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Thread: Grindal worm cultures

  1. #1
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    Default Grindal worm cultures

    Hi All,

    I am having a lot of fun growing my Grindal worms on scrubber pads, so I thought I would share what I do with you. However, I haven't been growing them for long myself, only about 3 months. But I have grown 3 boxes full of happy worms, so I guess I am doing something right. If you have any tips of your own, please share them too.

    Anyways, below is Shianne's care guide for Grindal worms. A big credit goes to this person's instruction: http://www.well.com/~debunix/fish/Grindals.html
    I basically followed what he did and added some modifications.

    Cheers,

    ===============================================

    Grindal worms like warm weather. Room temperature in Brisbane is just prefect for them, so I keep their culture boxes under a shelf in a dark, cool, undisturbed open space.

    1. material used
    - culture box
    - scrubber pads
    - add water
    - worm food
    - needle point grid

    2. start a culture

    3. daily maintenance
    - feeding worms
    - harvesting worms

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    1. material used
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    1.1 culture box: A 5L plastic box with very well sealed lid.

    Good seal prevents mites and flies from sneaking under the lid and getting into the box. Then, a big hole is cut on the lid and taped a piece of breathable material over the hole as air filter. Make sure all sides of this material are sealed down, so nothing can get in or out besides air.

    Worms need air. If the box is too sealed, they will try to crawl out. I had my first box in a zip-lock bag with a small air window. Not enough air makes the worms crawl up the sides and get outside box. It was messy. But I also don't want holes on this filter for mites and flies to get in. So, I use 2 layers of thin air filter sheets I found in science lab at school. If you have trouble finding suitable material, I suggest clinical masks that dentists/vets use in clinic. (ask for one nicely?) It's thin, breathable, doesn't tear or wet easily, and no holes for fly or mites to get in.

    I tried coffee filter paper as well. I don't think they allow enough air flow. I got heavy condensation and worms tried to escape again. Coffee filter also gets wet and soft very easily, so I don't like it. I have read about people using filter wools to block holes. But I thought, if the hole is stuffed too loosely mites can crawl through, or if stuffed too tightly, then it can obstruct airflow. Overall, I like my air filter paper the most.

    1.2 scrubber pads: 4-6 layers of pads each stack and place two stacks side by side the 5L box.

    I found cheap pots and pans scrubbers at Crazy Clark's. A stack of 12 pads for 2 bucks! Get more as spares for swapping out old ones in the future. Make sure the pads are not infused with chemical cleaners or abrasives.

    1.3 add water: ---> modified amount of water used, please see post #7 for more detail <-------

    The aim is to have just enough water in there to keep the environment moist. Too much water increases chance of food molding, too little water dries out the pads and worms don't like that.

    1.4 worm food: Royal Canine and Science Diet kitten food.

    Because I have 2 cats, it's convenient for me. And also, I read that kitten food is higher in fat, protein, and vitamins. It can "gut load" the worms.

    1.5 needle point grid: Arts and craft store in Indooroopilly shopping center. Thread twisty tides through the holes to make a little handle for better grip.

    This is to be placed on top of the food. Needle point grid is light, so it doesn't weigh down on the worms. It is excellent for collecting worms. The layering in the box is Grid -> Food -> Scrubbers.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2. start a culture
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To ensure a good start and absence of parasites, it's important to seed the median with worms that are as clean as possible.

    If you acquire worms in soil/peat mix, it's Very Difficult to pick them out. Using finger or tweezers, you most likely kill or injure the worms. And you need a very good pair of eyes and extreme patience to do that too. It's just hard work. I tried flooding the median, but fishing out the worms in muddy water is also very difficult. Later, I discovered an easy way...

    First, starve the worm for a few days. Then, place a piece of plastic on top of the median with food On Top of the plastic (not under!). Leave it there over night. Worms will crawl over the plastic to reach the food and leave the soil and contaminants behind. Now, drop that piece of worm-covered plastic in water to further clean it out. In water, mites float, solid sinks, and worms clump into balls. Now you can use a pipette to suck out clumps of pure worms, and release the worm directly onto a kibble of cat food on the scrubber pad. This gives a good ratio of worm to food right away, so the culture starts without a lot of moldy kibble or hungry worms trying to find their way to the new food.


