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Old 12-07-2007, 06:56 PM   #1
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Culturing beneficial nematodes

Beneficial Nematodes

Insect Families:

Steinernematidae
Heterorhabditidae

Species:

Steinernema carpocapsae
S. feltiae
S. glaseri
Heterorhabditisheliothidis
H. bacteriophora.


Symboitic bacteria:
Xenorhabdus


Culturing technique:

http://www.aquaculturestore.com/info/nematodes.html

Nematodes look like tiny earth worms under the microscope and are quite common. They can be found in sand, debris, mud, and vegetation. Along wet areas of any body of water nematodes are likely living! They are not well understood, as there are a great many species and not many people have studied them. Taxonomic and ecological studies are lacking, and most information is from the early part of the 20th century. They are generally avoided because of their smallness, and thus making them hard to identify. There are a great many undescribed species, so if one would want to be the first to describe a nematode and get their name attached... here's your chance!

A good deal of the information available is written about the thousands of parasitic or predatory species of nematodes. This is because some of these nematodes affect us directly, and thereby brings the little 'worms' to light! A few reports of aquatic species exist, and some 1500 species have been reported world wide. But according to Pennak, it is probably a small percentage of the species in the world because they are diverse and range in areas from extremely cold climates such as Polar Ice, to Tropical climates. They also occur in deep water. Pennak reports "as of 1967" around 500 species have been recorded in Europe.

In our case, and in most nematodes, they do look like tiny earth worms, and they wiggle all the time. This wiggling allows them to work through whatever substrate they are living in to digest food, move about, and survive.

Aquaculturists use nematodes as a food for small larval organisms. Invertebrates and vertebrate carnivorous larval forms will eat nematodes. The size of a nematode compares to a brine shrimp nauplii, in being smaller in diameter, and several times longer. Larval fish, for example, will slurp them like spaghetti!

There is not much literature on nutritional value of nematodes. But they are used with good results. As with most feeds, none should be used as primary, but a part of a balanced diet (heard that often enough?)

In = commercial of nutritionally balance breakfast..

SETTING UP A CULTURE:

Obtain a micro worm starter culture or wild collect them.

Using a plastic container = butter container, 4 oz tupperware, plastic shoe box, or something similar with a lid. It is recommended to put a few small holes in the lid to allow for breathing.

Use the following: Corn meal, oatmeal, baby cereal, bread, possibly any other grain you can get to a mushy consistency. Cooking the Corn meal or other grains, helps in making it mushy, (hominy grits might work too) but allow cooked feed to cool to room temperature before adding your nematodes or they will cook too. Baby Cereal doesn't need to be cooked. Nevertheless make the feed mushy... not too wet. A depth of 1/2 inch or less seems to work well. Sprinkle a pinch of bakers or brewers yeast on the top, and add your culture of nematodes. Within a few days the culture will start to spread out, and if the container is small, they will have taken over the whole surface in a day or so. The wiggling mass can be seen easily by raising the culture to a light at a little below eye level, and look at the light reflection on the culture surface. It should be writhing with worms!

After several days there will be so many worms they will be migrating up the sides of the container, even on the lid. They can be scraped off with a blade, or in the case of petri plates, the lid can be removed. Either way, then dip the blade or lid into the tank you wish to feed.. Or you can collect them into a bowl, by rinsing the lid/blade into the bowl. Then use an eye dropper to dispense the worms among your tanks. You can also harvest an entire culture by rinsing the culture into a sieve of 105 microns. Some of the feed will remain with the culture then, so you may want to use a larger sieve to catch the larger food particles, and saving the rinse off (which has the worms in it.) Then pour the rinse into a 105 micron screen to collect the worms.

Depending on the cultures, type of feed and temperatures the cultures can last up to several weeks, or go bad in a few days. If they start to smell, make new cultures. If activity stops on the surface, the culture has died... dump it.

