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Can Bloodworms Live in Aquariums?

Bloodworms are a variety of worms found in water and are used to feed fish.

The most common types of bloodworms are the Chironomidae or the tiny red-colored larvae that come from midge flies, and the Glycera, which are typically found in marine water only. 

It’s important to know that when shopping for bloodworms, you’re most likely to come across the red larvae from midge flies rather than the fully formed Glycera bloodworms.

They’re available and bought live, frozen, or freeze-dried. If you do decide to purchase live bloodworms, you must use them within 2-3 days of purchase and keep them in your refrigerator.

Another option is to breed your own bloodworms in an aquarium, which is difficult but possible.

Sometimes, you might notice bloodworms growing in your aquarium on their own. This is especially possible if you have been away for a while and have left your tank’s light off and the filter unchanged for a longer period of time.

These conditions become ideal for midges, which lay their eggs that can hatch within 2 days. They live in aquariums by surviving on dead plants or food abandoned by your fish and live on the filter or on the gravel in your aquarium. 

Can Bloodworms Live in Aquariums?

Many aquarium owners like having bloodworms in their aquarium because they are believed to be good for your fish.

Bettas are especially fond of Bloodworms and prefer them over generic pellets. But since bloodworms are rich in diet, it’s best to feed it your fish only a couple of times a week 

They usually only last for a few days, because your fish will eat the larvae and their numbers will start dwindling.

Once you’ve cleaned out the filter and tank, the conditions needed for more bloodworms to breed will also disappear, ensuring that you won’t be getting any more bloodworms in your aquarium.

The larvae that come from the midge fly are usually a bright red color because of the iron-porphyrin protein, also red, present in their tissues and blood.

They’re best at surviving and living in dirty water and lower oxygen levels, which is why they show up when your tank hasn’t been maintained in a while. 

Red larvae are generally okay to have in your aquarium because they’re one of the primary elements of food in the aquatic food chain.

If you have meat-eating fish, they are going to enjoy feeding on bloodworms. Other aquatic life, such as turtles, crabs, shrimp, and salamanders also feed on bloodworms. 

Red larvae from midge flies do not bite. They’re easily consumable by your meat-eating fish and other aquatic life.

On the other hand, it’s important to remember that the Glycera bloodworms can grow up to 14 inches and have venom in their bite. Hence, you must be careful about not bringing these near your aquatic life.

What’s Better: Frozen, Freeze-Dried, or Live Bloodworms?

Let’s looks at what type of bloodworm are better as food for your bloodworm eating fish:

Freeze Dried Bloodworms

If you’re going to opt for freeze-dried bloodworms, make sure that you try and get the Grade A variety.

The Grade-B is less expensive, however, they also run the risk of containing elements of non-bloodworm additions into the mix. This could be dangerous for your fish.

They’re also the easiest type of bloodworms for your fish to feed on because all you have to do is let them sit in water for 2-3 minutes before putting them in the tank.

This ensures that they are soft enough for your fish to eat.

If you have bottom-dwelling fish, soak the bloodworms in water for at least 10 minutes so that they’re able to sink to the bottom of the tank and be accessible for your fish.

Live Bloodworms 

You can’t keep live bloodworms for as long as other varieties. As mentioned above, they can only last 2-3 days after purchase before they aren’t able to survive any longer.

They must be rinsed and cleaned of the liquid in the container that they came in. You should make sure that none of that liquid gets into your tank because it could have various contaminants.

When storing, keep them in the fridge and fill them with enough water to fill up the bottom portion of the container they’re kept in.

Although many fish owners believe that live food is healthier and carries more nutrients than freeze-dried and frozen food, it’s also important to remember that live food can carry contaminants that can lead to disease and illness in your aquatic life.

However, if you have a large tank with meat-eating fish, you might want to feed them live bloodworms every once in a while. This also helps them retain their natural hunting skills and show more of the natural traits that they exhibit in the wild.

When purchasing live bloodworms, you must buy them from a reliable seller and not collect them on your own (unless you’ve bred them yourself).

