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Earthworms as Fish Food


  1. Earthworm Cultures !!
    by (Steve Bartling) (17 Apr 90)
  2. Earthworms (more details please)
    by (matthew.kaufman) (Sun, 16 Aug 1992)
  3. Red Worms as Fish Food?
    by (Ken Koellner) (27 Jan 1993)
  4. Spider Mites
    by Beverly Erlebacher <bae/> ( Wed, 21 Oct 1998)
  5. Live Black worms and other cultures...
    by "Cory and Susanne Williamson" <webwill/> (Tue, 22 Feb 2000)

Earthworm Cultures !!

by (Steve Bartling)
Date: 17 Apr 90
Newsgroup: sci.aquaria,alt.aquaria

In article <> (V. Kutty) writes:
>I have heard/read a lot of different approaches to raising earthworms for
>feeding larger fish. Steve, how do you raise yours? How many do you harvest
>                                                         Vinny.

Hi Vinny and netlanders et. al.,

To raise earthworms cheaply and easily :

1) build a box out of wood ( any size is fine, a bigger box
   = more worms ) ( apt dwellers can make do with a 1' x 1' x 8" box)

   a) attach the top with two cheap hinges 
   b) drill/cut two 2-inch holes in the front of the box
      in such a way as to line up the bottom of the hole
      with the bottom of the inside of the box
   c) paint the box with any outdoor rated, oil based paint.
   d) place a small piece of fine plastic screen against
      holes that were drilled/cut. Make sure that you place
      the screen on the inside of the box. Firmly nail the
      screen into place. The screen will allow the box to drain,
      but will not allow the worms to escape.

The box is now complete.

2) prepare the box for worms

   a) buy enough peat moss from a garden supply store or nursery
      to fill up the box ( remember the peat moss will compact
      after it gets soaking wet )
   b) place the peat moss in the box and completely soak the
      peat moss ( stir it up until you are sure it is uniformly
      wet ). 
   c) get 6 bricks
   d) place one brick at each front corner and two bricks at each
      rear corner so that the box slopes forward and can drain
      from the holes.
   e) place a pan under the holes to catch the future runoff
      ( unless you place the box outside ). Note, after worms
      are growing, the runoff is great for plants.

3) Now, for the worms 

   a) go buy three or four boxes of the smallest worms that
      you can find at a fish and tackle shop.
   b) put the worms in the box
   c) buy some corn meal ( a small bag will last forever !! )
      This is all the worms need for addequate nutrition.
   d) every three or four days, sprinkle a LIGHT layer of corn
      meal on top of the peat moss. Note : before you apply
      each new layer, use a small, tined garden hand tool to
      stir up the peat moss and to mix the corn meal left over
      from the previous feeding into the peat moss.
   e) Wait about a month, and you will discover that you have
      literally millions of worms ranging in size from 
      tiny little young worms to fully adult worms. The baby
      worms can be used for small fish and very young fish, while
      the larger worms will easily satify the live food 
      requirements of even the most ravenous large fish.
   f) this is an infinitely renewable resource !!! You can
      not possibly feed your fish enough worms to reduce
      or even dent the supply. I have been keeping worms
      for fishing and for fish food for 17 years, TRUST ME !!
   g) the peat moss must be kept damp by periodic watering.
      Don't over water !! Do not allow it to dry out !! The
      worms will die QUICKLY if the peat moss dries out.
      Fortunately, peat moss retains water very well, and
      watering is rarely needed. 
   h) The worms must not be allowed to freeze. The worms and the
      worm box will not smell and can be kept in garages or closets
      during the winter. The worms do not like being baked in
      the full evening sun in the summer ( you will kill them ).
      Place them in a shady location if they are left outside.
   i) keep the lid closed, worms like it dark.

4) Other uses for Earthworms !

   a) potted plants love earthworms !!
   b) gardens love earthworms !!
   c) lawns love earthworms !!
   d) fish love earthworms !!
   e) Gorbeshev loves earthworms !! 
      Well, maybe not :-)
- Steve Bartling, man of many 'strange' talents. Raising worms is
                 one more reason for my wife to love me :-)

email :

