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PostPosted: May 24th, '12, 12:45 
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Where I live, composting worms dont seem to be available for sale. I've tried earthworms whenever I come across them, but while they live, I'm not sure they are best suited for the conditions in a biofilter or in the grow beds.


I however do recall that on instances when I went to a farm to get manure, there were some worms in some of the older batches of manure, red ones if my memory serves me correctly. I'm willing to wager that these may be a variety of composting worms, which may be useful.

However I'm aware that waste and worms from mammals may come in contact with disease pathogens, and I'm wondering if this is worth the risk. Is there any way to decontaminate the worms without hurting them or distressing them? Or can the chance be taken by putting them into the system?


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PostPosted: May 24th, '12, 13:34 
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Your post made me laugh, Bourbon. The concept of 'hurting or distressing worms' seems so paradoxical to me, in the overall context of raising fish, poultry and mammals for slaughter, that I am still chuckling ten minutes later. Hey, if the worms look distressed after your attempts to decontaminate them, then throw them to your fish for a quick and (hopefully) painless death.
I believe the issue of inadvertently introducing pathogens, pests or toxins into a system, however, is a potentially important one. For instance, how safe are worms for your AP system, or to feed to your fish directly, if collected from horse manure produced by horses that have recently been chemically treated for some ailment? Hopefully there are some vets or biologists on the forum who will respond to your question.

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PostPosted: May 24th, '12, 14:30 
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Ok my two bob here, I have not yet started my aquaponic system but I have operated worm farms at my place for a few years. One thing I was taught by Bob the commercial worm farmer at Landsbourgh Qld a gentleman who helped write the book on worm farming was Never give your worms animal manure especially horse unless you are 210% sure the animal has not been treated with chemical.

He tells the true story of another commercial worm farmer in the area who feed his worms horse manure from a local stable. Great deal all the manure he can cart away except, they did not tell him that they had wormed the horses and that the chemicals stay in the manure for three weeks.

So that left one commercial worm farmer in the district because worms are worms and what kills horse worms will kill all worms.

I just build my compost bins and after six months they are broken down and filled with different compost worms which are easy to separate. If you build a compost pile correctly the worms will come even if you believe there are none around. During cold weather it might just take longer.

Sorry but that is more like 3 bobs worth.

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PostPosted: May 24th, '12, 16:26 
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Where I live, composting worms dont seem to be available for sale. I've tried earthworms whenever I come across them, but while they live, I'm not sure they are best suited for the conditions in a biofilter or in the grow beds.

If you want to find composting worms then simply find a shady area in a healthy garden with mulch or leaf litter that’s moist underneath and in the process of breaking down. Remove the top layer of dry mulch/leaf material and you should find composting worms in the layer of damp organic material that is breaking down.

Or, as stated before, pile up some organic material, leaf litter, plant prunings, lawn clippings etc, in a shady part of your garden. Keep the pile moist, not wet, and don't "turn it over" as you normally would a hot compost pile... after a while the compost worms will just show up. They will be in the lower part of the pile just above the soil and around the edges of the pile.

I have a couple of large terracotta pots on my patio that I use to “age” potting mix before use. I simply empty new bags of potting mix into these pots and give them a sprinkle of water every day. After a few months the potting mix is not only much better for my plants, but is also full of worms, even though I don’t add any.

If you believe the worms you speak of, the ones in the older manure are composting worms, then you could make a small impromptu worm farm using a 9L bucket, or terracotta pot, to remove the worms from the manure and “cleanse” them, so-to-speak.

- Drill a number of 6mm drain holes in the bottom of the bucket

- Place about 50mm of clean, coarse gravel in the bottom of the bucket and then stand the bucket on a couple of bricks or pieces of timber in a shady spot in your yard, so the bucket is a few inches off the ground, this will deter the worms from dropping out.

-Then put a 50mm layer of moist organic material, leaf litter etc, followed by a 25mm layer of good quality loamy soil or potting mix in the bucket. Repeat the layers, moistening the contents as you go, until the bucket is nearly full to the brim.

- Place some of the manure containing the worms on the surface, but don’t wet it. As the manure dries out the worms will come out of it and down into the bucket of organic material. They will then find a layer that suits them, moisture and temp wise etc.

- Once the manure on the surface has dried out, remove it and then keep the bucket/pot full of organic material moist, but not wet. After a few weeks the worms would have well and truly cleansed themselves of any manure and mother nature’s checks and balances would’ve taken care of any pathogens, you could then add them to your AP system.

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PostPosted: May 25th, '12, 05:22 
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Nice advice here. Thanks.


And yes, I've scouted for worms by looking in moist areas. I think they have been doing fair to fine, however I usually only have the time to turn up maybe 5 at a time so in that respect maybe by getting more it may help. My thing is, those are earthworms that seem content to burrow generally. The ones in manure may in my view be more concerned about eating anything they can.


I'm planning to do some expansion to my system soon, so I would take all the suggestions into consideration and try them out. Its primarily to break down solids in the beds, not really for feeding, I prefer to use larvae for that.


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PostPosted: May 25th, '12, 07:54 
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You only need a few worms to start.

With my first AP system I only put in half a dozen worms, nine months later when I dismantled it there were dozens and dozens of them, so many we stopped counting.

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