• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Copyright
 Front Cover
 Introduction
 Biology
 Construction of worm beds
 Starting, feeding, and care of...
 Harvesting
 Summary
 Acknowledgments
 Back Cover






Group Title: Florida Cooperative Extension Service circular 1053
Title: Culture of earthworms for bait or fish food
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00049210/00001
 Material Information
Title: Culture of earthworms for bait or fish food
Series Title: Circular Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Physical Description: 4 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Mason, William Thomas, 1939-
Rottmann, R. W
Dequine, John F
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1992
 Subjects
Subject: Earthworm culture   ( lcsh )
Fishing baits   ( lcsh )
Fishes -- Food   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: William T. Mason, Rodger W. Rottmann, and John F. Dequine.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "March 1992."
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00049210
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 26383061

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Introduction
        Page 1
    Biology
        Page 1
    Construction of worm beds
        Page 1
    Starting, feeding, and care of worm cultures
        Page 2
    Harvesting
        Page 3
    Summary
        Page 4
    Acknowledgments
        Page 4
    Back Cover
        Page 5
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida





f&3 c-


March 1992


3-01-V _Lwr^
Wvmlv e


I a3ia!os "eieoU


Culture of Earthworms

for Bait or Fish food




William T. Mason, Jr., Rodger W. Rottmann, and John F. Dequine














Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
John T. Woeste, Dean


ep!JOlj Jo fC!SJla!un

Z861 0 WAVJ1
Circular 1053















0I\


















































William T. Mason, Jr., is Leader, Benthic Studies, National Fisheries Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7920 N.W. 71
St., Gainesville, FL 32606. Rodger W. Rottmann is a Senior Biological Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 7922 N.W. 71 St., Gainesville FL 32606.; and John F. Dequine is
President of Southern Fish Culturists, Inc., P.O. Box 251, Lessburg, FL 34749.









Introduction
The West-African nightcrawler (Eudrilus
eugeniae) and the brandling worm (Eisenia foetida),
also known as the English redworm have been used
in North America as bait worms since the 1940's.
These earthworms are also used for composting
sewage sludge and manure, and as a dietary
supplement for ornamental fish or other difficult-
to-raise fish species.

Earthworms are excellent food for cultured fish
species. Cultures of the West-African nightcrawler
and brandling worm have been used to feed Gulf of
Mexico sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi ),
reared at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Na-
tional Fisheries Research Center, located adjacent
to the University of Florida, Department of Fisher-
ies and Aquatic Sciences, Gainesville, Florida. In
addition, earthworms have been used alone and in
combination with other foods, such as commercial
feeds, in diets of other fish species at these labora-
tories. The advantages of earthworms in the diets
of cultured fish have been demonstrated. For ex-
ample, carp fed dried nightcrawlers, supplemented
with sardine oil, grew better than those fed a fish
meal diet.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm are prolific in warm climates and can be cul-
tured outdoors throughout the southern United
States; however, most commercial worm beds are
indoors. Most information concerning commercial-
scale methods for earthworm culture is difficult to
obtain because it is in old mimeograph documents,
out-of-print pamphlets and books, or other scarce
publications. Methods for the culture of live foods
for laboratory fish culture and for tropical fish hob-
byists are contained in several general texts (e.g.,
Masters, C. 0. 1975. Encyclopedia of Live Foods.
T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ.
336 pp. and Jocker, W. 1973. Live Foods for the
Aquarium and Terrarium. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ. 128 pp.) These texts
focus on the collection and culture of a variety of
live fish foods, but do not describe commercial in-
vertebrate culture methods.