Earthworms (more details please)

by (matthew.kaufman)
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1992

In article <> (Howard Rebel) writes:
>Is it really that easy Phill?
Indoors, now. Outdoors, maybe.
>Does the shape of the container matter, will a 30 gallon plastic 
>garbage can work for example.
I'm using those cheapo styrofoam coolers, havnig had a gnat invasion
I wish I'd used a fish styro instead.
>How many adult worms are needed to get it started?
Dozen or two.
>How many adults per cubic foot of container?
Duh. Lots, hopfeully :-)
>How many baby worms does an adult have at a time and how often do they
>reproduce?  Is it seasonal?
I think it's temperature based - warmer is better, but no too warm.
Low-mid 70's works. They're asexual and lay an 'egg' that contains 1 wormlet.
>How long does it take the young to become 1 inch long.
>What temperature is cool?
>How large a container do I need to supply 200 feeder worms a week?
That's a lot of worms. I typically use about 10 a week from my styor
container, that seems to be 'right.' I think a big, deep container (laundry
tub?) that you can put a lid on would work.

Moisture is important,too. Steve Bartling, who used to show up here,
built boxes with drains in them and kep the soil fairly damp, that does seem
to work for me (borderline soupy).
>Does the culture need to be divided or renewed in some way?
If the soil fouls, yes. I typically bury the food so I have to watch for this.

You're feeding goldfish, so I can see needing a lot of worms. Consider growing
them outside in wood boxes in peat/topsoil. That'll probably produce
more in the warm weather. Still, 1 worm/week is probably enough food
for your average small fish.
>Howard Rebel 

"I am the chosen one."  | Copyright 1992 Permission for
                        | reproduction in printed media or by pay-for-read
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Red Worms as Fish Food?

by (Ken Koellner)
Date: 27 Jan 1993

There is been a discussion of red wigglers for composting in
rec.gardens in the last couple days.  I saved one of the most
informative post.  Here it is.  See rec.gardens for more info.  It's a
good news group.

Tue Jan 26 08:15:14 EST 1993
Article: 11771 of rec.gardens
Newsgroups: rec.gardens
From: (Larry London)
Subject: Re: Info Request: Worms for Composting
Message-ID: <>
Organization: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
References: <>
Distribution: usa
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1993 07:26:54 GMT
Lines: 233

>Where can I get the little red worms
>that are supposed to be so good for
>indoor composting?  I tried some
>live bait shops in town and found

The January 1992 issue of Organic Gardening has an article on worms and
composting, "Compost Indoors! Worms Do the Work".  It gives instructions
on building a worm box (although one is available from Gardener's
Supply).  It also tells how to get the box started and what kind of
worms to use.

The correct type are redworms (aka red wiggles or manure worms).  The are
small compared to most earthworms.  Their temperature range is 40 to 90
degrees, whereas, earthworms prefer temperature around 55 degrees.  Earth-
worms also require burrows to breed.  A worm box is too warm and too
small for them...and they tend to escape whenever possible.  Red worms
stay put.

The article is written by Mary Appelhof, author of "Worms Eat My Garbage".
The book is $10.95 including shipping and handling and is available from:
        Flower Press,
        10332 Shaver Road
        Kalamazzo Mi 49002

The list of companies carry supplies:
        Cape Cod Worm Farm
        30 Center Ave
        Buzzards Bay. Ma 02532

        Carter Fishworm Farm
        Plains Georgia 31780

        Early Bird Ecology
        Smithville, Ont
        canada L0R 2A0

        Gardener's Supply
        128 Intervale Road
        Burlington, Vt 05401

        Redworms, C/o Ron Clausen
        2111 N. Century Blvd
        McDavid Fl 32568

        Snooks Worm Farm
        Box 14
        Harold Fl 32563

I notice that the Burpee Gardens 1992 catalog has an add for
"Red Hybrid Earthworms".  It says they range from 1/4 to 3"
long.  Are these redworms?  Will hybrid worms breed true to
type?  (Maybe I shouldn't use the term breed, given the way
worms reproduce.)  How do they make a hybrid?  I assume the
idea is to get the worms to reproduce in your compost pile,
as they only send 500 for $19.95!

I one reply I got on worms so far:

>For 2000 bedrun (various sizes where 'breeder' are the larger size.
>According to the book 'worms eat my garbage' the bedrun are recommended since
>they are cheaper, breed just as well, and may survive shipping better)
>redworms, it was 21.00, and with tax that is 22.31 (back in June)

>Are bedrun a variety of redworm or something else?
>Which variety eats the most?  (Oooh you pig worm!)

One response indicated that redworms do well in 40 to 90 deg. F.
earthworms don't do as well.  They also like to escape.

What can we say about bedruns?  (Or again are they a specific
variety of redworm, doing as well with temperatures and
housing conditions.)

