Bloodworms: Are they good food for fish?

The name ‘Bloodworm’ is an umbrella term for several different types of worms, but it most commonly refers to a species belonging to the genus Glycera (Glyceridae family), or to the Midge Fly (Chironomidae) and its red larvae. Bloodworms are used across the globe as fish food in tanks and larger aquariums, and it is something worth considering for any fish owner, especially if you have fish that tend to be a little picky with what they eat. 

Bloodworm Information

Knowing how to provide your fish with proper nutrition is important if you want your tank inhabitants to thrive, and one thing to try is to feed your little swimmers with bloodworms! The Blood Worm is usually found in still waters like ponds and small pools, they are creamy pink or red in color, depending on the type of bloodworm, which is what inspired their somewhat gruesome name.

The color of the Midge Fly bloodworm comes from a protein (red iron-porphyrin) found in their blood, and they are known for being able to survive in waters with low oxygen levels and also in water with high levels of pollution.

The pink-colored worms belong to the Glycera genus, and these can grow to become as large as approximately 14 inches. Hemoglobin gives them a transparent appearance, and they have four small antennae on their heads. There are some biological differences between the two worm types, but both seem to work equally well as fish food. Using Bloodworm for fish is a great way to make sure your fish are properly fed.

An interesting fact about these small worms is that they are a carnivore, and will bite its prey and kill it with its venom, which – while not generally harmful to humans – can be quite painful. This does not present a danger to your fish when feeding them their worms, but you might want to keep your fingers to yourself.

Ideal for Picky Eaters

bloodworms in white background

Did you know that fish can also be picky eaters? Perhaps you are struggling to find a pellets or other fish food that your fish will actually eat, and then it can be a great solution to add marine Bloodworm to their diet. It is fairly inexpensive, and it has plenty of protein and other nutrients to make sure even those fussy fish get the nutrition they need.

It is believed that approximately 99% of all fish will eat Bloodworm when offered it, so it is worth a try if you have found yourself struggling. If you have already tried freeze-dried and frozen products, you might want to step it up a notch and offer life bloodworms. Bloodworm food might be the solution you have been waiting for.

Live Bloodworm vs. Frozen & Freeze Dried

When you decide to purchase Bloodworms for your aquarium, there are a few different presentations you can buy them in. You can opt for freeze-dried worms, which is great as they last long and they don’t take up much space when stored. Freeze-dried Bloodworms are usually delivered in a tube, and you soak it briefly with water before you add it to the fish tank.

This is to make sure it does not only stay floating at the surface, and that it reaches also the life you have living further down in the aquarium. Freeze-dried food, in general, has a long expiration date, making it a great option for a tank owner who uses small quantities or who won’t have to worry about the worms going bad.

Another option is to buy frozen Bloodworm. Have you ever heard of Bloodworm cubes? This is the presentation you are likely to find when you buy Bloodworm frozen, and it is another great alternative for someone who wants to be able to store their worms for a longer period of time.

The quickest way to defrost the worms before adding them to the aquarium is by placing the cubes in a bowl and pouring water on them. Once defrosted – you can feed your fish directly. This is slightly more impractical than freeze-dried, as you need access to a freezer, but the defrosted product might look a little closer to the real deal – live Bloodworm culture.

Live Bloodworms are in many ways the most natural food option for your fish, as it allows them to activate their bred hunting instinct as they swim for those squiggling worms. Fish prefer it, but it does require a bit more of you as the tank owner. A feeding cone is usually used to distribute the worms in the tank without having them swim away.

When you buy Bloodworm that is alive, make sure you remove the water they are swimming around in and rinse them properly, as this is crucial when preventing the spread of bacteria and diseases.

What Fish Can/Should Eat Bloodworm?

winterworm for winter fishing in a white box on a brown wooden background

What is so great about Bloodworm fish food is that it is packed with protein, but also that it is something almost all fish seem to find delicious. As long as your fish is either carnivore or omnivore, meaning they are either meat eaters or meat and vegetable eaters, they should be perfectly fine feeding on these delicious larvae.

Keep in mind that Bloodworm is not meant to be the only thing you feed your fish, and you should instead use it as a nutritious supplement. This is because there isn’t enough vitamins, minerals, amino acids and more for the freshwater Bloodworm to be used as a single source of nutrition, and your fish will be healthier and happier if you provide them with a balanced mix of fish food and bloodworms.

