Culturing the Underrated Mealworm
Info from Aqualand Pets Plus on Tenebrio molitor
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LA Adult mealworms. Meal "worms" are actually larvae.
Not Worms. Mealworms, Tenebrio molitor, are insects -- the larvae of a nasty tasting black or very dark brown beetle. The adults can fly. The larvae eat all manner of grains. Of course farmers consider them a definite pest. They get into the grains they store for feed. Chickens and ducks go nuts for them. More important for us, many fish, lizards, and amphibians consider them tasty little morsels. As do hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and short-tail opossums.
Unneeded Info. If you've ever worked on an egg farm (not recommended), you'd notice that chickens produce huge quantities of digested food. They also waste lots. All this "stuff" falls into a concrete pit underneath that serves as a real mealworm incubator. The mealworms stay nice and warm as they thrive on the extra ground grain that falls into the pit. Walk very carefully in those pits or you too could also fall into the pit. They're slicker than you think.
Weevil Cousins. Think of mealworms as cousins to the weevils that get into your pancake flour. The weevils are the beetles. And your pancake flour has lots of various sized worms (larvae) throughout.
Food for the
Few people will feed these guys to their guppies.
(But you can do it.) Mealworms
make a great food for larger fishes – about four inches or longer.
Mealworm eaters include most big cichlids and any other large fish that
likes to eat large bites.
LA Female blue gularis enjoying a tasty mealworm.
Get Your Fish Hooked on Mealworms. When you first toss a mealworm into your tank most fish will ignore it. Mealworms are covered by a fairly tough shell that renders them tasteless or unappealing to fish encountering them for the first time. Break them in half the first few times you feed them. They are extremely tasty on the inside. Fish can’t resist them once they try them.
Feed Small Quantities. You needn’t feed mass quantities of mealworms to your fish to get good results. Feed flakes or pellets first. Give them the mealworms for dessert.
To Feed the Little Fish. Pop their heads off and squish out their insides. Little fishes love the goo. It reminds you of pate de fois gras, only tastier. Forget the Ritz crackers.
Experiments with oscars show that mealworms grow oscars faster than commercial
foods. But they are even more
useful as a Primo conditioning food of your breeders. Their high protein and fat content really
plump up your breeders.
Easy to Keep. Mealworms come in plastic containers most people store in their fridge. The larvae go into “hibernation” when cold. They’ll keep this way for several weeks, maybe months. In the fridge they eventually dry up and/or get skinny. You can plump them up by warming them to room temperature and giving them a slice of potato for food and water. You can juice up your worms by sprinkling their potato slices with powdered calcium and vitamins.
LA Mealworms feeding/drinking on a slice of potato.
Moisture. If you’ve ever kept mealworms you soon notice their feces are dry as dust. They extract all moisture from their powdery droppings and can live on next to no water. But if given moist food (potatoes or greens), they multiply in three to four months. Carrots work also. Forget apples. Too much moist food will mold their media.
LA Adult mealworms checking out a potential egg-laying site.
Eggs usually on the potato slices.
Baby larvae hatch in about a week.
They shed their skin some 15 times during this larval stage and finally
turn into helpless pupae. Most
people feed them out at the larval stage.
LA Mealworm larvae often eat these pupae.
Take out the
The larvae will cannibalize the pupae for their moisture content if you
do not remove them. The pupae turn
into egg-laying beetles in seven to 10 days and restart the cycle.
Zophobus morio, the
Superworms, are a mondo-sized mealworm several times larger than our good
friend the standard mealworm. Feed
these only to the big guys. Their
nutritional analysis tracks pretty close to regular mealworms.
The main difference: They die if you refrigerate them.
Ever watch one of those scary movies where wormy creatures come
pouring out of people? We certainly hope no Superworms were
harmed in the making of those movies.
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