Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Marine, grindal, micro, white, blood and other worms drive even the most peaceful aquarium fishes wild, and with good reason – they figure prominently in diets worldwide, and are packed with important nutrients. Research in which I was involved (Bronx Zoo) has shown that earthworms form a near-perfect diet for many amphibians, and may likely be so for certain fishes as well.
Blackworms are a pet trade staple…today I’d like to mention a few lesser-known types.
Marine Worms, Families Neridae and Annelidae
Sandworms, bloodworms and other large marine species are seasonally available at bait stores or, where legal, may be collected under rocks along bays and tidal streams. They are an expensive but important component of the diets of a great many saltwater fishes and invertebrates.
Several species have sharp mouthparts and can deliver a painful bite, and may be dangerous to aquarium pets as well….in fact, the hard jaw material of one sandworm is being put to industrial uses. It is usually prudent to remove the head before feeding.
Marine worms store well packed in seaweed under refrigeration. They are interesting aquarium animals in their own right – please look for a future article on their care.
Microworms, Anguillula silasiae and Grindalworms, Enchytraeus bucholizi
Grindalworms are related to earthworms; microworms are not true worms, but rather nematodes.
Both breed well in damp peat moss at 75 F, and feed upon vegetable-based tropical fish flakes.
Whiteworms, Enchytraeus albidus
Closely related to grindalworms, whiteworms fare better at cooler temperatures (50-58 F) and may be fed oatmeal and staple diet fish flakes. Cultures are commercially available.
Bloodworms, Chironomus spp.
Unlike marine bloodworms, Chironomus are the aquatic larvae of tiny flying insects known as midges (“gnats”). Interestingly, they utilize a form of hemoglobin to transport oxygen in the blood, much as we do.
Bloodworms are impractical to breed but are available at pet stores, and survive well under refrigeration. Like other freshwater invertebrates, bloodworms may be fed to marine creatures, but they spoil rapidly in salt water.
Earthworms are the most useful of all invertebrates…a breeding colony will supply the needs of fishes and invertebrates of all sizes. Please see my article Rearing and Using Earthworms for further information.
For an interesting article on sandworm behavior and breeding habits, please see this article.
Please write in with your questions and comments.
Thanks, until next time,