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Why can't I grow whiteworms any more?

This is a discussion on Why can't I grow whiteworms any more? within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; When I was a tadpole, I grew 6x10^23 whiteworms a week in a small Tupperware container filled with garden soil. ...

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Old 22nd January 2004   #1 (permalink)
alan
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When I was a tadpole, I grew 6x10^23 whiteworms a week in a small Tupperware container filled with garden soil. I fed them bread soaked in milk, which admittedly did get a bit Tinky-Winky at times, so they were kept in the garden shed.
In the last few years I have failed miserably at every attempt to grow whiteworms, although I am currently the East Midlands grindalworm champion.
I've tried peat-free multipurpose compost, composted bark, John Innes No 1, fed them on Ready-Brek, kept them at 15-20C.
Nada. The last batch I got from Morg grew like gangbusters for a couple of weeks, then pooped out completely. Don't get me wrong, grindalworms are great, but they are a bit on the small side for most adult caudates.
HELP!



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Old 22nd January 2004   #2 (permalink)
edward
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Hi Alan,
Do you ever see a white mite in your cultures? These can wipe out the culture pretty quickly. Growing out a mol of worms is pretty impressive but I never had the time to count them out.
I've had good luck using just water moistened bread or fish food flakes as a food source.
Ed



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Old 22nd January 2004   #3 (permalink)
alan
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No, no mites, springtails, fungus gnats, centipedes, oryx, jellyfish or Xiphosura - the cultures just don't last long enough.
Is bread really that much better than oats for whiteworms?



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Old 22nd January 2004   #4 (permalink)
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They do seem to like bread a lot.
I have a worm composting bin in the shed and if ever I add a piece of bread, it is literally covered with whiteworms within a few days although usually no whiteworms can be seen in there.



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Old 22nd January 2004   #5 (permalink)
edward
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Pretty much everything I've read on culturing white worms indicates that white bread is the ideal food but worms fed on nothing but bread have been linked to MBD in Pseudobranchus.
It may be that the worms are in there but the numbers are not high enough to get numbers sufficent for collection.
Try placing a small piece of moistened bread under a piece of plexiglass or glass and see what happens.
Ed



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Old 22nd January 2004   #6 (permalink)
alan
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Aarg, it's Morg the whiteworm king!
OK, I'll try the bread. Brown or white?



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Old 22nd January 2004   #7 (permalink)
mark
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I've got two cultures of white worm that are thriving on soaked bread at the moment. One of them however has got mites in it - but its had mites in it for the last 2/3 weeks and the culture is still doing well...

Can the mites cause any harm other than compete for resources?



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Old 23rd January 2004   #8 (permalink)
francesco
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I feed bread to my whiteworms but when I want the number of individuals to "explode" I give them yogurt.
Perhaps the soil is too dry.
Cheers



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Old 24th January 2004   #9 (permalink)
jennifer
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My whiteworms are quite infested with mites. But they still produce plenty of whiteworms. Perhaps some mites are harmful, some not.

I have found that it is possible to "gutload" whiteworms. If I feed them high-carotene fish food, the worms get a slightly orange color in their gut. Perhaps this could be a way to get Cynops with oranger bellies.



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Old 25th January 2004   #10 (permalink)
mark
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Thats interesting Jen- mine seem to be the same. Another question: is it possible that the worms prefer wholegrain bread to white? I have a culture at home that appears to ahve been ressurected with this bread. Before it had never produced much, while the other culture flourished.



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Old 26th January 2004   #11 (permalink)
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Alan- I'm not sure a couple of weeks is long enough to tell whether a culture is going to thrive or not- some of mine have taken months to get going properly- I think whiteworm breed a bit slower than grindalworm.

If you have big established grindalworm cultures, you might get better results using (sterilized?) compost from this rather than a plant growing compost- I have a suspicion that rich composts aren't particularly good for them, and probably encourage fungi. I often use spent plant compost, from when I repot plants, etc.

I feed mine on ground oats fortified with a reptile vitamin supplement- I sprinkle this thinly on the surface, then spray it with water. I've found oats don't go mouldy as quickly as bread does.

I also place a piece of glass or perspex over the food- they feed better like this, and you can also see how many of them there are.

Like Morg, I've got a worm culture that grows thousands of whiteworms- the worms all died off in mine, but the whiteworms grow very well on vegetable scraps. I don't know where these whiteworms came from (I didn't put them there!) but they are the source of all the cultures I have at the moment.

I've read advice that you shouldn't disturb the culture by mixing it up, but I do mix mine, to avoid compaction. It doesn't seem to do any harm.



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Old 26th January 2004   #12 (permalink)
alan
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Well, they definitely like the wholemeal bread. I can see them clustered around some small pieces I added, whereas they never seemed bothered about ReadyBrek. Time will tell!



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Old 26th January 2004   #13 (permalink)
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Just to confuse the issue further.

I brought a batch of whiteworms in from my worm bin, put them in a tub with john innes potting compost, and decided to try the white bread-wholemeal bread experiment, putting a small piece of each in the tub.
Yesterday I also added a small amount of ready brek.
Guess what, they have headed for the ready brek.

Could it possibly be because it is a new food to them, having not eaten it in the worm bin?



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Old 27th January 2004   #14 (permalink)
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Just a dumb question from an ignorant Yank....but what is ready brek? A type of bread?



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Old 27th January 2004   #15 (permalink)
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Its like porridge stuff i think, i see it often, but ive never tried it.

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Old 28th January 2004   #16 (permalink)
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Ready brek is a calcium fortified instant oat cereal.




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