Can Corydoras Eat Bloodworms?

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Corydoras are famous scavenging bottom-dwellers with a varied diet and low food requirements. These fish are notoriously easy to feed, given that they take most of their food from their environment.

This is made even easier in community tanks, where Corydoras have plenty of food leftovers to enjoy from other fish.

That being said, these catfish require a balanced and optimized diet to thrive. This means they need additional food to what their environment can provide.

Today, we will discuss bloodworms. Do Corydoras like them, how many should they eat and how often, and what other things should you know about them?

Let’s jump into it!

Are Bloodworms Safe for Corydoras?

Yes, bloodworms are safe for Corydoras, generally speaking. There are instances where the worms are not safe, but that’s circumstantial more than anything.

It all comes down to sourcing the bloodworms because some may come infested with various chemicals or parasites that can transmit to your catfish.

So, I advise against collecting bloodworms from nature. You never know what they may contain that could kill your catfish. Either buy them or grow them yourself.

Benefits of Bloodworms for Corydoras

I would say there are 3 benefits to feeding bloodworms to your fish:

  1. High in protein – Bloodworms are high in protein, so they make for a great addition to any fish diet. Except for herbivorous ones for obvious reasons. Due to their high protein content, you should only feed your catfish bloodworms sparingly, preferably once or twice per week.
  2. Delicious – There’s no denying that bloodworms are delicious. I’m speaking from the fish’s perspective, not my own. It turns out that almost 90% of all fish will accept bloodworms from the get-go. This makes bloodworms a great snack for most aquarium fish.
  3. Great for picky eaters – While Corydoras aren’t particularly picky eaters, they can be at times. Especially when they’re first introduced to the environment and yet to be comfortable in their setting. In this case, they might display signs of moderate stress, which includes low appetite. A good bloodworm snack will give them the nutrients they need to regain confidence and mental comfort.

On the flip side, bloodworms also present some risks that you need to be aware of. So, we’ll get into those next.

Drawbacks of Bloodworms for Corydoras

The following drawbacks don’t refer to Corydoras only, but all fish in general.

So, consider the following:

  • A lacking nutrient content – Bloodworms are rich in iron, protein, and some fat, but they lack a variety of minerals and vitamins that the fish need to thrive. So, bloodworms are only fit as occasional snacks, not as a constant meal.
  • Too much protein – The protein content present in the bloodworms is both a blessing and a curse. Omnivorous fish like Corydoras need protein, but not too much, and finding the right balance can be tricky. Too much protein can constipate the fish, causing more problems than necessary.
  • Allergies – This is a weird one, but it needs mentioning. Some fish can exhibit signs of allergy when consuming bloodworms. It’s rare, but it can happen. The fish won’t exhibit any visible physical symptoms but will display behavioral changes after consuming the bloodworm. These may include lowered appetite, lethargy, and even red patches visible on the skin. This has led bloodworm sellers to mention allergy as a potential risk on the package. So, keep an eye on that.
  • The risk of carrying disease and parasites – This is a real hazard that you need to take seriously, especially when getting your bloodworms from untrustworthy sources. Fish shops selling live bloodworms fall into this category more often than not. These entities sell fish-related products on a larger scale than private individuals, so it’s to be expected that they will cross some red lines occasionally. This means that they will keep the bloodworms in subpar conditions, leading to them getting infected with various parasites or bacteria.

Plus, you should never feed your Corydoras wild-caught bloodworms. These are generally deemed unsafe for aquarium use.

Types of Bloodworms Corydoras Can Eat

There are 3 types of bloodworms you can feed to your Corydoras:

  1. Live Bloodworms – Fresh, kicking, and highly nutritious. Live bloodworms are juicy and packed with protein, and your fish will love them. The only problem is that they’re best served fresh, so you need a constant supply to fulfill your fish’s needs. We’ll get into that shortly.
  2. Frozen Bloodworms – These types of bloodworms are less nutritious overall, but you can deposit them for longer. Frozen bloodworms can be deposited for up to 6 months, providing you with a steady supply of food for your fish. These come with their own downfalls, such as lower nutrient content, the need for preparation, and depriving the fish of a healthy dose of hunting activity. Fish obviously prefer live food because it wiggles and tries to flee, which activates the fish’s natural hunting instincts.
  3. Freeze-dried Bloodworms – These bloodworms are the least nutritious but are among the most convenient to serve to your catfish. They require pre-soaking for approximately 10 minutes before adding them to the tank. The problem is that freeze-dried bloodworms tend to float, and Corydoras don’t eat at the water’s surface. So, freeze-dried bloodworms may not be the right choice for your catfish.

As you can see, each type of bloodworm comes with its own ups and downs. I would recommend live bloodworms as the best option.

