Last Updated on January 23, 2022 by Fabiola L.
Worms are nature’s gifts to gardeners. Read this article to find out everything you need to know about using black worms in your aquaponics system.
In the natural environment, worms work hard to break down organic waste and turn it into compost gold for plants. Worms live underneath the soil and move around to find their food. This movement underneath the ground helps keep the soil aerated.
All of these things are great for your plants. This is why it is a common thing to use black worms in your aquaponics setup. Worms are especially useful in further breaking down the fish waste that enters your grow beds from the tank.
Once this waste is broken down it becomes easier for plants to use. Incorporating worms in your system takes a little bit of finesse. There are a few key things you should know.
Continue reading to find out all the things you need to know to use black worms in aquaponics.
Benefits Of Aquaponics and Worms
Before we get into details about different types of worms, let’s have a closer look at all the benefits of using worms in your aquaponics. There are so many great reasons to use worms!
As mentioned before, worms work to break down large debris of fish waste that enters your grow beds. But, why is this important?
First off, it is not easy for plants to take nutrients from larger chunks of organic matter. If another creature processes it before it enters the plants, the nutrients will be used more effectively.
Not only is this good for your plants to be healthy but it also has a great benefit for your grow beds. Often in aquaponics, there can be a problem where too much fish debris builds up in your grow beds.
This causes a few different problems. Too much debris will cause problems for the soil including an excess of certain kinds of nutrients like nitrogen. If your soil is imbalanced, plant growth is stunted.
Aquaponics owners who do not have worms in their beds have to clean the soil every so often. Another thing they may need to do is add an additional filter to separate too much solid waste from entering the beds.
If you have worms in your system, you will only need to clean your beds out once every few years! That saves a lot of time and work for you.
The second huge benefit of worms is the highly nutritious fertilizer it provides for your plants. Worms eat organic debris and excrete directly into your soil. Once their waste is saturated, it becomes something we gardeners refer to as compost tea.
Compost tea is extremely effective in balancing your soil ecosystem, limiting disease, and even pest control.
Of course, as with any living creature, there are some requirements to know about in order to take care of worms. Next, we will cover how to incorporate black worms in your aquaponics grow beds.
How To Use Worms In Aquaponics
In order to use worms in your aquaponics, all you need to do is add them directly into the soil. However, worms require certain conditions in order to survive.
One thing that they prefer is a dark environment. Usually, they get this by burrowing deep into the soil where no light can reach them. However, you do not want to put them in a place that is extremely bright.
This means that if you are using grow lights on your plants you may need to take extra precautions to make sure they have a shady area.
Secondly, they like cooler temperatures. They cannot be in hot and dry soil. As long as you keep it in an area that has partial shade, you should be fine.
If you are raising tropical fish, you may be using a water heater. Remember, the water from your tank gets pumped into the bed. If the water is very hot, it will make the soil hot and potentially uncomfortable for the worms.
Keep a close eye on your soil temperature if you think something seems off. According to the University of North Carolina, “Bed temperatures should be between 60°F and 80°F to facilitate intensive cocoon production and hatching.”
This means that if you want your worms to produce more worms, the temperature is key! Having more worms will only benefit your growth.
Lastly, worms like moist conditions. This means you do not want your beds to dry out. Since you are doing aquaponics, dry beds most likely will not be a problem.
Now let’s compare which types of worms you can use.
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Red Worm Aquaponics vs Black Worm Aquaponics
Black worms are a type of species found in ponds, marshes, and shallow waters. Not only will they eat organic debris in your bed, but they are a tasty food for your fish.
Some say it is the best food protein source for your fish. This is especially good if you have fish that aren’t eating the store-bought food. Black worms like to live in water, so you might choose this option if you are doing hydroponics grow or if you keep very moist beds.
You can put black worms in your soil to make compost but also harvest them to feed to your fish. If you want, you can raise the black worms separately to breed them.
Red worms are known to be the best composters. So, if you do not need to feed the fish, stick with red worms for your aquaponics.
Using red worms or black worms in your aquaponics is a personal choice based on your needs. Either way, worms will benefit your system greatly. We highly recommend incorporating worms into your aquaponics.
They are not too difficult to raise but pay attention to see if the population is growing in size. If you notice more and more worms, you are on the right track. If you feel the worms are not eating or breeding, try to troubleshoot.
And as always, feel free to comment and ask questions below!
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Candace is an aquaponics expert with over 5 years of experience in the field. She has a degree in environmental science from the University of California, Berkeley and a degree in aquaponics from the University of Florida. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture and has a deep knowledge of aquaculture and hydroponics. She has worked on numerous projects and has been involved in the development of aquaponic systems and fish farms. She also has experience in designing and constructing aquaponic systems. With her expertise, Candace is able to advise clients on the most effective and efficient way to construct and manage their aquaponic system. She is an active member of the aquaponic community, often speaking at conferences and seminars. Candace is dedicated to helping others understand the importance of aquaponics, and she is a strong advocate for sustainable food production.