The Nightcrawler Diet – What To Feed Nightcrawlers

Last Updated on April 27, 2022 by Jeffery Jago

There are a variety of reasons you would want to keep Nightcrawlers around. From fishing to gardening to animal feed, they are truly multipurpose. Also known as ‘the grunt worm’, their main purpose when it comes to industrial worm farming is for fish hook bait. They are the ideal worm for this. However, some people like to use them in their gardens, composting, or just simply as a pet. So what to feed nightcrawlers to keep them happy and healthy? What do you feed nightcrawlers to keep them alive?

TL;DR for skimmers

Nightcrawlers are decomposers. They eat other invertebrates, decaying plant matter, and fungi. These types of organisms break down food into its constituent parts so that it can be absorbed by whatever eats them next in the food chain.

What do nightcrawlers eat?

Just like our friendly neighborhood earthworm, night-crawlers enjoy a wide variety of decomposing organic matter. the average night crawler diet consists of:

  • Decomposing veggies
  • Decomposing fruit
  • Decomposing plant matter
  • Fungi
  • Other microorganisms
  • Lard & Cornmeal

The typical diet for nightcrawlers in captivity consists of pig and chicken mash mixed with shortening or lard. You can also add cornmeal into that mixture.

Generally though, for home worm keepers that aren’t on an industrial scale, it’s not a wise idea to give meats to your worms.

In large-scale operations, you can assume all the meat will get eaten before it has a chance to decay and poison the soil. There is no guarantee for this at home.

So, if you are just intending to feed night-crawlers at home for fishing, consider a simple diet of moldy bread, fruit, and veggie skins.

The food you give your crawler should be nice and moist so the worm is able to eat and digest it.

If you intend on keeping one as a dear pet and wish it to have a longer, healthier life span, Consider diversifying your diet a bit.

How often should I feed nightcrawlers?

This will take a little trial and error based on your nightcrawler’s size, species, weight, and the amount you have in the container.

Add small amounts of the above-mentioned foods slowly at first.

If they don’t eat it all within 2 days, Lower the amount you feed them. If they consumed it all before or in 2 days, Add more.

Keep doing this until you find the correct amount of food for your particular nightcrawlers.

Keep in mind that if you are breeding your crawlers, as the population increases so will the foot consumption, so adjust accordingly!

Worms eat more during the warmer summer months. If the area you keep your worms it is not climate controlled, don’t be surprised if they start eating less food during the colder months of the year.

Do I have to bury the food?

No, you do not have to bury food for nightcrawlers. They live in permanent tunnels and will come to the surface to collect food and bring it back down to their burrows. Interestingly enough, you will rarely see a nightcrawler come all the way out of its tunnel.


If you are just looking at what to feed nightcrawlers in a home setting, Fruit, Veggies, Cornmeal, and various plant litter. If on an industrial scale, The University of Langston has a great lard cornmeal mixture.

How much to feed nightcrawlers

When it comes to feeding nightcrawlers, the general rule of thumb is to give them about half their weight in food each day.

If you’ve got a big bin of worms, you should always top it off with fresh food so that they have enough to eat.

You can’t really overfeed your worms, but it’s important to remember that the more food you add, the more decomposition is going to begin happening inside the bin.

This can lead to a number of problems, so it’s best to be moderate with your feeding and make sure you’re only adding small amounts at a time.

An increase in food can also cause a direct increase in water content, which can make the bin too wet and create an unhealthy environment for your worms.

As long as you’re giving them a little bit of food each day and keeping an eye on the moisture levels, your worms should be just fine.

How often to feed nightcrawlers

It’s generally recommended that you feed your nightcrawlers every day or every other day.

If you notice that the food is getting eaten quickly, then you can increase the frequency of feeding.

On the other hand, if the food is starting to rot or there’s a lot of uneaten food in the bin, then you may need to feed your worms less often.

It’s also important to be mindful of the moisture level in your worm bin and make sure that it doesn’t get too wet or too dry.

If you notice that the bin is getting too moist, then this could be an indication that you’re overfeeding your worms or the food you’ve been adding is too wet (Fruit, veg, etc).