How to Raise Leeches

Updated March 23, 2017

Leeches have use for medicinal purposes and fish bait. Since there are a variety of leeches available, you first need to decide what the purpose of the leech is. Ribbon and horse leeches make the best choice for fishing. Neither one of these leeches is a blood sucker. For medicinal purposes, blood- sucking leeches are used. Once you know what type of leech you need, raising them is a simple task.

Acquire your leeches. Leeches can be purchased from a retailer such as 2 Wing Agro BioMedic, which buys and sells leeches or Leeches can be found in freshwater sources everywhere. Look for them in lakes, marshes and shady areas of ponds. Leeches can be hard to find in the wild because of their ability to blend into their environment. Often they will hide under rocks or attach themselves to vegetation.

Fill an aquarium three-quarters full with spring water or dechlorinated tap water. Leeches will not survive in purified or chlorinated water. Either one of these damages the leech and eventually causes death. Make sure that your aquarium has a screen or cover that completely seals the top. Leeches have an ability to stretch and thin themselves out for escape.

Decorate the aquarium with rocks and plants. This will give the leeches a place to hide and allow them to feel at home in their natural environment.

Put the leeches in the aquarium. A 10-gallon tank is large enough for up to 50 leeches. Do not overfill the tank.

Feed your leeches. Depending on the breed of leeches, you can feed them live water worms, frogs, turtles or insect larvae. Once a large bloodsucking leech has eaten a big meal such as a frog or a turtle, it does not need to be fed for another two months. Smaller leeches can do without a meal for even longer -- about six months.

Clean the aquarium. The water will need to be changed in the aquarium occasionally. To avoid shocking and possibly killing the leeches, do not completely empty the tank and refill it. Change out no more than 25 to 50 per cent of the water at a time.


Your local pet store will be able to offer you more specific advice on what to feed your breed of leech.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium
  • Feed
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