Do Aquarium Fish Eat Mealworms—How to Feed Them
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
Mealworms are easy to keep and breed and an ideal source of protein for fish, so it’s not odd if you are considering getting some from your local pet store as treats for your flock.
But are mealworms safe, and will your finny friends love them?
Well, mealworms are consumable by most omnivorous and carnivorous aquarium fish, but larger species like Central American cichlids and Arowanas will enjoy them more.
I would be surprised if my smaller fishies can handle the hard shells on mealworms. Many will most likely pick at the inside of the worm and leave the tough shelly skin uneaten.
I’d also expect the finnies to take a few feeding (2 to 3) before they realize the tasty goo inside the worms.
Feed your fish mealworms as treats once a week, and remember to chop them up enough for your smaller finnies to consume. Larger fish like cichlids and clown loaches should not struggle too much with the worms.
What Type of Aquarium Fish will Eat Mealworms
Aquarium fish prefer to feed on different foods. So, while one finny may readily accept mealworms, another may refuse to consume them when placed in their tank.
Most carnivorous, omnivorous, and pescatarian fish will accept mealworms, but herbivorous fish won’t. Large finnies with big mouths will also eat the worms better than smaller tankmates.
In a fish tank with species like cories, platies, swordtails, tetras, guppies, danios, and other similar finnies, you’ll most likely have them only eat the worms insides and leave the shelly skin floating in the water or even ignore them completely.
But in an aquarium with large or aggressive fishes like cichlids, loaches, goldfish, koi, and, Axolotl you will probably not find any mealworm leftover.
These finnies have the liking, will, power, and capacity to consume worms, both live and freeze-dried.
Here is a list of fish most likely to accept mealworms.
- Central America cichlids, such as Oscars, Convicts, Jack Dempsey, Fire Mouth, Green and Red Terrors
- Senegal Bichirs
- Clow loaches
- Dojo (Weather) loches
- African rope fish
- Severum Cichlids
- Large Goldfish
Are Mealworms Good for Cichlids
Yes, mealworms are perfect for cichlids, but only as a treat, not a staple. You’ll also note that different species will accept these worms variedly.
While big Central American cichlids will eat them readily, Dwarf South American and African cichlids will only eat them when there is no alternative.
That said, mealworms are ideal for cichlids because they’re full of proteins, which is helpful for aquarium fish, particularly if stressed or sick.
The nutrients (proteins) are perhaps not as rich in commercial fish food such as flake and vegetable meals, hence come in handy.
However, only feed mealworms to your cichlids as treats and not a staple. Moreover, note that most live foods, including mealworms, carry plenty of parasites, so only source your flock from a breeder you trust.
Can Betta Fish Eat Live Mealworms
Betta fish will accept live or frozen mealworms as an occasional treat, though they are not their first choice of live food or even worms.
Mealworms have a thick layer of shelly skin that protects them, which most small fish can’t chew through, and it’s perhaps why bettas don’t fancy them as much.
Even so, they are nutritional, easy to breed, and if refrigerated, they’ll take longer to grow, giving you a steady supply of worms for your betta.
So, when you need to feed your betta mealworms, I suggest you chop them down to pellet-sized pieces enough for your betta’s not too strong or sharp teeth to tear through.
You can also start by feeding your betta baby mealworms. While they are you, the worms are usually not as big, and the exoskeleton is not too hard for your fish to chew through.
One more thing, only feed your bettas mealworm once a week in the absence of other live food.
Can GoldFish Eat Live Mealworms
Goldfish can eat mealworms almost as much as any other common tropical species, but I’ve noted common goldfish species are a lot more likely to accept these worms better than fancy goldies.
Perharps this is because fancy goldfish are smaller in size, with tinnier mouths and a weaker bite.
As such, chop up your mealworms when feeding fancy goldies, but for common goldfish, you can offer them the worms whole.
How Do You Feed Dried Mealworms to Fish
Mealworms are a great food to feed your fish, but they are a bit too big for smaller fish, so the first thing you want to do is chop them up or only offer them to bigger candidates.
Reptailes and birds also enjoy mealworms, so if you have some to spare, place them in your bird feeder or scaly pets cage.
You can feed fish live or freeze-dried, but preserving them in cooler temperatures ensures you have your stock longer, considering you should only offer them as occasional treats.
Freeze drying these tasty little bugs helps extend their shelf life.
See, mealworms are not actual worms but the larval level of flower beetles, which can be cannibalistic with candidates that mature first eating late bloomers. The cold temperature ensures they mature slowly enough to allow you to feed a mealworm stock longer.
However, it also crucial to note is that dried mealworms, though long-lived, are not as nutritious as live options, but fish will still appreciate the tasty, protein-rich snack.
If your fish likes mealworms and you plan on using them as a regular meal, you can culture them, more so if you have other pets that enjoy the snack, such as amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
Lastly, while feeding your fish mealworms, but you’ve got one fish that does not fancy them, remember to place an alternative for such individuals, making sure it’s a treat the other fishes won’t hog away.
Thats all for this post.
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