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The Bug Farm
San Rafael, CA 94903  USA

2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, J.Atchison

Graphic_GutLoading.gif (7093 bytes)
What a disgusting topic. What makes it even worse is that as I am typing this, the family is in the kitchen cooking dinner. Something tells we I should get a life.

Gut loading is not like going to a fish meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area (where we live) and chowing down on Pizza (is seems that the majority of the fish groups meet in the meetings rooms within pizza parlors)...Gut Loading and Dusting are serious methods of delivery that may be a valuable tool for you to use with your critters.

The worm groups (Grindals, whiteworms and redworms) can all be fed alternative foods just prior to feeding the worms to your fish. The old adage, you are what you eat is extremely applicable with worms. The challenge is what to feed and when to feed it. The worms have a relatively short and very straight gut which also means that whatever they eat does not stay there very long. The nutritional benefit of continually feeding vitamins or other enriched formulas to the worms would be highly questionable as they, like all organisms, will convert the vitamins (etc.) into normal body tissue. The conversion of food to tissue is not very efficient...and on a large scale the poor conversion is expensive.

So what would you want to feed the worms to give the recipient critters a boost? The easiest thing to feed is enriched fish foods. Any of the dry powered foods will be eaten by the worms. Simply sprinkle the food on the medium and spray with a little water to moisten the food. For some fish, algae and other plant material is a necessary part of their diet...in that case, spirulina flakes can be used. For most fish, any of the vitamin fortified or enriched foods would be a good choice. Some folks swear by cat food pellets as a good source of food. You might check on the nutritional supplements on the cat food bag, but some of these foods would undoubtedly container enriched material. You might also consult with your cat...ours for example is fat...the food is good.

Some of the cultures don't eat food sprinkled on the top of the soil like the worms do. In the case of microworms, you can feed them on enriched oatmeal. The benefit of that would be in some sort of question since there have been no studies done on the subject and no material written to support the effort. The same can be said for most of the cultures. We don't know the answers. However, we have observed the growth rate of most of these critters and based upon our observations over the years seriously doubt if the food eaten today is within the microworms or vinegar eels that resides in the medium tomorrow. There are some cultures that may not benefit from Gut Loading and which also can not be Dusted with any sort of reliability.

However...the flies and beetles groups can also be used to carry additional nutritional material to the critters which you intend to feed them to. The flies and beetles can not be gut loaded as with the worms, but rather you can dust them with various powdered compounds just prior to feeding to your critters. This method of delivery has long been used by herp enthusiasts when feeding their frogs and such. Again, any of the powdered vitamins or foods (powdered, not simply finely ground) can be sprinkled on the flies, beetles, crickets and mealworms just before feeding them to the critters. It's a little bit of trouble, but sometimes you need to go to the extra effort. Calcium and vitamin suppliments are the two primarly dusting components...both sorely lacking in most foods. Without dusting, some foods will not provide the basic nutritional elements required to metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates properly.

"We grow food not bait"


 

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