Well, thankfully that idea DID cross the mind of Jim Joyner – a LONG-time member of (not to mention prolific contributor to) the S&S Aqua list mentioned above! What’s interesting about an aqua-vermiculture system, as compared to a typical aquaponics set-up is that (based on Jim’s findings) you can essentially feed the worms the equivalent of 30% less food (than would be fed to fish), while still producing the same nutrient load for the plants! Worms are incredibly tolerant and productive in general – not to mention self-regulating.
As you might imagine, I am certainly looking forward to receiving future updates as Jim’s new systems are set up and put into action this spring. I think spraying the crops with tea as an additional practice might be helpful though, especially since they’ve been shown to help fend off disease and pests, apart from providing fertilizer value. Catherine – I think your adaptation is somewhat similar to what Jim is planning to do this year (ie completely separating the worms and plants altogether). No matter what we call it, what I have found is that the combination of water and worms affords either a lot of flexibility to do unthought of things or a lot more efficiency to do what essentially we’ve been doing all along with vermiculture. I can eat a pound of fish, directly – no matter the markets the prices the rest of it! Guys, This is fascinating as a biologist and industrial engineer and a dedicated sports fisherman this all makes sense. GREG – If the water is oxygenated, you can basically keep worms in there indefinitely. I’ve been wondering if vermicast can be used as a nutrient substitute for hydroponic plants. I will start an aquaponic pilot project in egypt in a desert area where there is no soil, but luckely available water. The profitability of raising fish is marginal and the main gain will be growing veggies, so I would like to try vermiponics as well. Now in aquaponic the fish grow bed area is quite well documented But I have no idea on how big the vermi tanks need to be and how mush feed needs to be provided for let say 10m2 grow bed. Maximus, I just installed some prototype GrowFrames in India using some vermiponics and aquaponics.
My thought for you is that the temps in the summer are similar to the temps in India I was challenged by (not to mention a cold winter). Point me toward any PDF’s or other documentation about how to size my grow beds in comparison to the size of my volume of worms. I take weeds from the garden, (roots, dirt and all,) and other scraps from the kitchen, then I steam them for about 20 minutes, to kill seeds and to open the plant fibers.
My Question is: When feeing worms in the vermponic system, when you feed the worms while flooding the worm bed, wouldn’t you just wash the worm food out? Just found this site today and sounds interesting, surprised that no one has thought of this concept before this. To landtrees i am in panama and am looking for a place to buy vermicompost worms right now…anysuggestions? I just added a worm bin to my little urban farm this week to augment the compost bin we already have running. After reading a few articles about red worms living directly in the aquaponics grow beds, I just decided to relocate a few worms from my compost bin in to the grow beds to see how they do! If the worms can survive the flood and drain cycles (three times a day for about 25 minutes each time), then this would be an ideal place for them to reside. My aquaponic grow beds tend to accumulate solid fish wastes as a fine silt (even after the water is passed through several filters.) In addition, the network of roots (from previous crops) can be almost impossible to fully clean out of the grow bed medium without bleaching and scrubbing or other harsh and tedious cleaning efforts.
So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my new red worms will help improve my aquaponics setup by cleaning the grow beds too! I also do worm composting on my apartment balcony with the Worm Factory and BSF grub composting with a DIY stacking kitty litter container system.
It seems that running this system with the traditional fish (nitrogen cycle) approach would work like a dream. I covered my garden area with several layers of cardboard and the red wiggler population exploded!! I’ve been reading about pee-ponics, using percolated urine in the system for the ammonia. I’m a new vermiponics experimenter I have a mixed bed of alabamajumpers and European night crawlers in my pond. I have them setting on bricks stacked up from the bottom and just let the water wick through the bed.the bottom of the bin is probably a little too wet for the worms. Vermiculture systems are entirely vertical, providing a greater collection of worms in a shorter period of time.

