Killifish
Fundulopanchax gardneri gold enjoying a white worm

Why white worms?

White worms (Enchytraeus albidus) are a fantastic treat for adult killifish, and they are rarely turned down. They are aquatic-disease free, are full of fat and protein and we all know how much fish enjoy them. Adult worms are typically 2-3cm in length, the perfect sie for most adult killifish. They can stay alive in water for days, as long as the water temperature is below around 27°c. Luckily culturing white worms is very easy, requiring very little attention, or effort by the keeper. Get the conditions right and you are guaranteed lots and lots of free fish food.

Nothobranchius foerschi TZL49-01 eating a white worm, Enchytraeus albidus
Nothobranchius foerschi TZL49-01. Nothos love white worms
Fundulopanchax species can eat quite a few white worm in one sitting
Fundulopanchax species can eat quite a few white worm in one sitting
Non killies, like this cardinal tetra also enjoy a white worm
Non killies, like this cardinal tetra also enjoy a white worm
Polystyrene housing protects the worms from excessively hot or cold temperatures
Polystyrene housing protects the worms from excessively hot or cold temperatures

Where to keep the worms

The worms and media are kept in a thick-walled polystyrene box, loosely lidded. Shallow wide boxes with a larger surface area are best; you only need a few 2-3 deep inches of media, and the larger the surface area, the more worms you can produce. As is the case with fish tanks themselves, it seems that larger cultures are more stable and offer greater long term success.

Harvesting is easy, simply scoop up the worms
Harvesting is easy, simply scoop up the worms

White worm culture regime

Each culture is fed and harvested at the same time approximately every 4-5 days. Cultures live outside (well protected from rodents, pets and the elements, maybe a shed, balcony or garage) all year round. Harvests do vary with the seasons, its often the case that no worms are available in the very hottest and very coldest weeks of the year; its best to give the worms a break, as they are not breeding at this time anyway. Keep them roughly between 8°C and 18°C and they should be fine. They will briefly tolerate temperatures out of this range, but will die if it remains in the mid twenties.

The worms are fed under glass 4-5" square, each culture having 3-5 feeding areas. The worms start to consume the food from below and the sides. Keeping it under glass helps protects the food from flies, prevents the food from going moldy, and from drying out, but also provides a good spot for the worms to gather. Harvesting is easy, simply scoop the worms from around the leftover food, or lift the 'food lump' and scoop out more. One culture with 3-4 feeding squares can feed several hundred fish about once per week.

White worm Media

Culture media does not seem to be critical, a blend of coir (45%), peat/compost (45%), a small amount of sand (10%), maybe a handful of lime if you've got it. Cultures will turn acidic eventually and should either be replaced with new cultures if production drops, or partially replaced continuously (I take a few handfuls of media to a fish auction every now and again, and then top up the old culture). If you do not want to subculture too often, activated carbon can be added to the media. The media should always be damp, yet never waterlogged or sodden.

To this you simply add your white worm starter culture.

Feeding white worms

When you want your fish to breed you fatten them up. The same thing goes for white worms. I use dog biscuits and sunflower oil. Its cheap, easy to make and guarantees you handfuls of the fattest worms. Simply boil up a pan of water, add lots of dog biscuits and a serious dash of oil. I can't tell you exact amounts here, but you want to have a thick paste; NOT liquid, but barely solid. It does harden more as it cools. I add probably about 50ml oil / litre of worm food. I then bag it up and freeze it.

Some people use bread soaked in milk as their white worm food. Although worms will eat this, in my experience they seem to prefer the dog biscuit recipe.

White worm food ingredients: dog biscuits, sunflower oil, water
White worm food ingredients: dog biscuits, sunflower oil, water
...boil it all up
...boil it all up
You want to have a thick paste; NOT liquid, but barely solid
You want to have a thick paste; NOT liquid, but barely solid
Apple snails also love white worms and can quickly hoover up the whole feeding
Apple snails also love white worms and can quickly hoover up the whole feeding

Problems

It's said that white worms make your fish fat. This is rarely a problem with annual fish with a high metabolism, and they certainly don't when you feed them only once or twice each week.

White worms are related to earthworms, and as such they tend to head under ground as soon as they can (where they will eventually die, and pollute the tank). When not feeding in bare bottomed tanks it best to fed only quantities that the fish will eat immediately. Unfortunately apple snails also love white worms and can quickly hoover up the whole feeding.

White worms survive for days in tanks, as long as the water is cool. At around 27 degrees C the worms start to 'straighten out', and die. The fish will no longer touch them and unless you spot it quickly they'll pollute the water.

Worms not eating their food is a bad sign. In my experience food rarely, if ever, molds or sours in a healthy culture. If this is happening, probably time to set up a new culture.


White worm cultures for sale

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White Worms, White worm culture, Live fish, frog, newt, ant, invertebrate food

Spanish Fork, Utah, 846**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$18

This live food culture is suitable for a variety of aquatic pets, including tropical fish, frogs, newts, and invertebrates. The main ingredient is white worms and it is designed for all water types. This product is manufactured in the United States and has no expiration date. Use this white worm culture to provide your pets with a fresh and nutritious diet. Perfect for those who want to keep their aquatic pets happy and healthy! 4 oz. Culture... more

LIVE WHITE WORM FEEDER CULTURE Fish Frog Newt Food Enchytraeus Albidus

Orlando, Florida, 328**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$70

WHITE WORM FEEDER CULTURE
This listing is for an entire container culture of worms. At least 15x the quantity you would purchase in a starter culture. This quantity takes months to reach these vast numbers
- One container of worms (as seen in picture) (container included)- Worms will be shipped with insulation and a cold pack (if necessary)- Only organic potting soil is used- UPS 2nd Day or Next Day Air Shipping ONLY
My First Aquarium - Max E170 - White Worms - [Ep 20]
Video will ... more

4-lbs White Worms--Freeze Dried, Great for smaller Tropicals and Marines

Fresno, California, 937**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$136

Aquatic Foods & Blackworm Co.
Freeze Dried White Worms
(Perfect for smaller Tropical Fish)
Ingredients: White Worms
Apx Analysis
Crude Protein 60%
Crude Fat 3%
Ash 1%
Moisture 4%
We are Aquatic Foods & Blackworm Co.
We are a third generation Aquarium Hobbyist,
Tropical Fish Store, Online Sales
Family-Owned Business
By selling and shipping to Our Fellow Fish Keepers
ยท We offer ... more

Live White worm worms Starter Healthy culture fish / frog / newt food FREE SHIPPING

Troy, Michigan, 480**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$17

Get your fish, frog or newt the best food with this live white worm starter culture. This product is perfect for all water types and suitable for tropical fish. Produced in the United States, this item does not require domestic use and is not a custom bundle. The main ingredient is not applied. Shipping is free.
You will receive a starter amount. Approximately 6oz
Add on For my Orders Only* 72 Hour Heat Pack plus Priority Shipping Upgrade available. I have a listing available. Just ... more

White Worm Starter Culture

Stony Creek, New York, 128**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$15

White Worm Starter Culture. These white worms are kept at 65-68 degrees on our basement floor and have been doing great. They readily eat misted fish flakes and don't require a ton of maintenance A starter culture is a sandwich bag portion of worms that is used to set up a culture, meaning you provide the container, substrate, etc. Our "complete set ups" are all ready for you to put in your fish room and care for White worm care guideRegular or warm strain this applies to both. The only ... more