I am growing nightcrawlers in our basement in a large fish tank, which I have converted into a worm farm. So far it’s doing pretty good; I used worm soil, cardboard sheets, fed them some coffee grounds, and added a little nutrients to the soil. What I am wondering is how long before they start to multiply? I am growing them for fishing bait and have kept them alive since this last year’s fishing season. Thank you for your response.

Connie Bourk



We posed your question to worm guru Amy Stewart, author of The Earth Moved: On the remarkable achievements of earthworms (Algonquin Books, 2004). Here's what she had to say:

“Nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris) are almost impossible to raise in captivity. They need enough ordinary garden soil to allow them to build permanent burrows, and they really don't live in an active compost kind of environment (kitchen scraps, etc.). There is no way to tell when or if they might reproduce in this environment. Nightcrawlers sold as bait are picked from fields, not raised in beds. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's difficult and there's no good data on reproduction in captivity that I know of.

You might try a worm known as Eisenia hortensis, sometimes called a European nightcrawler. The following website has info on that worm, which is almost as large and can be raised more easily in captivity: www.nyworms.com/eurocrawlers.htm.”



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