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Blackworm Culture


Stacy Z
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I have grown blackworms in kids wading pools with leaves as a food base:

image.png.3afd9e1af6b8555c1a17b82c68623d20.png

And in bigger pools with mud on the bottom. The worms reproduce okay, but not at the rate that I need blackworms for my fish. In the end, I end buying them by the pound and feeding them until they are all gone. More costly, but better than not having enough blackworms on hand when I need them.

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Don’t use gravel!!!  If you decide to use something on the bottom, use marbles, or something that won’t crumble into bits that clog your turkey baster, syringe, or whatever else you use to collect the blackworms off the bottom.  Bare bottom is much easier, IME.

I have cleaned the gravel out of 2 tanks and will eventually clean it out of the others also.  I divided 4 ounces of worms between 4 x 5 gallon tanks.  I followed directions from a couple videos that said to use a thin layer of gravel to give them somewhere to hide and the gravel would help break the worms as you stir so they “reproduce” that way.  They apparently regenerate the missing bits when they break, but the gravel holds too much gunk so I don’t like to stir it.  Little bits of gravel break off and clog the syringe I use to collect the worms.  And the gravel just makes it harder to clean debris out of the tanks.

Bare bottom is sooo much easier!  The worms collect in clumps and you just stir them with whatever.  I do stir them kind of roughly, I want the longest ones to break.  Stirring lifts up the gunk which can then be siphoned away.  Stir, let worms settle, siphon.  Or nudge the clump of worms away from a heap of gunk, then siphon.  Either way, easier with a bare tank bottom than with the gravel on the bottom.

I also am finding that they don’t reproduce fast enough to keep a continuous supply.  I need to buy more soon, but I need to get around to cleaning the gravel off the bottom of more tanks.  Such a pain!  I don’t want to dump and waste the worms that are still in those 2 tanks, but there’s no really good way to separate them from the gravel.  At least, not that I’ve found.  I just need to feed only from those 2 until I can’t find anymore worms in there, then just dump the gravel, clean the tanks, and start over bare.

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On 8/8/2021 at 6:01 PM, Daniel said:

I have grown blackworms in kids wading pools with leaves as a food base:

image.png.3afd9e1af6b8555c1a17b82c68623d20.png

And in bigger pools with mud on the bottom. The worms reproduce okay, but not at the rate that I need blackworms for my fish. In the end, I end buying them by the pound and feeding them until they are all gone. More costly, but better than not having enough blackworms on hand when I need them.

How do you collect the worms to feed when you have a mud bottom?

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On 8/8/2021 at 6:18 PM, Daniel said:

I scoop out clumps of mud and worms and then rinse the mud away in a small plastic concrete mix bin. Eventually the worms clump up and these clumps can be removed.

So you’re running a pretty dense population of worms, then?  How long does it take to rinse them that way for how many worms?

 

Edit to ask:  How are you rinsing them, with the hose outdoors or another method?

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On 8/8/2021 at 7:14 PM, Odd Duck said:

but there’s no really good way to separate them from the gravel.

Can you put gravel in a kitchen strainer with holes small enough the worms rinse through but not the larger pieces of gravel? This is good info you have. I’ve been debating trying my hand at black worms instead of buying them 

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@Daniel I bought 4 ounces about 8 months ago.  I don’t use them everyday since I’m mostly feeding them to pea puffers (and now a Betta) and I’m also feeding whiteworms, snails, amphipods, and some frozen bloodworms to them also.  I was feeding some to everyone but realized I was going to run out before my source got back from a 6 month trek up the Sierras!  I need to buy a pound!  That would keep me supplied for a looooong time!

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On 8/8/2021 at 7:40 PM, Odd Duck said:

@Daniel I bought 4 ounces about 8 months ago.  I don’t use them everyday since I’m mostly feeding them to pea puffers (and now a Betta) and I’m also feeding whiteworms, snails, amphipods, and some frozen bloodworms to them also.  I was feeding some to everyone but realized I was going to run out before my source got back from a 6 month trek up the Sierras!  I need to buy a pound!  That would keep me supplied for a looooong time!

