David’s Live Fish Foods

Culturing Microworms

I just had a great spawn of SuperRareus tinymouthi. Not a problem to feed them when they hatch, I just need to find my microworms. Now where did I leave that container? And how old is it? There it is, right behind the dried up vinegar eel bottle. Wow, the smell is overwelming. Oh man, is there any movement left? I think I am going to need a fresh culture. Who can I call? We all go through that scenario over and over again. Microworms always get some lively bidding at a fish auction. Considering how easy they are to culture, why are folks constantly buying new ones? Because the only thing easier than growing microworms is neglecting microworms. Microworms, the most important food when you need it, the most neglected when you do not. Ah, the lonely microworm, feast or famine. Everyone has their favorite surefire way to culture them. But which one lasts the longest, smells the least, and produces the most with the maximum neglect. Time for an experiment! Here is my experiment – Determine what is the ideal medium to grow the best microworm culture. What constitutes the best microworm culture? I decided on these criteria: 1. Has to grow a new culture of microworms from the last few crippled crawlers from the brown soup in the bottom of the bowl. 2. Has to do the above within 14 days, or roughly the time for a lot of my killifish eggs to hatch. 3. Has to last a really long time. That whole neglect thing, remember? 4. Since it is in the house, has to smell the least, right up to the very end. I collected recipes from all over. I bought foods to use for cultures that I did not even know existed. Then to try to make this experiment as precise as possible, I bought bottled water, new plastic disposable bowls with lids, and a fresh batch of yeast. My initial tests used lots of media, lots of yeast, lots of microworms. This would give me an accelerated response and I could see which ones just were not going to be very good very quickly. After trying lots of recipes, I narrowed down my final batch to six: oats, mixed grain baby cereal, yellow corn meal, instant potatoes, Gram flour (Besan) and wheat gluten flour. I used Rubbermaid two cup round plastic containers with lids. I used a small nail to place 7 small holes in each lid. Into each of these containers I added two rounded tablespoons of one of the above media, approximately 50 yeast sprinkles, and enough bottled purified water to make a thick soup consistency. I let that sit and soak for a half hour. For the initial microworm starter, I placed a small amount of the disgusting remaining media from a very old microworm culture into a container. I diluted that with a half cup of bottled water. Then with an eyedropper I sucked up a very approximate amount of 150-200 worms and placed into each of my test cultures. Each container had a sticky note attached to it with the selected medium. Within a week, three of my test cultures were disasters. The media was going sour faster than the small number of microworms and yeast could process. I did not even try to clean these containers for reuse. Out they went. Now I am down to the three remaining cultures. After 13 days my remaining three cultures are doing well. The instant potato culture is far and away the stronger culture. A lot of fish could be fed with this culture at this point. Now to see how long they will go. Here are these cultures after four weeks. All three cultures are still going. clearly the oats is very close to crashing, the liquid and solids are separating, and a distinct odor is growing daily. The baby cereal is also getting very tired. Very few worms are still climbing up the sides. But the culture media itself is still intact. But what a performance out of the instant potatoes. No separation of media, no odor, and great numbers of microworms are still climbing up the sides. The instant potatoes are still a very usable, very productive culture after 28 days. Now what remains for my experiment is to see how long these cultures can continue to be used and still be capable of starting new cultures. Withing the next week both the oatmeal and the baby cereal had to be put in a plastic bag and taken outside. At six weeks, the instant potato culture was down to the last few worms still moving around. It would still start a new culture, but it would be a smelly seeding. Much like what I started the experiment with. The instant potatoes culture finally had no visible microworms moving around and the odor was enough to tell me the experiment was over. This was at seven weeks. What are my ways of feeding microworms? Basically two methods will get the job done. Which one to use depends on how many tanks you need to feed and the number of fry. For a few tanks and not too many fry, just wet your finger and wipe the worms off the side of the container. Swish your finger in the fry tank to feed. If I have a lot of tanks to feed, I will take a small container and put some water in it. Then wipe the worms off the sides of one or more microworm cultures and swish the worms into the water filled container. Now I can use an eyedropper to feed each tank. Remember what I was trying to accomplish. I wanted the most, the quickest, for the longest, doing the least, with minimum odors. My experiment gave me the following results. The winning culture media for microworms is based on instant potatoes. This gave a good consistency to the media, gave good growth, was feedable at two weeks even from a weak starting culture, and lastest nearly seven weeks. At the end of the seven weeks, the smell of this culture was far less than the others when they finally crashed. Oh, and I had plenty of microworms for my SuperRareus tinymouthi fry when they hatched after fourteen days. Happy worming!  (originally printed in the Journal of the American Killifish JAKA 2006)
David’s Live Fish Foods