Raising & Breeding Bloodworm at Home 

If you use Bloodworm for Betta fish and other fish frequently – have you considered raising or breeding them at home? You can easily set up a little Bloodworm farm somewhere in a dark space, such as a shed, and all you really need is a plastic container, some water, and some garden soil to go on the bottom of the plastic container. Once everything is set up, you can head out to the nearest pond to see if you can collect some Bloodworm eggs, as this will be the beginning of your own little Bloodworm colony.

Another option is to breed your Bloodworm yourself, but this might not be suitable for everyone as it requires some work. If you want to spare yourself the trouble of heading out to the pond or purchasing Bloodworm, the option is to start breeding them, but for this, you need to have a space where you can keep them, also as they mature and become flies.

Keeping flies and stopping them from escaping can be tricky, but it can be done with a bit of patience and preparation; however, if it isn’t for you, you might be better skipping the Blood Worm farming and simply buying your Bloodworm baits from a pet store or online. Having a Bood Worm farm can be fun, but it isn’t for everyone.   

Bloodworm Allergies

Once you start feeding your fish with Bloodworm, you might notice that the packaging will often include a small allergy warning for the fish owner. This can look a little funny to some, but there are known cases where people have experienced allergy symptoms in relation to handling bloodworms, and this is something to be on the lookout for. If you would notice any redness, swelling or itching after handling these worms, and especially if it does not go away after you wash your hands, there is a possibility that you might be allergic.

If you would experience any severe symptoms – contact your doctor right away, even though this is very unusual. A bite could invoke more persistent symptoms, but more on this below. Allergies are less likely to appear in fish, but if your fish would somehow change their behavior or appearance after you start feeding worms to them, you should first contact your supplier to make sure there is nothing wrong with the product, and otherwise possibly go on to consult a knowledgeable employee at your local pet store or a specialized veterinarian.

Where to Purchase

If catching your own eggs seems like too much of an effort, the good news is that Bloodworm is very easily accessible in pet stores and online. The benefits of purchasing Bloodworms online (usually freeze-dried) is that you don’t have to leave your house to get them, and you will have a much bigger product brand selection to choose from.

Some brands will have both Grade A and Grade B Bloodworm products, and the difference is that Grade A (which is a little pricier) is higher quality with only real Bloodworm mixed in there, while Grade B tends to be Bloodworm mixed with something else. If you wonder which is better, the obvious answer is Grade A Bloodworm as there is more nutrition there than what you are likely to find in a Grade B product, but on the other hand – if Grade A is too expensive for you, then Grade B is a lot better than no Bloodworm at all.

Bloodworm FAQ:

To make it easier for you to start incorporating Bloodworm in your fish tank, and to make it part of their daily diet, we have put together a quick FAQ to answer some common questions. Asking questions is good, as it shows you care about your fish and about your tank, so have a quick look below to check if you know the answer to these.

One of the things that is so great about owning a fish tank is that there is always much more out there to learn, and you can never really consider yourself fully taught. We learn as long as we live, they say, and that is part of the charm of being a hobby aquarium owner.

What Are Bloodworms Used For?

The most common way to use Bloodworm is to feed fish in a tank or an aquarium, as they are packed with healthy proteins and iron. Blood Worm fish food is available in most pet stores and online, and it is a food most fish tends to love. Some people choose to farm their own Bloodworm, but their use remains the same – as a nutritious supplement to a varied fish diet.

Do Bloodworms Eat Blood?

No, this is a misconception due to their name, but Bloodworms do not feed on blood but are simply named this way as a result of their color. They are a carnivore genus but do not suck blood the way you often associate with for example a leach.

Are Bloodworms Dangerous?

They are not dangerous per see, but if you get bitten by a live Bloodworm, you might experience a sensation and a reaction similar to that of a bee sting, which can be painful. This is especially true for worms belonging to the Glycera genus, and if you tend to handle live worms frequently – you might want to protect your hands by wearing gloves.

Do Bloodworms Bite?

As mentioned above – yes, Bloodworms do bite, just like you might get bitten by an ant or a bee. They do not actively seek you out to bite you but might bite when handled.

Important to Remember

Just like with any animal, it is never a good idea to overfeed your fish, and this is something you will want to consider when first starting to feed Bloodworms. Whether you use frozen Bloodworm cubes, live worms or a freeze-dried product, you should always pay attention to the feeding guidelines and stick to the amounts suggested. The filter can easily clog if you feed your fish too much, and you could also be putting their health at risk without realizing it.

Bloodworm larvae are very rich in protein, so always read the feeding recommendations before using them as fish food. It is recommended to limit Bloodworm feedings to one or two times per week, as fish are sensitive and can get constipation if feed too much. They also need a varied diet to thrive, which is another reason not to overdo it.

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