Vinegar Eels

About Vinegar Eels

Vinegar Eels, also known as Turbatrix aceti), are a type of nematode. They are non-parasitic and perfect food for small fish fry. Vinegar eels are smaller than microworms and are therefore suitable for fish fry that are not yet able to eat microworms or brineshrimp. They will generally swim in the water column and like other live foods provide movement which trigger a feeding response from fish fry readily, while living in the aquarium water for a good period of time thus not polluting the aquarium as quickly as other foods.

What is needed?

  • Plastic or Glass Container (i.e. Soft drink bottle or glass jar)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Vinegar Eel starter culture
  • Fresh apple chunk (Optional)

How to culture

  1. Fill your container with a 50/50 split of apple cider vinegar to dechlorinated water.
  2. Place a small chunk (or thin slice) of fresh apple into the container. The apple will sink after a few days or so, and provides a steady source of additional food for the vinegar eels. This extra food is useful if you are not regularly checking your current cultures and starting fresh ones as it provides enough food to ensure your culture does not die out quickly.
  3. Add starter culture to the container. If restarting from an established culture, you can simply pour in some of your established culture into the new container (including the vinegar eels).
  4. Leave the lid off your container (or use a fine mesh cover to keep insects/other critters out) and leave your culture at room temperature out of direct sunlight/heat.

NOTE: Your culture should be ready to harvest from in approximately two weeks. You should start a fresh culture every few months or so depending on your requirements.

Harvesting Instructions

The simplest and most common method for harvesting is to pour some of the culture through a coffee filter (or a similar fine mesh that is aquarium safe). Scrape the worms off the filter into a small container/dish of water, it is easier to distribute the worms this way. Return the culture media that should now contain no worms back in to the culture it was poured from.

An alternative method which is our preference at AquaPixel is to use a clean jar with a long neck, for example a beer bottle. Use a thoroughly cleaned beer bottle (use clean water, and a little bit of vinegar diluted with water if necessary).
1. Simply pour the liquid from an established culture to the neck line of the bottle.
2. Put a small amount of fine sponge (or filter wool) in the bottle neck, push the sponge down to the point it just touches the vinegar eel culture.
3. Fill the rest of the neck with dechlorinated water
4. The worms will swim through the sponge and into the clean water to get air. You than simply use a pipette to collect your worms from the fresh water and feed to your fish.
5. Refill the water you remove with fresh dechlorinated water
NOTE: The worms will begin to die off after around one week so you will need to return the remaining worms to the original culture within this time period. To do so, simply remove the sponge and pour the contents back into the established culture you removed it from.