About Our Composting Worms.

Composting worms can eat up to their own weight in food each day. They actually eat the bacteria growing on the dead organic matter. Bacteria usually causes unpleasant odours but in a worm farm the worms keep it in check so there is no smell.

The term “Composting Worm” relates to the fact that these particular worms only burrow down in the top 300mm of soil. Red Wrigglers and African Night Crawlers (ANC) are both well suited for warmer climates, though Night Crawlers can do well if kept inside in cooler areas. You can find more information on both types down below.

Both worms are a top notch fishing worm with the Night Crawler being the worm of choice because of its larger size.

Red Wrigglers.  

Red Wrigglers (Eisenia Fetida) also known as Tiger Worms, Red Worms and other names, are one of the most common composting worm in the world.

They’re prolific breeders, and can lay one egg (capsule) every 7 days. Each egg can contain between 4 to 10 worms. The eggs are like small green grape seeds when laid, and turn a brownish red colour before they hatch.

They take 3 weeks to hatch, and once the worms hatch, they take 3 to 4 months to mature and begin the breeding cycle again. Red Wrigglers can live for 4 to 5 years.


Red Wrigglers


Myth: If you cut a worm in half, you’ll get two worms.
If you cut a worm in half you don’t get two worms, just one dead worm.


African Night Crawlers.   

African Night Crawlers (Eudrillus Eugeniae) in my opinion are not as easy to breed as the Reds.

They seem to go months without breeding, even in good manure – then, out of the blue they start breeding. High density stocking of breeders seems to help. To grow out low stocking density, good manure and lots of food seems to be the go.

Cold weather doesn’t help anything so look to spring and autumn for breeding and growing out. African Night Crawlers grow to about 150mm to 200mm, much thicker than the Red Wrigglers, and live for about 2 years.


African Night Crawlers


Grain recipe for fattening your worms for fishing

  • 2 cups of oat bran/wheat bran – either or both
  • 1 cup of Maize Meal (ground corn) / or Chick Starter crumbs
    (see  http://www.uncletomspps.com.au/ )
  • 1 handful of dolomite or 12 egg shells put through a blender till fine

Mix together in water and soak for a couple of hours then feed to your worms.

You can use smaller quantities as this will feed several worm farms.

Worms fatten up on grain and in fresh horse manure.


I have also found Copra (ground coconut kernel), which is fed to horses, an excellent source of food. Layers Mash & Chick Starter crumbs (chicken food) are another great addition to their diet. Mix some or all in water and just pour in a strip over your farm, but don’t cover the whole surface of your farm.

The worms will be feeding on it in a very short time!

If you’re looking for worms, woodies, or even just some friendly advice, don’t put it off – please contact me here or give me a call on 0423 380 482.

15 Responses to Worms

  • Peter Hanson says:

    Thank you for information I have had two very healthy worm farms for years always amazed at what household waste they do turn into garden manure very little in our red bin for garbo, is their a great difference in red wriggles or African nights, I am starting my worm farms again when I came back from my holidays all my worms had gone. P hanson

  • Brian Mercer says:

    Hello Peter. Thank you for posting. You are the first to the new website. I had so many on the old site till it disappeared, so I had to rebuild it.

    It seems very strange all your worms died while you were away. They can survive over 12 months without feeding by eating their own castings and there is sufficient moisture. They do become very small until they start getting fed again. Did you go away during the summer heat wave? I had a lot of enquiries from people who had worms dying from the extreme heat.
    How deep was the bedding in which the worms were living? Is it a stackable worm farm with a lid? How often do you top up the bedding with something like horse manure?
    African Night Crawlers can get huge. I have had some over 300mm long The Red Wriggler can get to about 100mm long with good management. The problem with Africans they will die if the weather is too cold and their bedding drops below say around 10 deg C for any period of time. In the US they heat their beds to around 25 to 28 deg C. Red Wrigglers will with management breed extremely well between 15 deg to 25 deg C and sometimes a little higher.
    Africans make great bait worms were the Reds need to be grown out to at least 100mm before being able to go on a hook.
    Can you please post some more information so others can learn too?
    Many thanks