Culturing Microworms

I just had a great spawn of SuperRareus tinymouthi. Not a problem to feed them when they hatch, I just need to find my microworms. Now where did I leave that container? And how old is it? There it is, right behind the dried up vinegar eel bottle. Wow, the smell is overwelming. Oh man, is there any movement left? I think I am going to need a fresh culture. Who can I call? We all go through that scenario over and over again. Microworms always get some lively bidding at a fish auction. Considering how easy they are to culture, why are folks constantly buying new ones? Because the only thing easier than growing microworms is neglecting microworms. Microworms, the most important food when you need it, the most neglected when you do not. Ah, the lonely microworm, feast or famine. Everyone has their favorite surefire way to culture them. But which one lasts the longest, smells the least, and produces the most with the maximum neglect. Time for an experiment! Here is my experiment – Determine what is the ideal medium to grow the best microworm culture. What constitutes the best microworm culture? I decided on these criteria: 1. Has to grow a new culture of microworms from the last few crippled crawlers from the brown soup in the bottom of the bowl. 2. Has to do the above within 14 days, or roughly the time for a lot of my killifish eggs to hatch. 3. Has to last a really long time. That whole neglect thing, remember? 4. Since it is in the house, has to smell the least, right up to the very end. I collected recipes from all over. I bought foods to use for cultures that I did not even know existed. Then to try to make this experiment as precise as possible, I bought bottled water, new plastic disposable bowls with lids, and a fresh batch of yeast. My initial tests used lots of media, lots of yeast, lots of microworms. This would give me an accelerated response and I could see which ones just were not going to be very good very quickly. After trying lots of recipes, I narrowed down my final batch to six: oats, mixed grain baby cereal, yellow corn meal, instant potatoes, Gram flour (Besan) and wheat gluten flour. I used Rubbermaid two cup round plastic containers with lids. I used a small nail to place 7 small holes in each lid. Into each of these containers I added two rounded tablespoons of one of the above media, approximately 50 yeast sprinkles, and enough bottled purified water to make a thick soup consistency. I let that sit and soak for a half hour. For the initial microworm starter, I placed a small amount of the disgusting remaining media from a very old microworm culture into a container. I diluted that with a half cup of bottled water. Then with an eyedropper I sucked up a very approximate amount of 150-200 worms and placed into each of my test cultures. Each container had a sticky note attached to it with the selected medium. Within a week, three of my test cultures were disasters. The media was going sour faster than the small number of microworms and yeast could process. I did not even try to clean these containers for reuse. Out they went. Now I am down to the three remaining cultures. After 13 days my remaining three cultures are doing well. The instant potato culture is far and away the stronger culture. A lot of fish could be fed with this culture at this point. Now to see how long they will go. Here are these cultures after four weeks. All three cultures are still going. clearly the oats is very close to crashing, the liquid and solids are separating, and a distinct odor is growing daily. The baby cereal is also getting very tired. Very few worms are still climbing up the sides. But the culture media itself is still intact. But what a performance out of the instant potatoes. No separation of media, no odor, and great numbers of microworms are still climbing up the sides. The instant potatoes are still a very usable, very productive culture after 28 days. Now what remains for my experiment is to see how long these cultures can continue to be used and still be capable of starting new cultures. Withing the next week both the oatmeal and the baby cereal had to be put in a plastic bag and taken outside. At six weeks, the instant potato culture was down to the last few worms still moving around. It would still start a new culture, but it would be a smelly seeding. Much like what I started the experiment with. The instant potatoes culture finally had no visible microworms moving around and the odor was enough to tell me the experiment was over. This was at seven weeks. What are my ways of feeding microworms? Basically two methods will get the job done. Which one to use depends on how many tanks you need to feed and the number of fry. For a few tanks and not too many fry, just wet your finger and wipe the worms off the side of the container. Swish your finger in the fry tank to feed. If I have a lot of tanks to feed, I will take a small container and put some water in it. Then wipe the worms off the sides of one or more microworm cultures and swish the worms into the water filled container. Now I can use an eyedropper to feed each tank. Remember what I was trying to accomplish. I wanted the most, the quickest, for the longest, doing the least, with minimum odors. My experiment gave me the following results. The winning culture media for microworms is based on instant potatoes. This gave a good consistency to the media, gave good growth, was feedable at two weeks even from a weak starting culture, and lastest nearly seven weeks. At the end of the seven weeks, the smell of this culture was far less than the others when they finally crashed. Oh, and I had plenty of microworms for my SuperRareus tinymouthi fry when they hatched after fourteen days. Happy worming!  (originally printed in the Journal of the American Killifish JAKA 2006)