best bin type to raise euros for fishing

BLTlover(6B)January 27, 2014

Hey all, I have a question about what bin type would be best for my purposes. I want to raise euros for fish bait.

We do a lot of panfishing spring into fall. I bought a small bait fridge that I can keep about 500 canadian nightcrawlers at a time. So the first spring moon I've been picking up about 500, and then when they are gone been buying 500 at a time later in the summer. We've been easily going through 1500 a season and that is with some frugality.

Instead of buying to supplement what I can pick, I'd like to raise euros. I figure for $100 spent there instead, I can start a pretty good supply.

I have access to a regular supply of 3 mo aged horse manure with known de-worming schedule, and I've read this is an excellent bedding/food combo. Also planned to feed veg scraps of course. I was planning to use 18 gallon sterlites in unfinished basement, current winter temp is about 55F. Summertime temp it gets up to around 80F during hot spells. I went ahead and bought four of the 18 gallon, and cut air holes in three so far and hot glued some mesh over the holes to allow air but prevent escapes. Pic is included.

Now I have started reading about flow through bins instead...

I do plan to use the vermicompost, but my primary goal is to have enough worms that I can use for fishing. And I need to be able to access them when needed.

Should I go with the bins I bought and modified ($15 in them and some time and learning, no big loss) or would a FT system built from a 30-50 gallon trash can or drum be better for my purposes? Or something else?

I have two old trash cans I could use, have wheels but broken bottoms. They are 20 year old rubbermaids and probably pretty strong plastic compared to today. There are $13 33 gallon new cans at walmart, but no wheels. I'd have no problem buying two of those.

Which system would work better for me, or would another system be feasible? I live in town, so won't be making any windrows in the back yard!

Thanks a bunch for your thoughts.

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Stick with what you have now. FT systems are for producing large amounts of VC. You want large numbers of worms. FT systems are for harvesting VC. You want to harvest worms.

Besides, if you cut a big hole in the bottom of the can for harvesting, it will no longer be able support it own weight when it is full. People's home made FT systems have collapsed this way.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:37PM
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sbryce, what system do you use?

Honestly I'm not looking forward to these 18 gal bins. I think I'd rather have one big squirm than worry about tending 5 or 6 bins with bad airflow. I have about 4 months until I will start needing to pull worms for bait.

What do you think of a sturdy wood FT? Some people are calling them vb24 vb48, etc? They look very trouble free. I think 8 sq ft with 2 ft deep in a flow through would work well, I'm just not sure about ease of harvesting worms. I probably half the materials to make one.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 2:25PM
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sbryce is right.

Flow -thru bins are for VC production and are usually stocked with red wigglers, which also make great bait on a small hook.

Build yourself a sturdy wood box with a bottom and lid. You could sit this on the floor, on some blocks, or on a pedestal. Easy and great for learning about vermiculture.

I have no experience with Euro's, but I have read that they have a little different needs than wigglers.

Good luck! Pete

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:25PM
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If you are determined to build a FT for your euros, you can do that. I don't currently have a bin. I used to have two RM totes and a FT. I gave them up because they were in violation of my lease, and I couldn't keep the mess from the fungus gnats cleaned up. Your worms should be fine in a FT and you can harvest VC out of the bottom and worms out of the top. Harvesting a FT can be a little trickier than you might think. The VC gets compacted from the weight of the OM sitting on top of it. By the time it is ready to harvest, it can be packed pretty hard.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Sorry to hear about that situation; must be hard.

I noticed with most or all of the FT systems I have seen, the pipes are fixed so you have to rake it out. Spacing the pipes to fit the intended pitchfork/rake, etc. I was thinking more along the line of pipes that can spin individually, with "brushes" made from stiff trimmer line through the pipes. Like a foosball table. Handles out the front so they can spin to drop the VC, and a little extra room to move axially as well.

The more I read, I haven't really heard anyone write that they regret their FT system, or went from a FT to bins and haven't looked back. I like the idea of one big system rather than multiple tubs. If there is a hot spot for some reason the worms can move away from it. I'd still keep one or two RM as well, to compare and as backup. A few more vents and they will be "Bait O Matic 6000s".