>I notice that the Burpee Gardens 1992 catalog has an add for
>"Red Hybrid Earthworms".  It says they range from 1/4 to 3"
>long.  Are these redworms?  Will hybrid worms breed true to
>type?  (Maybe I shouldn't use the term breed, given the way
>worms reproduce.)  How do they make a hybrid?  I assume the
>idea is to get the worms to reproduce in your compost pile,
>as they only send 500 for $19.95!

>Are bedrun a variety of redworm or something else?
There are two different sizes' of worms, in a sense. 
The 'Breeders' are hand selected to be a
certain size, usually around the maximum three inches. The idea is these
are the ones you buy if you want to start breeding worms. Because they
hand select these, they cost more (5 or 10 bucks or so, per 1000) than
'Bedrun' worms. Bedrun means 'mixed sizes, randomly selected'. So if
you saw an ad saying '2000 bedrun Redworms, 19.95 and 2000 'breeder'
redworms , for 25.00' you'd know the difference and why one costs more than
the other.
In the book "Worms Eat My Garbage", the author says that bedrun worms are
fine to buy, since she feels they might survive shipping better, and
adapt more quickly, and she doesn't feel there is any significant reason
to spend the extra money on a 'breeder' worms ...
>Which variety eats the most?
You want the compost worms, red wigglers, redworms, the 'tiny' worms, not
anything called 'earthworms'.
>What can we say about bedruns?  (Or again are they a specific
>variety of redworm, doing as well with temperatures and
>housing conditions.)
Bedrun just describes the size range of the worm you'll be getting. Its a
mixed size range.

Someone who was interested in ordering lots of worms for *fishing* would
be interested in this since he'd want big worms for his hooks and would
probably only order breeders. That's why they have the two different size

>I have some large pickle or planter crocks about two feet high
>and 18" wide.  I thought of raising worms in these in my basement.
>Is a ceramic crock a good container, or just a waste?

Well, it doesn't 'breathe', its sealed, right? I would say you'd want
something wider, and not quite as 'deep'. It might work, might not, i really
don't know, but if you're serious and have some scrap wood lying around,
then go for making the worm boxes described in the January issue of Organic
Gardening, or the '1-2-3' worm box (which is just a box that is one foot
deep, two feet wide and three feet long, for best results, use a finely
screened lid to keep out fruitflies which become a nuisance after time...the
box has about 9, 1" drain holes on the bottom. This should be sufficiant
size to hold 2000 worms...)

The book "Worms Eat My Garbage" is a great reference and a must read for
seriously into worm-composting....!

According to several of the books I read on raising worms, the "Hybrid"
designation is pure hype. No one has been able to prove a true hybrid exists.
The differences are usually tracked down to superior feed and conditions
than any difference in breeding. For composting, you don't need to get into
raising the biggest fattest worms, anyway. You just want enough worms to eat
enough garbage. I started with worms dug from under a horse manure pit for
free, and have had nothing but good results, even when I added them to my
outside compost bins (after they cooled a bit).
Article 12661 (50 more) in rec.gardens:
From: (Kelly F.)
Subject: Re: Worms and Home Composting in Winter
Date: 31 Dec 92 05:45:05 GMT

In article <> 
(Hugh Goldie) writes:
>I recently saw part of a Canadian news program from Winnipeg, about indoor
>composting with red worms.  I would be very thankful if someone could e-mail
>or post some details about this, particularly where to get worms and how to
>get started.  It is -37 degrees centigrade in Saskabush right now and my
>outdoor compost heap is probably working rather slowly... :-).

Organic Gardening magazine had an article on this topic in the January 92
issue, by Mary Appelhof who wrote the book "Worms Eat My Garbage". The
issue has plans for a *very* nice wormbin that fits well on a porch and
doubles as a bench. It also included the following sources:

Worms Eat My Garbage (book) for $10.50 (includ shipping) from:
Flower Press
10332 Shaver Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49002

Mary Appelhof also sells vermicomposting supplies including redworms
and her latest worm composting system (a plastic rectangular container
designed for indoor use, called 'The Worms Eat My Garbage Worm-a-way'
made of recycled plastic manufactured by We recycle Corp. of
Milton, Ont. Its manufacture provides employment for developmentally
disabled individuals.)