  • Bob Aistrope says:

    Interest purchasing fishing worms. Murray river

  • Von says:

    Hi Brian
    New to worm farms and have the stackable type and also an old rubbish bin with lid and no base . This is dug into the ground.
    My questions are:
    Q1.Is the nould on the top layer of the stackable worm farm anything to worry about?
    Q2I have had several layers of wet newspaper covering about 80% of the top layer. Is this too much. There is also a lid

    Q3 Can I add worms from my garden into the stackable worm farm? I already have some really large worms in the garden.
    Q4 Do I need to purcahse more worms? II had 500-1000 worms and eggs in the box I bought for 1 tray of a stackable WF
    Q5 Can I stack the empty trays underneath or ontop of the tray that is currently in use?
    Sorry about all the Qs but the book and internet doesnt answer my questions.

    • Brian Mercer says:

      Hello Von
      Thank you for your enquiry. We were all new to it once so we need to ask questions.

      Q 1 You are feeding too much food for the number of worms or there is a gap between the layers so the worms wont come up to the food. The mould is nothing to worry about as the worms will still eat the food if they can get to it.

      Q2 No this is not too much. I don’t use lids as they restrict air flow over the surface of the bed. Is the food on top or under the paper? It should be under directly on top of the bedding. ( Bedding is what the worms actually live in)

      Q3 Short answer is no, different type of worms. Garden worms are a true earthworm and will tunnel metres into the ground. What you have is Composting Worms which only live in the top 400 mm of organic rich soil or worm farms.

      Q4 Would love to sell you some but the answer is no. We will get the worms you have breeding and increasing numbers if you follow my advice. How long ago did you buy your worms?

      Q5 Empty trays are of no use to the worms. This is where most stackable worm farms go wrong. The instructions are written to set you up for failure and not written by people who breed worms. You need to fill every layer with horse, cow manure or some other organic material. Just make sure it has aged so it wont heat up and ensure every layer is touching the bedding underneath, no gaps. This is essential. The worms need space to live and the farm should vary in temperature during the day and night. The worms move to where they are most comfortable and can avoid extreme changes in temperature by moving deeper into the bedding or move to a cooler or warmer position. Having one level working and possibly only half full doesn’t allow for these temperature changes. Imagine being out in the sun in a black container with a lid and your home gets so hot and you cant escape chances are you will die. Then there is the other extreme of too cold. The bedding needs to be deep enough to resist these extremes in temperature.

      Now the best way to move forward is to fill an empty layer with preferably horse manure. This is the ideal bedding to get them breeding. Put this on top of your farm Allow a week or two for the worms to move up into this level. Then take the old working level out and clean it. 99% of your worms should be out of it. Fill this level with manure and put it on top. From now on each time you add manure, empty the top layer down into the next layer. Do this with each layer so every layer is full enough to touch the next layer above. Just adding food to the farm will result in a loss of bedding as the worms will eat the bedding and the food.

      If the farm is under cover and out of the rain take the lid off and just use a cover mat. I use old underlay. Carpet or shade cloth can also work well. You can add manure to your one in the ground. The Earthworms will appreciate it.

      Worm farms should have lots of bugs, these are not always pests but a sign of a good healthy farm. A good farm will not smell as yours probably does now. Worms eat the bacteria that break down the food and the ones that cause the smell. Only feed as much food as the worms can eat over say 4 days. Don’t feed again till it is gone. Don’t feed fresh scraps as they wont eat them till they are breaking down. Freeze your scraps then thaw before feeding. This is essential with potato peel.

      Sorry for the long winded reply but others can also learn.

  • John Cipolla says:

    Hello Brian, I just started a small farm in my garage, I live in Melbourne, Australia, it is winter here and I am having problem with the temperature, 10 degrees Celsius, what can I do to raise the temperature of the bed?
    Also potato peels take wery long time to break down, shouldI cook them?
    What food can I use to fatten the worms?

