Keeping red wrigglers. Breeding them for Axolotl food.

Taraors

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Instead of buying red wrigglers constantly, I would like to start a compost to keep them for food. I know I need an organic soil without chemicals. I was told Black earth, but I need specific brands that are ok and what kind of sand I can use. Also the best foods to feed worms you’re using to feed an axolotl. Thanks in Advance!
 

AMurry24537

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Some axolotls hate red wigglers, some don't. I'd recommend buying a small batch from a bait shop or even Walmart to test whether or not they will be eaten before committing to a worm farm.

My own axolotl loves them and, like you, I wanted to start a worm farm. Mine has been doing quite well, so here's what I did from start to finish:

I bought two food safe buckets and one lid from Menards. They're probably about 4 gallons? They also happen to be kind of square-shaped, which has actually been a huge advantage. Someday I'd like to upgrade to something larger, but so far this has been suiting my needs just fine.

I drilled lots of pencil-thickness holes (about an inch and a half apart) in the bottom of one bucket and in the lid. I also drilled two larger (maybe 3/4 of an inch?) holes on each side of the bucket, one near the top and one near the bottom. These allow for drainage/ventilation.

The second bucket should not have any holes. It goes underneath (nesting style) the first to catch any water, dirt, or worms that get out of the first. I personally have used a brick put on it's side to make the gap between the buckets slightly bigger in order to allow for more aeration.

Of course, your worms can escape through the holes, so I used screen netting (again from Menards) to cover up the holes while still allowing them to fulfill their purpose. After some trial and error, I would recommend putting the netting outside the bucket walls rather than inside. Initially, I used a waterproof silicone sealant to kind of glue these in place, but it eventually came off the plastic. Honestly, duct tape worked a lot better and is easier to replace. I've had my worm farm for about a year and a half and have replaced to duct tape maybe two or three times?

Okay, now for the filling. I usually work in layers. The first thing I put in are some cut-to-fit cardboard egg cartons. The cardboard/the shape provide some stability at the bottom of the tank and also help with aeration. Since they do absorb a fair amount of moisture, I like to dip them in dechlorinated water first.

After that, I work in layers of dirt, dead leaves, dead grass, more cut up pieces of damp cardboard, and sometimes just a little bit of fine sand.

I know your question was mostly about which dirt to use, but honestly, it shouldn't be a big concern. Like you mentioned, you'll want something organic. I forget exactly what brand I typically use, but I know it has a fair amount of peat moss. I also like to buy an extra bag of just straight up peat moss because it seems to help. It's fairly absorbent though too, so I also have a spray bottle of dechlorinated water on hand to spritz onto the soil. Ultimately, your mix should always feel like a slightly damp sponge in terms of moisture.

On top, I like to add another loose layer of netting with some cedar chips on top. This really helps with the smell and the net makes it easy to remove them when you put in food.

I usually feed them every third day and when I do, I circulate the soil in the entire bin. This helps avoid any dead pockets of ammonia buildup, gives you a good idea of what's going on in there, and keeps everything healthy.

The bin should be kept in a cool, dark place. I try to clean out the bin/replace the bedding every 3-4 months.

I know that was a lot more info than you asked for, but I hope it helps!
 

Taraors

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Thank you! I haven’t fed a red wriggler yet. He or she loves nightcrawlers though. I just have to cut them up. I will get a small batch and see if they’re liked.
you gave me a ton of good info! I did buy the bins already and some sand. I shredded a bunch of newspaper. Now I’ll acquire some egg cartons and netting. :)
Thanks again!
 

AMurry24537

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Thank you! I haven’t fed a red wriggler yet. He or she loves nightcrawlers though. I just have to cut them up. I will get a small batch and see if they’re liked.
you gave me a ton of good info! I did buy the bins already and some sand. I shredded a bunch of newspaper. Now I’ll acquire some egg cartons and netting. :)
Thanks again!
Fantastic! I've also kept nightcrawlers in mine, but they don't grow very fast, so red wigglers are much more sustainable. Newspapers are also a great option! I would, however, recommend avoiding colored newspaper as much as you can; if a little ink gets in there, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but avoid it if you can. Leaves are an excellent option as well, but you'd have to get them in the fall, haha! Glad I could help!
 

