Lumbricus rubellus, Litter (Red) Worm
Lumbricus rubellus, the Litter Worm (also known as the Red Worms or Wigglers) is an earthworm often confused with the similar Eisenia foetida. This species, unlike E. foetida is a temperate zone worm. It is an easy to culture live food that is an excellent size for many larger tropical fish (it can be fed to smaller fish by dicing, but there are smaller worm species that can be fed to smaller fish). This worm reaches about 7cm (2.5 in.). It is a red terrestrial worm that lives in moist soil and leaf litter above moist soil. This species survives happily in culture containers with moist potting soil. Its range is temperate North America.
This live food species is an excellent live food for most tropical fish. It is an excellent conditioning food for breeders. This species prefers warmer temperatures than most of its relatives and is a good organism to culture for those who live in warm climates.
Culture: Culturing red worms is simple either in plastic storage boxes with loose fitting covers or, as the author prefers, in composting piles. Culture instructions follow:
1) Culturing is easiest in kitchen composting piles. These worms eat all vegetable matter and reproduce rapidly in compost piles that are kept moist. They survive outdoors in winter if the compost piles are deep enough to generate some heat. Otherwise, these worms are easily raised in shallow plastic boxes with loose fitting lids and about 5cm (2 inches) of moist but not wet potting soil. Place card board or newspaper clippings on top of the soil and place kitchen wastes (no animal fats or meats!) under the cardboard or newspaper. Keep moist.
2) Place the starter culture under the edge of a compost pile or under the cardboard or newspaper clippings in a box.
3) Feed daily with kitchen scraps.
4) For rapid reproduction, maintain the temperature between 20-30°C (68-85°F) and make sure the soil does not get too dry.
5) Within 2 months there should be enough worms to harvest. Harvest by picking the worms up by hand when they cluster on the food. A compost pile can provide enough worms to feed hundreds of medium sized fish such as cichlids. Boxes will feed several aquaria full of fish.
We offer starter cultures in 3 sizes:
Small – approximately 50
Medium – approximately 500
Large – approximately 1000