Adrian R. Tappin 

First Published: ANGFA Bulletin: Issue 16, September 1993 


An article on the culturing of vinegar eels - Anguillula acetic/turbatrix, and the advantages they present over micro worms.

The Vinegar Eel, Anguillula acetic/turbatrix, is a free living, non-parasitic roundworm that is adapted to living in a low pH (acidic) medium. It is an excellent live food for native fish fry.

The worms are readily cultured in large numbers, provided certain procedures are followed. The worms must be grown in natural cider vinegar that has not been chemically treated to inhibit the growth of bacteria or yeast upon which the worms feed. Vinegar can be either diluted or pure as the worm can live in either pure vinegar or pure water.

The culturing container should be either glass or plastic. The culturing medium should be made up of about one part cider vinegar to three to five parts water. Another ingredient of the culture is the periodic addition of a piece of apple. This seems to add something that causes a greater population but is not absolutely necessary.

The problem of harvesting the vinegar eel worms may test the patience of the hobbyist until a procedure has been established. The most common method is to pour or siphon the culture through a coffee filter-paper. The filter-paper is then rinsed into a jar of clean aged water. The contents can then be poured into the fry tank. The worms will live for a long time in the tank but care should be taken to prevent supplying too much worms at one time.

The advantage of vinegar eels over micro worms is:

  • Vinegar eels will live for a long time in the Aquarium.
  • Vinegar eels swim in the water column and stay towards the surface.
  • Vinegar eels do not breath oxygen so don't create any problems in the fish tank.
  • Vinegar eels are just a little smaller than micro-worms, a great size for most baby fish.
  • Vinegar eel cultures require little attention (indeed they can be ignored for weeks at a time)
  • Vinegar eel cultures don't "go off" leaving an unpleasant smell.

The only drawback with vinegar eels is the harvesting method required - but it's well worth the effort.