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Indigenous to mudflats, bloodworms are very hardy creatures and favorite food for fish. They can survive in all sorts of salinity environments, even if they have very little oxygen.

Actually, the name bloodworm is used to refer to a group of worms, but the most popular ones are genus Glycera from the seabed of marine waters and the small red larvae from midge flies.

Traditionally, they were harvested from mudflats and sold to aquarium owners. But you can also raise your own. In this post, we will cover all you need about this aquarium food. 

What are Bloodworms?

Bloodworms are a type of larvae that reside in ponds and freshwater ponds and pools. They are typically farmed around the north coast of America. Bloodworms, the larvae of the non-biting midge fly, are appreciated by a majority of aquatic pets, be it as a supplemental food or the main diet. 

Perhaps they are popular as food for freshwater fish and are usually used as bait by fishermen. Nearly every species of fish love wild bloodworm, as it is a good source of nutrition. Fancy fish are known to suffer from constipation because of consuming too much-dried food, so introducing bloodworms into their diet will keep them well. 

Bloodworms can be bought in many forms, ranging from live bloodworms to frozen ones. They can also be packed as a gel that has extra added vitamins.

If you decide to get them alive, you should keep them for long. Given that they are mosquito larvae, it means that they can grow into adult mosquitoes if left alive for a long time.

Where Can You Get Live Bloodworms?

Live bloodworms are not only a favorite of many aquatic pets but they are also more nutritious than frozen ones. You can get them wild or from a farmer who keeps them.

While wild bloodworms are a favorite food for many aquatic animals, they can also carry diseases. So, if you want healthy bloodworms, it is better to get them from someone that maintains a clean culture.

If you keep a lot of fish, you can get them frozen. But you should note that defrosted bloodworms can pick up bacteria once they are thwarted and then re-frozen. 

Live bloodworms are not always easy to get them as frozen bloodworms. But you can get them online. Better yet, you can spot them in your backyard. Keep in mind that they might not last as long as the frozen ones because of their short life cycle. 

Most live bloodworms are packed in plastic containers, but you should rinse them before distributing them to your fish. They are usually ideal for conditioning fish and are best suited for large tanks with many fish. There is no need to waste an entire cube of bloodworms on a few fish. 

What do Bloodworms Eat?

As explained above, bloodworms can survive in diverse environments, and they have fairly simple needs. Being detritivores, they can feed on any decaying organic matter, be it dead leaves, decaying plants, or household disposals. They can survive well in garden soil with a bit of animal manure. 

Because raising bloodworms might be challenging for some people, they prefer gathering them wild in mud in their backyards. But note that you must collect larvae, and then introduce them into a sterile environment. On top of this, add organic material from their environment. 

Bloodworm Life Cycle

The bloodworm life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larvae (bloodworm), pupa, and adult midge: 

  • Egg:Usually, an adult midge lays eggs on the surface of the water in a gelatinous egg mass that may carry up to 3000 eggs. This egg mass will sink to the bottom of the water and stay there for about a week and then hatch. 
  • Larvae: Upon hatching, the larvae leave the egg mass and then burrow into the mud. Sometimes, they may attach themselves to tube-like structures while they grow. At this stage, they will feed on organic matter in the mud and water as well as other disposables like human waste in sewage plants. In most cases, they enlarge the tubes as they grow. During the larvae stage, the bloodworm converts into pint and then finally turns red. The coloration comes from the iron-containing hemoglobin in the midges’ blood. This compound allows the larvae to survive in low oxygen environments like the muddy bottoms of the waterway. In this stage, the bloodworm is in a C-shape before it grows into a swim like structure. 
  • Pupae: The larvae will only survive for about two to seven weeks. Thereafter, the bloodworm will cease to exist because the midge fly transitions into the pupa stage. A few days after entering the pupa stage, it will swim up to the surface of the water. After a few hours at the surface of the water, the adult midge will emerge. 
  • Adult: At this stage, the midge fly, which appears like a mosquito, mates in a swarm immediately it emerges. It does so by skimming the water surface in flight. Since the adult fly doesn’t eat, it will only survive for 3 -5 days. 

How do Bloodworms Reproduce?

If you are looking to breed your own bloodworms, you need to know the conditions they have been bred in. Basically, you need to put them in a place where they can mature into adult flies. And since the adults tend to fly away to lay eggs elsewhere, you need to keep them enclosed in a container.

Just put the worms into a container with water, then feed them with organic matter after every few days. As highlighted earlier, you need to wait for about a month before for the worms to grow into midge flies. After that, the adult midge fly will lay their eggs in the water, which will grow into bloodworms. 

How to Harvest Bloodworms?

As your bloodworms multiply and grow, you can harvest them at night when they are most active. The best way to catch them is to release them into a container of de-chlorinated water and then re-harvest them. This process will rinse them, but you will have to repeat the process a couple of times to rise properly. 

Wrapping Up

Bloodworms are one of the primary foods for fish and other aquatic creatures. If you keep a lot of fish, you might want to keep your own, but they will need a lot of care and knowing the right conditions. So, it is usually easier to buy live ones.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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