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Grindal Worms


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#41 Erica Lyons

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 10:46 PM

View PostKanus, on 15 October 2012 - 10:37 PM, said:

Has anyone else had microworms take their cultures over? They're not a huge bother (and I would like to keep them in separate cultures for fry) but they seem to do very well in my grindal worm cultures and I cannot get rid of them.
No, microworms fall through my sponges and drown.  You must have a soil culture?

#42 Kanus

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 11:15 PM

I have both green scotch-brite cultures and coconut fiber cultures. The scotch-brite cultures have minimal microworm activity, but also do not seem to produce gridals nearly as well for me. I have seen (from an old friend of mine that I got my starters from) scotch-brite cultures with mind-boggling worm production, but I have never had such good luck for some reason.
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#43 Erica Lyons

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 07:42 AM

View PostKanus, on 15 October 2012 - 11:15 PM, said:

I have both green scotch-brite cultures and coconut fiber cultures. The scotch-brite cultures have minimal microworm activity, but also do not seem to produce gridals nearly as well for me. I have seen (from an old friend of mine that I got my starters from) scotch-brite cultures with mind-boggling worm production, but I have never had such good luck for some reason.
Scotch Brite work worse than the soft sponges in my experience.  Have you read the above post where I talk about setting up soft dollar store sponge cultures?  Those might work better for you; it's impossible for them to be overrun by microworms as they fall through and drown.

#44 Kanus

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 10:59 AM

I set one up like that after reading about yours, but saw very little if any growth of the culture. Maybe different strains of worms thrive better in different environments. My friend who gave me my starters had like two dozen cultures using scotch-brite pads and they were incredibly dense cultures. I have gotten pretty good cultures going with scotch-brite but after trying coconut bedding, they seemed to do better for me. Maybe it's the food I am using or something. I started out using cat food and switched to flake food (I have a 5lb canister of Tetra flakes that are a few years old so I am trying to use them up). Maybe I need to go back to cat food.
Derek Wheaton

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#45 Erica Lyons

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 08:23 PM

View PostKanus, on 16 October 2012 - 10:59 AM, said:

I set one up like that after reading about yours, but saw very little if any growth of the culture.
How long did you let them go for?  Was there fungus on the cat food?  It takes more than a month for cultures to become well populated.  Also if the cat food gets fungus the worms won't touch it.  If you post a picture of your culture I can troubleshoot better.

I doubt it's the worms as all grindals are descended from one strain isolated by their namesake person, Grindal.
It's more likely that the sponges are to blame.  Did they smell like soap when you opened their bag?  The vast majority of sponges come pre-treated with chemicals to discourage the growth of things like worms.  That's why I specify cheapo dollar store sponges.  Some of the ones sold there are additive free.

Edited by EricaWieser, 16 October 2012 - 08:29 PM.


#46 gunner48

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 09:00 PM

An Excellent book for culturing live foods is, Culturing Live Foods by Michael Hellweg. Really well done and it is still in print. I use his method with scrubby pads. One very good tip he offers is using the scrubby pads combined with a piece of needle point plastic canvas. You can get them at a craft store or sewing shop. They are just a piece of plastic that looks like screen mesh. You place that on top of the scrubby pads and put the food, I like dry kitten bits, on top of the screen. Moisten the kitten bits. The worms live in the pads but they come up through the mesh and eat the foods, It is much easier to remove the worms by just rinsing the screen into a cup or jar. It also makes it easier to start a new culture by attracting the worms, moving the mesh to a new container and clean pads. I keep two going at any one time so that one is in full production while the other is being renewed. The screen also allows the culture to last longer by removing the screen when it full of worms from a feeding and replacing the pads underneath the screen. You lose some worms, but most will be on the screen with the kitten bits and they do like clean pads. Just make sure to soak the pads in some water when you change them so they are wet when you put the screen back on top. Get Two pieces of screening has they do get gross and the whole tub, pads, screen need a soaking in bleach to wipe out the bacteria. Rinse well and start over. I used to use soil but the scrubby pads really reduced the mites and other nasties and the pads can be continually renewed. I do change the water at the bottom every few days. Hellweg says once a month is good enough and that really is too long, the bacteria load starts to kill the worms.

Another tip is I float my culture tubs with their lids on in and old styrofoam fish shipping container. I keep it filled with water and put a small heater in the water that keeps the temps at 78F.  I keep the lid off the styrofoam container but I put a towl over the culture containers and styrofoam container. This keeps the worms nice and warm 24-7 with high humidity, keeps out pests, but allows the worms to breath. Hellweg recommends always having two cultures going and that is very sound advice. Every once in while a culture will not thrive and the best solution is to just start over.

