Why are my Earthworms Turning into Slime?

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In summary, the earthworms died before I could remove them from the original container I bought them in.
  • #1
Steven Ellet
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TL;DR Summary
Why would earthworms turn into slime?
I bought earth worms on two days and the first set of earth worms had turned into slime before I bought it(I didn’t know until after) and the second set of earthworms turned into slime within a few days. They also smelled TERRIBLE! What may have caused that and is that going to be a problem for gardening or adding to good worms?
 
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  • #2
Sounds like they died and decomposed. But I'm not an expert in worms.
 
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  • #3
Steven Ellet said:
TL;DR Summary: Why would earthworms turn into slime?

I bought earth worms on two days and the first set of earth worms had turned into slime before I bought it(I didn’t know until after) and the second set of earthworms turned into slime within a few days. They also smelled TERRIBLE! What may have caused that and is that going to be a problem for gardening or adding to good worms?
Would the temperature you store them at be something to look at?
Is there a shelf life of earthworms in a container?
 
  • #4
Steven Ellet said:
I bought earth worms ... had turned into slime
Earthworms are simple, but actually very sensitive animals. Humidity, air and temperature must be always kept within limits (their natural habitat may seem crude, but actually a big lump of soil nicely keeps everything in check).

They are also sensitive to chemicals and to their soil.
But without getting more details no more detailed answer can be given.
 
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  • #5
Rive said:
Earthworms are simple, but actually very sensitive animals. Humidity, air and temperature must be always kept within limits (their natural habitat may seem crude, but actually a big lump of soil nicely keeps everything in check).

They are also sensitive to chemicals and to their soil.
But without getting more details no more detailed answer can be given.
I can understand them dying within a few days of getting them if they were in the process of dying. But they were wiggling before I bought them. If I had dead worms that were otherwise normal, then I wouldn’t be confused.
 
  • #6
Steven Ellet said:
But they were wiggling before I bought them.
It has to depend on where you put them. I have added worms (eBay supplier) to a number of outside compost bins and they have all loved it. The worms I have used are the pretty looking red / ringed variety and they reproduce very fast in a large bin. You need good few litres of veg waste and the bin needs to be in partial shade and you need a good variety of vegetable material. They seem to regulate their temperature by shifting up and down and in and out in the pile according to season and time of day.
You may have just been unlucky or just not using a big enough container to breed them in. The compost that comes out of the door at the bottom after a few months looks like regular soil and has loads of those worms in. I don't know how well they survive when spread on the garden; the worms out there look different (more 'wormy')

I found a grass snake in the bin last summer - about 50cm long and very handsome - so it's a pretty successful ecosystem.

Note, if you are trying to keep them indoors in a small bin, you need to try a lot harder so read around about Wormeries.
 
  • #7
sophiecentaur said:
It has to depend on where you put them. I have added worms (eBay supplier) to a number of outside compost bins and they have all loved it. The worms I have used are the pretty looking red / ringed variety and they reproduce very fast in a large bin. You need good few litres of veg waste and the bin needs to be in partial shade and you need a good variety of vegetable material. They seem to regulate their temperature by shifting up and down and in and out in the pile according to season and time of day.
You may have just been unlucky or just not using a big enough container to breed them in. The compost that comes out of the door at the bottom after a few months looks like regular soil and has loads of those worms in. I don't know how well they survive when spread on the garden; the worms out there look different (more 'wormy')

I found a grass snake in the bin last summer - about 50cm long and very handsome - so it's a pretty successful ecosystem.

Note, if you are trying to keep them indoors in a small bin, you need to try a lot harder so read around about Wormeries.
They died before I remove them from the original container I bought them in.Edit: I didn’t even water them before they died… And the soil was slightly damp, not dry not wet.
 
