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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

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    Default Culturing tubifex

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    Culturing Tubifex

    Tubifex worms are a type of annelid worm related to the common earthworm. Aquatic, Tubifex worms are mostly found in the run-off from factories, meaning they grow in very nutrient rich waters world wide.

    In the old days, aquarium keepers sifted the worms out of the filth of flats from factory runoff . It was a mystery to them that most fish were fine eating this live food, and some developed diseases that defied explanation.

    It was found in the 1970s that the most common species of Tubifex (Tubifex tubifex) harbored Myxobolus cerebralis, which causes the almost always fatal whirling disease in fish that have eaten the live worms. Though the percentage world wide of Tubifex that host M. cerebralis is unknown, the possibility of disease spread throughout the aquaculture, then and home aquarium communities, like wildfire, meaning feeding live Tubifex is almost unknown in our hobby these days. Thus, I decided against adding them to my 'how to' culture manual.

    Things have changed. Tubifex worms are available from many online biological supply houses that are 'clean' of cerebralis. Home culturing the worms is quite simple.

    Colored red like their cousins the earthworm, Tubifex reach a maximum of two inches in length. Like earthworms, they can be chopped to feed to smaller fishes.

    This is how I culture them. It took me four months to figure this out when I was in high school.

    I grind up a pound of dry cat food in a food processor. I place the ground food in a bowl, and mix eight ounces dried skim milk and eight of rye flour, and mix well.

    I use Canadian peat as a substrate, and boil four times, squeezing out the water between boils. The boiling is needed to reduce the acidity of the peat, since raw peat kills the worms. I do about an inch of peat, and add eight inches of spring water. I run an airstone, since the worms need a high dissolved Oxygen level to thrive. You'll want a cover on your tank to prevent rampant evaporation. I used to use sponge filters in my tubifex cultures, but the worms colonized them, so I just run air stones these days.

    Then I add the worms. They bury into the substrate immediately, and within 24 hours you'll see them sticking partially out of the peat. In a ten gallon tank, I feed them a teaspoon of the mix every other day. In the forty gallon I culture them in, it's two teaspoons. You want the tank cloudy, but NOT smelly OR anaerobic. The worms will gradually clear the tank, so you may have to feed more or less often. You can culture the worms in anything that holds water. Five gallon pickle buckets are perfect, as are vats designed for cattle.

    The culture will be mature in a month and you'll see many, many worms in your culture vessel. I scoop out some of the peat, put it in a bowl, and run cool tap water through it and collect the tubifex as the peat is rinsed away. Then I feed. Loaches and Corydoras love tubifex. I feed them tubifex twice weekly, since though the worms are about 60 percent protein, they rest is saturated fat, meaning fish that get them more often can appear bloated.

    I change the water monthly. As they lay eggs like earthworms do, you can keep a tubifex culture going as long as you like, since the worm population will double every month.

    Best temperature to culture the worms is in the mid to upper 60's. They do very well in my 70 degree basement. I advise you STRONGLY not to keep them warmer than that, since their metabolisms speed up, and they consume massive amounts of bacteria, and that can make they and the fish that eat them sick. You can keep them from 50 to 70 degrees, meaning you may have to buy a refrigerator set for 60 to keep your culture in. The cooler they are kept the more valuable they are as a fish food.

    You can get your startups from better online shops. Contact me for sources.

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  2. #2

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    Apr 2020

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    Can you please give me contacts for sources for Tubing worms cultures. US sources will be much easier for me.

  3. #3

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    1 Not allowed!
    Nine year old thread, now closed.

    Samarium1432, it would be best to begin your own thread on the subject, so that you'll get pertinent, up-to-date answers

    10 Gallon Beginner Tank... Journal
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