Biology
Description of the life histories of the West-Afri-
can nightcrawler and brandling worm are found in
several publications. Both species obtain nutrition
from organic matter, such as manure or activated
sludge. The West-African nightcrawler grows well


at a temperature of 75-85oF (24-29oC). Maximum
weight (11 worms / ounce) occurs within 8-10
weeks. Optimal cocoon production is obtained
when there are 150 adults / cubic foot, and in-
creased mortality due to overcrowding occurs at
300 adults / cubic foot. In a 20-week period, one
West-African nightcrawler produces an average of
173 offspring. The brandling worm produces about
223 offspring per individual in the same period at
68-77oF (20-25oC). The dry weight analysis of the
brandling worm is 61% crude protein, 9% fat, and
5% ash.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm can be grown in the same bed and are easily
distinguished. The nightcrawler has a uniform
purple-grey sheen and the posterior segments are
evenly tapered to a point. The segments of the
brandling worm alternate reddish-orange and
brown; the posterior segments do not taper, and the
final segment is blunt. Experiences with mixed cul-
tures reveal that the brandling worm is more toler-
ant than the West-African nightcrawler of anoxic
conditions (lacking oxygen), becoming dominant if
the beds are not turned and aerated regularly. Op-
timum production of a mixed culture of these earth-
worms occurs at temperatures between 70 and 85F
(21-29oC). Temperatures less than 60oF (16oC) or
greater than 86F (300C) for extended periods may
be fatal. Temperatures less than 450F (7C) or
greater than 95oF (35oC) are usually immediately
fatal to the West-African nightcrawler.


Construction of worm beds
The worms are grown in containers or frames
constructed of plastic, wood, or concrete block.
Where the demand is low, the worms can be grown
in 5- or 6-foot diameter, plastic "kiddy" wading
pools. Additional rigidity can be provided by plac-
ing one pool inside another of the same size. The
pools should rest on wooden pallets positioned on
the floor or on waist-high platforms near the fish
holding tanks for easy access and comfortable
working height (Figure 1). The pallets may be
moved by forklift or dolly to suit changing work
space needs. Worm growers may also use wooden
crates that can be stacked to conserve space. How-
ever, access, maintenance, and harvesting of the
worms may be more difficult with stacked crates.
Commercial worm farms, producing thousands of
pounds of worms annually, use beds constructed of
rectangular frames approximately 4 feet wide and
30 feet or more long. Wooden frames are con-
structed of 1-inch x 8 to 10-inch boards. Concrete


U-4VYErWSITY Oh F .ROfMA [.IMES









Introduction
The West-African nightcrawler (Eudrilus
eugeniae) and the brandling worm (Eisenia foetida),
also known as the English redworm have been used
in North America as bait worms since the 1940's.
These earthworms are also used for composting
sewage sludge and manure, and as a dietary
supplement for ornamental fish or other difficult-
to-raise fish species.

Earthworms are excellent food for cultured fish
species. Cultures of the West-African nightcrawler
and brandling worm have been used to feed Gulf of
Mexico sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi ),
reared at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Na-
tional Fisheries Research Center, located adjacent
to the University of Florida, Department of Fisher-
ies and Aquatic Sciences, Gainesville, Florida. In
addition, earthworms have been used alone and in
combination with other foods, such as commercial
feeds, in diets of other fish species at these labora-
tories. The advantages of earthworms in the diets
of cultured fish have been demonstrated. For ex-
ample, carp fed dried nightcrawlers, supplemented
with sardine oil, grew better than those fed a fish
meal diet.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm are prolific in warm climates and can be cul-
tured outdoors throughout the southern United
States; however, most commercial worm beds are
indoors. Most information concerning commercial-
scale methods for earthworm culture is difficult to
obtain because it is in old mimeograph documents,
out-of-print pamphlets and books, or other scarce
publications. Methods for the culture of live foods
for laboratory fish culture and for tropical fish hob-
byists are contained in several general texts (e.g.,
Masters, C. 0. 1975. Encyclopedia of Live Foods.
T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ.
336 pp. and Jocker, W. 1973. Live Foods for the
Aquarium and Terrarium. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ. 128 pp.) These texts
focus on the collection and culture of a variety of
live fish foods, but do not describe commercial in-
vertebrate culture methods.