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  • #8
Steven Ellet said:
They died before I remove them from the original container I bought them in.Edit: I didn’t even water them before they died… And the soil was slightly damp, not dry not wet.
This is a real shame and I can only suggest that they over heated (or froze?) as you were bringing them home.
I advise you to take the problem to the place that sold you them. They probably won't accept any liability (livestock) but they could at least give you some more and tell you how to transport.
 
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  • #9
sophiecentaur said:
This is a real shame and I can only suggest that they over heated (or froze?) as you were bringing them home.
I advise you to take the problem to the place that sold you them. They probably won't accept any liability (livestock) but they could at least give you some more and tell you how to transport.
I bought a different kind of worms and transported them home and exactly the same way, and they’re perfectly fine three days later
 
  • #10
Some good news then.

Simple question. what kind of container.
Does it have air holes for the air to enter so the worms do not sufficate?
 
  • #11
256bits said:
Some good news then.

Simple question. what kind of container.
Does it have air holes for the air to enter so the worms do not sufficate?
Yes
 
  • #12
Steven Ellet said:
Yes
I'm feeling protective about these little guys. What's your projected use for them and what living conditions are they going to be given?
 
  • #13
sophiecentaur said:
I'm feeling protective about these little guys. What's your projected use for them and what living conditions are they going to be given?
Protective of earthworms? Ok…
I have put them in a plastic container with holes drilled into the bottom and something to catch any water drainage. I keep them in the dark in a cool room (not cold) I plan to filter out the rich soil and feed it to plants while feeding them non-acidic kitchen scraps and bush/grass trimmings. …Why…?
 
  • #14
Steven Ellet said:
I plan to filter out the rich soil and feed it to plants while feeding them non-acidic kitchen
What is your plan for doing this? You haven't mentioned the volume of your bin. Also, the temperature and water content can be very relevant to the process; adding water to the top may be needed if the added veg isn't changing. The usual way of Composting (on a domestic scale) is to use two or more containers and to fill them, one at a time, occasionally forking the compost over as it forms. Alternatively (as I do) you can add new stuff to the top of a bin and, after a number of months, remove very convincing looking compost from the bottom.
I doubt that 'filtering' useful compost (aka earth) can be done easily but, if you have a successful method of seiving, I would be interested in a description.
 
  • #15
Steven Ellet said:
non-acidic kitchen scraps
Earthworms are very sensitive to salt content too.
Thus, they are not really good for being the first in line for composting kitchen waste.
I don't know whether this was the reason of the tragedy of that batch, but anyway... Just telling.

We are composting stable manure (honestly, just pile it up and cover it - earthworms are rushing in from below, without any need to buy them).
We are also composting mixed waste (from kitchen and from the garden): no earthworms there at all, but usually there are a lot of rose-bug larvae mixed in (they are also just ... happens there ... without any intervention...)
 
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  • #16
Rive said:
Thus, they are not really good for being the first in line for composting kitchen waste.
They do their little best but can be overwhelmed by massive helpings of pretty much anything; a broad based input is safest in the home. The worms in your case are self-selecting, of course and that's not possible for all small home set-ups. Before I bought my little friends, there were much fewer at work and of a different kind.
 
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  • #17
sophiecentaur said:
What is your plan for doing this?
The temperature will be the same as my home, 70-80F depending on time of year(yes, I know worms start to die between 80 and 85) I plan on only adding uncooked/unseasoned vegetable pealing or vegetables that have gone bad like the rotten potato I found yesterday.(Might add the occasional yard trimmings) I have a spray bottle to water them(before buying the worms, I completely soaked the dirt and let it drain). As for filtering compost, I will expose the worm bin to bright light from above for a while (not sure how long) then scrap off the top layer and hand sift it, putting back anything too big and all worms. Size? 30 quarts, although it is nowhere near full. I hope to move to a bigger container eventually.
 
  • #18
Steven Ellet said:
I hope to move to a bigger container eventually.
I don't know where you got your information from but this link may help you to get convincing results. Google Make a Wormery for many variations on the same theme. According to that link, the actual worms you use can make or break a project.
Good luck.
 
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