Do You Really Need Worms In Your Aquaponics System

Do you really need worms in your aquaponics system? Well, the answer is yes. If you want a more balanced and maintenance free system.  Adding worms to your aquaponics system is a great way to get rid of the waste that you don’t want in your system. Worms won’t hurt your plants or your fish in any way. All they do is help your system to function more efficiently.

One thing to keep in mind when adding worms to your aquaponics kit it that you can’t just go to your backyard and dig up some worms. Nor can you buy just any old worms and expect them to live.  The recommended worms for your aquaponic system are red worms.  Otherwise known as the red worm, brandling worm, pinfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, red wiggler worm or the red Californian earth worm.  If you use most any other type of earthworm, they will die.

These red worms will break down the solid waste from your fish, your plants and anything else that produces solid waste and will make those solid wastes more bio-available.  This will prevent you from the frequent cleaning and filtering of your system.  For example:  a healthy 12 inch deep grow bed will only need to be cleansed approximately every five years or so. 

By adding worms to your aquaponic grow beds,  you will help to prevent plant diseases, including tomato worms, mealy bugs, spider mites and aphids, just to name a few.   This occurs because of the vermicompost and the “tea” that comes from soaking vermicompost in a highly oxygenated moist environment.   Red worms thrive in environments that have high moisture content and rich organic matter, which describes an aquaponics system perfectly. 

Additionally, studies have shown that vermicomposting can lower the levels of pathogens in waste and help reduce the pathogens that could affect the human body. 

Now you know that red worms are extremely beneficial to your aquaponics garden, you probably want to know how many worms you will need.  Well, that depends on how large your system is of course.  But one pound of red worms should be able to process approximately  1/2 pound of food waste each day. 

Red worms are not expensive; however, you do need to take some precautions when buying them.  For example:  red worms can introduce diseases into your system.  Therefore, you should clean them off thoroughly before adding them to your aquaponics kit.  It’s best to put your worms into a separate moist environment for about 24 hours and then wash them off again.  The bacteria they were carrying will be purged from their system and be completely safe once the bacteria has passed through their system.  A wetted down corn meal mixture is great to use for the 24 hour purging process. 

Here are a few other things you should know before you begin.  Red worms don’t require a deep area in order to survive.  A large surface area is more important than the depth.  If you’re using a light, a regular light will harm your worms but a red light won’t.  Therefore, it’s recommended that you use a red light for your system.  The red worm eggs look like small straw colored lemons.  So don’t panic if you see this in your system. 

Well that’s about it for whether or not you should add worms to your aquaponics systems.  So keep that in mind whether your purchasing an aquaponics kit for the first time or whether you already have an established aquaponics system set up.   Adding worms is very beneficial to your plants and your fish and will save you time and money in cleaning and maintenance costs. 

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