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Microworms by the tablespoon

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A few months ago, after joining the American Killifish Association (AKA), I came across a Facebook group run by well-known killifish breeder Jeff Wasley, named “Killifish breeding, conservation, maintenance”. On this site was a video posted by Scott Kuhnel about how to harvest a larger number of microworms to feed your fish. This article is about putting that concept to work in the fishroom.

I won an auction for a 3 pack of worms from NEO Fish spring auction. Thanks Larry! I setup one culture of banana worms in a plastic shoebox and decided to hold off on setting up the other two (Walter & Microworms) until I knew for sure this method worked.

Using a method developed by a breeder in Pittsburgh of grinding oats in a coffee bean grinder, mixed with water and a starter of culture, I filled the plastic container a quarter inch thick with medium. Affixed a label to the lid so I could tell the worms apart later. After a few days, worms started climbing the sides. I like to use a Q-tip to harvest the worms off the sides to minimize contamination of the culture.

For a long time, I would bring home from an auction a small deli cup of microworms, banana worms, or walter worms and feed out of that same container for 3 weeks or until the culture went bad. Throw it away and buy another one. It took a while to figure out the cultures would last a lot longer if I stopped adding yeast. The yeast doesn’t die. It lives on for weeks/months. Adding yeast to the culture just causes it to burn out faster.

I got into a habit of washing the worms before feeding them to fish, after watching Scott Kuhnel’s video. Any worms removed from sides of containers are dipped in half a deli cup of aquarium water. I placed the container on a 45 degree angle for 5 minutes. Poured off the cloudy water till worms approached the edge of the container. Filled with fresh aquarium water. Repeated 3 times. Used a plastic eye dropper to feed out of a deli cup into fry tanks.

Going back to the video, Scott said to place a piece of a paper towel on half the culture, and another paper towel of smaller size on top of the first, for the worms to crawl over. I found out by accident that brawny paper towels are 2 ply, meaning at harvest time, I can leave the bottom piece on the media and pick up the top piece the worms crawled all over, dip it in my water of the deli container, and place back on top of the towel still sitting on the media. I cleaned the worms, and wow! Got at least a tablespoon of worms, or more.

I repeated this every day till the amount of worms harvested started to get smaller and smaller. I chose Sunday as the day to throw away the old paper towel, add more ground oats & water, and stir the culture well. Don’t harvest on Sundays. Just before I lay down the paper towel, I sprinkle ground oats over the spot so the surface becomes more firm.

I have since started a shoebox for the walter worms and microworms and are getting 3 tablespoons a day for feedings for all tanks. All fish love live foods. For an added bit, I’ve added spirulina powder to the cultures to gut load the worms with nutrition for the fish.

Maximize your worm cultures and harvest by the tablespoon. Save money and reap the benefits by feeding your fish live food.

Written by: Joe Doyle, BrokenBoxJ@gmail.com

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