bloodworms: frozen, live and freeze-dried
If you’ve been around the aquarium scene long enough, you’ve no doubt heard of bloodworms, the basics of how they’re used.
But beyond that, most people know very little about them.
What are the different types you can feed your fish? What do bloodworms eat? What fish prefer them?
In this information guide, we will answer all those questions and more. As you learn more, you will see that bloodworms can be a great asset in helping you maintain a healthy aquatic ecosystem.
What are bloodworms used for?
In case you’re not sure of the purpose of bloodworms, the answer to your question is very simple.
Bloodworms are used as food.
A wide variety of fish and aquatic life will happily eat this worm and benefit from the rich protein and nutrients they provide. This is why they are so popular, pretty much everyone finds them tasty!
Different types of bloodworms
One thing that is important to remember is that you can feed bloodworms to your fish in different ways. Just like the food you buy in a store, it can come prepared in different ways.
Each of these forms carries unique positives and negatives, which we will explore below.
live blood worms
Live bloodworms are a popular option that aquarists tend to consider. These worms are alive (obviously) and buyers often like the idea that they are feeding the fish in a more natural way.
- Live bloodworms tend to be fresher than frozen or freeze-dried options
- They are very rich in vitamins and nutrients compared to other forms.
- Feeding live bloodworms to your fish will often bring out a more active side and can be quite fun to watch (compared to flakes).
- They can be helpful if you are “ conditioning ” your fish prior to breeding. Giving them nutrient-dense foods is a great way to make this happen.
- You can’t store them for as long as other forms. You usually have a two or three day window in which you can use them for food before they die.
- There is a little more preparation involved to make sure they are ready to eat.
- The use of live bloodworms carries an increased risk of potential diseases for the animals that eat them.
frozen blood worms
Frozen bloodworms are definitely the most popular form of bloodworms used by aquarists. This is mostly for convenience, but here are the pros and cons to give you the big picture:
- You can keep them for almost half a year in your freezer.
- The risk of disease is extremely low, so feeding them to your fish is very safe.
- Frozen Bloodworms allow you to feed your tank in a condensed area or spread it throughout the tank
- There won’t be as much activity during lunchtime.
- You have to wait for frozen bloodworms to thaw before eating time.
- There is a chance that you can increase the bioload of your tank as it will not eat 100% of the frozen bloodworm.
Freeze-dried bloodworms are another very common and convenient form of bloodworm used by many tank owners.
- They are definitely the easiest to feed the fish.
- You can get them in different grades of quality, allowing you more control over the feeding process.
- The least healthy and nutritious option of the group.
- You should spend some time soaking them to allow them to sink if you have fish that spend their time at the bottom of the tank.
What fish eat bloodworms?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to bloodworms, and it’s one of the easiest to answer. Bloodworms are the perfect snack for your fish and they will eat them no matter what form you serve them in.
And when we say practically all fish, we mean it.
Both saltwater and freshwater fish will gobble up bloodworms without hesitation. This means you probably don’t even need to consider diet compatibility when it comes to your fish.
That said, there are some fish that seem to enjoy them more than others. Are:
- Betta fish
- kuhli loaches
- discus fish
- african cichlids
- platy fish
If your fish isn’t on this list, don’t worry. Chances are they’ll also enjoy bloodworms!
However, there is one thing you should keep in mind…
Don’t go overboard
Although almost all fish consider them a tasty treat, feeding them bloodworms too often is something you should avoid.
The reason for this is that bloodworms are not a complete food that covers a variety of vitamins and nutrients. They have a TON of protein and iron which is great. But that’s it.
For fish to thrive, they need to have a balanced diet (just like people do). Feeding your tank’s bloodworms exclusively (or too often) can upset this balance.
The general rule of thumb is to give your fish bloodworms once or twice a week. If you stick to this rule and provide them with a complete diet, you’ll be fine.
Where can you buy bloodworms?