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:34PM
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It would make perfect sense that your design would work. We are all there with you on that. However, many who have tried similar designs have found the vermicompost does not fall into the mechanism. This is the same vermicompost that is so heavy that harvesting is difficult. This same difficulty happens in my Worm Inn. The stuff is so heavy it is hard to get out. Then when it starts by combination lifting the bottom of the bag and punching around the bottom, then everything wants to harvest at once in a landslide. Somewhere, somehow there are buildings of large bins fed by power feeder a thin, chopped up layer of moist feed and bedding at a time. At the bottom a thin layer at a time allows itself to be harvested through a grate on the bottom. Like heaven, I can believe in it, but it is difficult for hobbyists to to get to. Many of us have tried. We would certainly like to see your design work. You might want to review this site for key words to see what did not work or what worked for only a while. This is sort of the issue we are all trying to solve.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:36PM
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The mechanism you describe is the same mechanism I used. Like Equinox said, the compacted VC did not fall onto the pipes after the first harvest. The system worked great for the first harvest, but did not work after that.

In theory, the VC should be sitting on the harvesting mechanism by the next day. In practice, the VC was so compacted that it would not settle down onto the mechanism.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Hey there.

Judging by how low you have your holes in your bin.. your relatively new to worming. This is not bad but you've basically lost 3-4 inches of composting area. Keep holes in the top 2 inches of any bins you make in the future.

You can always have more holes in the lid if you feel you need too. I don't even have holes in my bins at all and never cover them with a lid except for a damp piece of cardboard.

Remember airflow is only needed at the top and not the bottom or sides. (shouldn't need bottom holes unless your over watering the system)
worms naturally burrow through the materials and move the oxygen through the materials.

You need to ask yourself 'how much food can I supply the bin / bed?'

FT's take quite a bit of food to maintain (size dependent) and can have the adverse effect of vermin / preditors coming up through the bottom of the bin to eat scraps or even your worms.

They also take at least 6-8 months to really get going and shouldn't be taken on until you've at least run a smaller bin for a few months to get the hang of watching moisture / ph levels and work out how much your worms actually eat.

Using hand turning FT's are fine.. just remember once your FT gets heavier it will become harder to turn.. and will become an annoyance, possibly turning you off worming altogether.

Also remember you only need to have the bottom 8-10 inches of a bin for composting worms unless you go with a flow through.. at least 15-20 to allow all the material to be composted and the babies to hatch and move up to the food away from any device at the bottom of a FT.

For me.. I've been using 3x 10 gal roughneck Rubbermaid tubs that each seem to have filled out to approx 2.5 - 3lbs of worms each.. (approx 2000 euros).

I like the smaller bins because they are easier to handle at harvest time.. and when i'm going off on a fishing trip its easier to dig into a smaller bin to get the worms than the bigger ones.

Because I have 3.. i limit myself to about 3 fishing trips (usually a full weekend of fishing) per bin so i don't let the populations drop and then move onto the next bin.

This allows them to re populate before the next fishing season.

Another option you could try is a side by side bin that you feed one side and then stop feeding it whilst you build up the second side.. and vise versa.. see an example in the link provided of one.

These work great as my uncle used something similar using a bath tub. That tub had thousands of worms!!

Just so you know.. Any method you choose is the right one with worms :) Whether you can feed them is something you need to be mindful of before embarking on larger bins like FT's

Hope this helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: side bins

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:21AM
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I've been reading as much as I have time for. I've noticed that a person will have a thread about their new build, but then the updates peter out after a couple months. Partially due to the slow nature of composting, I'm sure. A thread doesn't get bumped, no email is sent, so no feedback after that.

Well, maybe foosball style won't work as well as I thought. It would need a lot of trimmer line loops on both x and y plane.

Another idea is to have a lattice, maybe like 1"-2" wire mesh, on top of a tic tac toe pipe layout for support, a few inches above the bottom pipes. Make the this lattice undersize to the box interior. Then have handle/wire attached to the lattice through a small hole in the box wall, one on each side of the box. The lattice could be "shook" a little bit -translated back and forth - to help drop VC, but shouldn't let too much through. Could even have wires at 90 degrees up on the wire mesh to help break up the mass above.