Biology
Description of the life histories of the West-Afri-
can nightcrawler and brandling worm are found in
several publications. Both species obtain nutrition
from organic matter, such as manure or activated
sludge. The West-African nightcrawler grows well


at a temperature of 75-85oF (24-29oC). Maximum
weight (11 worms / ounce) occurs within 8-10
weeks. Optimal cocoon production is obtained
when there are 150 adults / cubic foot, and in-
creased mortality due to overcrowding occurs at
300 adults / cubic foot. In a 20-week period, one
West-African nightcrawler produces an average of
173 offspring. The brandling worm produces about
223 offspring per individual in the same period at
68-77oF (20-25oC). The dry weight analysis of the
brandling worm is 61% crude protein, 9% fat, and
5% ash.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm can be grown in the same bed and are easily
distinguished. The nightcrawler has a uniform
purple-grey sheen and the posterior segments are
evenly tapered to a point. The segments of the
brandling worm alternate reddish-orange and
brown; the posterior segments do not taper, and the
final segment is blunt. Experiences with mixed cul-
tures reveal that the brandling worm is more toler-
ant than the West-African nightcrawler of anoxic
conditions (lacking oxygen), becoming dominant if
the beds are not turned and aerated regularly. Op-
timum production of a mixed culture of these earth-
worms occurs at temperatures between 70 and 85F
(21-29oC). Temperatures less than 60oF (16oC) or
greater than 86F (300C) for extended periods may
be fatal. Temperatures less than 450F (7C) or
greater than 95oF (35oC) are usually immediately
fatal to the West-African nightcrawler.


Construction of worm beds
The worms are grown in containers or frames
constructed of plastic, wood, or concrete block.
Where the demand is low, the worms can be grown
in 5- or 6-foot diameter, plastic "kiddy" wading
pools. Additional rigidity can be provided by plac-
ing one pool inside another of the same size. The
pools should rest on wooden pallets positioned on
the floor or on waist-high platforms near the fish
holding tanks for easy access and comfortable
working height (Figure 1). The pallets may be
moved by forklift or dolly to suit changing work
space needs. Worm growers may also use wooden
crates that can be stacked to conserve space. How-
ever, access, maintenance, and harvesting of the
worms may be more difficult with stacked crates.
Commercial worm farms, producing thousands of
pounds of worms annually, use beds constructed of
rectangular frames approximately 4 feet wide and
30 feet or more long. Wooden frames are con-
structed of 1-inch x 8 to 10-inch boards. Concrete


U-4VYErWSITY Oh F .ROfMA [.IMES









Introduction
The West-African nightcrawler (Eudrilus
eugeniae) and the brandling worm (Eisenia foetida),
also known as the English redworm have been used
in North America as bait worms since the 1940's.
These earthworms are also used for composting
sewage sludge and manure, and as a dietary
supplement for ornamental fish or other difficult-
to-raise fish species.

Earthworms are excellent food for cultured fish
species. Cultures of the West-African nightcrawler
and brandling worm have been used to feed Gulf of
Mexico sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi ),
reared at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Na-
tional Fisheries Research Center, located adjacent
to the University of Florida, Department of Fisher-
ies and Aquatic Sciences, Gainesville, Florida. In
addition, earthworms have been used alone and in
combination with other foods, such as commercial
feeds, in diets of other fish species at these labora-
tories. The advantages of earthworms in the diets
of cultured fish have been demonstrated. For ex-
ample, carp fed dried nightcrawlers, supplemented
with sardine oil, grew better than those fed a fish
meal diet.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm are prolific in warm climates and can be cul-
tured outdoors throughout the southern United
States; however, most commercial worm beds are
indoors. Most information concerning commercial-
scale methods for earthworm culture is difficult to
obtain because it is in old mimeograph documents,
out-of-print pamphlets and books, or other scarce
publications. Methods for the culture of live foods
for laboratory fish culture and for tropical fish hob-
byists are contained in several general texts (e.g.,
Masters, C. 0. 1975. Encyclopedia of Live Foods.
T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ.
336 pp. and Jocker, W. 1973. Live Foods for the
Aquarium and Terrarium. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Ltd., Neptune City, NJ. 128 pp.) These texts
focus on the collection and culture of a variety of
live fish foods, but do not describe commercial in-
vertebrate culture methods.


