L. rubellus vs. E. hortensis

jewett

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I would like to start culturing my own worms soon (or at least buying them in larger quantities than my currant practice of 4 dozen Canadian night-crawlers at a time) - a worm that's small enough that does not require much chopping to feed to smaller newts and that does not need to be refrigerated. But I can't decide between L. rubellus or E. hortensis. I have found online sources to purchase either, but before I make the leap I was hoping to hear any advice, recommendations, or experience that any of you worm keepers may have for me when it comes to these two species. So pros and cons regarding each species is most appreciated! Specifically, does one do better in an inside worm tub than the other, and if one seems more readily accepted/ more eagerly eaten by caudates.

I have considered keeping them both together as it seems they have similar temperature and moisture requirements, but from what I have read the rubellus may like more shallow substrate than the hortensis- at least that's what I read on Goliad farms website. Feel free to correct this information:)

Anyway, thanks guys and I look forward to your comments.

HJ
 

Chinadog

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I buy E. hortensis from here Buy fishing worms - Bucket of Worms. All my newts will eat them just fine. They do smell when cut up, but so far I've had no problems.
I haven't had much luck propagating them, but they seem to last forever in the bucket they come in, I just feed them mashed potato from time to time. I'm going to read up on them soon and see what I should be doing to get them to multiply.
 

michael

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I use E. hortensis and feed mostly vegetable scraps. A worm culture is great to pick through for all sizes of worms. If you choose L rubellus I would be glad to hear your experience.
 

seandelevan

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I've done both.

Hortensis
Pro
Fast reproduces
Will breakdown and digest anything

Con
Most Of my livestock would spit them out. Even my ravenous and always hungry fish would spit most of them out-whole or cut up. Only my axolotls would eat them and one male pyrrhogaster.
I found their cultures would attract bugs and such real quick if you don't check in on them daily.

Rubellus
Pro
Everything eats them:)
Various sizes
Culture rarely fouls

Con
Slow reproducers

Since I'm only keeping not even a dozen critters this isn't a problem. I've grown the same culture for about two years now. I keep them in the soil I get from my yard here in VA which rich in clay and sand. I've also found they appreciate wood debris-rotting twigs, bark and such mixed in. And MAYBE once a week I'll lightly sprinkle it with regular ol fish food. I never water it since the soil stays moist all the time. I leave the biggest ones -about 3-4 inches- alone so they can keep producing the smaller babies that are perfect for my animals.
 

jewett

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This is just the sort of information I was hoping to get - thank you!

I am going to try the rubellus, though it will be inside in a bin. And while I think it will be great if I can actually culture them, I will be satisfied if I can at least keep a pound alive until they are all consumed. It may be a few weeks before I actually get started on this, but I will provide updates (lookin' at you, Michael!)

Again, thanks for the input,

HJ
 

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Have you found a supplier for L. rubellus? I can't seem to find them for sale anywhere :(
 

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I notice the two species mentioned are European species. In recent years I've seen 'tiger worms' for sale over here for fishing bait. Thinking they were an imported American species with potential risk as an invasive species at first, they actually turned out be a native worm we always knew as a brandling. In checking up i found out that North American earthworm species largely died out in the last ice-age and that the vast majority of the worms there now are European species colonizing since the 1600's. With worms being such an important part of the eco-system, my question is, what was filling their niche in such numbers to do an effective job in recycling organic waste and aerating the soil etc before they arrived with plants from Europe?
 

jewett

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Have you found a supplier for L. rubellus? I can't seem to find them for sale anywhere :(

Goliad Farms has them under the section "Live Foods," though shipping is almost prohibitively expensive. I am planning to order some next month. I hope I have only good things to report back!

HJ
 

slowfoot

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Goliad Farms has them under the section "Live Foods," though shipping is almost prohibitively expensive. I am planning to order some next month. I hope I have only good things to report back!

HJ

Yeah, I emailed them a few months ago and asked if they could lower the shipping price because $50 for a $5 box of worms is a little crazy. Haven't heard back :rolleyes:
 

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My local reptile store just happened to have a little tub of E. hortensis (allegedly), so I bought them and will try them out - as both indoor compost worms and food. I'll post the results here.
 

jewett

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I ordered a culture of L. rubellus from Goliad farms back in September. Here's my experience:

The culture came as a gross, rotten mess of worms with the majority of the worms dead and falling apart. I contacted Goliad right away and was very pleased with their response. Based on what I read of their guarantee I figured at best I would get another culture at no cost but still have to pay the really expensive shipping charges (which cost me more than the actual culture, by the way). This was not the case, however; Charles at Goliad sent me a whole other culture at absolutely no charge.