Of course, a wire mesh moving might well guillotine any unfortunate worms down that low in the column!

I saw one FT system that had a lattice that looked sort of like this - at first I thought that's what it was for - but it turned out it was a heating cable or something? Surely some people have already tried it. Maybe it would clog up, and wouldn't work as I think it should?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:29AM
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You should probably check out the link at the bottom of my post here.

It has alot of DIY Flow through's with different styles from people who are do vermicomposting for both hobby and profit.

You might be able to make a FT that suits your purposes by taking a piece from multiple designs and combining it to make yours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Muliple Flow Thrugh Bins

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:44PM
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By osmosis I have read all of the articles in the link. Many designs do not honor the power of gravity. Others forget about material strengths and weaknesses. Large holes can not be put into support structures and then weight piled on. A moving lattice sounds great until the material friction stops the movement. Scooping material and pulling it down sounds great until the material concaves away from the scoops. It would be great if you could design a system that solves for these issues. I'm rooting for you and for everybody. I have given it my best shot. I'm not quite sure how the big boys manage it but I think it involves composted feed and a lot of monitoring of the system all of the time. The process would be much easier if worms really went up instead of down. If they moved to less processed areas rather than hung out en mass in the most processed areas. And if the vermicompost would comply and simply fall. I noticed today there are nice sized 17 quart Rubbermaid bins that look good for our purposes because 18 gallons are way to heavy to lift. Various methods posters have used are a wooden bin that rolls to take off the bottom to harvest. Thinking of more...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Wait a second. I think people are missing the main point here. Did you say it was 55 degrees Fahrenheit above zero on Monday? Surely, you meant negative. And only 80s in the hot part of summer? What magical land is it that you live in?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:33AM
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Ha! Niivek I think you missed that those are temps of the unfinished basement I will keep the worms in! And the basement has actually dropped to about 52F in this cold spell we've had. I think a large insulated bin with aged horse manure would probably stay a bit warmer than that in the wintertime. Aged horse manure will still give off some heat - the snow melts right off a big pile.

EQ2 - About these FT issues...I think the real problem is the species of worm used is not smart enough to follow the instructions!?

Wormee - I've been reading Andrew's compilation of FT projects for a few days now - that is what prompted this post. Previously I was planning to do bins - that is all I read about over the past few months as this idea came together in my head. But most everyone with the FT projects sounds glad to be done with bins. There are very few negative reports in there. Sounds like most people are happy, and then the updates peter out.

Also, if those holes are in the wrong place, all it would take is a little duct tape to cover them. I think it will be a while until I feed up over the holes. I actually considered making some lower, for better airflow. I believe it was Bentley's video on the bait o matic 6000 that shows vents he put on the bottom of the sides. I already have drainage holes in the bottom and covered them the same way with screen.

Honestly, with the bins I am little unsure. Some people use holes, some don't, some lid off, some lid on. Some people 18 gallon, some down to 7 quart! Red wigglers are top 3-4" and mostly need surface area, but euros feed deeper...Lot of conflicting info out there. I'm sure most all of it is honest from their perspective, but everyones' worming environment is different.

Regarding enough feed - a couple miles past the lake we fish is a stable that currently has 14 horses. They only worm when necessary on a 6 mo schedule. I have access to that pile, as much a I want. They do it in two hot piles and one aged pile. We also go through a lot of coffee grounds and produce some food scraps. Lots of pumpkins around halloween of course.

I appreciate all the criticism and ideas. I am of course pretty new to this - I started reading about it before last season, but was too busy.

What I am looking for is the best system to produce enough euros in my basement that I won't have to spend $120 to buy nightcrawlers this season - or ever again!- for everyone to use. Some days, we really go through them. We also grow tomatoes and could really use the compost for garden and flowers.