Biology
Description of the life histories of the West-Afri-
can nightcrawler and brandling worm are found in
several publications. Both species obtain nutrition
from organic matter, such as manure or activated
sludge. The West-African nightcrawler grows well


at a temperature of 75-85oF (24-29oC). Maximum
weight (11 worms / ounce) occurs within 8-10
weeks. Optimal cocoon production is obtained
when there are 150 adults / cubic foot, and in-
creased mortality due to overcrowding occurs at
300 adults / cubic foot. In a 20-week period, one
West-African nightcrawler produces an average of
173 offspring. The brandling worm produces about
223 offspring per individual in the same period at
68-77oF (20-25oC). The dry weight analysis of the
brandling worm is 61% crude protein, 9% fat, and
5% ash.

The West-African nightcrawler and brandling
worm can be grown in the same bed and are easily
distinguished. The nightcrawler has a uniform
purple-grey sheen and the posterior segments are
evenly tapered to a point. The segments of the
brandling worm alternate reddish-orange and
brown; the posterior segments do not taper, and the
final segment is blunt. Experiences with mixed cul-
tures reveal that the brandling worm is more toler-
ant than the West-African nightcrawler of anoxic
conditions (lacking oxygen), becoming dominant if
the beds are not turned and aerated regularly. Op-
timum production of a mixed culture of these earth-
worms occurs at temperatures between 70 and 85F
(21-29oC). Temperatures less than 60oF (16oC) or
greater than 86F (300C) for extended periods may
be fatal. Temperatures less than 450F (7C) or
greater than 95oF (35oC) are usually immediately
fatal to the West-African nightcrawler.


Construction of worm beds
The worms are grown in containers or frames
constructed of plastic, wood, or concrete block.
Where the demand is low, the worms can be grown
in 5- or 6-foot diameter, plastic "kiddy" wading
pools. Additional rigidity can be provided by plac-
ing one pool inside another of the same size. The
pools should rest on wooden pallets positioned on
the floor or on waist-high platforms near the fish
holding tanks for easy access and comfortable
working height (Figure 1). The pallets may be
moved by forklift or dolly to suit changing work
space needs. Worm growers may also use wooden
crates that can be stacked to conserve space. How-
ever, access, maintenance, and harvesting of the
worms may be more difficult with stacked crates.
Commercial worm farms, producing thousands of
pounds of worms annually, use beds constructed of
rectangular frames approximately 4 feet wide and
30 feet or more long. Wooden frames are con-
structed of 1-inch x 8 to 10-inch boards. Concrete


U-4VYErWSITY Oh F .ROfMA [.IMES







blocks laid end to end also make an excellent frame
for worm beds. The frames rest directly on the soil
for good drainage and are separated by access
aisles.

Housing is recommended for continuous culture
of earthworms. Buildings not only allow daily ad-
justments for local climate control, but also provide
shade and protection against pests. Sheds, garages,
and out-buildings all work well for earthworm cul-
ture. If possible, buildings should have moveable
side panels or doors on all sides for ventilation and
moisture control. Depending on the prevailing
winds, exhaust fans may be needed to draw air
across the beds for evaporative cooling. The build-
ing should be heated with oil or gas furnaces, heat
pumps, or solar panels in winter to maintain tem-
peratures above 65F (18C). If the building is not
insulated, sheets of plastic can be attached to the
walls and ceiling in winter to reduce heat loss and
heating expense.

Some of the primary pests that invade worm
beds are insects, slugs, birds, reptiles, amphibians,
and mammals. Ant invasions can ruin the beds in
a few days; close watch and quick treatment are
required. If ants are a problem use a granular in-
secticide at the ant nest and trails to the bed.
Small worm beds may be placed on platforms with
their legs resting in containers of water. Screening
the buildings or beds will help reduce losses to
birds, rodents, and raccoons.


Starting, feeding, and care of
worm cultures
Unoxidized peat is the preferred bedding and can
be obtained from peat mining companies. The bed
material should be loose, moist, and well aerated.
To start a new worm bed, peat is placed to a depth
of about 3 inches and leveled with a rake. Hard-
wood sawdust, ground peanut hulls, sand (< 2% by
weight) or other organic material can be mixed into
the peat to minimize compaction. Small quantities
of agricultural grade dolomite limestone are added
gradually over a period of days to adjust the pH to
about 6.5-6.8. Uncontaminated groundwater (total
hardness < 250 mg/1 CaCO3) is lightly sprinkled on
the bedding for a few seconds until the surface first
glistens. Adult worms (about 2 pounds per 100
square feet of bed) are placed along the central mid-
line of the bed. Within a few minutes the worms
work their way into the bedding, and in a few days
they gradually spread evenly throughout the bed.


