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Does anyone have any experience or info on having a worm only operation? I'm entertaining the idea of keeping my fish density very low, but having a lot more worms in the flood and drain that we are incorporating. Another place I could add the worms are in the large bottom pots of the vertical towers. I've noticed the strawberries and some other plants on the bottom didn't produce as well.

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It all depends on what you feed to the system.  We already know that high quality fish feeds can produce pretty complete fertilizer for the plant part of the system.  When you start talking about feeding worms, there is far more variety in what you can feed them but it will also be far more difficult to know ahead of time if it is a complete fertilizer.  The nitrate levels would be fairly easy to check but keep in mind that the feed to the worms is normally going to be slower to break down to ammonia and then get converted to nitrate seeing as it doesn't have the trip through the fish to break it down into ammonia as quickly.

A vermiponics system will have the extra step of the hetertrophic bacteria needing to get established before the whole nitrogen cycle can even get really going.  (A little secret about worms and worm bins, the worms don't actually do most of the breaking down of scraps themselves, it is the worms symbiotic relationship with many great bacterias that make worms bins work so well.  The worms tend to let the bacteria get going on the scraps and then the worms most come along and slurp up the bacteria and slime that have been growing on the veggie scraps and that speeds up and multiplies the good bacteria that come out in their castings and speeds up the break down of the scraps.  And what is in the worm castings tends to be very good plant available nutrients that are fairly easy to make into solution, worm tea, to feed plants.)  I know, not very scientific but it kinda explains why worms are so symbiotic and beneficial to aquaponic gravel beds, they turn the solids slime into little quick dissolving nutrient pellet castings.  But, remember that the worms don't create the nutrients, they just help break them down and make them plant usable.  The nutrients you get will be dependent on what you fee to the worms.

I wish there was a like button... Thanks for a great reply TC.

Wow!

 

What knowledge, really very useful info...thank you :-)

TCLynx said:

It all depends on what you feed to the system.  We already know that high quality fish feeds can produce pretty complete fertilizer for the plant part of the system.  When you start talking about feeding worms, there is far more variety in what you can feed them but it will also be far more difficult to know ahead of time if it is a complete fertilizer.  The nitrate levels would be fairly easy to check but keep in mind that the feed to the worms is normally going to be slower to break down to ammonia and then get converted to nitrate seeing as it doesn't have the trip through the fish to break it down into ammonia as quickly.

A vermiponics system will have the extra step of the hetertrophic bacteria needing to get established before the whole nitrogen cycle can even get really going.  (A little secret about worms and worm bins, the worms don't actually do most of the breaking down of scraps themselves, it is the worms symbiotic relationship with many great bacterias that make worms bins work so well.  The worms tend to let the bacteria get going on the scraps and then the worms most come along and slurp up the bacteria and slime that have been growing on the veggie scraps and that speeds up and multiplies the good bacteria that come out in their castings and speeds up the break down of the scraps.  And what is in the worm castings tends to be very good plant available nutrients that are fairly easy to make into solution, worm tea, to feed plants.)  I know, not very scientific but it kinda explains why worms are so symbiotic and beneficial to aquaponic gravel beds, they turn the solids slime into little quick dissolving nutrient pellet castings.  But, remember that the worms don't create the nutrients, they just help break them down and make them plant usable.  The nutrients you get will be dependent on what you fee to the worms.

I very interested in what and how much nutrient will have to be supplemented for the plants in this type of system. I guess plants like lettuce will grow reasonably well but other more demanding plants will require we look, as you said TC, at our worm feed and supplement what's missing.

yea.  It could be fairly easy to experiment with worm feed but you still have to feed the system something if you expect to pull veggies out regularly.  It will likely be trial and error to figure out what to feed (just as it is for those trying to create their own feed for their fish) to get a good balance to grow plants.  Now some people have been doing this for a while and you can read their work and follow their methods to avoid some of the trial and error for yourself.

 

I like eating the fish so worms are only a part of my system.


Harold Sukhbir said:

I very interested in what and how much nutrient will have to be supplemented for the plants in this type of system. I guess plants like lettuce will grow reasonably well but other more demanding plants will require we look, as you said TC, at our worm feed and supplement what's missing.
Thanks TC. I've done lots of composting before and was figuring on the decomoposing food, beneficial bacteria created, worms etc would be great fertilizer. I don't want to cut the fish completely out of the equation, just thinking now that would like to add a whole lot of worms to it and keep the fish low..which I'm thinking would also cut down on the amount of natural feed needed.

TCLynx said:

yea.  It could be fairly easy to experiment with worm feed but you still have to feed the system something if you expect to pull veggies out regularly.  It will likely be trial and error to figure out what to feed (just as it is for those trying to create their own feed for their fish) to get a good balance to grow plants.  Now some people have been doing this for a while and you can read their work and follow their methods to avoid some of the trial and error for yourself.

 

I like eating the fish so worms are only a part of my system.


Harold Sukhbir said:

I very interested in what and how much nutrient will have to be supplemented for the plants in this type of system. I guess plants like lettuce will grow reasonably well but other more demanding plants will require we look, as you said TC, at our worm feed and supplement what's missing.

I'm very interested to hear how the vermiponics experiments go.  Please keep us informed!

I am sure this is quite a bit more elementary that you are referring to, but here's a vermiponics example from a Canadian worm supplier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaWS09--0Cs

It's my understanding he has given up on the experiement for now, but it's kind of interesting.

I grow worms in those black utility bins in the video, which works very well. Those things will support a lot of worms.  I have one in my garage and use it as a holding bin for worms while I'm waiting to sell them.

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