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Grindal Worms

Grindal worms are very easy to maintain.
A starter culture will last for years. I bought my starter culture over 2 years ago and they keep growing and reproducing.
They are one of the easiest live fish food to keep.
Fry will grow faster eating grindal worms.
Adult fish will breed and spawn more willingly with live food.


Grindal Worm Cultures - Grindal worms are one of the absolute best live foods available! They are nutritious and delicious, small enough for fry, but large enough to interest smaller adult fish. Grindals are almost too easy to culture!

First identified as a species separate from white worms (Enchytraeus albidus) by Mrs. Morton Grindal of Sweden, grindal worms (Enchytraeus buchholzi) are tiny, threadlike worms closely related to white worms. They are often called “dwarf white worms” or “mini white worms”, but they are easier to culture, reproduce more quickly and can tolerate higher temperatures than their larger cousins. They’re nutritious and delicious—if you’re a fish—and small enough to feed fry that have outgrown microworms and vinegar eels, but large enough to interest adult fish of smaller carnivorous and omnivorous species.

The culture box:
The first thing you’ll need to start culturing your grindal worms is something to keep them in. A plastic container with a tight-fitting lid works very well and is both inexpensive and readily available. Worms don’t like light, so get a solid one if possible, or find somewhere to put it that they’ll be in the dark. As with any live food, it’s wise to have more than one culture; if something does go wrong and one culture crashes, you’ll have a backup and won’t have to start all over from scratch. You can use anything from “sandwich sized” to “shoebox sized”, depending on the size of your starter culture and how many cultures you want, but if you put too few worms in a too large container, the culture will be slower to get going. After all, the idea is to have them to focus on eating and reproducing, not roaming around exploring. The worms need high humidity and will die if the culture dries out completely, but they will also die without air, so you’ll have to poke holes in the cover. They won’t care how it looks, but you might, and a soldering iron does a nice neat job (do this in a well-ventilated area and don’t breathe the fumes!). Make enough holes in the cover so that air can circulate freely, but not so many that the culture will dry out too quickly.

The culture medium:
Now that the culture box is ready, what should you put in it? Grindal worms are often cultured in fertilizer-free, pesticide-free potting soil or peat moss, but although it does hold moisture well, peat tends to be very acidic and when it does dry out, it gets hard and resists the addition of moisture. Worms prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, so an excellent alternative to mixing your own or finding a suitable brand of potting soil is to use a reptile bedding made from coir (ground coconut husks). Coir reptile bedding has a neutral or near-neutral pH and does an excellent job of holding moisture, so you won’t have to worry about whether you’ve got the pH right or that you’ll find your worms crawling up the sides of the box to escape too-acidic medium. The bedding is usually sold in compressed bricks that expand in size seven to eight times when soaked in water and one will be more than enough to get you well on your way.

Since you won’t need nine liters of media for one or two cultures, it’s easiest to pry some pieces off the brick with a knife rather than soak the whole thing and have a big, damp pile left to deal with afterward. Use dechlorinated water to soak the media; it will expand to its full size in about half an hour, then you can soak a little more if necessary. If you used too much water and not all of it is absorbed, you can just squeeze out handfuls to fill the culture box and drain the last of the media through a net. If the media is too dry, the worms will burrow toward the bottom. If it’s too wet, they’ll crawl up the sides of the container, or drown if they can’t. You want it soggy, but no water lying on top, and don’t pack it too tightly in the box or you’ll push out all of the air. A depth of 1-1.5” is suitable for grindal worms; more than 2” runs the risk of the media at the bottom becoming anaerobic, which will make the worms very unhappy.

The starter culture:
You will probably have received your starter culture in a plastic vial or in a plastic bag, and at first glance, you might wonder whether they sent you anything at all. Look closely and you’ll see tiny, wriggling white lines stuck to the sides—those are the grindal worms. Gently spread a layer of starter culture over the surface of the media you’ve prepared, and use a light spray of dechlorinated water to rinse the worms that are stuck to the sides into the culture. After the worms are in the culture box, give them a light sprinkling of food; they’ll be hungry after their journey to their new home.

Now that the worm culture is started, where should it go? Grindals prefer temperatures around those we find comfortable, so it’s not difficult to find a place they’ll thrive. If you choose to keep them in the house, one of the first questions you’ll probably hear from your significant other is, “Can they get out?” The answer is, “they don’t want out”; worms will move away from light, not toward it, and will soon die if their environment isn’t extremely humid. They’re much more content in the dark, damp culture box than they would be crawling around your house, so there’s little worry that they have an escape plan. Grindal worms are best kept between 70F and 75F, they will remain reasonably active up into the low 80s, but if temperatures reach high 80s to 90F, they will stop reproducing and won’t start again until the temperature is cooler. Below 68F is too cold for them.

Worm food and harvesting:
Although they can be fed other foods, grindals do particularly well on “mixed grain” enriched baby food cereal mix. They should be fed every day or at least every other day, but fortunately, it’s simple and takes only a few seconds to do. An easy method that takes care of both feeding and harvesting is to use a sheet of stiff plastic, glass or Plexiglas that’s about ½ inch smaller all around than the surface of the culture media. Lightly mist the glass with dechlorinated water and then sprinkle a thin layer of food on the wet surface. Lay it food side down on top of the media and the worms will collect there to eat. When the culture is ready for harvesting to feed the fish, just fill a small dish with dechlorinated water and push the worms off the sheet into it. Grindal worms reproduce quickly at temperatures within their preferred range, so a new culture should be ready for you to start harvesting within two or three weeks.



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