#47 Erica Lyons

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 07:37 AM

@gunner48  Pictures?

#48 gunner48

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:08 PM

I do not have any pictures and I could not find what I described in any photos on the Internet.  The set up is pictured in the book, Culturing Live Foods.  Below is a link I collected from Amazon, showing the Needlepoint Canvas. Cost, 4.83. and the bold is how they describe it. I got mine at a local sewing store, but I don't believe they are hard to get. One is all I needed for two culture tubs and I cut it to size, lay it on the pads, put food on the canvas. Moisten the food. When all the food is gone the worms do go back into the pads, but there always some on the canvas top or on the bottom. Almost all the worms spend their time on the plastic canvas or in the very top pads. The top pad does get gross and they need to be replaced every week or two and I do that when all the worms are eating on the canvas. Oddly the pads in the water get very bad and it is usually when they go black and stinking that the culture starts to decline, wven with regular water changes. About a month of production is what I get before the whole thing has to be wiped out with bleach and started over. By then the other culture is in full swing. When cleaning  I stick the whole plastic culture container, lid, canvas, pads into a bucket of water with bleach and leave overnight. Rinse it vrey well and Leave it for another day in bucket of clean water.

When it is cleaned and well rinsed I just rinse some worms from the healthy culture onto the cleaned canvas. Go slowly adding the food, I start them with just one or two bits and do not add more till it is gone. Too much food and it just rots and retards the cultures growth. My normal house temp is 71 F, which is just a bit too cool for good culture growth. At 78F to 80F the growth is much better and the culture is more dependable so the tub and heater are a real help. Hope this helps.
Stiff Plastic Canvas 12x18-Clear


http://www.amazon.co...DLEPOINT CANVAS

#49 Erica Lyons

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:50 AM

View Postgunner48, on 17 October 2012 - 10:08 PM, said:

Oddly the pads in the water get very bad and it is usually when they go black and stinking that the culture starts to decline, wven with regular water changes. About a month of production is what I get before the whole thing has to be wiped out with bleach and started over.
Hmm.  That doesn't sound good.  The oldest of my cultures have been going continuously for over a year now and they haven't needed to be bleached and started over.  Doesn't sound like fun.

Here are some pictures of my year old cultures:
Posted Image
http://gallery.nanfa...14_002.JPG.html
I keep them in a drawer under my 10 gallon tank.
This is one taken out of the drawer so you can see it from the side:  http://gallery.nanfa.org/v/members/EricaWieser/015_003.JPG.html
And here's a close up of the worms on the kibble:  http://gallery.nanfa.org/v/members/EricaWieser/022_002.JPG.html

There was no odor when I pulled these out to take their photo.

Edited by EricaWieser, 18 October 2012 - 07:52 AM.


#50 Wuwuwu54

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:41 PM

How often do you clean them? When they start to smell?

#51 Erica Lyons

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:44 PM

View PostWuwuwu54, on 10 January 2013 - 07:41 PM, said:

How often do you clean them?
Honestly I clean them once every two or three weeks.  But sometimes it's once a month.  After a year of this I've figure out how much is too much food and how much is too little.  It turns out if you feed them a bit less food it takes longer until you need to clean them.

To clean them I take all the plastic shoe boxes over to the sink.  I put the lid on the counter, put the top layer of worm sponges on the lid, rinse out the bottom layer of worms sponges and run one of the sponges over the inside of the box to scrub off any potential black mold.  Then I put the bottom sponges back in, fill halfway with lukewarm water, put the top sponges back in, put the box back in its drawer, place fresh kibble down where needed, put lid back on, done.  It takes me maybe five, ten minutes for all four cultures, which every day feed my hundreds of fish.  At this point I consider it lower effort than going to the store and buying fish flakes, seeing as how I currently don't own or need to own a car.  *nods*  Fish flakes would be more effort to go buy than these worms are to culture.  I'm still using the original bag of Kibbles 'N Bits I bought over a year ago.


View PostWuwuwu54, on 10 January 2013 - 07:41 PM, said:

When they start to smell?
Scent is a very subjective thing.  It's hard to quantify.  But in general, they don't really smell all that bad.  I'd say it's on par with how bad the fish tank itself smells; some people think it smells awful and some people are like, "What smell?"

