How to cultivate microworms

  1. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    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

    And of course a starter culture :)

    I personally use spaghetti sauce jars such as this


    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.


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


    Place about 1/2 cup in the jar


    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!


    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.

    image.jpg image.jpg

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!
  2. krazyone2006 Well Known Member Member

    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
  3. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    Should have checked the btsf section my friend...I sell 'em! :)
  4. krazyone2006 Well Known Member Member

    i was looking for someone local to get them from LOL
  5. AngelZee Member Member

    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 dont 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 dont spam your tank all over the place.
  6. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    I also keep 2 or 3 going to maintain a constant supply
  7. AngelZee Member Member

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

    Thats an unlimited amount of food for your entire lifetime for just under $5!

    If only brine shrimp were this easy.
  8. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    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.
  9. horsin1787 Well Known Member Member

    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?
  10. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    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
  11. horsin1787 Well Known Member Member

    Your cultures arrived fine-they've already taken off,. :D 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.
  12. AquaLady Well Known Member Member

    thats cool. Im thinking of starting one. Is it safe to feed everyday?
  13. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

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

    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. Youre doing an excellent job.
  15. horsin1787 Well Known Member Member

  16. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    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?
  17. AquaLady Well Known Member Member

    Thanks for the link horsin
  18. Vasalissa Well Known Member Member

    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 cant find someone local)
  19. EricV Fishlore VIP Member

    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 :)
  20. Vasalissa Well Known Member Member

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