World’s Smallest Bin – Coffee Tub System Update

Back at the end of October 2020 I came up with the kooky idea to start up what was easily my smallest worm bin ever – perhaps the smallest worm bin anyone has ever set up?

The container used was a tiny toy toolbox…on a keychain no less! (Shown in the photo below)

Yep, it was pretty small.

The goal (apart from being a goofball) was to see what effect very limited space had on Red Worm population growth. The system was set up like a miniature home worm bin and stocked with 5 cocoons.

When I checked up on things in December (Day 50) I was able to find 9 worms, but a suspected “overfeeding” incident (doesn’t take much in a bin this size) resulted in the population declining to just two adults sometime thereafter.

Finally, in the middle of March (day 140), I took pity on the remaining duo and decided to move them to a “mansion” (in comparison) – a plastic coffee tub. This is a system that has been left mostly alone – other than maybe one or two very minor feedings – for almost exactly 6 months!

Yesterday – technically “Day 327” for this particular project (including the time in the tiny bin) – I realized I was in need of some worms for another fun experiment. Given that this little tub is literally the only active indoor “worm bin” I have going (most of my systems are at my dad’s place), I decided I should check up on things!

Two birds with one stone!

Not too surprisingly, it looked as though the overall level of material in the tub had dropped quite a bit…

…and that the worms had been working on the shredded cardboard a fair bit. (Second image below is a close-up view)

In spite of the crazy level of neglect these worms have dealt with, it is clear the greatly-increased space has benefited them based on the number of worms I found.

The vast majority (50) were very tiny juveniles, similar to the one pictured below. I also found 5 worms that were somewhat larger juveniles.

I only found 3 worms I would call “adults” – and even these still looked like larger juveniles since they weren’t very big and didn’t have an obvious clitellum. It is common to find this in low-nutrition, neglected systems.

(As you can see below, they were still very large in comparison to the tiny juveniles that make up the bulk of the population)

I found quite a few empty cocoons (didn’t bother to count), but only one I considered viable.

All in all, pretty interesting! Naturally, I can’t help but wonder how big the population would be had I fed the system periodically and added more bedding.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The results of this experiment are also yet another demonstration of just how easy it is to set up and maintain some form of “Insurance Bin“.

As alluded to earlier, I am planning to transfer some of the worms over to another system for a new project – but I think I will keep this tub system going to see what sort of population of worms can actually develop in a bin this size.

Stay tuned!

Previous Posts in Series
Smallest Worm Bin – Day 140 – Upgrade!
Smallest Worm Bin – Day 105
Smallest Worm Bin – Day 50!
Smallest Worm Bin – 11-09-20
The World’s Smallest Worm Bin?

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    • mjswider
    • September 26, 2021

    Wow Bentley, I also have one of these Folgers coffee containers with red worms in it. I started with MANY tiny tub containers back at the beginning of the year, and after that didn’t really pan out I took one (or two maybe?) and put them in an empty coffee container, of course with plenty of bedding. Unlike you, I’ve fed them with some random fruit scraps and added more bedding. I’ve been meaning to dump an sort a bit, as when I poke around these days I see very little in the way of worms. I suspect they are all at the bottom, but won’t know until I dig a bit more. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll take a peak!


    • Bentley
    • September 27, 2021

    Sounds great, Matt! I suspect with even occasional feeding these tubs could have a decent little population of worms in them.

    • John W.
    • May 31, 2022

    My insurance bin is actually my favorite bin. It is so low maintenance. Never had bugs and I never really worry about it.

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