  • Anita Chase says:

    Hello there Brian,

    i’m in Labrador, Qld. I brought a basic worm farm from u when you used to sell at the sharks farmer markets.
    They are now in something similar but bigger and doing really well.
    What i wanted to ask if i could arrange to have the old warm farm started again but with african night crawlers if possible.


    • Brian Mercer says:

      Hello Anita,
      I sent you an email as I am not sure if this reply will be automatically sent to you.
      At this stage I have a few smaller Africans I can spare. I am waiting for the warmer weather and the Africans really start breeding up. I made the mistake of giving in and selling off some of my breeding stock and as a result I have severely restricted my numbers. Once I get enough of a breeding size and not weaken and sell any off I will then be able to put them back up for sale.

      The farms I sold at the markets were a basic worm farm and that is still the style I use to breed all my worms. I had them on the smaller size so they wouldn’t be too heavy for people to carry home. They were quite popular but people don’t come back to the markets each week to buy worm farms like they do veggies lol. It got to a point were it was un viable to continue. I still get people contact me like yourself from time to time.

  • Anita chase says:

    Sweet, thankyou for that.
    I don’t mind either way whatever you think is better. I’m very patient so I don’t mind watching the one’s you have spare growing but I don’t mind waiting to the warmer months either. I am only down the road so I can drop the worm farm off when ever.
    unfortunately we learn from our mistakes and theses things are all trail and error and I think personaly this is a better way to do things. we come to you.
    thanks again.

  • Darryn Carpenter says:

    Hello Brian
    I am interesting to start up worm farm and found out there are two type and size one round and one rectangle one.
    I don’t know which ones is the best to use and breed the worm for fishing and also for the garden
    It seems the rectangle look bigger than the round ones ???
    What you think ?
    Yours Regards Darryn Carpenter

    • Brian Mercer says:

      Hello Darryn,

      You forgot about the 3rd type of worm farm, the DIY farm. All my farms are just tubs or trays I bought. All are simple to set up and maintain. Taps are optional and I don’t use them. To get the best of both worlds, Fishing and Gardening you are better off with 2 different worms. Red wrigglers for the garden and African Night Crawlers for the fishing. Reds are good for fishing size wise if you manage them but this involves setting up breeding beds and is a bit of work. I do it for breeding so prime healthy worms for breeding become good size fishing worms. In a normal farm they possibly would grow as large.
      Africans grow quite large and the semi mature ones would be ideal for fishing. The grow up to about 200mm to 300mm long and as fat as your little finger. They are also a good composting worm if you have the numbers in the farm.

      Now draw backs with the ones you suggested. Cost, over priced. The layer system can create gaps between the levels so worms in the lower levels wont get access to any food on top. The instructions that come with them along with the coir block will set you up for failure and your worms don’t thrive and possibly die. Little ventilation and they become little ovens and overheat thus killing your worms. If they survive and do very well they fill with castings and become extremely heavy and the weak legs under them are prone to collapse.

      Now the DIY. Cheap to make. You can make it as big or small as you want. No lids so you get air flow over the bed which is very important. Fit a tap or not it is up to you.
      Draw backs??? Hmmm can’t think of one.


  • Darryn Carpenter says:

    Thanks for quick reply and great ideas
    I have found the ideal bucket to make the worm farm and want to put tap at the bottom of first bucket to collect golden liquire for veg garden
    I want to start off small to get the feel and idea about before tackle the bigger one in the future
    What I want to know what size holes to put in to second bucket for drainage and worms travel between the bucket.

    Yours Regards Darryn Carpenter

  • Lana Nowland says:

    Hi Brian,it’s Ricardo’s wife here the food scraps I put in my warm farm have gone mouldy will the worms mind?

    • Brian Mercer says:

      Hello Lana,
      Mouldy food has no effect on the worms at all. Only feed the worms as much as they can consume in a few days and don’t feed again till it is all gone. You have only stated with 1,000 worms which is not a lot of worms. A good worm farm should have around 8,000 worms so you need to build your numbers before overloading with food. One tip is to freeze your veggie scraps, thaw then feed to the worms.


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