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Aquaponics Worms

Worms are commonly used as fish bait and some people even consider them a nuisance or just plain gross. Worms are very useful creatures and help sustain the environment that we live in. Although they are known for eating plants – they are also very beneficial to plants. Worms hold a lot of nutrients and proteins in their bodies that help plants to grow, and they also prevent compaction and keep the soil fertile and in good condition. Aquaponic worms are very useful to an aquaponics system because they benefit both plants and fish and can help maintain a nutrient balance within an aquaponics system. Aquaponic worms hold many nutrients and proteins in their bodies that the plants may not be getting from the grow bed media alone. Most grow beds use some form of gravel or light expanded clay because they work well and oxygenate the plant roots and provide more nutrients to the plants compared with soil based mediums.

Aquaponic worms are also beneficial because they can keep gravel or clay grow bed media from clogging due to fish waste buildup by speeding up the decomposition and allowing water to flow more freely. This type of decomposing is called vermicomposting, which the worms eat the waste from the fish and plants so that they can make it bio-available to the plants through their excrement.

This process benefits the entire aquaponics system and helps prevent larger waste particles from entering the siphon or filter which can cause them to clog…
 Aquaponic worms help the grow beds and fish tank to be cleaner, so that you do not have to clean them out as often. A typical media based grow bed (usually 12 inches in depth) will only have to be cleaned out approximately once every five years if you use aquaponic worms. Other benefits to having worms in your system are that they reduce plant disease (Pythium, Rhizoctonia, etc.), parasites, and insect pests (mealy bugs, spider mites, and tomato hornworms). Aquaponic worms not only benefit the plants and fish when they are used, but they benefit humans because diseases that are carried in plants will not reach those who consume the plants. One of the most common diseases that can spread to humans through an aquaponics system is E. coli, and worms can actually spread this. It is important to incorporate the right aquaponic worms into your system, and one thing to watch for is to make sure they have not come into contact with manure of any kind.

There are many varieties of worms in the world, and it is important to choose the right aquaponics worm as chosing the wrong one can harm your system.

A good choice of aquaponics red worm is the California red crawler or (Eisenia fetida)…
 Certain varities of worms are not able to survive let alone thrive in non soil based environments which includes most aquaponics systems, so it is important to use the a compatible aquaponics red worm like the California red cralwer (known in Europe as Eisenia hortensis). These aquaponic worms thrive in aquaponics systems because they feed on organic matter, which an aquaponics system can provide constantly in the form of fish waste that the worms can feed on. Also, the California red crawlers can withstand high temperatures, most aquaponic systems are outside and exposed to the heat or use artificial lights – both can be too hot for other worm species. This type of aquaponic red worm can also handle the constant flood and ebb conditions casued by the flood and drain caused by the constant siphon used by the system. California red crawlers are commonly used in vermiculture, vermicomposting, and other composting systems, which is what makes them the perfect fit for an aquaponics system.