Whiteworms as a food for dart frogs

Did you know?
The most toxic poison frog is Phyllobates terribilis from Colombia, which can produce enough toxin to kill eight people!

A fully planted vivarium can contain mosses, ferns, epiphytes like bromeliads and even flowering orchids!

Dendrobates truncatus going mad for whiteworm!
Dendrobates truncatus going mad for whiteworm!

White worms (Enchytraeus albidus) are a fantastic treat for adult dart frogs, and they are rarely turned down. They are full of fat and protein and frogs go mad for them. They can stay alive in water for days as long as it stays cool.

Luckily they are easy to culture in large quantities, requiring very little attention.

Regime The worms and media are kept in polystyrene 'fish boxes', loosely lidded. Each culture is fed and harvested at the same time approximately every 4-5 days. Cultures live outside (well protected from rodents, pets and the elements, maybe a shed, balcony or garage) all year round. Harvests do vary with the seasons, its often the case that no worms are available in the very hottest and very coldest weeks of the year; its best to give the worms a break, as they are not breeding at this time anyway.

Harvesting is easy, simply scoop up the worms
Harvesting is easy, simply scoop up the worms

The worms are fed under glass 4-5" square, each culture having 3-5 feeding areas. A go. The worms start to consume the food from below and the sides. Harvesting is easy, simply scoop the worms from around the leftover food, or lift the 'food lump' and scoop out more. One culture with 3-4 feeding squares can feed several hundred frogs about once/week

Media Culture media does not seem to be critical, a blend of coir (45%), peat/compost (45%), a small amount of sand (10%), maybe a handful of lime if you've got it. Cultures will turn acidic eventually and should either be replaced with new cultures if production drops, or partially replaced continuously. If you do not want to subculture too often, activated carbon can be added to the media.

The media should always be damp, yet never waterlogged or sodden.

Whiteworm food ingredients

Food When you want your fish to breed you fatten them up. The same thing goes for whiteworms. I use dog biscuits and sunflower oil. Its cheap, easy to make and guarantees you handfulls of the fattest worms. Simply boil up a pan of water, add lots of dog biscuits and a serious dash of oil. I can't tell you exact amounts here, but you want to have a thick paste; NOT liquid, but barely solid. It does harden more as it cools. I add probably about 50ml oil / litre of wormfood. I then bag it up and freeze it.

Feeding This will depend on your tank set-up, but the worms are difficult for the frogs to pick up. I generally place worms on leaves (where they can hand down and be picked of) or on a feeding tray (see picture above). White worms are related to earthworms, and as such they tend to head under ground as soon as they can (where they may or may not survive depending on your set-up), don't simply place the worms on a substrate that they can bury into.

Problems Whiteworms should not be over fed. They will make your frogs fat if overfed. I keep them as an occasional treat food, but my frogs go mad whenever they get them!

Adapted from an article on whiteworms as killifish food first posted at http://www.killi.co.uk/whiteworms.php


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This site contains photographs, information on poison dart frog husbandry, their habitats from the Amazon rainforest, and elsewhere in South America. There are articles on tropical plants (bromiliads, orchids, epiphytes), vivariums, and of course the frogs themselves. If you have any suggestions please contact me on info@poisondartfrog.co.uk.


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