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February 6th 2004

Someone asked me if the project of culturing grindals in 'synthetic media' will ever take off.

Honestly, although I had faith aplenty, there have been moments of doubts... when worms decide to die like lemmings and at one point, started to smell funny... heh, now that's an understatement! ;o)

But I held fast onto RJ's words and the following 'photo-essay' pretty much tells the whole story... it does work and more productive than my previous peat moss/soil or coco-peat combos!

A quick recap... from the original "RJ-Box".

This grindal culture was first inoculated on December 11th 2003.
Culture after 6 days of light feeding with pulverized oatmeal.
This shot was taken on the evening of Feb 5th but since killies need their 'beauty sleep', I'll harvest and feed 'em the following day.
Here's a closer look at those yummy grindals... to the killies at least..  
For harvesting instructions, you can backtrack to RJ's text or follow- through here.

Ok... for a start, I didn't want to remove too many worms from the culture, so two scrubber's worth will be good enough for now..

I used a round take-away plastic container and inverted the scrubber into two inches of water.

The grubs will wriggle and fall.

I'm not sure if you can see the grindals (bad shot!), but they're really dropping like flies!

If you look at the enlarged picture of the shot above, you'll find grindals already on the base of the container.

After a short dip, I replaced the scrubber to it's original stack, even though there's still plenty of worms in the pad.
... and on to the next pad.   Repeat as above.
Grindals, grindals, grindals !
A quick rinse in clean aged water to clear the gunk and residual oatmeal before I grab my turkey baster!

Chow time, killies!

Compiled observations from yours truly and 8 local hobbyist, including killie-keepers!

All our previous cultures didn't provide as many grindal worms as we had wished to seed our 'synthetic media culture', so we had a slow start and added more worms, as and when the older cultures allow.

This, we noticed, seem to help avoid the culture crashes that RJ mentioned... perhaps this allowed the said bacteria colony to slowly multiply.

We're taking the analogy of slowly adding fishes to the aquarium instead of dumping dozens of 'em in a new set-up, before the bio had a chance to establish itself.

Actually, I'm reflecting what RJ had already cautioned,  "
remember that rushing things is not necessarily a good thing at this point. Along with the worms we are hoping for a nitrifying bacteria culture to develop just like it would in a fish tank. "

But crash it will ... when we're overzealous with feeding!

With our  second cultures, a bigger serving of food was provided and this, ended looking like mush and smelling like blue cheese, only worse!.  Some were like multiple-colored ' bouquet of fungi' (ladies, you really wouldn't want them!).

When that happens, pick out the 'beautiful' clumps of mess and give the pad a quick rinse.  The pad may look discolored but the bacteria and grindals are still there.  Return the pad to it's position and leave it for a day before continuing very light feeding.

Should one really wishes to replace the pad, but minimize worm loss, place a new pad under the old one and shine a lamp over this 'sandwich'.  The heat and light from the lamp will drive the worm downwards into the new pad... but don't replace everything at the same time!

Lesson learnt... all things in moderation!

Do be diligent with a weekly change of the 'water bath'.

Ensure air exchange!!  All living creatures need to breathe, including worms!

Our cultures initially started off enclosed in 'bug-bags' and when the exodus of grindals started drowning in the 'water-bath' like lemmings, you'd know that they getting out of the scrubbers for more oxygen.  In this case, survival takes priority over humidity.

Ensure humidity! ;o)
When the air inside the worm box is dry, or low in humidity because of excessive air exchange, the grindals choose to remain between pads... but that ain't where the food is!

February 9th 2004

Encouraged by the results of good harvest and rounded killie-bellies, fellow 'grindal-wormers' experimented further with lower cost versions and using a combination of other base materials.

I've been converting my 'conventional-media' cultures to synthetic media and am happy with how they're progressing.

What you see is a 'utility closet' full of grindal cultures and yup, there are 6 'RJ-Boxes' and a 7th edition (set of 4 cultures) is in the works!!

 Stay tuned, don't touch that dial and we'll be right back after the commercials! ;o)

Meanwhile, get off ya butts, work on your own boxes and tell us how it went.

Have fun and keep 'em fingers wet,
Ronnie Lee

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Page compilation by Ronnie Lee
Created : Feb 6th 2004
Updated : Feb 9th 2004