Aquaponic Gardening

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There has been some (much?) chatter on other AP forums about using redworms in your media beds to "process" your solids.  I love this idea!  Not only are the solids removed, but the plants benefit from the vermicompost.  I added about a pound of worms in my six beds a few weeks ago, and I'm hoping that they are happily going to town in there.

So here are my questions...

Do you use worms in your system?  How many to use per square ft of bed?  When do you add?  Do you feed them something (food scraps) besides the delicious fish solids?  

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My standard answer about worms. I added a small hand full of worms with their castings to each of my grow beds. They will expand their population to balance with the food source and environment. And if they get sucked into the fish tank, I wouldn't worry. If it is well aerated water, they will survive and eat whatever they can slurp up from the bottom of the fish tank and if your fish are big enough to eat them they will and if not, they won't. If the worms die, you know you might benefit from some more aeration. Worms can survive just fine completely submerged long term as long as the water has enough dissolved oxygen in it.

For a ten gallon grow bed, you could probably do just fine with 6-12 worms though more would be fine. The can o worms worm farm probably holds about the same amount of material that a 10 gallon grow bed would and those are often stocked with 2000 worms to start (though they are a different purpose and get fed much more than the worms in a grow bed would.) You need at least two mature worms of the same species to have breeding going on (even through worms have both sets of sex organs, they need a partner to make it work, both worms will lay cocoons.)
I have a separate worm bin that I feed with our veggie scraps. Two days ago I gave them a feed of yuck from the filters on my tanks. I basically squeeze and swish the filter foam in a bucket (much too often) to clear them out. I let the fish poo settle, then drained off the water into another bucket. Then I took a handful of bedding from the worm bin and mopped up all the gack. Put bedding/gack mixture back in bin.

I checked up on the bin today and almost ALL the worms have zipped over to the fish goo/bedding cocktail. It's a feeding frenzy!(kinda like in slow motion though).

I'm sure you already knew worms like fish poo, but I'm delighted they like it even more than all the other stuff I'm feeding them.
Hey everyone. Im new to the site and well to the aquaponic world as it is. I have been doing hydroponics for a little while, nothing too serious just for seed starting and cutting starting mainly. Well i have reciently built my aquaponics system and so far it all seems to be going well. I have about 30 gallons of water that circulate through my system. Technicaly my fish only live in a 15 gallon tank but i also have another tank i call my "clean" tank. I have built my system out of "recycled" items that i have salvaged from the country club i work at, plus a few bought, The fish live in a cylindrical Pepsi cooler, the ones you would see at a gas station or amusement park. The water from this tank gets pumped out into a "solids filter."My origional design was just a large funnel with a mesh screen at the bottom like u use for wine making. Put about a 2 inch layer of hydrotin that is then topped of with about 6 inches of pearlite. So the water comes through a pvc tube from the fish tank, trickles down through the filter, then drops into a 20 gallon rubbermaide toat. The "clean" water is then pumped into my grow beds and back to the fish tank. I have poasted a Youtube video of the set up @http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MChB3L3KL2Y. Any way, the whole reason i even found this site is i have reciently added worms to my funnel filter. In doing reserch on vermiponics and aquaponics, i came to the conclusion that i wanted to use worms somewhere to add the missing nutrients to the system instead of buying chelated iron and potasium supliments. It then hit me, why not put them in the solids filter. Since none of the solids make it to my grow beds anyway it really is the only logical place for them. So i have since transformed the origional funnel into a 5 gallon trash can funnel of sorts. A video is coming soon to show the change. I still have the funnel in place and have been feeding my few worms plant cuttings in addition to the poo they have already got. I have a one pound shipment of red wiglers comming soon, so i can then set up the 5 gallon filter. I plan on putting food scraps into the bin just as in vermacomposting. Dose anyone see any potential problem with this? Any feed back at all would be greatly helpful! Thanks
Thanks Kobus for the input. I take a daily ph level, water temprature, ammonia, and a 6 in 1 test including nitrite and nitrate. My system is still very young, planted and inhabited by fish for 13 days now. I keep a daily log of my water, fish health, and plant health. I havnt really started feeding my worms anything besides the fish waste and a broccoli leaf, just to get a judge of there actions and water quality. Like i said earlier, my system is still young and still cycling. I use the nitrogen chart on one of the aquaponic gardening pages to monator my progres as far as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels go. I have added bacteria i found in the pet store for expediated cycling. Ive read that they may or may not be effective. So far i think im about 10 days ahead of the curve on the chart, so seems to be working. In the first week of just letting water run through my system i also added one ounce of water soluble mycorrhizae powder that contains endo- and ectomycorrhizal fungi spores, Trichoderma, and beneficial bacteria. I have used it in my hydro seed starter as well as for my potted plants with steral soild. The roots i have examined from a broccoli, in a matter of 1 week, have the best lookins rizhosphere. The plants really seem to benefit. I have read the fungi help with o2 levels intake and desiese resistance as well. I would recomend this product to anyone! I think i ordered it from a place called Fungi Perfecti at www.fungi.com. I also added cheleated iron plus a few other nutrients. Just because i saw murry do it in a video, not sure if i even needed it yet but didnt see any harm in it. I guess ill keep up with it based on signs of deficiency.How can i determin a sustainable quantity of worms if they were to just eat the fish solids? Trial and error? Look for dead worms? Lack of reproduction? Or do u think i should still give them limited food scraps? Im not woried about the oxygen levels since i have a large bubble stone in my fish tank as well as in the "clean tank."The water is a constant flow through the worm/filter house. i think that should be affective for keeping the enviroment aerobic. I also keep the water temp at around 66 degreese farenheit. Ive read this is right arround the optimal temprature for holding disolved oxygen. My ph stays right around 6.8. So thanks again and hope to learn more soon!
You are not likely to find dead worms unless they crawl out and dry up. They decompose rapidly and the bacteria and their fellows must eat the remains quickly. Worm are fairly good at self regulating, I only added a small hand full of worms to each of my large grow beds when I started out and they have multiplied well so if you only add a small number to the solids filter, I'm sure they will multiply up to the level of the feed and then level out there.