You could end up catching infected or disease-carrying bloodworms and contaminate your tank, as well as put your fish’s lives at risk. Always purchase from a breeder that has a trustworthy reputation. 

Additionally, some people use live bloodworms for conditioning their fish. This is more common when you have a tank of Betta fish and are trying to condition them into breeding. 

Frozen Bloodworms

The last and most convenient bloodworm variety is the frozen bloodworms. You can store these for as long as 6 months, making them the most durable.

You can purchase them in either cube of frozen bloodworms or sheets. Because they’re frozen, they also have the lowest chances of carrying any contaminants. 

When feeding frozen bloodworms to your fish, fill a small tub with water from the tank. Then, place a cube or sheet into the tub and let it thaw.

After it has thawed, strain out the excess water and place the thawed bloodworms in the tank.

Don’t add the water containing the liquid that came out of the thawed bloodworms, or the tank water that you used in the tub. This can place a strain on your filter and tamper your aquarium’s bio-load.

To ensure that you aren’t adding too many frozen bloodworms to the tank, try adding a portion of the cube only. Once you see that your fish have successfully consumed it, you can add a little more.

How Regularly Can Fish Eat Bloodworms?

Don’t feed your fish bloodworms more than a couple of times a week. Otherwise, they can become ill or have problems with their digestion.

These bloodworms should only be a small part of your fish’s overall diet. You should have other food, such as food pellets in the diet.

Can You Grow Bloodworms in an Aquarium?

Although it is easier to purchase bloodworms, some fish owners prefer breeding their own in an aquarium.

One advantage of this is that you’ll know what environment you’ve grown the bloodworms in, making you more confident in their health and nutrition values when you feed them to your fish.

One difficult aspect of breeding bloodworms is that you need to have an area where these larvae can become flies, which are then responsible for laying the eggs, which are the larvae.

In most circumstances, the flies will attempt to fly away to lay their eggs in another location.

Another challenge is to encourage and create an environment where the midges or the grown flies mate and produce more eggs.

These challenges aren’t manageable for a beginner fish breeder and are usually handled by experts who have experience in bloodworm breeding.

When dealing with these live bloodworms, it is best if you wear protective gloves and prevent any of your skin from being exposed to them.

If they are the red larvae and not the Glycera bloodworms, they won’t have a poisonous bite, but you should avoid being bitten anyway.

When feeding bloodworms, provide them with organic matter to eat every few days. It will take around a month for the larvae to eventually progress into flies and be ready to reproduce. 

Here’s a brief overview of how a bloodworm’s lifecycle is played out.

Egg: When bloodworms are at their egg stage, they will usually float near the surface of the water as soon as they are laid by the midge. Then, they will sink to the bottom of the tank and hatch within a few days.

Larvae: When at the larvae stage, the larvae will come out of their eggs and dig into the ground. They’ll feed on the matter in the ground, such as the dirt and soil. It is during this stage that they start becoming the distinct red color that they are known for. If you’re going to feed your fish, you need to harvest the larvae at this stage because afterward, they will transition out of the larvae stage.

Pupae: At this stage, the larvae move on from the bloodworms that you feed your fish and progress to the pupa stage. At this stage, they will swim to the surface of the tank and will eventually become the adult midge.

Adult: This stage is when the midge fly comes into being. It looks similar to a small flying insect, like a mosquito. It will have to swarm and mate within a few days of emerging because a grown midge cannot survive more than 5 days. It is at this stage that you need to ensure that they are given the appropriate environment to mate and lay their eggs where you can access them and begin the breeding process again.

Final Words

Bloodworms are often considered a treat for your meat-eating fish and aquatic life. Although you cannot feed them to your fish every day, they provide a healthy dose of nutrients to your fish.

It’s important to note that live bloodworms have the highest nutrient content, but frozen bloodworms are the easiest and safest option if you want to avoid contaminating your tank or exposing your fish to any potential illnesses.

You can breed them on your own if you have the expertise, or you can purchase them from a reliable breeder.

As long as you know the conditions that the live bloodworms were bred in and are confident that they were safely grown, it shouldn’t be a problem when feeding them to your fish. 

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