Tubifex Worms

Tubifex Worms


By Mike Liu

Before we go into the study proper we have to look into the "story" of the tubifex worms.

Tubifex have been long hyped as the miracle growth food and breeders throughout world use it as a staple food for their discus or any kind of aquarium fish due to its low cost. I have visited many farms and have tried out their fishes for my breeding stock, fishes from Malaysian discus farms were fed with tubifex but they balanced it out with a fair amount of meat in the diet, the fishes there are good, up to my satisfaction, the colour strains are also the best in the world. In my opinion, Malaysia is now the capital of discus throughout the world.

Fishes from Hong Kong (Blue discus) and Taiwan (Spotted/wild discus) are generally more well taken care of, being fed with minimal amounts of tubifex. However though the fishes are good, I would never pay the kind of prices they demand when I could get fishes better than theirs at 1/10 of the cost elsewhere.

Thailand is my opinion is the worse offender of the tubifex usage, worms were fed totally without discretion and left in huge clumps on the base of the tanks. It is bad for 2 reasons, the fish might overeat and die due to indigestion(for small fish) and worms left in clumps are dangerous as worms trapped in the bottom will die due to suffocation and then rot, the worms at the top will feast on the dead material and then when it fish eats it... ... dies.


Tubifex worms are bred in huge mud ponds measuring 1/4 the size of a football field, in Malaysia (where most of the tubifex to Singapore comes from), the worms breeding ponds are usually located side by side to a pig farm. The food for the worms comes from pig manure, that is why there is always a "SHIT" smell in the worms. Worms are transported in jam jars across the causeway every morning and delivered to the LFS, where the shop owner cleans them like a madman, but if you meet a lazy shopowner, pooo, that is the end of your fishes.
Normally hobbyists(diligent ones) prepare their worms in this way, soaking in tetracycline powder for 1 day, changing the water every 3 hours and them sieving with a fine net before usage.


Here are my findings:

1. Use of tubifex on juvenile/baby discus.

The use of tubifex worms on baby/juvenile discus has been much hyped, the huge growth rates, yes I do agree that the growth rate is magnificent as shown in the experiments below.

Test 1: 2 Tanks of baby discus (turquoise discus, same batch), abt 2 weeks old. One fed pigheart/brine shrimp the other tubifex.



1 weeks "
2 weeks 1"
3 weeks 1"
4 weeks 1"


The growth rate of fishes fed tubifex worms were significantly faster, but there were some drawbacks.

  • The fishes fed tubifex has short fins (top and bottom) and long body.

  • The fishes fed tubifex were more susceptible to illness and the use of medicine was not as effective as the fishes were much less resistant than their counterparts.

  • The fishes fed tubifex have a few cases of passing white feces.

  • Fishes looked too fat for my liking and did not pass my "quality circle"

PS: Please note that when feeding small discus, food must not be thrown in grave excess, it will cause the fishes to overeat and ultimately die.

2. Effects on juvenile discus 2"-4"

The effects of juvenile discus from 2"-4" are as shown below.

  • Fishes were very suspectible to open gill disease, hole in the head disease.

  • Their body was stout and fat, very unsightly for a discus.

  • They suffered from a MYSTERIOUS disease in which the fish would be healthy in appearance but suddenly float up grasping for air and then die without reason, no kind of medication or amt of medication can save the fish.

  • The fish was also seriously prone to changing colour, then asphyxiating before collapsing.

  • The fish achieved growth rates which was 1.4 times that of using beefheart and 1.27 times that of using pigheart.

  • The drawback was that fishes fed with tubifex could never reach the size of those massive fishes fed with pigheart.

3. Effects on adult discus 5"-8"

Breeding discus that are fed on tubifex was easy since live foods are stimulants for love making. However I found out that the fish could not take care of the babies easily since tubifex fed discus are not so large as their counterparts.
Apart from breeding difference, the fishes suffered from the same symptoms as those in 2"-4" range.


If you all out have no choice but to feed tubifex, I recommend that you fed in small quantities but at least 3 times a day and clean them thoroughly.

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