You can add another sprinkle of yeast or mix in some new food if the culture appears to be declining in population. But making a new culture is almost as easy, and keeps any smell away. Keeping several new cultures starting up every few days, or once a week, depending on size of culture, will keep you in nematodes

HARVESTING NEMATODES:

Nematodes crawl up the sides of the container, they can be scraped of the sides, and fed directly to your larvae. Or you can use a 53 micron screen and rinse them of the meal juice they are in. Another method mentioned on our Bulletin Board by Doris can be found here: Click HERE and that thread has some interesting methods... Primarily using a stick for the little worms to crawl up, another is using something like filter floss, and rinsing the worms into a feeding bowl.

Nematodes make a great microscopic project for study!

As for feed, a good many fish will eat nematodes. Larval predatory organisms will eat them as a first food, and many adult 2" - 4" organisms will lap them up! I've read it's a good Cory food, and have reports from Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish) liking them.

I know Fat Head and Bannerfin Shiners like them, both the larvae minnows, and the adults. Using a large 6" tall x 12" wide x 24" high plastic storage bin, I was able to produce enought to fill 1/2 cupt of solid microworms. That harvest fed a great many adults, but it was a lot of work sorting the nematodes out of the food... still it worked, and they liked the worms bunches.

NEMATODE KIT DIRECTIONS:

In Kit:

1. plastic container with lid
2. 1/4 OZ Oatmeal
3. Pinch of yeast
4. 100 ML Nematode (microworm) culture
5. Small meshed screen

1. Place oatmeal in container and wet until moist
2. Sprinkle tiny bit of Yeast (don't dump whole container, only need a tiny pinch)
3. Pour nematode culture over mixture
4. Poke a few holes through lid
5. Lay screen on top of container
6. Sandwhich screen between lid and container so it is taught. That will keep most bugs out

Bibliography

* Fresh-water Invertebrates of the United States, 3rd Ed. Protozoa to Mollusca. Robert W.
Pennak, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pages 226 - 245.
* Unknown Author of Data Sheet I received
* Sachs Systems Aquaculture, ©2001 SSA Internet Publishing.


I've been looking for weeks for simple instructions and finally found them! Credit to jaykush for giving me the idea. Another stab to the corporate world.


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Old 12-07-2007, 08:59 PM   #2
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Very cool info . Always great to have access to that kind of stuff and great to add to the community's knowledge base.
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:24 PM   #3
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your the man scay beez, i love these home culture stuff. screw buying things when you can diy. with this you could always have fresh nematodes on hand for fresh soil inoculations or to help plants that need it. now the question is what type of nematode's do we get from this and do the materials change that?
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Old 12-08-2007, 05:39 AM   #4
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Then there's soil recycling. If you're carrying over some nematodes, even just a few, will that be enough if an infestation occurs of some pest? Don't quality worm castings have at least some nematodes present?
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaykush
now the question is what type of nematode's do we get from this and do the materials change that?
It depends on where you culture is coming from in the first place. The easiest thing to do would be to order the smallest amount possible and then multiply a known beneficial species. You could take some worm castings or compost and find them with a microscope. The article was talking about finding them near riverbeds but identification would be necessary.

Upper 3 Inches of Soil Media:
Steinernema Species

Top 3 to 6 Inches of Soil Media:
Heterorhabditis Species

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nondual
Then there's soil recycling. If you're carrying over some nematodes, even just a few, will that be enough if an infestation occurs of some pest? Don't quality worm castings have at least some nematodes present?
Depends on how bad the infestation, if the soil has been kept moist enough for them to survive (and not become anaerobic), and if the health of the plant can hold up long enough for nematodes to take over. Nematodes only last a max of a month in the fridge and I'm not sure it they can survive for long in bags that are sealed (anaerobic). Alaskan Humisoil is the only product I've seen that gives nematode numbers. I'm not sure how they go dormant in nature and how they survive in anaerobic conditions. Good questions though.