I get mine from Eastern Aquatics. I usually order on a Friday, they ship UPS on late on Monday and then I get them before noon on Tuesday. They are always in good shape.

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On 8/8/2021 at 6:39 PM, Guppysnail said:

Can you put gravel in a kitchen strainer with holes small enough the worms rinse through but not the larger pieces of gravel? This is good info you have. I’ve been debating trying my hand at black worms instead of buying them 

I’ve thought of that and I will probably try it eventually.  But I’ve found blackworms to be very hard to coax them to go through a strainer!  They wrap around the little wires and cling like crazy!  Shaking the strainer tears up the worms too much.  Plus a coarser strainer will let through exactly the size of gravel that clogs my syringe.

So there the tanks sit in all their dirty, gritty glory, mocking me!

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On 8/8/2021 at 7:14 PM, Odd Duck said:

Don’t use gravel!!!  If you decide to use something on the bottom, use marbles, or something that won’t crumble into bits that clog your turkey baster, syringe, or whatever else you use to collect the blackworms off the bottom.  Bare bottom is much easier, IME.

I have cleaned the gravel out of 2 tanks and will eventually clean it out of the others also.  I divided 4 ounces of worms between 4 x 5 gallon tanks.  I followed directions from a couple videos that said to use a thin layer of gravel to give them somewhere to hide and the gravel would help break the worms as you stir so they “reproduce” that way.  They apparently regenerate the missing bits when they break, but the gravel holds too much gunk so I don’t like to stir it.  Little bits of gravel break off and clog the syringe I use to collect the worms.  And the gravel just makes it harder to clean debris out of the tanks.

Bare bottom is sooo much easier!  The worms collect in clumps and you just stir them with whatever.  I do stir them kind of roughly, I want the longest ones to break.  Stirring lifts up the gunk which can then be siphoned away.  Stir, let worms settle, siphon.  Or nudge the clump of worms away from a heap of gunk, then siphon.  Either way, easier with a bare tank bottom than with the gravel on the bottom.

I also am finding that they don’t reproduce fast enough to keep a continuous supply.  I need to buy more soon, but I need to get around to cleaning the gravel off the bottom of more tanks.  Such a pain!  I don’t want to dump and waste the worms that are still in those 2 tanks, but there’s no really good way to separate them from the gravel.  At least, not that I’ve found.  I just need to feed only from those 2 until I can’t find anymore worms in there, then just dump the gravel, clean the tanks, and start over bare.

This is why I asked because I heard the gravel for cutting them up but I know it’s a mess to clean up having Messy Pea Puffers! 

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On 8/8/2021 at 7:18 PM, Daniel said:

I scoop out clumps of mud and worms and then rinse the mud away in a small plastic concrete mix bin. Eventually the worms clump up and these clumps can be removed.

Thanks man. It does seems I won’t have enough space and time to produce my own to feed for duration. Just look like it’s about buying in bulk and keeping alive until next purchase. Thanks for the tips. 

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It seems like you’ve already gotten lots of good advice, so I’ll just add my experience for anyone reading this thread in the future. I kept blackworms for several months in two applesauce jars. I kept them in 3-4 inches of water with a thin layer of gravel on the bottom and salvinia+water sprite to keep the water clean. The gravel didn’t affect my siphoning—not sure if it was tougher gravel or if I’m using a smaller siphon? I just used a 10ml pipette. 

I would feed them dried leaves from my yard and old fish food. As long as you feed them a little bit it seems like they will pretty much live forever. But as others have said, they reproduce extremely slowly. I was using them as an occasional snack and was able to harvest maybe 10 worms every other week.

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My only experience with black worms has been in Walstad tanks.

 

Since they go in before the fish, they have a pretty established population and as they reproduce to the point of filling the dirted area, the fish pick off the worms they see near the top of the dirt.

 

I still see some in the substrate, so I have not bought more yet... and they are already in the tanks so I don't have to harvest.😅

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