14 July 2016

worm bin output: food for plants and fishes

I did this earlier last week and forgot to post. Have twice now fed red wiggler babies to my fishes. It will probably only be a treat once every month or so, because the only time I easily find baby worms is when I'm sifting compost out and doing a bin transfer. I'm still satisfied using the sifter but need to make a new one out of sturdier plastic- after only three uses this one is falling apart. I'm glad I thought to do it now, because I'd left the worms alone too long. Hadn't fed them in a week or two in hopes they'd consume more bedding, but I also forgot to get in the bin regularly and fluff stuff up. With mild neglect the bottom of the bin got damp and compact- so the vermicompost stuck to itself, not loose and crumbly. Which meant I didn't get a lot out- less than a fourth of a bucket even though I sifted the entire bin.
For once it actually looks like animal poo, not dirt as I usually think, because the compost formed little bolluses- and thus didn't fall easily through the sifter holes.
I tried to deliberately pick out baby worms of one size- not the tiniest thread-like infants too small to even handle, but the next size up. Put them aside in a small jar while I was working through the bin. Here pictured they are on a few bits of cardboard, less than 1" squares. I made sure to put in bits that were just the separated outer layer of cardboard, so that I could sort them out from the bedding again easily- otherwise they would crawl into the corrugation spaces and hide.
They are so tiny! I collected about thirty of them for the fishes- and put plenty more back into the bin. I didn't find any worm eggs this time- added some crushed eggshell along w/their food- and am a bit concerned about the health of the worms. They were very sluggish, some had poor color and they didn't feel right. Their skins felt slightly sticky, not smooth and moist. Yet the bedding certainly was damp enough. Maybe it's because they were in their own waste for too long. I'm making a note to check on the bin a lot more regularly, fluff it up more often, and sift more compost out as soon as I can- I'm hoping now that the stuff from the bottom has been turned over to the top of the new bin, it will dry out and get crumbly soon.

As is, I only had enough vermicompost to side-dress the broccoli and swiss chard plants in the garden. They looked the most needy!

Then I fed the fishes. I have not been able to give them flies anymore. Used up the last of my frozen jar near the end of winter, and this summer we don't have a fruit fly problem in the kitchen. That's great- I think because I've been keeping counters/sinks cleaner, and have a new cover for my scrap-collection container under the sink. My husband is very pleased. But I miss being able to feed fruit flies to the fish!
In prep I rinsed the baby wigglers thrice in tank water.
At the same time I was soaking some micro betta pellets in another small dish so they sink. Wanted to target feed the khuli loaches while the barbs were distracted by the worms. The soaked pellets in a syringe. I dripped a bit of the syringe water into the tank to alert the fishes- barbs excited thronging in the corner, and kuhlis swarming the vallisneria where they expect to find food. Right after dropping in the worms I reached down and squirted out the pellets at substrate level among the vals. It was all gone in a few seconds. I'd picked out worms too small- the barbs did not get their faces stuffed like last time. So they went looking for the micro pellets too, but I think kuhlis got most of it. Barbs still don't like going down deep among the grassy stems.
I got a few nice pictures of Sluggy. I have been reading more about kuhli loaches and I think he's a different type. My black ones are pangio oblonga and I think Sluggy is a pangio pangia or 'cinnamon' kuhli. They are naturally shorter in length and a bit lighter in color.

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