This post was edited by BLTlover on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 14:34

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 2:33PM
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If you can haul in enough horse manure to keep the bins full, your worms will be very happy. You won't need the kitchen scraps. If you want to toss in kitchen scraps anyway, you can add some shredded cardboard to the bedding to help offset the nitrogen in the kitchen scraps. Eros don't reproduce as fast as redworms do, so you will want to make sure you have s table population before you start removing worms for bait.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 6:27PM
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Questions regarding that, is newspaper okay for bedding or is corrugated cardboard that much better? Is colored ink newsprint okay nowadays?

As for establishing a stable population, I figure I won't be pulling any out for bait until June, so they have four months "to get it on!" I just wish it was a little warmer.

[quote=Wormee]For me.. I've been using 3x 10 gal roughneck Rubbermaid tubs that each seem to have filled out to approx 2.5 - 3lbs of worms each.. (approx 2000 euros).[/quote]
Just checking, do you mean 2000 per tub or combined 2000 in ~ 8 lb? I ask because I'm trying to figure how much container volume or area I need at this point...

My current starting population is somewhere between 7-9 lb of worms. For now, they are split among three of the 18 gallon bins and one long bin, call it 42 gallons. I either need to get more bins or make a big FT. I'm still thinking a big insulated one like a vb48, but it could well be that regular box/bins are better suited for my use. If that is the case, I'll need to make some racks. Currently they seem fine in horse manure and leaves with moist shredded newspaper and cardboard on the bottom and top, lids off, light on. It's 52F down there.

The problem with the 7-9 lb of worms is I'm not certain they are all euros. That has to do with the way I procured them. I had ordered 5 lb euros from one place and received at most 3 lb of either spindly euros or wigglers plus a whole lot of peat moss in a green bag from a different company. I tried to contact the company I web-ordered from, and received no response. It seemed very fishy. After contacting my CC company about this, I got in touch with the company on the bag that shipped the worms. They offered to re-ship the order. This second batch of worms, also in a green bag, were from a different shipping location, and contained substantially larger individuals with a lot less peat moss filler in the green bag. Probably a little over 4 lb of actual lively meat.

After this hassle, I have more worms than I thought I would have to start out with, so will need more space and food. And I'll probably keep the two groups separate at least for a while. I may even run a number of single pair pots to confirm if they compatible, lol.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:01PM
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From what I hear you have plenty of worms; you just need more worm wranglers who want to learn from the best top wrangler. I think the answer to your quest is to invite everyone to join in the fun of worm wrangling. Catch'in worms might be more fun than a barrel of... worms. If they like catching of fish they should love the action packed catching of worms to replenish the stock.

Note: The Vermicompost Group Royal Caribbean Squirm Herd Cruise has been canceled. Instead we have scheduled on the first spring moon a trip to BLTlover's to learn the art of how to harvest large quantities of Canadian night-crawlers. Please bring your own container and bedding material. Afterwards will be a visit to the warmer than Atlanta 52 degree basement to play with worms. Are there any other moons later in the season that are almost as good for catching worms?

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 0:46

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:40PM
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The picking part for canadian nightcrawlers is easy - and fun, quite frankly - when the conditions are right and you still have knees and back that can take it. The first big rain after the spring moon is the worm orgy. After that I never see nearly the same numbers. If it is a real hard rain they will be washed out and can be picked off back roads, and this can happen to a lesser extent later in the year. But that first one, when they come up to mate the first time, is the night to be out.

Unfortunately, this wrangler is on his own for the most part. Besides myself I'm in charge of the supply chain for my brother, 4 yo nephew, my mom, and.... my dad. He is the biggest challenge.

You see, my dad is qualified expert in the lumbricus atlatl. The reigning distance champion as well, 30 years running. The men admire him; the women desire him. Using his trusty 1979 wonderstick and a vintage mitchell 300, he can toss an average weight nightcrawler a full 60 feet - without the line even leaving the reel. And what stamina and determination, the true measure of a champion! Just a quick "pass me another worm" and that jighead is rebaited for another record breaking attempt! Let me tell you - it is a sight to behold!

Picking is not really a problem if I could collect them all in April. Unfortunately the nightcrawlers need to be refrigerated to ~42 degrees and dirt changed every 2 weeks. My 4-5 cu ft fridge will only hold about 500.