Plastic vermidigesters are relatively practical and easy to carry while being efficient are great for families and schools as well as for rural areas and restoration. Probably the most logical idea (in my head, anyway) has been to simply add Red Worms to an aquaponics grow bed, since I know how well they can thrive in very wet conditions – assuming they are provided with at least some oxygen.
I want to take this opportunity to send my sincere THANKS to Jim for agreeing to assist me in putting this preliminary article together. In fact, I am currently in the process of setting up my own mini test system and I hope to bring you a post about that a little later in the week!
I suspect that the plants would suck all the benefits out of a reservoir of compost tea fairly quickly.
I wonder could you adapt it slighlty, have two beds, one with worms, one with plants, and just keep circulating the water between the two?
I’ve read many articles about Acquponics and this just seems more interesting with better effects. I WAS firmly committed to at least trying out a small goldfish, garbage can system at some point, but now I think I’ll just start with the worms! I myself will be setting up a simple system in the next day or so and will certainly share how I have but it together. His simple reply is this: Instead feed 1 pound of worms, sell the worms and buy 50 pounds of fish feed and give that to the fish instead.
Obviously if you are a fish person and want to raise fish, it makes sense to go that route.
The economics of what to do with the worms is probably flexible enough to leave it up to each person. Because we will be in an hotel premesis we can get veggies left over from the kitchen for free and we could then fully recycling it.
An accumulation of humus in your growbeds will eventually provoke to clean out the system or your media. I wonder if you could create a dry bowl feeding compost dish that stays out of the main system while allowing the worms to come up and feed. I am working to develop an indoor vertical farm in Chattanooga at a historic building in downtown Chattanooga. Does anyone have any experience in combining Black Soldier Fly Larvae in composting with a hydroponics system?
I envision a verticle system with the bottom floor being 300 gallon loaf tanks, IBC’s, or 55 gallon drums (vertically placed and interconnected) filled with water and fish. Will be building system but want to be totally self sufficient Do not want to buy fish food. Could you not have a bucket with holes drilled in the bottom and put damp paper or cardboard in the bottom?
Includes a matrix box with 450 initial worms and 4 culture boxes and an instructions manual. Includes a matrix box with 225 initial worms and 2 culture boxes and an instructions manual. To me it seemed like the ultimate habitat, since apart from the high moisture, I knew the worms would also greatly appreciate the rich microbial buffet laid out before them. Nature is always working on everything in a holistic manner, with no separate pieces, so why wouldn’t complementary systems work together?
In other words, have a central tank, spray water onto the worm bed (spraying will oxygenate) collect the water at the bottom, return to tank and spray onto plant bed.
I also think that the gravel could be left for longer before needing to completely change it.
My worm bins usually stay on the dry side and it will be an eye opening experience to see how they survive mostly in water than bedding.
If on the other hand you are a worm-head like me, the vermiponics approach makes the most sense. I understand this is not the same as soy protein meal, but I rather go for a low cost solution. Many including myself use them in 12″ deep beds, twice the volume of GB to fishtank size. Have you tried using a system where you only drain the liquid (humus liquid) which you feed then via the waterflow to your plants and keep the humus away from the GB’s?
I am going to try keeping them in a traditional aquaponics grow bed to convert fish waste to nitrogen and oxygen. The second floor being a worm bed at the bottom (6 inches or so of pebbles) with high walls (say 12 inches).

If I could raise enough worms for a small system, would the fish be happy with a worm diet? This process is the same as using fish, but just a different brand of waste and it could be human urine. Add to this the fact that worm bi-products have been shown time and time again (via academic studies) to help stimulate plant growth via various mechanisms, and it seems like a no-brainer to stock a grow bed with them. The worms beds will cycle every 6 to 12 hours to flush nutrient from the beds into a common sump. I will dip or drain the liquid from this to feed my garden in the summer, particularly heavy feeders like corn. If you mail the worms to me and I will pay you some cash compensation to cover say 10# of Catfish or Talapia. Not sure yet how one would effectively harvest the worms for sale (if that was something you wanted to do), but I DO have some ideas there. Additionally it is my intention to discharge the sludge from the fish solid settling tank into the same vermi tank. Worms effectively reduce the solid portion of fish waste into water soluble plant nutrients.
Maybe some system with laundry bags where underneath you collect the liquid for such purpose? Water oxygenates in a reservoir before being pumped to some planters that are tiered, before draining and flowing back into the bin to get more nutrients. My biggest concern is that the worms consume most of the fish waste before the plants can eat, but perhaps they share well.
I am looking to develop the first two floors for an indoor vertical farm and a micro-brewery and meadery. The mechanical harvesters will not work for this as the pebbles will not seperate from the worms for sure.
The idea to use worms in certain aquaponics systems rather than fish is just simply fantastic! The tank will use a flood and drain cycle (can you suggest the dry and wet period, since we have in summer 42C°, 107F°). So far so good, although I think now I should try the EM that Paul Smith mentioned, and maybe start putting worms in the planters as well. On the third, fourth, and partial fifth floor I will be developing LEED Platinum Condo Lofts and a rooftop garden. This eliminates the need for a solids filter (swirl filter) between the fish tanks and the garden because the worms will readily devour fish poop and uneaten food. Also on the first floor the ceiling is about 30 ft high since the building was an electric substation in the 1920s and housed electric transformers. The most basic method consists of a stick buried in the soil and sticking out and then heavily rubbing another stick or metal object against the exposed butt of the stick making a grunting noise that translate into vibrations into the soil.
Without adding any worms the cocoons hatched and populated the pond bin.I am currently starting tomatoes in it.
I will use a 1″ sump pump to keep water flowing from the far end of the bed and let it cascade back in the pond.
If done correctly the worms around a few feet away from the stick will come out to the surface in mass. Some suggesting it replicates what moles do when hunting for worms and hence producing this reaction to flee in the worms. The compost makes the water a little tannic but it usually is from oak leaves that fall in throughout the year. This final fruiting chamber will take plants veged in aquaponics,bl but moved to a similar system without the fish for fruiting. This final stage will be ph adjusted to 6, to improve nutrient uptake, and will be fertilized with chicken and rabbit poo too rich for the survival of fish. I assume the worms, which will already be present from the AP portion of the grow, will thrive.
I assume this because I have seen pictures online of redworms by the kajillions in aerated septic tanks.

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