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iLabs: Visitor Question — How Long Will Vinegar Eels Live?

July 5, 2012

Today’s visitor question was about Vinegar eels, specifically, How Long Do They Live?

In searching various sites, I came across the following information:

Vinegar eels give  birth to live young (the fertilized eggs hatch in the uterus), every 8-10 days. They can give birth to as many as 45 at a time. There are 4 larval forms before they reach adulthood and it takes about 5 weeks to reach adulthood.

Their total life span seems to be about 10 months.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie Ray permalink
    July 8, 2012 11:06 pm

    I think you can see both males and females in the images you have posted. The males have curled posteriors and are thinner than the females. It would be very cool if you could film the emergence of the newborns!

  2. July 15, 2012 9:10 am

    Hi Maggie! First, thank you for the information re males vs females. That is a big help in knowing what I’m seeing. Re the emergence of the newborns, now that WOULD be very cool. I am going to add that to my to-do list!

    Now I have a question perhaps you can help me with. How do the vinegar eels get into bottles of commercially marketed, but unpasteurized apple cider vinegar? I am trying to find out what their life cycle is, i.e. are the worms in the natural environment and they encyst and then are carried either air-borne, or on the surface of the apples and end up in the vinegar that way? Any info would be appreciated. There just ISN’T much info I can find. All sites that talk about “life cycles” of vinegar eels, simply say “buy a culture” and here’s how to keep them alive. 😦


    • Maggie Ray permalink
      July 15, 2012 6:36 pm

      check out this link!
      curious connection between fungi and nematodes.

      re: distribution. Nematodes along with rotifers and tardigrades can go into an ametabolic state. The particles that result can be blown around by the wind or carried in water. But research is not clear on whether this accounts for the wide distribution of these meiofauna. In tardigrades this stage is called a “tun,” I’m not sure if there is a special name for the rotifer or free living nematode forms. Nematodes curl up on themselves. There are some SEM images of this, I think, in most invertebrate textbooks. I’ll try to find you some links for these images.

      re: movement: the nematodes muscular structure is interesting…they don’t have any circular muscles, only longitudinal ones, so their movement is very distinctive…no getting thinner and thicker like earthworms do,,,only thrashing about, “whiplashing” by shortening and lengthening the fibers.

      rotifer muscles allow for both types of movement allowing them to get longer and shorter and also thicker and thinner.

      tardigrade movement is also distinct among these three because they have appendages and muscle structure which allows them to walk.

      You can see all three of these animals when you look at the water that results from soaking and squeezing moss.


  1. iLabs: Of Vinegar Eels, Rotifers and Water Bears….Revisited « NC Museum of Natural Sciences Education Blog

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