I also don't know much about the fungi and how it might benefit in a hydro or AP system. Perhaps that would be worth you starting a whole new thread about.
Im a chef in a fairly large kitchen, so i have the ability to choose basically whatever food scraps i could possibly want. Do you guys know what would be the optimal food source for the worms? Potato peels, foods naturally high in iron and calcuim like broccoli, and egg shells? I would like to start a thred on the fungi in my system. I have only limited knowledge on its effects, mostly just on personable experiance and a few videos. But, and im sure this sounds very amiture, im not really sure how to start a thred. Im sure if i pick around ill find it. So hopefuly ill find out how and start another discussion on the fungi topic. Ill post a pic or video of the new and improved solids filter/ worm hotel soon.
Ok found out how to start the fungi thred. Thakns for the advise!
John, Cool a Chef, so you could get all the scraps you want and feed lots of worm bins and BSF bins and get free feed additives for your fish!
Sure can. You should see my compost pile! My fieance thinks im nots, maybe not to far from the truth, but ya. We throw away soooooo much food srcap, egg shells, egg cartons, ect. So im on the search for the ultimate worm/ nutrient food supliment. What food scraps can i feed to my goldfish? I have a co-worker who feeds his just about everything from squash to fish scraps. Any advise?
Ya just have to keep an eye on the water quality as you feed and see what works ok and gets eaten and avoid using things the don't get eaten or foul the water.

Of course I was thinking more along the lines of feeding the scraps to BSF larva bins and worm bins to grow those as feed for the fish.

Oh, and I'm a compost fanatic too so I won't think your nuts and I know of many more people who love their compost too so we have good company.

John Gelineau said:
Sure can. You should see my compost pile! My fieance thinks im nots, maybe not to far from the truth, but ya. We throw away soooooo much food srcap, egg shells, egg cartons, ect. So im on the search for the ultimate worm/ nutrient food supliment. What food scraps can i feed to my goldfish? I have a co-worker who feeds his just about everything from squash to fish scraps. Any advise?


Nate Storey said:
Would there be a way to sweet-talk the little buggers out of my matrix- material inerts? Light, heat, soaking, music? Anyone know how to get 'em out?

Nate, I'd use Music.
An old fisherman's trick is to insert a straight stick several inches into the ground, and rub another stick across the top, like playing a fiddle (or saw). The worms would start wiggling out of the earth going straight up and out.
It produced a sine wave, I guess, so you could do the same on the zip tubes with dowels. Or a taut fishing line and a bow.
Or a didgeridoo.
Or attach a speaker and (starting at a low volume) put a sine wave, 60 to 90 cycles, into the tube. Catch 'em in a bowl below the zip tube.

The second time you do it, please make a video of it for us! :D It should evoke a mass evacuation but not harm 'em (if the amplitude is within reason).

Rick

I read an article a while back, Scientific American I think where someone actually did a study on why this works. Turns out the sound makes the worms think a mole (shrew?  I forget) is coming I guess they are pretty feared by worms as a predator, so if the worms hear that they go above ground, the risk of getting eaten is less up there at that moment. pretty interesting piece of trivia... Oh yeah I have redworms in my growbeds and they are thriving. When i dig up the gravel by the inlets they seem almost hyperactive compared to the worms in my composter!

Rick Op said:



Nate Storey said:
Would there be a way to sweet-talk the little buggers out of my matrix- material inerts? Light, heat, soaking, music? Anyone know how to get 'em out?

Nate, I'd use Music.
An old fisherman's trick is to insert a straight stick several inches into the ground, and rub another stick across the top, like playing a fiddle (or saw). The worms would start wiggling out of the earth going straight up and out.
It produced a sine wave, I guess, so you could do the same on the zip tubes with dowels. Or a taut fishing line and a bow.
Or a didgeridoo.
Or attach a speaker and (starting at a low volume) put a sine wave, 60 to 90 cycles, into the tube. Catch 'em in a bowl below the zip tube.

The second time you do it, please make a video of it for us! It should evoke a mass evacuation but not harm 'em (if the amplitude is within reason).

Rick

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