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Old 12-08-2007, 06:43 AM   #6
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Depends on how bad the infestation, if the soil has been kept moist enough for them to survive (and not become anaerobic), and if the health of the plant can hold up long enough for nematodes to take over. Nematodes only last a max of a month in the fridge and I'm not sure it they can survive for long in bags that are sealed (anaerobic). Alaskan Humisoil is the only product I've seen that gives nematode numbers. I'm not sure how they go dormant in nature and how they survive in anaerobic conditions. Good questions though.
Wow...I didn't even have a clue that certain species live in the top section of the soil and others live in the next stratum. OK...so then we're talking about culturing different species of nematodes.

Quote:
Depends on how bad the infestation
Infestation of what? Are different nematode species required for different pests, I would assume so, so which species for which pests?

I've seen the Alaskan whatever locally and kind of remember the nematode thing. I don't know that recycling soil under certain conditions necessarily creates anaerobic conditions.
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Old 12-08-2007, 10:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nondual
Infestation of what? Are different nematode species required for different pests, I would assume so, so which species for which pests?
Root aphids, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, or whatever insect. Some insects live more near the top of the soil and some live deeper in the soil. Matching the species or mixing different species for optimum control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nondual
I don't know that recycling soil under certain conditions necessarily creates anaerobic conditions.
I was listing reasons why I thought nematodes might not live while trying to recycle soil. Anything is possible, trying to cover all possibilities. I don't know what they eat if there are no insects.. do they start consuming carbos. like they do in a culture?


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Old 12-08-2007, 09:10 PM   #8
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I knew nematodes are for pest that live in or have at least part of their life cycle in the soil but just not familiar enough to know if there were a variety of nematodes and you information is definitely helpful...thanx.

Quote:
I don't know what they eat if there are no insects.. do they start consuming carbos. like they do in a culture?
That's a good question and also do nematodes have something like a dormant stage?

EDIT...I know this is not about culturing nematodes as you have outlined but if recycling soil maybe throw in some extra nematode 'food' mixed in with any soil you're recycling to keep any culture alive? Even if no pests to eat they would still survive and replicate...maybe?

Last edited by Nondual; 12-09-2007 at 12:34 AM..
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Old 12-10-2007, 07:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
I don't know what they eat if there are no insects.. do they start consuming carbos. like they do in a culture?
beneficial nematodes eat lots of other things than insect pests. they eat bad nematodes(there not all good some are real bad and kill plants) they eat pathogens im pretty sure and other bad shit in the soil. there cleansers in a way.

Quote:
EDIT...I know this is not about culturing nematodes as you have outlined but if recycling soil maybe throw in some extra nematode 'food' mixed in with any soil you're recycling to keep any culture alive? Even if no pests to eat they would still survive and replicate...maybe?
the nematodes might get some of it but the fungi and bacteria would get most of it. the best way would just be to make small cultures once every week or two and inoculate plants that need it like new cuttings, seedlings and such. in a healthy soil they will reproduce as well so don't forget about that.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:20 PM   #10
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i am wondering the same thing. this is interesting. swampdank is staying tuned
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Old 12-12-2007, 10:10 AM   #11
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knna: Unfortunately I'm not that schooled on the topic yet. As soon as I get extra money I'm buying a microscope and manual.

I've got two cultures going right now.. one's three days old and the other is only a day old. I used different kinds of oats as the instructions weren't that clear (steel cut and instant). I'm not sure how mushy they need to be and how wet to keep the mix (standing water or just soaked oats). Trying to work out the details. I mixed some compost in there as well to keep anything bad from growing in there. Nematodes can eat some kinds of bacteria and fungus. This might take me a little while to figure out cause I'm mad busy, but I'll post results up.


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Old 02-20-2008, 06:46 PM   #12
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thought i would bump this thread up with some info.

pretty much all home, or freerange as they call it nematode culturing and other complicated stuff.
http://www.ba.ars.usda.gov/nematology/nem-soil-ext.html
http://maven.smith.edu/~sawlab/fgn/s.../extrafix.html
http://maven.smith.edu/~sawlab/fgn/s...t.html#seedtop
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:21 AM   #13
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I believe this should be sticky some good info here.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:16 PM   #14
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Jaykush you are the info hunting machine! Great links!


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Old 03-06-2008, 06:23 AM   #15
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