    (images and quotes from http://www.well.com/~debunix/fish/Grindals.html)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    3. daily maintenance
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3.1 feeding the worms


    Giving the worms just enough food so that they can finish it within a day is the best way. Uneaten food can sour and grow mold. If you find moldy food, just pick it up and throw it out. Then, starve the worm for a day to make sure all leftover in the box is eaten before any new food is placed in the box again.

    Gradually increase the number of kibbles fed daily only as much as the worms will eat in a day. It takes a long time to get the culture established, but eventually the productivity will be there.

    I started with 2-3 small clumps of worms. Even 1 cat food kibble was too much for them, so I only fed crumbles. It took me around 5 weeks to have some productivity in my first culture box. Once the 1st box was established, I started throwing excess worms from each harvesting into the next box. With more worms, establishing the following boxes went much faster (around 2 weeks).



    3.2 harvesting worms

    Gradually, more and more worms cover the surface and the grid. I started harvesting them when there were enough worms in the box to consume 10 kibbles a day.

    To harvest, I use a container with some water, take out the worm-covered grid (make sure there is no half-eaten cat food stock to it) and put it in the water. Worms are washed off to the water. Now place fresh kibbles on the pads, and return the wet grid on top of the fresh food. This way saves energy to wet the food or add water to the culture separately. You can also dip the grid directly in the fish tank.



    Last edited by Shennie; 11-05-10 at 07:30 PM.

  2. #2

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    awesome info - thanks for sharing!
    Fishchick Aquatics
    Shop 17 Annerley Arcade
    478 Ipswich Road
    Annerley QLD 4103
    www.fishchick.com
    ph: 07 3848 9585
    email: fishchick@gmail.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Balga Perth West Aust
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    Fantastic
    Thanks Shennie

    I think we need to do a live food instruction section and make this a sticky there

    Graeme
    Read this very helpful thread on BSS .
    No pictures on your BSS advert? Then be prepared for it to be deleted ( read the rules )

  4. #4
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    newcastle nsw
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    Default

    awesome this is exactly what i am planning on doing.
    Great to see yr having good results.
    nice post
    Cheers Aaron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Townsville, Qld
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    Default

    Thank you people! Glad to be helpful.

    Graeme, I agree! Live food totally deserves to have its own section. Although it's just food for the fish; growing your own is very fun and rewarding. Also, it can be frustrating when something goes wrong. Lots of people have experience, but not many are sharing their tips.

    However, maybe not restricted to just "live" food? I used to make beef heart mix and freshly freeze dried blood worms. Those are fun and great food projects too.

    How about "Food - healthy gourmet for your wiggly ones"?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Vic
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    Default

    We do our grindal worms in the 'traditional' way.

    Since we don't have a large number of small fish/fry the grindal's live in rectangular take-away containers. Each container is filled with a damp mix of peat moss and shell grit. (Damp coconut fiber would be better due to the pH of the peat, but we didn't have any of that so hence mixing the shell grit).

    They get fed dried-cat-food, a few bits of it daily or whenever they eat the last batch.

    And they are harvested via a small glass plate with a marble stuck to the top:

    The glass plate does retain a small amount of uneaten food and some peat, but it's usually fairly easy to separate the worms/dirt.

    When we first got them I tried growing them on a filter sponge soaked in water, but they didn't seem to like that. So as per Shennie's suggestion above I've started a new culture, in another take-away container and 4 pot scrubbers, I'm just worried that after a few days the culture already smells a little sour and I don't know how they will go, maybe Melbourne water is not so useful for this as Brisbane's is.

    The large holes with gauze taped over it seems best for keeping out the bugs, so that's that we'll be doing in the future.

    The other thing to note for anyone looking to keep live cultures, is to keep 2 or 3 'batches' of culture going at any one time, if possible those cultures should be at different stages of 'maturity' so that if one crashes or fails, you do not loose all your live goodies.
    Last edited by Wolfy; 10-05-10 at 03:54 PM.

