Redworms and Aquaponics: Can it be done?

(banjo music) – Hi, so today I’m gonna talk about one of my favorite parts of this system. It’s in response to some of the folks that have asked questions on some of our other You Tube videos about using red worms. So, in traditional hydroponic systems this isn’t always a possibility. The nutrient solution will
probably kill your worms. And they’re not necessarily
something you want in traditional hydro, because
they’re always kind of consuming these solids and
producing solids of their own. And it’s more biologically active than most hydro guys really want. But I’m not saying it’s impossible, especially when you’re starting to look at organic hydroponic methods. We’re talking, using
min-er-tees, nu-tree-en-tees, and the like, for your production. We do aquaponic production,
so we’re using fish waste in a solution that we just
recirculate constantly. And we use red worms in our towers, okay. So red worms are really awesome. They’re great at taking
unavailable nutrients that are tied up in organic solids and organic compounds, and consuming them. And they’re like little bioreactors; all the microbes inside their guts basically help mineralize,
break those solids down, oxidize them, mineralize them, release them back into the
solution, and a lot of the time they’re almost immediately
plant-available. So the plants can start
taking those nutrients up right out of those castings. If the plants don’t take them up, they just go right back in the
solution, and they circulate, and they do their thing;
it’s part of the marvelous cycle of life in aquaponics. So, people ask, how do you
get red worms in your system. Well, you start by ordering
a few red worms online. And we did that a number of years ago, and then we basically put
them in worm bins like this. And this is really all you need is just a few Tupperware tubs
from Walmart, pretty cheap. Drill some holes in it so they drain. Drill some holes so
there’s some good aeration. And then just start throwing all of your waste from your
system in, and if you’re a home or a hobby producer start
throwing in all your waste from your kitchen, and
pretty soon you end up with this nice, rich kind of mix of great stuff. And the nice thing is,
you can do this inside if you’re a home producer. It really doesn’t smell,
and that’s the nice thing about vermicompost is if
you mix it very nicely, if you keep it in good shape, you can do this inside
without too many issues. So, you see I’ve got some
really nice rich stuff here, and if you notice it’s
just crawlin’ with worms. Well, what happens after
we kind of have this vermicomposted in these
bins is, we take this media, we take this, vermicompost, basically, and we just plant our seeds into it. So, we start our seedlings
for our system in these.. basically like plug trays. So we’re growing our
seedlings in these plug trays, and they’re just naturally
inoculated with these worms. So, when we take those seedlings, and we transplant them to our towers, the towers are just naturally inoculated with eggs and with the worms,
just through those plugs. Occasionally when we get
in a new batch of towers that need to be cycled, this is the hardest part of the system. Any aquaponics system is cycling it up. We’ll take red worms; we can just add them directly to the tops of the towers so long as they’re being irrigated. Now, when the towers are
first getting started, a lot of the time I
think the worms probably just crawl right through and
get in the system solution, but that’s not a bad deal, either. They will clog some of your emitters, but those worms will just
flow with the system. Alright, it’s aerobic
enough that they won’t die, they won’t drown, they’ll just kind of float
right through the system, and they’ll squirt right back into the tops of the towers, typically. So, we have red worms
in all of our towers, all through our system,
and they do a great job at keeping our percolation
rates very fast. They do a great job at reducing our solids and making a lot of our organic solids.. converting those into
plant-available nutrients. So, I highly recommend the
use of red worms with towers, especially in aquaponic systems. Any kind of media-based aquaponics system, red worms are going to be a
huge asset to your system. They’re gonna increase
your nutrient availability, and they’re just kind of
another fun little element. You know, biodiversity in these systems equates with better resiliency;
better system stability. So, I encourage it, and they’re just pretty
cool little animals, too. So that’s how we get
red worms in our system. (banjo music)

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