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As I was starting my grow beds I added a few worms that I caught in the garden every time it rained, as every time it rained the worms would find shelter from the water under the planks I left out for them. I added 6 to 10 worms per grow bed during a three week period. The other day when adding new plants I noticed every time I dug a hole in the media I had worms! As worms live on decaying material I started burying leaves of some of my plants that the caterpillars started to eat, so the extra worms could still get a feed. So questions?

1. Is the large percentage off worms the reason for my high Nitrate levels?

2. Should I keep burying leaves to feed the worms?

Thoughts please,

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Adam, That's basically what I'm doing. The fact that they eat what's on the filter cartridge indicates the beds should be clean. 

I agree. With the exception of things they won't eat (tiny pieces of whatever). In fact, I just expanded my bed, removing all plants. I took the media and worms from the others and can say that the process revealed a pretty clean bed for it being in place for over 6 months and considering what my filter cartridges (these are for my bio wheel filter that hangs over the side) look like weekly.

I may use that idea the next time I clean my filter on the indoor system, thanks Adam. The only thing is my system with the worms is outdoors and worms don’t like sunlight? I cleaned my indoor filters today, I was going to pickup some new ones this week, I have gone through a set already,

If you lay the filters flat on your media they will come. There's a worm night shift too LOL.

You can also just cover the filter with a little media or a dark covering and they will do the rest. Doesn't take but about a day.

Well I have to pickup two new filters this week plus a small carbon bag, when I get them the worms can work all week on the other filters, I have to change the indoor filters once per week due to the size of the fish, only 12 months since I brought them, the largest one is 45cm/15inches. Full size is 1.8mtr /6foot long. I also have to find a bigger BBQ.

While evaluating my experimental system (barrel) my grow tank feed pipes were delivering the fish tank water below the gravel in the grow bed - apparently this keeps algae and odors at bay.  I had many a time blockages - this was eventually traced to worm clogging in the pipes . Since then my feed pipe delivers water a few mm above the surface - out of reach of any adventurous worms - and my worms are very happy in the beds - and no odors and algae.

As with any eco-system the number of worms will track (lag) the available food source.  I frequently check the grow beds for worm activity to evaluate the systems health.

Interesting to read about cleaning the filters using the worms in the grow bed - is it then not better to omit the filter and let the fish solids being catch in the grow bed?  At the moment I'm catching solids in a radial flow filter - but are tempted to omit as I'm migrating to a larger IDC system with added grow bed capacity. 



I placed some polyfiber (pillow stuffing) under the water feed pipes to catch excess solids entering the GBs. Turns out the worms eat off the solids as fast as they gather on the poly. You can also pick up the poly and move some worms to another location if you want as there can be 25-50 worms attached at any time. I'll be cleaning my beds in a few weeks and depending on what I find I may bypass the swirl filter. Right now I take the solids from the swirl and feed them to worms in my worm bins and they love it.

Got the new filters for the indoor system Saturday, did the water change Sunday and placed the filters in the grow bed and covered with leaves. Its Tuesday morning here the 1st of spring. Here is a picture of the little worms cleaning the filters.

  Hi, All.  Been a while since I had time to stop in and see my friends at the Aquaponics Community. We've been busy out of the USA and are 'home' now, and busier than ever...I saw this thread and wanted to add just one bit of info to this discussion.  To allay the thoughts that redworms are munching-out on healthy roots of plants in your AP systems:

     Redworms are secondary decomposers and do not have a set of teeth as you might think.  This means that they are actually feeding on the microbial population that first "attacks" the dead or dying/decomposing matter, and then the worms get to work on the microbes.  Often this happens side-by-side so-to-speak (the primary decomposing of the microbes and the secondary work of the redworms)  and it may appear that the works might be eating live plant matter. Redworms do consume 'mushy' matter.  So what you are most likely witnessing with the redworms balled up around the roots of live plants is actually the 'clean-up' going in.  Be thankful. The wormcastings they leave behind are very high in plant available nutrients.  This means that the nutrients are readily available for the plant to take-up and use without the  need for bio-chemical conversion. Worm castings also naturally contain plant growth hormones (auxins and gibberellins) which make for better root systems and top-side plant growth. Healthier plants can handle insect and malady pressures and ward them off better than plants which are struggling.  So those redworms are doing the plants a big service.

     When you offer worms to fish that have been raised on commercial fish food, it takes a while for them to recognize them as a source of food, and accept them.   Even if the fish do not eat the redworms you offer at first, do not worry.  A few live worms at the bottom of your fish tanks is okay.  The will live there just fine since your water is aerated, and they will help to consume and fish poo that is not getting moved out of the tanks.  Eventually they will get consumed...However, I would not be putting many worms in the fish tanks until the fish begin to consume them.

       My personal recommendation is to skip the filtering and let the fish solid wastes flow into the grow beds.  The redworms will make short work of this nutrient source, and further benefit the plants in your growbeds.. Without having to manage filters, there will be one less step for you to have to deal with. 

  My best to you in this!

- Converse

Welcome back Converse and thanks for the followup. I'm thinking of dumping all my fish waste from the filter in my compost bins where there are worms until I confirm that they are keeping my beds clean. What do you think?

Thanks for the information Converse. I feel more relieved that the worms are not eating my healthy plant roots, I use filters. (I know I am bad) the filters on my IBC system are for collecting the algae and excess food, plus fish waste. My filter breaks down the solids and releases the nutrients back into the water, its not an aggressive filter! The filters pictured above are from my indoor aquarium where I have my summer fish, minimum temp 20deg for growing, they grow to 1.8mtr or six feet long. I need a bigger aquarium as they are finding it hard to turn around,

On a side note. I add the aquarium waste water to my aquaponics system to the grow beds each week, today over 80ltrs.

Cheers David.

Now I have a real problem! My daughter has acquired two axolotls. And now she feels the need to harvest my worms? To feed them! She went out earlier and left two worms in my fridge in a cup of water, their still wiggling? I think it’s the fridge door light that is upsetting them.

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