Blood Worms (Bloodworms)

A reader wrote to us a while ago about the prospect of breeding blood worms (sometimes – nay, often – spelled “bloodworms”). He was wondering how to set up a successful blood worm cultivation operation, and sought our assistance to that end. This may seem like a fairly obscure question (and we guess it is), but we’ve actually been asked about breeding worms before; in fact, by far the strangest question we’ve ever received was about breeding worms. However, we’ve never written about breeding blood worms in particular, and we haven’t written a lot about blood worms in general either. So, below is some basic information about blood worms, including a bit about breeding blood worms for the sake of our curious reader.

First, we must make an immediate distinction. The term “blood worms” is ambiguous. It could refer to larvae of midges (which are flies that look a lot like mosquitoes), or it could refer to the various polychaetes (bristle worms) that make up the genus Glycera. These are obviously thoroughly distinct creatures – one is a small larvae; the other is a worm that can grow to over a foot in length – but, interestingly, both are consumed by fish and other aquatic organisms. Moreover, both creatures are coveted by fishermen because they make excellent bait, and as such both are commercially sold. This is all quite confusing: there are two wholly different creatures that, one, share the same common name, two, serve a similar ecological role (i.e., serve as a food source for aquatic creatures), and, three, are commonly used as fish bait that is routinely sold to fishermen.

That said, our reader was interested in the blood worms that are actually worms (the members of the genus Glycera), and unfortunately we have bad news for him: these types of worms are extremely hard to breed because of their rather elaborate needs. They require marine water and must live within a precise temperature range, and they are also carnivorous. For this reason, the people who sell them don’t breed them; rather, they go out and harvest them from the shallows of the ocean. The other type of blood worm is commonly bred, however, so if our reader has any interest in cultivating them, there is tons of information out there that could help him do this. Lots of fishermen breed them, and many of them have shared their secrets online. To dramatically simplify the process, you basically gather blood worm eggs and let them develop in a bucket.

Unfortunately for our reader, it is very difficult to breed the type of blood worm he is interested in breeding. Indeed, we found no information about how to even go about this process. However, we did find a multitude of sources about breeding the other type of blood worms, and perhaps our reader is interested in following up on those.

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