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Tubifex Worms

Strictly speaking, Tubifex worms are of the species Tubifex tubifex, but for ordinary people like me, the large numbers of similar species are also Tubifex Worms. 


Tubifex worms live in dirty water.  This includes places like sewage outlets.  They live on organic matter like bacteria although they probably eat whatever can fit into their small mouths.  Because of the general increase in the number of polluted bodies of water, there has probably been an increase in the numbers of Tubifex worms in the world.

In some places, you can see these worms in areas waving their tails in the water while their heads look for food.

Oxygen Requirements

Tubifex Worms have haemoglobin like Oxygen carrying pigments and they are adapted to low Oxygen situations.


Tubifex Worms are annelid worms related to the Earthworms.   There are huge numbers of other annelid worms.


Tubifex worms are hermaphrodites.  Like many animals which have both the male and the female organs on the same animal, these worms cannot fertilize themselves and have to find a partner to breed.

Fish Food

Tubifex and its relatives are very commonly used as fish food.  They are also a food commonly eaten by wild fish.  In recent years, their use as a live food has become less common because this worm can be an intermediate host for a disease called Whirling Disease.  This nasty disease affects some members of the trout family.

As far as I know, this disease is not present in Australia, but America and Europe does have it.

Black Worms

In Australia, the most common of the Tubifex type worms is a black species called Limnodrilus udekemianus.

In America, a worm referred to as the California Black Worm is called Lumbriculus variegates.

I would note that these two species of worm are probably not be suitable intermediate hosts for Whiling Disease.

Food Value

The various types of worm mentioned are an excellent source of protein, but may not be so good in relation to their fat make up.  They are a good conditioning food but should not be fed as the only food only as part of a varied diet.

Freeze Dried

Freeze dried Tubifex worms are also a good fish food.

Tubifex Worms
By Matthias Tilly (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons