Worm farming questions

Hey all! Quick question. I was thinking of starting a nightcrawler farm for my turtle. I was wondering if anyone knew anything about raising a colony of worms as feeders. Any suggestions are much appreciated! I’ve been reading about European nightcrawlers specifically so far, but was wondering if there was a better type of work for aquatic turtles (red eared slider specifically) (and also some that I could use as fishing bait would be nice too lol) (also, is it even possible to gut-load worms???)

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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You may have already read this but here are a couple links

I’ve never tried to breed worms, but had thought about them for my bioactive enclosures.

Also your slider likes fish you can put feeder fish in and she will eat them.


I haven’t read those yet so thanks for sharing them!

And yeah, I’ve thought about guppies. But I’ve heard you have to be careful with parasites so I’m not sure if I should use fish. I need to research it more. Any tips?

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Worms are notorious for harboring parasites so you probably are not going to get away from them by going this route

Depending on the species of turtle, I would look at more conventional forms of protein like crickets or roaches or hornworms or pinky mice. ReptiLinks might also be a viable option


She won’t eat crickets. She’ll eat shrimp and mealworms no problem. Sometimes I can get her to eat pellets.

I didn’t know worms had parasites too. :woman_facepalming:t2: Is there a way to reduce the risk of parasites by chance or no?

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You could buy guppies and breed your own perhaps, they are fairly easy to breed once the babies go to the seperation part you can raise the babies separately of course that will require 2 tanks. I think even with a breeder you still have risk regardless. At least if you ran second generation as breeders eventually you will have babies of your own that you can raise healthy, red sliders will eat goldfish too.

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I think there is risk no matter one way or other at least if you breed yourself you can perhaps cut down on chances and its way safer than anything from the wild or possibly big chain stores. Every creature has potential for infections, parasites etc. There us a zombie parasite that infects crickets and it take over their body and makes them jump into water so that they can start a new cycle in whatever drinks the water. Now wheter any specific animal has any disease or illness or parasite you likely wont know unless it causes outward sign. Honestly i wouldn’t stress tons if you are just occasionally serving, it not going to be their staple just something extra or for more rounded diet. The food we eat could be loaded with who know what.

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If she is already eating shrimp and mealworms, why do you feel the need to use earthworms?

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I don’t want her to eat only shrimp and mealworms, I wanted to give her a wide variety of food.

I’ve thought about breeding guppies, but I feel like I’d end up with more fish to care for than she would get to eat. I don’t think I could just put the extra guppies in the pond out back. :rofl: That’s why I decided to go with nightcrawlers because at least then I can use them to give her a treat and I can use them to fish with too. Plus I can use nightcrawlers in a compost bin for my garden as well.

I also want to give her a wide variety because I can’t get her to eat the pellets most of the time. She mostly just spits them back out so I feel like she’s not getting enough vitamins/nutrients from just the shrimp and mealworms.

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Look into ReptiLinks

If you have an international food market, see if they have chicken hearts or giblets or livers. You could offer small strips of chicken breast or thigh on rare occasions as well

Canned or frozen snail are an option to consider

Frozen and shelled clams or mussels or oysters could be good to try

Strips of tilapia or trout or some other white fish would be a good option as well

Frozen frog legs are another candidate to try


@t_h_wyman thanks for the suggestions!!! I really wanna make sure she gets a well-rounded healthy diet. Haven’t tried the repti-sticks yet, I’ll pick some of those up when I go out again!

Edit: For the chicken just plain boiled no seasoning right? Can’t try muscles/oysters/clams cause I’m severely allergic to those. But the snails I can do! Def wanna try the tilapia too. I actually have some in the freezer :rofl:

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Reptistix are different than ReptiLinks:


I was just thinking raw, but sure, boiled with no seasoning works too

I mean… Technically I am violently allergic to rodents but I still feed them to a sizable portion of my collection. Nitrile gloves and long forceps can do wonders :+1:t4:


Allison, I have a worm farm I made w 27 gallon totes - 3 of them. There are many “how to” vids on YouTube, but they all boil down to “drill a bunch of holes in the bottoms of two of them…” I’ve posted pics here before, but I’ll take some pics tonight.

The benefits of a worm bin, for me, is that you control what the worms eat. Mine only eat my veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells. I add shredded paper to balance the carbon w nitrogen. That can be hand shredded newspaper (I omit the color ink pages) or shredded copier paper from my office. Some folks throw in garden clippings and grass clippings. I do not, as they could have unknown chemicals from my neighbors.