Well, I mean, there is no point in time in which you can stick your head in a culture and take a deep breath and be like, "Ah, that smelled delicious.  I'm hungry now.  I want to eat whatever smells that amazing."  No. That doesn't happen.  I feed the worms dog food so the best it can smell like is damp kibble.  But I can definitely stick my head in the box and be like, "yup, that's worms" and not like, "OH GROSS, I'M GONNA HURL!"  No, it's not like that.  There's nothing really repulsive about how a healthy grindal worm culture smells.  It's just sorta like earth.

Let me just phrase it this way:  I host game night and people sit with their chair right next the dresser with the worms, and they never *sniff sniff* "What's that smell?"  Nope, never.  When I open the drawer to the worms, there is no odor.  When I open the individual boxes, the smell varies by the culture, but in general it's not repulsive.  Of course, yeah, don't let fungus grow in your worm cultures.  They won't eat it and it smells gross, so there's no reason to let mold or fungus contaminate your cultures.  If your cultures are clean and healthy, they won't smell.  If they're fungusy, moldy, or dead worms are piling up, well, yeah, they'll not smell pleasant.

As I've been typing this I've left a worm culture on the table next to the computer and it hasn't bothered me.  I just opened the lid and stuck my face in it.  *shrugs*  Not that big a deal.

I think my Christmas tree currently smells worse than my worm cultures and aquariums combined.  No joke XD

Edited by EricaWieser, 10 January 2013 - 08:45 PM.


#52 gunner48

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

A few months ago i replied to this topic. I explained my system for raising Grindal worms based on the book, Culturing Live Foods. I did finally get some photos of the system. Basic to it's success is and old styrofoam cooler filled with water and I placed a heater in it that keeps the water at 78F. Tubs are floated in the water. In the tubs are scrubby pads and a plastic sheet for needle point. The lids of the tubs have holes. The tubs and cooler has a towel over it to keep in the warm moist air and allow some air exchange. The food is dried cat food. Food is moistened and placed on the plastic sheet. I change the pads when they get too gross. Usually All I have to do is lift off the plastic sheet put in clean pads that have been soaked in water and I save most of the worms. A bit of water is left at the bottom of each tub.

This system really produces a lot of Grindal worms, far more than I ever need, and is easier than white worms. I usually just take the tub lid and dip it in the fish tanks. When production declines in either tub I start it over by soaking the whole tub, pads, and plastic sheet in water with bleach and leave it overnight. Rinse it all very well and start with some worms rinsed of the lid of the other tub. One tub is actually all I need but you should keep two going in case something happens to one of the cultures.This system avoids all the pests I used to get in soil cultures and is far more productive. The key is steady temps and warm moist air.
Hope this helps

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#53 gunner48

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:00 AM

In the last week the heater in the cooler where I culture my grindal worms has started to fail. (See previous post for why I use a cooler and the culture method) The heater is suppose to keep the water temps at 78 degrees and that is exactly what it was doing. Production was more than I need so everything was great. Over the last week the grindal culture has just become over run with worms. They are all over the lids, sides, every where. Today I noticed the heater light was on and that the water was warm. I checked the temps and it was 85 degrees. The worms are still eating and they cover everything so they do not appear to be trying to escape the warmer temps. They are just reproducing like crazy.

If your having trouble with production in your Grindal Culture you might consider keeping them at a warmer temp. The cooler, water, and towel not only keep it warm but keep the air moist, which the grindals like.

#54 Erica Lyons

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:42 PM

View Postgunner48, on 18 January 2013 - 09:00 AM, said:

In the last week the heater in the cooler where I culture my grindal worms has started to fail. (See previous post for why I use a cooler and the culture method) The heater is suppose to keep the water temps at 78 degrees and that is exactly what it was doing. Production was more than I need so everything was great. Over the last week the grindal culture has just become over run with worms. They are all over the lids, sides, every where. Today I noticed the heater light was on and that the water was warm. I checked the temps and it was 85 degrees. The worms are still eating and they cover everything so they do not appear to be trying to escape the warmer temps. They are just reproducing like crazy.

If your having trouble with production in your Grindal Culture you might consider keeping them at a warmer temp. The cooler, water, and towel not only keep it warm but keep the air moist, which the grindals like.
Yes, the major difference between white worms and grindal worms is that Grindal's worms prefer hotter temperatures.  They're also slightly smaller.  The unique ability of the worms to be cultured at room temperature made Mrs. Morton Grindal of Sweden forever a household name in live food cultures.  More history here:  http://aqualandpetsplus.com/Live%20Food,%20Grindal%20Worms.htm
although I disagree with their opinion that grindal worms should be cultured on potting soil and fed grain products.  (I like to put mine on sponges and feed them meaty pet kibbles.)