  7. #7
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    Hi Wolfy,

    I notice the problem you mentioned. The water pooled in the bottom of the box does get stinky after time. So, I cleaned it up first - use a big syringe to suck up all the stinky water, gently pour water through the side of the box to rinse out more stinky built-up, suck these out, and repeat until the water doesn't come out as dirty anymore. Then, I set up a little experiment:

    I have 2 boxes of worms:
    for box 1, I left it with very little water in the bottom. (a little flows to the side if I tilt the box)
    for box 2, I left it with 0.75cm depth of water in the bottom.
    Feed both boxes the same amount of food each day.

    1.5 week later.....
    Box 1 with very little water = clean and smell acceptable
    Box 2 with more water = stinking up again.
    Plus box 1 seems to get more worms and the worms are more active.

    So, Wolfy is right there is a potential problem with my setup. Too much water dissolved waste protein which cause souring and odor. I agree best not to keep as much water as I mentioned in the original post. Just moisten the pads, keep enough water to have some pooling in the corner when you tilt the box. And give it a couple spreads daily to keep it moist is good enough.

    Filter sponge is quite different from pot scrubber. Compare to the scrubbers, the pre-filter sponge (usually blue) has much bigger pores, and the white filter wool is much finer and doesn't hold it's shape. I don't have experience with them, but I see what the potential problems could be.

    I wish I can also setup a box using soil to compare the growth, but I will have to do it when I have a better space for it. Currently, I need to keep everything as less messy as possible. My place is covered in beige color carpet, so soil-less is the best. And I keep the boxes as tightly locked-closed as possible b/c, not just to block out mites and flies, I also don't want my cats to get into them.

    Thanks for pointing out the problem, Wolfy! I'm glad that I get to improve my setup.

    Cheers,
    S
    Last edited by Shennie; 11-05-10 at 07:32 PM.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2009
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    Bankstown, NSW
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    can you get grindle worms out of garden soil? i had a culture going but it died out after i went on holidays and forgot about them so i need to start up a new batch

  9. #9
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    Hi Tasian,

    I wouldn't suggest collecting worms from the garden. There can easily be contamination, diseases, or be mixed with pest worms and bugs. And, I can't imagine where and how you can find them. You can find earth worms from soil easily, but definitely not Grindal worms. They are really small!

    Sorry, I really don't have the time to deal with packaging and posting, or you are welcome to have some of mine. I hope you can find starter culture in LFS near you. Or you can try to ask around on the forum. I'm sure you can find someone to help out locally.
    Last edited by Shennie; 12-05-10 at 10:23 PM.

  10. #10
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    Just want to add some information:

    How to tell if the food is enough?

    When you open the culture box (daily), see how many worms are hanging out on top of the scrubbers. If you can't see many worms on the surface, that means the food was long gone, worms went away to find food else where. Best to see clusters of worms still hanging out at where the the cat food were, that means they just finished it within a few hours. But make sure no leftover food is hidden under them.

    However, this only applies to a developing culture. Once the culture is established, you will have so much worms, they are just Everywhere!

  11. #11
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    It looks like you change the water from time to time (flush out the stinky water). How often should we do that?

  12. #12
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    I just do it when the box starts to smell - probably every 3 weeks or so. I did notice some articles say not to touch the brown stinky goop as it contains baby worms and eggs but y'know, I'd rather my cultures didn't smell than a few extra worms.

  13. #13
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    Sorry have another question... Do you change the green scrubbers. I've only cultured the grindalworm culture with peat moss before but now I'm switching to green scrubber method so I still have a few questions.

    For the peat moss/soil method, the culture would have to be recultured every few weeks to avoid the substrate getting too acidic and crash the whole culture, do we need to do the same for the green scrubber or just change the water will do?

  14. #14
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    zhong89, I am not sure that if or not scrubber gets too acidic like soil substrate. I just recently lost my Grindals to the heat. So, can't experiment with it. However, from what I read online, the other people often keep 2 or 3 cultures of different age going and start a new culture when the oldest one crashes. This might be something worth doing to avoid losing all worms at once.

    Also, make sure you read the later posts of this thread. It's not recommended to keep much water in the culture box. Only a little (enough to see water pooling along side when tilting the box) is enough. Otherwise, the culture gets stinky and moldy very easily.

    Oh, and make sure the culture box is kept somewhere cool and out of any sun! Best luck with growing your Grindal culture! It's fun!

  15. #15
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    +1 vote to make this a sticky. But maybe change 'median' to 'medium'. I assume you mean the growth medium.
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