Live bloodworms are highly nutritious, they squirm and allow catfish to hunt naturally and are tastier than the other types.

To avoid the pitfall of getting sick or contaminated bloodworms, consider starting a live culture at home. The investment is minimal, and the return rate is great. So, let’s dissect that a bit.

How to Start a Bloodworm Culture?

Before starting up the culture, consider the following:

  • Bloodworms can grow up to 14 inches, so choose your culture container accordingly
  • Consider getting 2-3 cultures going for when one fails for some reason
  • Bloodworms also require care and maintenance to grow fast and healthy

With this in mind, here’s how you set up and maintain a bloodworm culture:

  • Get the right container – Aim for a 48-by-24-inch container that is enough to house up to 100 bloodworms in good conditions. I would recommend a glass tank for the best results and a more natural setup, but you can go for a plastic container instead if finances are tight. Just make sure that the container comes with a personalized lid. You’ll need it to protect the worms from flies and other insects or contaminants.
  • Add substrate – Garden soil should do. Keep in mind that bloodworms are notorious diggers, so they need a thick-enough substrate to burrow through. You need a substrate of at least 3 inches and up to 6 inches to keep your bloodworms happy. Also, keep in mind that thicker substrates make collecting the bloodworms more difficult. So, try to find the right balance there.
  • Cow dung – It doesn’t need to be cow dung specifically, but animal manure nonetheless. Just make sure it’s animal farm manure from an herbivorous animal for the best results. Bloodworms need the matter as food since these are fly larvae; their diet matches that of the adult fly. You don’t need too much manure; around 1 oz per 2 pounds of substrate should do.
  • Mix everything together – It’s time to mix the manure with the soil to create a homogenous composition. Don’t use tap water in the process because that contains chlorine and other chemicals that, although not harmful to humans, can kill the bloodworms. Use creek or river water if there’s any around you or even rainwater for a more affordable option.
  • Get the bloodworm eggs – This point deserves an entire topic for itself, but I’ll keep it short. Sourcing your bloodworm eggs wisely will make a massive difference in worm quality and safety. I recommend contacting private bloodworm breeders rather than going to fish-related markets. The latter is notorious for offering subpar products in the worm-related department. You then sprinkle the eggs all over the substrate surface, cover them with some leaves, and start the waiting game. The eggs will hatch in 5-10 days, with the resulting larvae starting to feed immediately.

After that, you only need to collect your worms regularly and feed them to your fish as you deem fit. When it comes to overall bloodworm maintenance routine, consider the following points:

Keep the bloodworms at temperatures between 40 and 80 F; the lower temperatures are sub-ideal but will hinder the worm’s growth a bit, so the culture doesn’t become overpopulated. The ideal temperature is around 75-80 F.

Feed the bloodworms, manure, and dead leaves at least once a week, depending on how many of them you have.

Cover the container to prevent mosquitoes from coming in. These voracious insects have a knack for bloodworm blood and can transmit diseases when feeding.

There isn’t much to it other than that. Your bloodworms are considered ripe-ready when they reach that staple intense red that marks them as adults.

How to Feed Bloodworms to Corydoras?

How you’re feeding the bloodworms to Corydoras depends on the bloodworm type. Live bloodworms are ready to serve in their natural state, but it depends on the worm’s size.

The catfish won’t be able to consume 12-inch worms, so make sure that the worms are small enough. I would say keep the worms below 3 inches.

If they’re larger than that, cut them into smaller pieces for your catfish to consume with ease.

Frozen bloodworms are also pretty straightforward in terms of meal preparation. You just unfreeze them, remove them from the casing, dry the excess liquid, and serve them to your fish.

You can even rinse them before doing so to prevent the storage liquid from fouling the water.

Freeze-dried bloodworms require a bit more preparation, but they’re also easy to handle. They only need a bit of pre-soaking to eliminate the dryness, and they’re ready to go.

Remember, freeze-dried worms tend to float, so soak them thoroughly to force them to sink. If they don’t sink, you might consider turning them into a paste that would sink to the substrate.

Just don’t use too much of it because the protein paste will foul the environment.

Can Baby Corydoras Eat Bloodworms?

Yes, but Corydoras fry present a unique feeding challenge due to their small size.

So, you need to feed them smaller bloodworms, turn the worms into a paste, or simply wait for the fish to grow a bit. After all, your Corydoras fry can enjoy tons of other protein sources.


All fish have a sweet tooth for bloodworms and Corydoras are no exception. Just remember that these worms, while nutritious and tasty for fish, cannot form a well-balanced meal by themselves.

Instead, use them to complement the catfish’s diet with 1-2 portions per week for optimal nutrient intake.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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