I am posting this thread to introduce my DIY project of culturing Tubifex worms. Many people know that Tubifex worms thrive in very disgusting environments such as sewers and creaks
. In addition, they thrive by consuming manure and/or rotten flesh of dead animals
. Despite this, many aquarists still choose to feed Tubifex to their fish. Many people have reported deaths of their fish due to internal infection after feeding Tubifex worms. I, myself, have been feeding Tubifex worms since the time I have discovered this option. I decided to culture my own because I got sick and tired of purchasing them from unknown/questionable source. In addition, I want to apply my science/engineering background to a real-life scenario.
Many people who have tried culturing Tubifex worms have shared their experiences through the web. Many offered rigorous and tedious ways. This project, on the other hand, will be somewhat easy. Materials that I have and use for housing my culture are the following: small cricket keeper (any container will suffice), air pump with air stone, and small amount of coconut coir (all are fortunately lying around my house – free
). To prepare the housing, wash the container with just water. NOTE: the container must be large by width NOT by height for large bottom surface area. When you successfully cultured your worms, they will likely seek larger surface area. Furthermore, wash the coconut fiber by hot water repeatedly until the sample does not bleed. Remove the light materials and choose only the one that stay at the bottom. NOTE: coconut coir encourages beneficial bacteria and discourages harmful bacteria
Now that the culture house has been prepared, cleansing and disinfecting the worms is next. To do so, prepare/have the following: tapped water, bottled (deionized) water, first aid alcohol, coffee filters, and 3 cups container. Now, execute the following steps:
Step 1: prepare an alcohol solution by removing about ¼ of the bottled water and add same amount of alcohol. Mix the solution to ensure well-mixed solution.
Step 2: put 1 coffee filter to one of the 3 cups, and put deionized water to the other cup.
Step 3: put 1 ounce of Tubifex worms (preferred from LFS
) to the third and last cup. Wash the worms using tapped water at least 5 times. Empty the cup of water after the very last wash. NOTE: make sure to ONLY run/use cool water.
Step 4: pour few amounts of the alcohol solution to the cup with worms (notice that the worms are wiggling like crazy). Mix it gently for few seconds (20 – 30 seconds).
Step 5: pour this over to the cup with coffee filter. Immediately drain the alcohol solution from the worms. Do this gently by grabbing the dry portion (upper part) of the filter to push the water out. No need to completely dry the worms out of the alcohol solution.
Step 6: put the filtered worms to the cup with deionized water. Gently remove the coffee filter out of the cup. Mix the solution and then wait for 20 – 30 seconds before removing the water from the worms.
Step 7: repeat steps 2 – 6 again at least 3 – 5 times. Doing so will guarantee to disinfect the sample worms.
NOTE: this process is very stressful for the worms. Not just they move around a lot, but they are also being introduce to alcohol. In addition, in the "washing" process, the outer skin of the worms can be scrapped. With alcohol, this can likely kill the worms. After the “washing” method, immediately put the culture to the culture house with cool water, feed them and store the container somewhere cool/dark. This will likely immediately calm the worms.
The culture has now been clean and disinfected. However, this is ONLY true for the outer body of the worms and its environment. Prior to the purchase, the worms have lived with thriving harmful bacteria (and maybe heavy metals). These likely exist inside of them as well, which is the problem. Many aquarists that culture Tubifex worms have not solve this. They thought that the “washing” method was enough, which is false
. Indeed, the bacteria will eventually come out by manure. The “washing” method can be done repeatedly to eliminate these. However, theoretically speaking, the bacteria are also multiplying inside the worms. In addition, repeating the “washing” method will just put the worms in a lot of stress and likely die
. Removing the harmful toxins inside the worms is the process that I am currently experimenting.
I am calling this next process as the “flushing” method
. As it’s name refers, this process will flush all the junks out inside the worms, making them toxin-free. As previously mentioned, coconut coir encourages beneficial bacteria and discourages harmful bacteria. However, everyday replacement of water will eliminate helpful extract from the coconut coir, making it just regular wood. The following solutions can be used to initiate the "flushing" method:
Solution 1: introduce probiotic to the culture by means of food or supplement. This process will likely replace the harmful bacteria inside the worms. This might also help flush out other junks such as heavy metals. This is probably the best option in my opinion. My theory is that Tubifex worms cannot survive without bacteria in their gut
. Why not replace them?
For probiotic source, supplement tends to be very expensive. On the other hand, baby foods tend to be cheap and offer nutrional value that the worms can use for energy, which supplements don’t offer.
Solution 2: introduce green tea to the culture by means of powder or bag. Green tea has helpful extract that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. In addition, it also has antioxidants. NOTE: make sure that the green tea solution is cooled down before introducing it to the culture.
Solution 3: introduce chopped or smashed garlic to the culture. Garlic has natural antibiotics and antioxidants.
NOTE: make sure to introduce ONLY very small amount of the “flushing” method materials to the culture every after-water replacement. This process is breaking the Tubifex worms' hundreds (maybe thousands) of years of natural cycle
and are being domesticated. Furthermore, make sure there are no additives (such as coloring and sugar) and preservatives to the materials. In addition, replace the water in the culture every day.
So far, I have only tried green tea option. In fact, I just tried it hours ago. The worms did not act in any weird way after introduction. Currently, the worms are still alive and doing well. I will be putting green tea powder for the next 2 -3 days. I will also increase my dosage every day. After that, I will try baby food with probiotic and will switch to it completely to culture my worms if the worms survive and thrive on it.
That’s it!! Any suggestions, comments or questions are appreciated.