You have several different options of places to buy bloodworms. You can try your local pet store (assuming they have aquarium food), but that can sometimes be hit or miss.
If you want to shop locally, your best option is a fish or aquarium store. Bloodworms are so popular that we have seen them in most aquarium stores we have been to.
The only thing that can vary is the condition of the worms you buy. Frozen bloodworms and freeze-dried options are very common, but if you want them live, that can vary by store.
Many don’t want the hassle of dealing with them live and prefer to stick with guys they can store cheaply for a long time.
If you prefer to opt for a cheaper option that gives you a little more convenience, here is what we recommend:
Buy bloodworms online
Putting your bloodworms online is something we highly recommend if you’re looking for the easiest and most affordable way to do it (Amazon is the best).
Author’s Note: If you’re already convinced it’s the best option for you, give San Francisco Bay Brand Bloodworms a try. They are our favorites by far.
Prices are favorable compared to local aquarium stores, which really adds up over time if you plan on feeding your fish a significant amount of bloodworms. Fish farming doesn’t come cheap, so it’s worth considering anything you can do to cut costs.
Here’s the trick:
You can pretty much only get freeze-dried bloodworms if you buy them online. This is fine for most people, but if you had your heart set on live or frozen bloodworms, this may not be the method for you.
In our opinion, having to stick to freeze-drying is not a big deal nutritionally. Although they are not as nutrient dense as the other two options, you should use them to supplement your fish’s diet.
Assuming this is the case, you can still provide your fish with a huge boost in protein and iron while enjoying the convenience of ordering online.
Our Recommended Bloodworms
There are many freeze-dried bloodworms you can get online, and most of them look pretty much the same at first. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine which product is better.
Fortunately, we have done it for you. We have tested a variety of bloodworms and got feedback from other aquarists that we trust to create our favorite product.
So here they are:
San Francisco Bay Brand Freeze Dried Bloodworms are the brand we recommend to everyone. They are a very high quality option that highly experienced aquarists have relied on for years.
Not only that, but they are packaged safely and efficiently, and the nutritional quality is top of the line.
Growing and raising your own bloodworms
If you’re considering raising your own bloodworms to save money over time, there are a few things you should know first.
While it seems reasonable to assume that bloodworm reproduction and growth would be easy, it is actually very challenging. The reason for this is that you need to see them through their life cycle until they become adult flies.
These flies can be difficult to manage because the necessary conditions they require to mate are surprisingly precise. Also, it’s quite a process to keep a bunch of flies in an area from coming out (and to make sure they’re actually mating).
For this reason, most aquarists prefer to simply purchase their bloodworms from a store or online. Maintaining a healthy tank can be quite time consuming, and spending a lot of time on your worms can quickly turn things from a hobby to an unpaid job.
What do bloodworms eat?
Since bloodworms are fly larvae, they will eventually grow to be adult mosquito flies. Once this happens, the dominant source of their food will be fresh blood as a source of protein.
This is not something you need to worry about if you buy bloodworms in the forms we listed above.
Do bloodworms bite?
This is a common question because Glycera bloodworms do bite. In fact, they have a poisonous gland that can result in a very close reaction to a wasp sting (they also look pretty creepy when they sting).
However, this is not the type of bloodworm you will have to deal with, they are usually not Glycera. As we mentioned earlier, they are actually red larvae!
Where do bloodworms live?
The Glycera type of bloodworm generally lives in shallow marine waters. Red larval bloodworms (the kind we’re talking about in this guide) usually come from moving water, like large rivers and streams, or lakes and ponds that have a lot of organic material.
Now you’re ready to go
You should now have the knowledge to start introducing bloodworms into your fish’s diet. Reading this guide will help you avoid making dietary mistakes or choosing a low-quality product.
Remember, fish love bloodworms, so it’s up to you to keep their consumption to a moderate level.
If you have any questions or suggestions about different bloodworm products that we might want to investigate, please let us know!