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Re: fwd: black worms

> Date: Fri, 10 Oct 1997 12:39:51 -0500
> From: "David W. Webb" <dwebb at ti_com>
> This message was accidentally sent to me instead of the list.
> - ---
> From: LowpineUno at aol_com, on 10/9/97 9:44 PM:
> Hello to all. How would one keep a culture of blackworms? Also, what is the
> risk of disease being transmitted from commercially bought blackworms to
> fish, can these worms harbor protozoans, parasites, or other disease?
> Thanks
> in advance.
> steve
> lowpineuno at aol_com

There's an excellent article on the biology and propagation of blackworms,
Lumbriculus variegatus, at http://www.carosci.com/worm.htm.  The article 
describes propagating blackworms 2-3" of water with a substrate of brown
paper towels and fish food.  It says that they will double their numbers
in 3-4 weeks at room temperature.  Amazingly, these critters seem to multiply
parthenogenetically by fragmenting and regrowing, rather than by sexual

Some people say that blackworms are just as bad as the closely-related
tubifex worms, since they are usually collected from water heavily
contaminated with livestock manure or human sewage, and fish may be
susceptible to the heavy bacterial load in this live food.  Other people
feed their discus almost exclusively on tubifex!

(It's a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after handling
tubifex just in case they are contaminated with human sewage-borne pathogens
such as hepatitis viruses.)

I would think that home-propagated cultures of blackworms would be relatively
clean, and I'd like to try some.  Does anyone know of a Canadian source for
a starter culture?  I can get great wads of tubifex cheaply here, from pet
stores in Chinese areas, since many Chinese fish breeders are big fans of
tubifex, but I never see blackworms.  I figure the tubifex are gathered from
the wild, since they often have contaminants like small leeches.