to cultivate microworms

EricV

So I wanted to post a thread about how to properly start and maintain a microworm culture.

For those of you unfamiliar with microworms as a live food they are an extremely small (hence the name lol) nematode worm approximately 2mm in length. They are a very good high protein food for fry and are also eagerly accepted by most small fish. Maintaining a culture is also very easy.

You'll need:

A jar or other container
Dry oatmeal
Water
Yeast

And of course a starter culture

I personally use spaghettI sauce jars such as this


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The microworms do need some air so poke a hole in the lid. They don't need much and extra air holes will only lead to the growing medium drying out.


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Now for preparing the growing medium.
I use regular ol' oatmeal.


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Place about 1/2 cup in the jar


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Next add some water. 3/4 of a cup should be enough. The oatmeal should be moist with just enough water for a slight amount of standing water. Pour off any excess. The oatmeal should not be completely submerged!


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The microworms do not eat the oatmeal. They eat yeast. You don't need much. Less than 1/8 of a teaspoon. Just sprinkle it on top of the wet oatmeal. No need to stir.


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Now add your starter culture. Again you don't need much. As long as you get some wigglers in there they will multiply quickly. That goo in the middle is the starter.


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Place the culture somewhere dark and let them do their thing. After about 3-4 days you'll see tiny worms crawling up the sides of the container.


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At this point they are ready for feeding. Using a small paintbrush just swipe them off the sides of the container. You add them directly to the tank at this point but I prefer to swish the brush in a small amount of water and then feed them via eye dropper or turkey baster.

They can survive up to 24 hours in the tank before drowning and wiggle incessantly, drawing the attention of your fishy friends.

The culture will continue to grow and multiply for about 3 weeks.


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Eventually you'll notice a decrease in worms on the sides of the container. This means its time to scoop out a tiny amount of the goop in the culture and start again!
 

krazyone2006

I actually just buried a potato a couple days ago to grow some microworms cause no one around here had starter cultures that I could buy
 

EricV

Should have checked the btsf section my friend...I sell 'em!
 

krazyone2006

I was looking for someone local to get them from LOL
 

AngelZee

Very informative thread.
I myself have 2 microworm cultures and man these things are so much easier to maintain than brine shrimp!
But brine shrimp still make a better food for small fry since they don't sink and actually swim around.
I have kept microworms in both oatmeal and potato mix and results are much better with oatmeal, only difference is I cook the oatmeal first then let it dry before adding microworms.
Dont know if it is necessary but I still do it without any problems.
You can also use your finger to harvest them then add them in a cone worm feeder so they don't spam your tank all over the place.
 

EricV

I also keep 2 or 3 going to maintain a constant supply
 

AngelZee

Buying a starter culture and continuing to restart them when necessary means infinite microworms forever!

That's an unlimited amount of food for your entire lifetime for just under $5!

If only brine shrimp were this easy.
 

EricV

One more tip I forgot to add in the original post. If you stick the culture on a nice sunny windowsill prior to feeding more of the worms will congregate on the sides of your container.
 

horsin1787

I was talking to hubby about these the other day. The only thing he didn't want to have happen was for them to stink. Do they smell at all?
 

EricV

They do smell a little but it's not something you'd notice while they are in the container. You get some of that DIY co2 smell if you open it up for feeding but that's about it. Nothing major. In fact if they start to stink more than that it means its time to restart the culture.

I store mine in our laundry room (usually 2-3 full cultures plus several small starters) and everything is fine on the smell front. I've actually had one of the cultures out on the dining room table all week for feeding my killI fry and if they were giving off a smell you can be sure my gf would have made me hide them away by now lol
 

horsin1787

Your cultures arrived fine-they've already taken off,. The CPDs go crazy for them as do the smaller of the Sawbwa. I don't know that they make a whole meal for the fish, but they sure do make a good treat, lol.

Maybe they'll slow down on eating all my blackworms into oblivion...I think I need to get more of those soon.
 

AquaLady

that's cool. I'm thinking of starting one. Is it safe to feed everyday?
 

EricV

I wouldn't feed microworms to adult fish as a staple diet but my fry get them for 3 meals out of every 4
 

AquaLady

Oh ok. Have you ever tried cultivating other live foods? If so how? From what I see you have a lot of DIY posts. Keep it up. You're doing an excellent job.
 

EricV

Well I've done the brine shrimp thing (not worth the effort to me), mosquito larvae (just a matter of collecting), and feeder fry but that's about it. Oh and fruit flies

And thanks. I do a lot of improvising and DIY on my tanks so I figured I'd share some of my tricks. Gotta keep expenses down ya know?
 

AquaLady

Thanks for the link horsin
 

Vasalissa

EricV
How do you START microworm cultures?
I've read about getting one but if I was to actually try to start a culture without one, how would you go about that?

(Also do you ship to Australia? Cause I might get one off you... If I can't find someone local)
 

EricV

Unfortunately I do not know how to start one without a culture. I bought my original one.

I could certainly look into shipping into Australia but the shipping costs would probably be prohibitive and I'd have to look into the legal issues surrounding exporting live organisms to a foreign country. As much as I like increasing my own business I think you'd get a better price and quicker service buying from a local supplier
 

Vasalissa

No worries! Thanks anyway I will buy a culture in Aus.
I might be back if I have issue's keeping mine alive
 

i2cute4words

If you use Gumtree in Australia, you can often find microworm starter cultures. I bought one the other day Now I'm going to start my own cultures off the initial one.

I find a bit of cotton wool in the hole keeps other things out and some of the smell in.
 

Vasalissa

If you use Gumtree in Australia, you can often find microworm starter cultures. I bought one the other day Now I'm going to start my own cultures off the initial one.

I find a bit of cotton wool in the hole keeps other things out and some of the smell in.

Since this post I have bought cultivated and kept microworms for a few months now. Thanks
 

EricV

I've actually been using an impulse sealer to seal them into airtight bags for shipping (and keeping a backup in the fridge). They seem to multiply just fine without any air holes (I've had two sealed ones, one refrigerated and one not, for over a month and a half now and they are still entirely viable). I just started another culture that I'm going to grow without ventilation holes and we'll see how it goes. If the air holes are not needed that would entirely solve the problem of things getting in or smells getting out.
 

i2cute4words

EricV is right. They do just fine in containers without air holes! I have a few cultures and it's actually easier to scrape them off the lid as they're cleaner and won't escape through the holes.
 

smee82

Just my personal experience but ive found that microworms do better and last longer in wide flat containers then tall thin ones.
Also the amount of oatmeal should cover the base to a depth of no more the 2 cm otherwise it will go rancid quicker and air pocket will develop and it starts to bubble. I'm not sure what gases are causing this build up but once it stared there was a significant drop in microworms.
Lastly ive also discovered that you can bring life back to a culture after it starts to drop of by sprinkling a little oatmeal over the established culture. Moreover there seems to be a lot more microworms in a revived culture then a new culture
 

Lucy

ivarnarik's question have been moved to a thread of it's own
Here's the link:
 

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