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Old 05-30-2012, 04:21 AM   #1 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Exclamation Warning About Live Black Worms

In light of my own predicament with my betta Train, I feel compelled to warn my fellow betta owners about live black worms.

Last week, I bought what I was told were live bloodworms and fed them to Train. That same night, I noticed he had a very large blockage that was literally making his belly pointed. A week in 3 tsps of epsom salt per gallon and IAL has done nothing to move this mass out of his system. He will most likely need to be euthanized.

Further research on google led me to discover that the worms I was sold were not bloodworms but were in fact black worms. And that's where everything went wrong for poor Train.

Here is what The Betta Handbook by Robert J Goldstein has to say:

"Bettas may engorge on black worms, resulting in gastric distress and sometimes death. Many aquarists cut them into pieces with a razor blade before feeding them to bettas. Black worms that survive partial ingestion can tear the stomachs of small fish, killing them." (pg 93, Goldstein)

If you purchase live worms, do double-check to make sure they are bloodworms. If you intend to feed black worms to your bettas, feed only one or two at the very most and probably do as the book suggests, cutting them into pieces.

I don't want anyone else to have to go through what Train and I are going through. Be very careful when purchasing and feeding live worms.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:30 AM   #2 
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I've always thought it was bloodworms that are said to damage the stomachs of fish. I think it's apisto owners that don't like feeding them.

With that said, I feed live blackworms to my wilds, killies and natives, and have done for nearly two years in some instances now. My splendens are also fed blackworms from time to time. My wilds have literally stuffed themselves on blackworms (to the point they look like balloons) and I have never had any harm come from it. This includes juveniles.

Sad that your betta is very sick though. Have you thought about doing a fishy autopsy on him if it comes to euthanasia to see if it indeed the blackworms.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:42 AM   #3 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
That's a good idea, LittleBettaFish, I hadn't thought of that. I doubt I can perform an autopsy myself, both because of being squeamish and for lacking experience, but I think my veterinary clinic would be willing to do so.

I'm very glad your fish haven't suffered any side effects from eating blackworms. They must be happy fish, getting to eat livefoods all the time. :) I fed a single worm each to my other bettas as a treat that same night and now one of them refuses to eat his normal food and instead looks hopefully at me. I guess he's holding out for the live worms.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:57 AM   #4 
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Any kind of worm that can survive "partial digestion" is a threat. Once inside the stomach they can start thrashing around, doing damage. People are warning about both kinds of worms these days.

Poor Train. :( It looks horrible.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:04 PM   #5 
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Great to know and I truly hope the best for your betta. :( I've looked up the risks of live and frozen food and eliminated what I could of potential problems by just sticking to frozen brine shrimp and live mosquito larvae.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:34 PM   #6 
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Springfield, Va
Good knowledge, take comfort that Train didn't die in vain but so others wouldn't suffer his fate. I'm sure he is smiling for you under that rainbow bridge. :)
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:19 PM   #7 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Thank you for the extra info, Olympia. I think no more live worms for sure. Really bites that I can't culture mosquito larvae.

Thanks, kinetic and True Indigo, I appreciate your thoughts.
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:25 PM   #8 
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so sorry:(
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:33 PM   #9 
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Virginia
So sorry about Train, Sakura. It really is a tragic fate that you will have had to lose him like this. I am very thankful that you are sharing this information with others so that we can avoid feeding something that can be so harmful to our bettas.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:19 AM   #10 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Thank you, Rosso. I'm glad there is a silver lining to Train's dark cloud. I honestly had no idea feeding live worms could be so dangerous so I definitely want everyone to know the risks beforehand.
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