Vermiponics: How to Incorporate Worm Castings into Your Hydroponics

Aquaponics took hydroponics to a new level, it is basically a fish tank that doubles as a garden. The fish waste is used as fertilizer and the fish tank is kept clean while the plants thrive – a mutually beneficial relationship.

Red Wiggler Worm

Vermi-ponics builds on to the concept of aquaponics by incorporating worms into the scenario – yes that’s w-o-r-m-s . Unlike fish, worms are pretty much self sufficient – so long as they have a food source. 

In a vermiponics system plants and worms flourish together in a soil – less gravel bed. The bed is periodically flooded and drained and the end result is a micro fertilizer factory. Vermiponics basically creates a mini self-sustaining ecosystem, using worm castings as fertilizer. Plants and worms in nature have a mutually beneficial relationship, ditto for the fish in an aquaponic system. Vermiponics however, unlike aquaponics requires less maintenance and less water.

Worms will survive a periodic flooding as in a flood and drain system and their waste product – castings become food for the plants.

So what do the worms eat ? Lacking soil to burrow through they must be fed. In nature worms typically burrow their way through the soil leaving behind a trail of rich fertile castings, in vermiponics they have no soil to burrow through, so hence the worms must be fed.

Finely chopped plant matter such as vegetable scraps, rabbit food, coffee grinds and so forth. Avoid animal waste or meats, although the worms would probably eat it, the potential for bacterial contamination is greater.

The person credited with pioneering vermi-ponics is Jim Joyner of Tennessee.Building onto Joyners concept is Bentley Christie of, Christie has been experimenting with adding materials such as cardboard and lint to provide the worms a more suitable environment as well as more organic compost. He publishes updates at

Another issue I encountered when experimenting with this setup is that worms are periodically washed into the solution and subsequently drown. Their decomposing carcasses break down and should do no harm so far as effecting the nutrient composition. However, if your channels and conduits are not large enough you may find them clogged with a dead worm or two.

Although vermiponics is in it’s infancy, a relatively new discipline within the Hydroponic Real, a recent study has shown that in it current stages that “Red wiggler worms had no immediate, consistent and demonstrable benefit as far nutrient concentration, system stability, or plant yield, and that fish species had more effect on system solution.” See – The effect of red wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida) on aquaponics nutrient solution properties and system stability across solution temperature

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