I used to keep them without a fridge. That can be done with ice packs up to June, but it is a high wire act. When those dew worms start to fall.. it only takes a few to start an exothermic avalanche. Had that happen once too often. Also, my brother has a garage fridge that he kept some in, but the outlet it is plugged into has a GFI and twice he has lost the whole fridge when it tripped for some reason and they didn't realize it. You would think such a reek would teach them a lesson, but last time I looked it was still plugged in to the same outlet.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Hey there,

Well i simply guessed at what i thought I had.. 2000 being conservative..
So since my friends were going fishing I decided to average out 3 x 1lbs to see roughly what i had..

I grabbed the 10 gallon tote that was next to be harvested and set about hand counting the adults into 3 separate pounds...

first pound counted in at 438
second 425
third 446

total of all 3 came to 1309 euros from 3 lbs with an
average of 436 (rounded down) per pound.


3 x 10 gallon rughnecks
using the 436 per pound at 3 pounds per tote..
total of 3924

I used adults only in these weigh ins and yes, I hand counted them for my own curiosity. :)

Please also remember i only counted 1 bin.. and only counted the adults.. so I'm assuming there is a lot more babies to be included there.

but for future.. I'd work on 430 - 450 per pound per square foot of surface area,

I definitely will not be counting out the smaller red wigglers that i use in my triple stack bin for composting the veggie scraps for the pound.. i'll just go with the rough 800-1000 per pound there lol


    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:31PM
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Thanks for letting me know the numbers. That sounds like you raised a good number of worms in each. I guess that is probably the way to go for me. I'm considering getting some more bins and splitting them up a while to allow plenty of room to expand.

I saw the 10 gallon roughnecks at the store the other day - about the same surface area as the sterlite 18 gallon but shorter and stiffer. I did not notice the RM last month when I bought my bins. I figured I'd just use the 18 gallon bins and not fill them as deep, but if I get more I'll probably get those rubbermaids that will take up less shelf space.

Currently I still have them in the three 18 gallon and what the stores call a 50 gallon, but they take a good bit of floor space. The 50 gallon will be a bear to move w/o cracking it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 7:01PM
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I realized last week that I could move the bins next to the oil burner to gain a little warmth. Not sure how much it will help, but I guess it shouldn't hurt at all. Temps are still hovering 53-57.

I have more or less decided against building a FT style at this time. They sound like they may be more of a mess indoors than the bins.

So far I have fed twice, and these euros are in that food but not what I would consider swarming. I am just about to add some more horse manure and maybe some cardboard. The times I have looked I have found some eggs and usually worms getting it on.

Speaking of getting it on, I am about ready to try the bucket experiment written about by Paley. I found the mirror of his webpage last week and that sounds like a great way to keep a ready supply of worms. I am a little worried about overharvesting too many adults.

So I am going to try my hand at making some mini-adults and see if it works with euros. His results were obtained with lumbricus rubellus. I plan to try with three buckets and see what they look like this summer. It would be really nice to be able to seed a small tub of manure with a handful of mini-worms and have full size bait worms in 3 weeks.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:57PM
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Just fed horse manure instead of table scraps for their 3rd feeding since I got them, half a gallon for the 18 gallon bins and a gallon for the large bin. The bins have been adjacent to the oil burner for 5 days or so and the worms are still distributed but also swarming each bin on the warm side and a lot are coupled in those areas. Temp looks like maybe 56 degrees in those areas, so a few degrees warmer than the cool side.

I can definitely see the value of a little added heat when it is marginally cool.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:55PM
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double post

This post was edited by BLTlover on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 16:58

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:56PM
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If you try Paley's method, let us know the results. I have not heard of anyone duplicating his results. That may be because nobody has really tried.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:33AM
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Will do. The results make sense to me, but we'll see how these eisenia worms fair. I was actually looking to purchase lumbricus rubellus worms - some websites called them "true reds" - but could not seem to find any for sale. I finally settled for euros.

If it does work, it won't help produce compost, but will help produce panfish. We just pulled some out of the freezer and had some last week - they still taste as good as fresh. Mostly bluegills and white perch filets, frozen in water.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:13PM
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