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[Killietalk] FW: Grindals on synthetic media
Very nice photos!
I can really get a good idea of what you are doing and you are making it so
very easy to coach you.
You do need to make a few adjustments. First your water level is too high.
The worms do not live below the waterline. So underwater space can not be
used by the worms for living or breeding. The water performs only two
functions in the synthetic culture. First it is the source of humidity.
Humidity is required by the worms to stay alive. If they were living in soil
it would be keeping them moist but not actually wet. I calculated 5 to 6
pads depth with only one to two below the water line. This gives the worms 3
to 5 layers of pads to use to adjust what depth they prefer to live at. I
assume that the closer to the water they are the moister they feel. I find
that as the scrubbers get dirtier the worms move higher in the stack. I
might also note that as the scrubbers get dirtier they wick more water
upwards. If left uncleaned long enough the culture will be sopping wet
through and through and the worms will live only on top of the top pad.
Reduce your water level to cover only the lowest two pads max. Your water
level should be closer to a half inch figuring each scrubber at about 1/4
inch thickness. I did do an experiment with my worms to determine how high
I could stack the scrubbers to increase usable area for the worms. Depending
on which type of pad I used there was no benefit and some actual loss of
production with stacks over 5 or 6 high. The taller stacks also seemed to
take longer to come on line.
On a theoretical note, and to address, the second purpose of the water bath,
the number of underwater scrubbers does not matter, it is the scrubbers
above the water line that count. You could add more pads to the top of your
culture instead of lowering your water level. Liquid waste does go down to
the water bath, when the water in the sump gets funky you pour it out and
replace it with fresh water. More water in the sump might extend water
changes, but as water changes are required only weekly to biweekly on a
running culture, I'm not sure that you need worry about it by adding more
water. For the time being change the water at least weekly. Without a
bacteria culture your water changes are more critical.
Next regarding food:
Spraying water on the worm food is a *very* bad idea. The wetter the food
the more quickly it will fungus. Worms will not eat fungussed food. Remember
the key to the synthetic culture is humidity. It keeps your worms moist and
it will also moisten the food sufficiently for the worms to eat it. Crush
you food to a powder and sprinkle on top dry. It should get moist all on its
Someone I know actually put food between the pads to rush his culture. He
developed a vascular slime mold. It made for a great science project but not
so great for fish food.
Commentary on types of food.
Finely ground oatmeal (put in coffee grinder or blender set on high until it
is pulverized)- This provided the best synthetic White and Grindal worm
production and lowest residual waste in the pads for me. It costs $0.75 per
Finely ground dry cat food - Provided good worm production but left a large
amount of residual waste in the pads. Worm production dropped as the culture
Whole wheat flour- Provided marginal results with grindal worms. Synthetic
white worms would not eat it.
Finely ground flake food- Provides for slightly slower worm production as
compared to oatmeal and it will clog your culture faster than oatmeal but
slower than cat food. On the up side it is more resistant to fungussing than
either cat food or oatmeal. If you are going to continue to use it check the
pads regularly for clogging.
What to do now:
After adjusting your water level/stack height check your culture daily.
Mostly you are doing it to watch what is going on and to feed. You will also
be getting a feel for the process. For now satisfy yourself that that your
worms are sill alive and eating the small amounts of food you are adding. If
some of the food funguses just scrape/rinse it off the top pad under running
water and add fresh food. The worms are entwined in the material and won't
wash out easily.
What we are looking for at this stage is humidity levels and air exchange.
As you are using a different container and worm than I am your humidity may
be too low. For the next week you are not likely to see worm reproduction,
that's normal. The worms should spend most of their time in the top 2 pads,
near the food which should be completely eaten daily. When the food is
completely gone daily, start adding a little more food. Too much food is not
likely to greatly increase worm reproduction but it will cause you to spend
more time cleaning the culture.
When the culture really gets going, anywhere from few to several weeks down
the road you will get a better idea of your air exchange. If there is
insufficient air getting into the container the worms will try to get out
and die off. Watch for this kind of behavior. Also remember that rushing
things is not necessarily a good thing at this point. Along with the worms
we are hoping for a nitrifying bacteria colure to develop just like it would
in a fish tank.
Other than the adjustment to the water level and wetting the food, your off
to a good start.
Keep me posted.
From: Ron @ CCK [mailto:ronwill at starhub_net.sg]
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2003 8:55 AM
To: TranquilityBase at NetZero_Net
Subject: Grindals on synthetic media
I've completed ONE grindal box according to your instructions, except
for the initial startup amount of worms (I didn't manage to harvest that
For reference, I've also done up a web page which record the process and
hopefully, this will help someone too.
My fellow hobbyists here in Singapore will be modelling their grindal
boxes to the page and will submit their feedback to me, and then on to you.
Please look at the page and see if it meets your approval before I post
the link to KillieTalk. Feel free to let me know what to add onto or
I know it's a pretty crude page, but I'm not an IT person... that was
the best I could do.
Included in the page, is the full instructions from your posting and I'd
like to credit the page to you. Besides 'RJ', how else can I address
you? Calling you by your initials seems a bit rude, considering the
assistance you've rendered and I'm very thankful for that.
Since there're links which go directly into KillieTalk archives, I've
also written to Dr Barry Cooper for appropriate permission and to
clarify if it's ok to do so.
As you're experiencing PC hiccups, take your time to respond. I will
wait till I get the OK from you.
To join the AKA see http://www.aka.org/pages/join.html