To overcome unstable worm growth, a new worm-reactor was developed for oligochaete growth. The bench scale of this worm-reactor was used to treat the discharged excess sludge from a pilot activated sludge system, and experiments were carried out to investigate the sludge reduction induced by Oligochaeta. Due to difficult getting free-swimming worms such as Aeolosoma hemprichicii and Nais elinguis, Tubifex tubifex was thus selected and inoculated in Reactor 1 at the start-up phase except the control reactor (Reactor 2). Tubifex occurred in Reactor 1 throughout the operation period after its inoculation, and mainly attached on the carriers and aggregated on the bottom of the worm-reactor. Free-swimming worms such as Aeolosoma hemprichicii, Nais elinguis, and Aulophorus furcatus were found in both reactors since the 35th day. Microscopic investigation showed that these free-swimming worms naturally produced in the pilot activated sludge system, and entered into both reactors along the discharged sludge. Results clearly showed that the average sludge reduction in Reactor 1 was 59%, much higher than that in the control. The characteristics of sludge settling was improved by worm growth, but was not too much. High ammonia nitrogen concentration in influent sludge was toxic to worms, and then inhibited worm growth. Both the total inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus releases into effluent sludge were observed in Reactor 1, but such increases were not heavy.

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