AMurry24537

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I just realized I never mentioned what foods to put in there. There's more info online, but basically, kitchen scraps that are NOT meat, dairy, or too citrusy. I throw in scrap bits and peelings and stuff from bananas, apples, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, etc. Some of those take longer to break down than others, so I try to keep a bit of a mix. You can shred foods if you want to make them more digestible, but I have 100% just tossed a whole apple in there when it started to go bad and they LOVED it.
 

DrJade

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Instead of buying red wrigglers constantly, I would like to start a compost to keep them for food. I know I need an organic soil without chemicals. I was told Black earth, but I need specific brands that are ok and what kind of sand I can use. Also the best foods to feed worms you’re using to feed an axolotl. Thanks in Advance!
I purchased an indoor worm compost bin to keep a constant nightcrawler supply for three 7 inch axolotls from Uncle Jims Worms. We keep it in the kitchen, no odor or fly issues. They eat about 2 large worms per day each. I started with 250 worms hoping they would breed enough to maintain the supply, but the large size ran out in about 6 weeks. Then I ordered a subsequent 250, and same thing after about 6 weeks. I have now ordered 500 worms. The small ones never ran out and they are reproducing with lots of eggs and baby worms but not yet keeping up with demand. Even though we are not self sustaining with the supply yet it works very well. We always have healthy worms on hand and when bigs run out we feed the little ones until a new batch comes. We are hoping with the 500 worm re-up we will not have to get more for a very long time, and I think we will eventually have a big enough population but we will see. The benefits of this are great! I highly recommend keeping your own nightcrawlers as a food source. PS. we tried the red wigglers as we already had a worm bin with those, but the axolotls vomitted them up.
 

minorhero

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I have built an outdoor worm farm out of a plastic storage container. There are lots of plans online for this, mine is kind of made from random parts. I am populating it with worms I find in my yard and on hikes. Hopefully it works out doing that but you can just as easily buy the worms for it or something similar.
 

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  • madcaplaughs:
    @MadamePirateOwl Fridging is best left to life-or-death situations, and salt baths are unnecessarily harsh, stressful, and abrasive. I'd suggest doing tea baths instead (using caffeinated black tea, where the only ingredient is black tea).
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    so no idea what the goop is?
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  • madcaplaughs:
    Hard to tell without a photo, but might be algae or fungus floating. Water changes will take care of that.
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    It definitely came from the axolotl. Looked to be mixed into poo the first time. Can I post the photos here?
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    Im not actually sure how i would post it. It seems to want a link
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    Its fairly thick and chunky
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    (Also thanks for your patience and help!)
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  • madcaplaughs:
    You could always upload the photo to imgur and link it back here
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    The second image was how it looked the first time, it was mixed with some other poop like stuff. after that its been small and without the poopy stuff
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  • madcaplaughs:
    The second photo looks reminiscent of partially-digested worms, though I've never seen anything like that. Have you checked your parameters lately?
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    Right now theyre in smaller tubs that i do daily water changes in
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    I'll admit Ive bought test strips but they havent come in yet
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  • MadamePirateOwl:
    I use Prime to dechlorinate the water, which was recommend by the girl I got them from
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  • madcaplaughs:
    For now I'd tub the axolotl and do daily 100% water changes until you're able to test your parameters
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    I'd also recommend ordering a liquid test kit such as the API Freshwater Master Test Kit since strips are generally unreliable and inaccurate.
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    Okay, thank you for your help and advice :)
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    anybody growing tylototriton?
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    Hello! Anyone there right now by chance? I have a couple questions about plants in an axolotl tank.
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