Blackworms in the Substrate!

July 17th, 2008

I try to feed my fish a varied diet of commercially prepared foods, as well as, live foods when I have the extra time to obtain and care for them. A couple months ago, I was cycling a 10G tank, and when I was feeding blackworms to the rest of my tanks, I inadvertantly threw some in the 10G as well.


Blackworms in the 10G Substrate

As you can see, the worms have taken up residence in the substrate, and have actually multiplied quite readily. This is now the tank that I have my yellow shrimp in, and thus far I don’t think the worms are causing a problem. In fact, they’ve done a pretty good job of cleaning up any extra vegetable matter or algae wafers that the shrimp let be.


Blackworms looking for food.

It is a little bit disturbing, however, when you look in the tank, and you see a series of worms waving themselves from the substrate, presumably to filter the water overhead. In some ways, I probably should consider this a boon because I am now culturing my own source for blackworms, verses having to depend on my LFS for fresh shipments.


Just hanging around.

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to figure out how to adequately harvest them from the tank. I have to be awfully quick with tweezers to snag one because when I get close, they speedily retreat down into the substrate. I may be able to siphon the substrate, through a sieve, and get them that way. Any suggestions? Anyone think they’ll be a problem long term?

8 Responses to “Blackworms in the Substrate!”

  1. Says:

    I have a blackworm culture in fine sand so what I do is take a scoop of substrate with a basic aquarium net and then gently shake out the sand. Not sure if that would be applicable to your substrate.

    I had this happen in my shrimp/pygmy cory tank a few months back (too big for the cories to eat) and they hung out in the substrate for a while before disappearing. Not sure what caused the disappearance. My proper culture had a crash about three weeks after set up and I lost about half of my population for some reason. However, it’s bouncing back just fine. Oddly, I also have a bunch of leaches growing in that tank which seem to feed off the blackworms. Fish like them as well as the blackworms, although you have to feed them to slightly larger fish as they have this trick of stiffening up and contracting to a hard-to-swallow disk.

  2. Nick! Says:

    Wow! Great shots! I love the first picture, your a great Photographer. Btw, Love your tanks.

  3. Rami Says:

    I’d try tongs or something long and thin so the water disturbance is minimal when you go to stalk and snatch the blackworms, rather than stuffing your whole hand in and alerting the entire colony..

  4. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone! OG, I think your net trick will work perfectly for me, as the 3M Color Quartz is a relatively fine sand. Rami, I’ve tried using long tweezers as you suggest, but they’re just too darn quick!

  5. Tmom Says:

    Maybe the shrimp will eat some, I know they eat blood worms, brine shrimp and tubifex worms I put in the tank. I try and get past the “yuck” factor, but worm carpets…

    Your pictures are breathtaking..

    A few months ago, someone at Aquaria Central had a similar problem.. look at this:

  6. guitarfish Says:

    The picture in that Aquaria Central post is crazy! Hopefully my tank won’t become that overrun!

  7. Phillip Brown Says:

    If the worms are difficult to harvest what about moving one or more fish to that tank for a gourmet holiday for a day or so. Rotate the fish. Never heard of any problems with these, that I think are a relative of the normal Earthworm. I would have thought the Shrimp would eat them.

  8. guitarfish Says:

    I’ve thought about the fish holiday, Phillip, but that would mean having to remove all of the shrimp from the tank because I wouldn’t want the fish to lunch on them too. Maybe at some point, I’ll do that, however, if it gets out of hand.

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