#55 Erica Lyons

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:26 PM

I am not sure how to share it, but I have made a two page word document describing my grindal worm culture techniques.  I also have a short blurb about how I grow microworms.  I guess I will paste it below and hopefully this will give people a succinct way to read what my method is for growing worms all in one post.  



Continuous Grindal Worm Culture Instructions

by Erica Wieser


Posted Image

The box I keep my grindal worms in is a plastic shoe box.  Its lid has air holes drilled in it.  I store the plastic shoe box of worms in the drawer of the stand underneath my aquarium.  There are eight sponges in the box total; two layers of a 2x2 grid of sponges.  The sponges in the bottom 2x2 grid are sitting in water and the sponges in the top 2x2 grid have kibbles on top of them.  The worms are free to move through the top 2x2 grid of sponges but don't go into the bottom grid. They breathe air, not water.   I find that soft sponges are better than hard scrubby pads.  Soft sponges are easy to scrape worms off of because they yield to slight pressure.  When I scrape a pair of aquarium planting tweezers against them they compress a bit and the worms come right off the surface.   The tweezers can then be dipped into the aquarium water to feed the fish.
I have found that two layers of sponges are better than a single thick layer.  Wringing the sponge out hurts the worms.  If you've got two or more layers of sponge you can wring out the bottom layers and wash them with hot water to really clean them while only gently squeezing the top layers that have the worms in them.  This leads to continuous worm breeding with no recovery period after the cultures are cleaned.
The oldest of my cultures have been going continuously for over a year and they haven't needed to be bleached and started over.   Here are some pictures of my year old cultures:
http://gallery.nanfa...14_002.JPG.html
http://gallery.nanfa...15_003.JPG.html
http://gallery.nanfa...22_002.JPG.html

I clean them once every two or three weeks.  But sometimes it's once a month.  After a year of this I've figure out how much is too much food and how much is too little.  It turns out if you feed them a bit less food it takes longer until you need to clean them.  I check on them and top off their food every day as I harvest them to feed to my fish.
To clean them I take all the plastic shoe boxes over to the sink.  I put the lid on the counter, put the top layer of worm sponges on the lid, rinse out the bottom layer of worms sponges and run one of the sponges over the inside of the box to scrub off any potential black mold.  Then I put the bottom sponges back in, fill halfway with lukewarm water, put the top sponges back in, put the box back in its drawer, place fresh kibble down where needed, put lid back on, done.  It takes me maybe five, ten minutes for all four cultures, which every day feed my hundreds of fish.  At this point I consider it lower effort than going to the store and buying fish flakes.

"Will a larger container yield more worms?  Like instead of a shoebox, maybe a 12x12 or 24x24, once established will this grow more worms?"
Yes.  Increasing culture surface area would increase number of worms.  The individual boxes don't seem to get infected with anything so there's no disadvantage to having a single large culture over multiple smaller cultures.  That being said there's no advantage to one large box over multiple smaller boxes, either.  My boxes are 7 inches wide, 11.5 inches long, and three inches deep.  They of a good size maneuverability-wise.  

“Do the worms smell bad?”
Not if cleaned regularly (once every 1 to 3 weeks; clean them when they start to smell).  I also recommend opening them every day.  I have to open them anyway to harvest them to feed my fish, so it’s a convenient time to put more kibble down, remove any fungusy kibbles, and plan to clean one if it smells.  

Remember:  It takes more than a month for cultures to become well populated and ready to harvest.  Also remember that if the kibble starts growing fungus, the worms won't touch it.  Remove any fungused food and put a fresh kibble in a spot an inch or so away.



Microworm instructions:
Step 1: get tupperware, rinse, cut penny sized hole in lid.
2: Put 'Quick Oats' one centimeter thick in bottom
3. Put some water in
4. Drain out excess water
5. Pat down oatmeal
6. Rip a coffee filter in half.
7. Put half down on the oatmeal
8. Using a spatula, put some microworms on the coffee filter
9. Put the second half of the coffee filter in between lid and container, covering air hole
10. Wait four days to a week
11. Harvest by scraping one half of the coffee filter that's on top of the oatmeal with a spatula
12. Start four or five cultures, scraping them out and restarting them when they smell bad (about every two weeks). If you do it right, you restart two cultures a week and have continuous microworm production.

Edited by EricaWieser, 25 February 2013 - 04:35 PM.


#56 gerald

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:40 AM

Thanks, nice summary -- I copied the Grindal Worm part to the Carolina Fish Talk forum - hope that's OK with you.  You might want to mention the type of sponges used.  From our previous conversation I think you said they are synthetic foam (polyurethane?) sponges with fairly large cells, correct?  I imagine typical cellulose kitchen sponges would rot too quickly, and fine-cell bedding/cushion foam would probably trap the adult worms.