Most cultured earthworms live in the top 2
inches of bedding. They are active at night and will
crawl out of the beds in dimly lit or dark rooms..
The worms are light sensitive (photophobic) and
thus overhead illumination discourages their move-
ments; the lights also help heat the beds in winter.
A small fluorescent light about 2 feet above the bed
keeps the worms in the bed without the expense of
a large bank of electrical lights.

The moisture content of the bed is a critical fac-
tor affecting worm production. Earthworms prefer
moist but not saturated conditions. Excess water
causes the food to rot and fungus to develop. This
can reduce production and cause mortality if the
condition persists. Excess moisture can also cause
the bedding materials to cling to the worm's body,
affecting respiration and production. Watering pro-
cedures vary with each site. Large commercial
beds are usually lightly watered daily with a hose
nozzle, preferably in the morning. Small plastic
pools that have no drainage are not watered on
weekends to allow the bed to dry out. This routine
does not cause any perceptible change in worm pro-
duction and reduces labor.

Immediately after watering, a high fiber content
food (e.g., Purina Earthworm Chow) is broadcast
(Figure 1) by hand or mechanical applicator evenly
over the bed's surface at a daily rate of approxi-
mately 0.5 pounds / square yard. Applied properly,
the bed material should be faintly visible through
the layer of food. The food will absorb some water
and become moist, but not soggy. The worms mi-
grate to the surface and begin to feed within the


Figure 1. Earthworms are fed by hand broadcast method. The
plastic wading pools rest on a wooden pallet on the floor or on
a platform. The fluorescent lamp discourages the worms from
crawling out of the bed.



































Figure 2. Laboratory-scale, wooden-framed sieve used for
separating worms from bedding when harvesting or transfer-
ring worms.



hour. Uneaten food may indicate too high a feeding
rate or detrimental environmental conditions in the
bed (e.g., too much or too little moisture, lack of oxy-
gen, improper temperature).

Uneaten lumps of food become moldy and attract
unwanted pests; therefore, before the next feeding,
any food that is uneaten should be gently worked
into the surface of the bedding by hand with a tine
hoe. This action also helps to aerate the bedding
material, preventing anaerobic conditions. To opti-
mize worm production and facilitate harvesting, the
peat bedding should be loosened at least every
month with a tine hoe. Gently turning the bed does
not harm the worms and keeps the bed oxygenated.

The buildup of ammonia from wastes can retard
worm production; therefore, a new layer (2-3 inches)
of clean bedding is spread over the surface about ev-
ery 3 months. After the new bedding is added, the
worms migrate up into it. When the frame or con-
tainer is eventually filled with spent bedding and
becomes anoxic, the beds are harvested, and breeder
worms are transferred to a new bed.


Worms on the bed's surface while the bed is lit is
a sign of excessive water or overcrowding. Listless
and stunted worms indicate disease, fungus, or
overcrowding. The worms are in good condition if,
when the surface of the bedding is touched, the sur-
face layer ripples as the worms quickly retract.


Harvesting
Removing worms from the beds at regular inter-
vals reduces overcrowding, increases production,
and prevents stunted worms. Worms are initially
harvested from new beds after 3 months. They can
then be harvested every 2-4 weeks. Large quanti-
ties of worms can be snagged on the tines of a
pitchfork that is slowly run through the top layer of
bedding. The worms are then dropped from the
pitchfork into a tub or wheelbarrow. To completely
harvest a bed, a tine hoe is used to gather the top 4
inches of bedding into a heap in the middle of the
bed; the bedding and worms are transferred with a
flat blade shovel into a tub, wheelbarrow, or wagon.