He asked me quite a few questions to try and figure out what went wrong with that shipment and he tried other shipping methods for the second culture, like more ice packs and a drier medium for the worms. He also directed me to keep the medium that the worms came in, as there were more than likely egg worm cases in it and that these very well could have survived. So I did keep it and put the medium as well as any live worms I was able to sift out into my previously prepared Rubbermaid tote. And I hoped for the best.

I got the second shipment a few days later and it was again a gross rotten mess, composed of mostly dead worms. By this time both Goliad and I were frustrated and kind of at a loss, but I could see some living worms from the first shipment wriggling around in my tote so was still hopeful that I would eventually have a culture from which I could harvest and feed my newts. I repeated the sifting to get any live worms from the second shipment and placed them and their medium in the same Rubbermaid tote and again hoped for the best. And I let everything sit for weeks with a minimum of disturbances, pretty much only just checking on them every other week to add a bit more food and look for living worms.

And the culture has bounced back! I am surprised with its productivity and how many worms it has produced. Every time I sift through the tote I disrupt dozens of worms, and that's just on the upper levels. My guess is that hundreds are in there, under the cardboard layers. They have been super easy and hardy critters.

Several weeks ago I decided to chop one up to feed to some baby newts. I noticed a smell when I cut and they seemed to emit a yellow liquid where injured. They also were really twitchy when disturbed. For these reasons I started to think that I must have actually gotten Eisenia fetida and not L. rubellus. After all that I just had plain nasty red wrigglers! I figured this must be why the culture had done so well, as red wrigglers are known for their ease of culture. But the baby newts ate them any way and have continued to do so. And last night I fed my whole caudate population with them, and with a few exceptions from about half the Taricha's, everybody ate them willingly and eagerly. Hurray! So either I really do have L. rubellus or my newts and salamanders are OK with red wrigglers ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After all that I am pleased with my purchase; Goliad did what they could to help me and they seemed to genuinely value me as a customer.The worms are a near perfect size for the majority of the species I keep and were overall well accepted. With that being said, I am not sure I can recommend them, however; the worms were a mess (twice!!) and the shipping is very high. I also am still not positive I actually got rubellus. I don't know enough about their identification/ behavior to be sure.

But if your heart is set on a (probable) L. rubellus culture, I know of no other sources so they may be your only bet. But use at your own risk and buyer beware,

HJ
 

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I noticed a smell when I cut and they seemed to emit a yellow liquid where injured. They also were really twitchy when disturbed. For these reasons I started to think that I must have actually gotten Eisenia fetida and not L. rubellus.

That does sound a lot more like E. fetida. They are usually stripy on the back end of the body, too.

I have had genuine L. rubellus, and they never exuded yellow fluid. Mine had a very dark red head, and were iridescent over the whole of their body.

The best way to get some to start a culture might be to collect your own- you can often find L. rubellus (and L. castaneus, which are very similar) in leaf litter or under logs; you'll never find E. fetida there.
 

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That does sound a lot more like E. fetida. They are usually stripy on the back end of the body, too.

I have had genuine L. rubellus, and they never exuded yellow fluid. Mine had a very dark red head, and were iridescent over the whole of their body.

The best way to get some to start a culture might be to collect your own- you can often find L. rubellus (and L. castaneus, which are very similar) in leaf litter or under logs; you'll never find E. fetida there.

I just may add images of both. First one fetida the second rubellus. What is your experience with culturing rubellus. What do they require ? Environment, temperature etc. What is the breeding ratio of these two?
thanks
j.
 

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caleb

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I just may add images of both. First one fetida the second rubellus. What is your experience with culturing rubellus. What do they require ? Environment, temperature etc. What is the breeding ratio of these two?
thanks
j.

I have only been able to culture rubellus or castaneus outdoors in leaf litter. I have a large bucket with drainage holes, full of dead leaves, with cloth over the top to keep moisture in. Our highest summer temperature is about 25C, lowest winter about -5C.

This always has living worms in it, but they breed very slowly- I would guess 5 times slower than fetida.
 

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It could also be Dendrobeana veneta. We call them jumpers. Both species aren't accepted right away, but soaking them in water for a couple of hours seems to work here.
 
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