Microworms: I've usually seen people recommend sprinkling a little yeast on top of the oatmeal or baby food.  I think it helps keep other non-desirable fungi from getting started, and the yeast itself is worm food.  Your thoughts on this?
Gerald Pottern
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Hangin' on the Neuse
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#57 littlen

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:19 PM

Gerald,  I keep a few cultures of Microworms going and yes, I add yeast to the oatmeal.  It was the way I was taught to culture them and have never thought about not adding it.  I have never seen any other fungus get established.  I use ~1/2 cup of oatmeal (baby formula) and 1/2 cup of water as my media, which lasts about a month.

Additional benefits of using yeast:

1) Your culture will smell like bread dough while it is in full swing.
2) Your culture will smell like old beer when the yeast/worms start running out of food and drying up.

Win-win if you ask me.  Neither smell is offensive, unless you partied too hard in college.
Nick L.

#58 gunner48

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:01 PM

The medium I use are not sponges but green scubby pads. You can find them in any grocery store under cleaning supplies. They are used for cleaning surfaces the might scratch with steel wool or metal pot scrubbers. They are tough and do not rot and last for years. You can wash them in a washing machine. Just trim to whatever size you need for the tubs you are using. Buy enough so you can change the pads or start a new culture. I always keep two going.

#59 Erica Lyons

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:03 PM

View Postgerald, on 28 February 2013 - 11:40 AM, said:

From our previous conversation I think you said they are synthetic foam (polyurethane?) sponges with fairly large cells, correct?  I imagine typical cellulose kitchen sponges would rot too quickly, and fine-cell bedding/cushion foam would probably trap the adult worms.
Any soap free sponge works.  Rinse them and then sniff them.  If they smell like chemicals, they won't grow worms.   Both Scotch-Brite® hard green scrubby pads and the soft one inch thick chemical free dollar store sponges work well to grow worms.  

Good sponge:  sponge with no odor.  
Bad sponge:  sponge with an odor.  If it smells either through the packaging or when you open it and run water on it, or worse, if it makes suds when you run water on it, it has soap in it and won't grow worms.  

Picture of my cultures:  
Posted Image
http://gallery.nanfa...14_002.JPG.html
The box on the left is composed of two types of sponges:  1)  soft yellow sponges with a layer of green scrubby adhered on the bottom of the sponge and 2) green thin scrubby pads.  I added some green scrubby pads underneath to make everything level.  
The box on the right has two layers of the soft one inch thick sponges (they come in different colors).
You can see that both boxes grow worms well.  

View Postgerald, on 28 February 2013 - 11:40 AM, said:

Microworms: I've usually seen people recommend sprinkling a little yeast on top of the oatmeal or baby food.  I think it helps keep other non-desirable fungi from getting started, and the yeast itself is worm food.  Your thoughts on this?
I started out using yeast because people told me to buy it but I couldn't help but wonder if it was really necessary.  I tried a culture without yeast and found no difference (except I didn't have to buy yeast).  My microworm cultures last a good month before needing to be remade.  They don't smell bad.  

One difference between me and everyone else is that I lay down a coffee filter and scrape my worms off of it.  Other people wait for worms to crawl up the side.  Maybe the coffee filter laying on the surface of the oatmeal makes a difference?  I don't know.  Coffee filters cost less than yeast.  They are $1 for about two or three years' worth.

Edited by EricaWieser, 28 February 2013 - 07:25 PM.


#60 Auban

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:59 AM

i have had an earthworm culture going for several years now, and a couple years ago i tossed some of an old grindal worm culture in it.  i didnt anything of it for a while, but i noticed that there was always a few grindal worms in with the earthworms, they didnt just die.  about four months ago i started feeding my earthworms old stale cereal and noticed that the grindal worms started increasing in numbers, and that got me thinking...

well, after feeding them dog food for a month, i was able to step up the grindal worm numbers until i was able to feed my fish from them and the rest is history.  i dont know that there is any special benefit of using a mixed culture, but for the last three months i have been able to feed my fish exclusively live foods, with the bulk of their diet being grindal worms, earthworms, and blackworms, in that order.

i just figured i would share that, since i doubt that i am the only one who cultures earthworms.  i harvest about a teaspon of grindal worms from my earthworm bin about six times a day, and feed them about three cups of cat food every three days.  the earthworms dont seem to mind their presence at all.

nothing else, its a nice way to maintain a backup culture.




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