Worm bins, done properly, can over-winter in the basement or garage. They should not make offensive odors, though when they are extra “juicy”, you can get fruit flies. You learn over time how to balance this. You will also get some fantastic worm castings dirt and a small amount of the best liquid (organic) fertilizer I’ve ever used.

The YouTubers suggest red wigglers. They are prolific breeders, but they are small. I buy “trout worms” from my pet stores. They are like mid-sized earthworms. Good for most pets, great for fishing, too. I throw some Canadian nightcrawlers into the bins from time to time, but NEVER worms from the garden.

And to clarify, your compost pile is not a good host for worms. Composting is done w bacteria in your soil. An active compost pile could get as warm as 120F. Worms won’t like this. Even in the Winter , when you turn over the compost, you should see steam coming out of the pile. Great for breaking down the compost, no fun for worms.



Oh I didn’t realize they were different. I don’t know why I thought about repti-sticks. I’m gonna go check them out now thanks for the clarification!

I didn’t think I could feed it to them raw, but ok! That’s definitely good to know!

I don’t know if I’m comfortable getting stuff I’m allergic to to feed them xD even with gloves and tongs I’d prolly be panicking the whole time.


I didn’t know you couldn’t put worms into a compost thing. A woman I know said something about hers having bugs needed to break down stuff already. I’m definitely still figuring it all out so thanks for letting me know! I read somewhere that you should keep the dirt warm but I haven’t found how to do that yet. Do you know anything about that? Or did I read a bad article?

I haven’t started my compost yet, I’ve got a big trash can I’m going to use for it, and some organic soil but I haven’t actually put it together yet. I’m still in the process of buying everything I need and researching everything before I put it all together.

I have a tote I plan on using for the worms that’s 18 gallon sized I believe. (It was an empty tote that wasn’t being used in the garage so I washed it out.) I figured I could start small-ish and then get more totes as needed. I’ve heard of using a layer of peat moss in the bottom, and then putting organic soil over that. Does that sound right?

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A compost pile, properly functioning, will generate heat on its own - from the bacteria working it. You don’t need soil, at all.

The rule of thumb is 4 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen. Think of carbon as brown things - sticks, fallen leaves, straw, wood chips, shredded paper…

Nitrogen, on the other hand, is green things. Fresher leaves, grass clippings, veggie/fruit scraps… and yes, veggie scraps count as green even if they are yellow, red or orange.

Coffee grounds, eggshells and hair (IKR?) are all great too. Fortunately, they are generally small enough in quantity that we don’t need to know if they count as C or N!

Things to avoid, especially in smaller compost piles, would be meat scraps, carcasses, poop from carnivores, citrus and onion/garlic. Herbivore poop is OK.

You need to turn the pile over from time to time. Shovel? Pitchfork? The more you work it, and the warmer it stays, the quicker the bacteria will turn it all into lovely topsoil!


Here are some pics of my worm bin. Technically, bins. Three of them.

The top bin is where you throw the scraps. No meat, citrus, onion/garlic. I usually line it w shredded paper to start. I throw more layers occasionally to keep the flies away.

The second bin is where the worms live (eating the older scraps). As they run out of food in the middle bin, they will crawl through the holes you made in the bottom of the top bin. When you notice that all the worms are in the top, you switch places with the top two.

The worm castings (dirt) from the abandoned middle bin get used in the garden. And you can start adding scraps to that now empty top bin. You can see in my pics that the worms are all on top of the middle bin, heading to the top bin!

The bottom bin has no holes in it. It catches the drainage from the top two, and that liquid is fertilizing gold! The red storage bins just keep the upper decks out of the liquid.

As you can see, this little footprint generates lots of worms. From tiny to quite large, so you can pick and choose for the need of the moment. There are tons of YouTube how tos. Search worm bin or vermiculture.


Pac Attack (for Pac Man frogs) might also be an option? It is fish based.

I tried Repti Links for my Hognose but he turned his nose up lol at them and they were terribly expensive so I wasted a lot of money. But if your turtle will eat them I understand they are highly nutritious and very unique! I do not like dealing with worms! Lol!

Great thread!

@allisonr lots of great choices offered in the suggestions. I would like to add that you try out black soldier fly larvae, there are many dried versions out now and I like the one from here Grubblies: Dried Grubs for Chickens | High Protein Chicken Snacks

If you breed the snails without any fish in the tank then the young ones should be safe to feed, or should I say relatively safe. A healthy turtle can handle a small parasite load so I tend to not worry too much.

You might want to look into raising some edible aquatic plants as well for the slider, they will start eating more greens the older they good.


Yeah, I always try to have duckweed in my painted turtle tank. Sliders would like that too.