Write to:
Flowerfield Enterprises
10332 Shaver Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49002
(616) 327-0108

Also listed were:

Cape Cod Worm Farm
30 Center Ave.
Buzzards Bay, MA 02532

Carter Fishworm Farm
Plains, GA 31780

Early Bird Ecology
Smithville, ONT
Canada L0R 2A0
(Not sure what they sell, but i would guess worms, and the plastic bin,
perhaps the book.)

Gardener's Supply
128 Intervale Rd
Burlington, VT 05401
Free catalog, they sell the plastic bin, book and worms, and all three as
a deal i believe.

Redworms c/o Ron Clausen
2111 N. Century Blvd
McDavid, FL 32568

Snooks Worm Farm
Box 14 
Harold, FL 32563

May I also add:
Rainbow Worm Farm
24700 County Road No. 95
Davis, CA 95616
(916) 758-9906

I paid 21.00 (plus tax so it came to 22.31) for about two pounds
of bedrun redworms, and they are very nice people. You *won't* get a
'flyer{ from them saying 'raising earthworms are so easy, even your
wife could do it' as i got some certain farms located in places like

I've had bins (1'x 2'x 3' in size, 2 of them, made out of scrap wood
with drainage holes,) outside for almost two years now, and i *love*
them. I've had no problems with rats or flies or anything, they smell
like dirt, not rotting stuff, and its just magic how my foodstuffs are
turned into wonderful rich compost. I followed the directions in Mary's
book, its a great book, and so is the OG article, and if your library
has it, its free.

I haven't tried her bin, nor seen one in person, so i can't comment
on that.


"Maybe he's just a little insane, like painters or composers."
                                                        -Miracle on 34th

Spider Mites

by Beverly Erlebacher <bae/>
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998
To: apisto/

> Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 12:04:04 -0700
> Here's a good one! Red spider mites have invaded my grindal
> 	worm culture.  Anybody know of a way to get rid of them 
> 	without killing the worms and generally contaminating the
> 	culture?

As an orchid grower, I can understand that you would call these guys 
red spider mites.  Although they are probably mites, they aren't spider
mites, which live on plants and suck juices from them.

Mites (usually yellow brown ones, not as invisibly tiny as real spider
mites) are common in red worm cultures, where they appear to do no harm.
Some fish will eat them.  If you try the rubbing alcohol method, let us
know the results.  If it doesn't work, you can jsut start a new culture
from clean, washed worms.  I don't have experience with grindals, but
white worms will sometimes exit a culture in great masses, due to excess
wetness or CO2 or acidity or the phase of the moon...  If you can get 
this to happen with your grindals, you can just collect a few gazillion,
rinse them in a few changes of room temperature water, and start a new 
culture in another part of the house.  Dispose of the contaminated culture
and move the new one back after a few weeks when all mites in the vicinity 
have hopefully perished from hunger or whatever.

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Live Black worms and other cultures...

by "Cory and Susanne Williamson" <webwill/>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000
To: <apisto/>

I do the same thing- I chop the worms whole- straight out of the compost box
(a 20 gal Rubbermaid bin in the kitchen) and then feed them to the fish- I
remove most of the soil off the worms, but I don't get too picky out it. I
figure that the gut load of the worms is good for the fish (i.e.. extra
nutrients and vitamins etc.) When the fish get worms for more than a few
days in a row they seems to spawn almost on command. My butterfly rams spawn
like clockwork (every one or two weeks) when they get worms as a supplement
to spirulina flake and bloodworms. Red earthworms (red wrigglers) are the
easiest live food I have used yet. The great thing about them is that they
are not messy like you would expect from chopping them up- all the blood and
goo from chopping coagulates with their body slime and the food is actually
quite clean and is eaten up readily(provided you don't overfeed). You can
even freeze it and it still holds together.  Oh- like Gabriella said house
and patio
pot  plants love the stuff.

----- Original Message -----
From: gkadar <>
To: <>
Sent: February 22, 2000 4:20 PM
Subject: Re: Live Black worms and other cultures...

> My fish absolutely love the red wriggler worms.  The bigger cichlids eat
> them whole, the smaller ones, get them cut up. That's a gross job, but a
> sharp pair of scissors does the trick.
> I agree with the statement that they are safe seeing as how I know what
> are getting in their diet.  It's marvellous because they eat all the stale
> mouldy bread, veggie peelings, chopped up plain corrugated cardboard and
> every so often I add crushed egg shells to keep the pH from going to
> 3 times a year I separate the worms from their castings and use those for
> house plants.  It's a really great way to recycle, reuse and have healthy
> fish. :)
> Gabriella
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
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