Harvested worms are usually still covered with
bedding material that clings to their bodies. This
may pose a problem if the worms are to be fed to
fish that require clean food and if fish tank clean-
ing is a problem. For small cultures, a wooden-
framed sieve 13 x 18 x 7 inches deep with 1/8 inch
hardware cloth screen (Figure 2) is helpful for sepa-
rating the bedding from the worms. To rid the
worms of excess bedding on a commercial scale,
they are placed in an electrically-rotated basket 9
feet long x 2.5 feet diameter made of 1/8-inch hard-
ware cloth stretched over a metal frame. The bas-
ket is inclined at 10-12 (Figure 3). As the mass of


Figure 3. Commercial-scale, rotating wire basket used for
cleaning worms.









worms slides down the basket, excess bedding is
scrapped away by the abrasion of the hardware
cloth. The spent bedding falls into containers un-
derneath the basket.

Spent bedding and worm castings from either
partial or total harvest are removed and used as
garden fertilizer. The spent bedding also makes
excellent plant potting medium or fertilizer for
other invertebrate cultures.

Worm farms in central Florida have an annual
production approaching 50,000 pounds / acre. One
person-year of labor is required for approximately
0.5 acre of worm beds.


Summary
The West-African nightcrawler and the
brandling worm have been used in North America
as bait worms since the 1940's. These earthworms
are also used for composting sewage sludge and
manure, and as dietary supplements for ornamen-
tal fish or other difficult-to-raise fish species. The
worms are grown in containers or frames of plastic,
wood, or concrete block. The West-African
nightcrawler and brandling worm are prolific in
warm climates and can be cultured outdoors
throughout the southern United States; however,
most commercial worm beds are indoors to facili-


tate climate and predator control. Unoxidized peat
mixed with sand and organic material is used as
bedding. The bedding material should be kept
loose, moist, and well aerated. A commercial worm
feed is spread over the surface of the bed daily. The
worms are harvested every 2-4 weeks.




The information given herein is provided with
the understanding that no discrimination is
intended and no endorsement by the U. S.
Government or the University of Florida is im-
plied. The listing of specific trade names does
not constitute an endorsement of these prod-
ucts or manufacturers in preference to others
containing the same ingredients or providing
similar items.





Acknowledgments
We wish to thank James I. Maxwell, U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, National Fish Hatchery,
Welaka, Fl and Dr. Charles E. Cichra, University of
Florida, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sci-
ences, Gainesville, FL, for editorial suggestions.









worms slides down the basket, excess bedding is
scrapped away by the abrasion of the hardware
cloth. The spent bedding falls into containers un-
derneath the basket.

Spent bedding and worm castings from either
partial or total harvest are removed and used as
garden fertilizer. The spent bedding also makes
excellent plant potting medium or fertilizer for
other invertebrate cultures.

Worm farms in central Florida have an annual
production approaching 50,000 pounds / acre. One
person-year of labor is required for approximately
0.5 acre of worm beds.


Summary
The West-African nightcrawler and the
brandling worm have been used in North America
as bait worms since the 1940's. These earthworms
are also used for composting sewage sludge and
manure, and as dietary supplements for ornamen-
tal fish or other difficult-to-raise fish species. The
worms are grown in containers or frames of plastic,
wood, or concrete block. The West-African
nightcrawler and brandling worm are prolific in
warm climates and can be cultured outdoors
throughout the southern United States; however,
most commercial worm beds are indoors to facili-


tate climate and predator control. Unoxidized peat
mixed with sand and organic material is used as
bedding. The bedding material should be kept
loose, moist, and well aerated. A commercial worm
feed is spread over the surface of the bed daily. The
worms are harvested every 2-4 weeks.




The information given herein is provided with
the understanding that no discrimination is
intended and no endorsement by the U. S.
Government or the University of Florida is im-
plied. The listing of specific trade names does
not constitute an endorsement of these prod-
ucts or manufacturers in preference to others
containing the same ingredients or providing
similar items.





Acknowledgments
We wish to thank James I. Maxwell, U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, National Fish Hatchery,
Welaka, Fl and Dr. Charles E. Cichra, University of
Florida, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sci-
ences, Gainesville, FL, for editorial suggestions.


















































































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