There are two different types of bloodworms. One is from the genus Glycera, a group of bristly worms. They are actual worms that grow to be 15 inches long and live at the bottom of shallow, saltwater. They are harvested by bait companies for fishing. These bloodworms are practically impossible to farm because they are carnivores, need marine water and are sensitive to temperature. The survival rate for this type of bloodworm is low when farming.
The other type of bloodworm is actually larvae from insects. They are pink in colour which is why they are called bloodworms. In the larvae stage, the bloodworms are a favourite of fishermen because fish love them. They grow to about 1 inch long and are perfect for catching a 6-inch fish. These bloodworms are easy to farm and many fishermen raise them to keep down the rising cost of bait.
The adult insects that lay the eggs that transform into bloodworms are from the chironomid midges family. They are similar to mosquitoes but do not bite. They live near swampy areas, ponds and lakes. The eggs are laid in the water and are deposited on sticks and grasses near the edges of the water.
Gather the eggs from under the water. They appear to be scummy blots of green. There are minuscule dots in the gelatinous blobs. Bring the eggs home with some pond water and grass. The eggs take from one to two days to hatch.
The size of the hatching box depends upon the number of eggs gathered. Plastic containers work well and are inexpensive. Divide the eggs into five or six containers. When farming larger amounts of eggs, a 10-gallon aquarium is ideal or a larger aquarium for bulk bloodworms. Cover the eggs with water that has no chlorine. Put the containers outside at night to aerate them but be aware that mosquitoes will breed in the container, as well. Aerating with an air stone and an aquarium pump is also effective.
Bloodworm larvae are sensitive to light and grow much quicker in the darkness. Cover the egg container with a dark covering; black trash bags work well. When left in the light, the larvae make tubes in which to hide from the light, making it difficult to extract them from the tube. Keeping the eggs and larva in a dark cellar also keeps the bloodworms from forming tubes.
Waste is the ideal food for bloodworms. They eat horse manure, cow manure or any other type of waste. Manure can be purchased by the bag at a feed and farm store or find a local farmer who gives it away. Water changes are usually necessary because the manure that is not eaten will go rancid, causing a foul odour. Sprinkle the manure on top of the water, just like you would feed aquarium fish. Feed the bloodworms every three to five days. Too much food will kill the worms.
It is important to harvest bloodworms when they reach about 1 inch in length or they will begin to hatch into insects. Harvest the bloodworms at night when they are most active. Turning off the aeration before harvesting brings the bloodworms out of hiding. Carefully gather the bloodworms to avoid injuring them. Keep excess bloodworms in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Set aside a few of the larvae and allow them to pupate in the same containers the bloodworms were in. When they turn into adults, they will lay the eggs right in the container and the process begins all over again.