In any gardening method, earthworms are recognized as one of the most efficient natural decomposers. It is because worms help break down everything from solid waste, excess roots, and other decaying matter that plants slough off. The worms produce castings which are perfect fertilizers for the plants. These are the reasons why many aquaponics growers support the idea of adding worms into their aquaponics systems. This article will discuss the benefits of using worms in aquaponics systems and how to add them to your system.
Why Use Worms in Aquaponics
Using worms in your aquaponics system is a great way to make your system function more efficiently. Worms will not hurt your plants, but will help eliminate the waste in your grow bed. Here are the benefits of using worms in your aquaponics system.
Helps Decompose Fish Waste
In aquaponics, the beneficial bacteria convert fish waste into nitrates that plants can use to grow. However, if you have too many fish, which will produce too much fish waste, it can cause ammonia spikes which can be dangerous to your plants and fish. Worms can help prevent the ammonia spike from happening in your system because fish are powerful decomposers. They help break down the solid fish waste that accumulates in the grow beds. The broken-down fish waste turns into vermicompost, also known as worm castings.
Studies show that worms can effectively destroy pathogens that can cause diseases in human and plant health. This is because worms release coelomic fluids that contain antibacterial properties. Adding worms to your aquaponics system lessens the risk of your system being exposed to various diseases.
Help Suppress Plant Diseases
The worm castings soaked in oxygen-rich water produce a beneficial tea that positively affects plant growth. These positive effects include protecting plants from diseases, pests, and parasite infestations.
Great as Extra Food for Your Fish
Composting worms are prolific breeders, meaning they reproduce quickly. So if you have too many worms in your grow bed and raise a carnivorous fish, you can give some to your fish as a treat. Remember that worms are a great source of proteins and are even considered an ideal alternative fish feed.
Breaks Down Solid Waste
The worms in your system will consume the waste from your fish and other solid waste, such as excess plant roots, dead or decaying plant matter, and other solid waste. This waste will become worm castings, which will be great for your plants. This will also mean that you don’t have to regularly clean your grow bed because the worms will take care of that.
What are the Best Worms for Aquaponics?
The best worm you can use for your aquaponics system are red worms. Red worms are the best for aquaponics systems because of their ability to survive in wet environments and their efficiency at breaking down waste. The two common types of red worms are Eisenia fetida and Lumbricus rubellus. You may find a lot of gray worms in your soil garden, but these worms are not as efficient at composting solid waste as the red worms.
Where and How to Add Worms to Your Aquaponics System?
There is no wrong or correct answer on where to add your worms. It depends on these two components.
Adding worms to the grow bed is the most common practice aquaponics growers do. Doing this will give the highest amount of benefits to your system. Tips on adding worms to the grow bed:
- It is best to add worms during the daytime. Worms don’t like light, and once they are placed in the grow bed, they will immediately crawl and hide from the light.
- If growing indoors, you can shine them with a flashlight to make them crawl and hide in the grow media.
- Make sure the worms are washed properly before introducing them to the system.
- To remove soil from the worms, put them in a sifter and rinse them off with a hose outside, and you’ll have clean worms you can put into your grow bed.
Adding worms into your fish tank or pond has one significant benefit: removing the sludge or algae build-up. The worms will eat any build-up and help keep your fish tank or pond clean. However, before adding worms into your tank, you must consider a few things.
- Worms will have a harder time surviving in the fish tank or pond.
- Your fish will be the number one factor if you can add worms to the water. If you’re raising carnivorous fish, the worms will be a nice treat for your fish.
- Make sure the water is properly aerated. If your water does not have enough oxygen, the worms will die.
Tips for Taking Care of Worms in Your Aquaponics Setup
- Purchase your worms from a reputable supplier.
- For aquaponics, the best worms are the red wigglers worms (Eisenia fetida).
- Ensure that you have enough oxygen in your tank at all times.
- The worms in the grow will be covered with water for a lot of time. So make sure that the grow bed drains and is aerated so that your system has enough oxygen.
- You can set up your wormery using recyclable plastic bins or composting trays such as the worm factory. You can feed worms with kitchen waste such as leftover foods, vegetable peels, old fruits and vegetables, and other waste such as dead plants and woodchips.
- You also use your worm casting or compost tea in your soil garden.
- Worms also require organic particles as they feed and are sensitive to the chemicals used in traditional gardening methods. So be sure only to use organic methods of treating pests in your aquaponics system.
Make sure not to introduce pathogens to your system by:
- Putting them in cornmeal or oatmeal to clear their guts before transferring them into the grow bed or tank.
- Washing them before transferring them to the grow bed.
With its great benefits and no downside, you should start investing in red worms now. Adding them to your aquaponics system can be one of the best things you can do to have a successful and thriving aquaponics system. Get from a reputable worm grower to get the correct type of worm for aquaponics if you plan on getting some. Thank you for reading our article. Subscribe to our mailing list to get aquaponics updates.