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Thread: Isopod breeding 101

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Isopod breeding 101

    Lets just start with... I had no idea what I was doing when I first started! I originally started my first colony years ago for my 2 year old son. He loved bugs then and he still does. This was about 7-8 years ago. We first started over they years we sort of mutated it working out things that worked and stopped the things that did not work. First of all the common isopods you find out in your back yard are the hardest for me to keep. I have had 1000's of them over the years and they have breed but not great. They never seem to thrive, this is most like because I keep them tropical. I'm trying to accumulate them to it over generations. So far its working bit its a slow process. Your wondering WHY I dont keep them temperate. I know you are. :P Well I dont keep temperate tanks I keep tropical.

    I don't suggest you get WC ones and toss them in your tanks. You need to QT them for month. Best suggestion is to not even use WC in your tanks, best is to get them to breed and use the CB ones in your tank. BUT this is also a pain because well, (warning this is kinda gross) they are what is called coprophagia, meaning part of the diet for the young is the adult feces. Yes they are poop eaters. This, if you think about it, is a good thing. This is the reason you want isopods in your tanks in the first place. So now that you think about it CB ones aren't much better than WC.

    Sooo what do you do? You get over it. HAHA! No really, if your keeping a tropical planted tank you have bugs. You have all sorts of things in your tank, thats the point of BIO active tanks. If you can get over this please read on.

    If you really want to deal with the common isopods that are temperate in 95% of the US you can follow the same directions I'm giving you. They wont thrive. If you live in Southern FL you have the best chance of this working well for you and I have a small request, SEND ME SOME! That said my suggestion for the rest of us not living in a tropical area is to buy CB tropical isopods and save yourself the time and hassle. It will cost you less in the long run.

    So here is how I keep my isopods. For the ones that will work well for tank cleaners I have the most experience with orange tropical. So I will use that as an example. I keep all my isopods this way so it should work you if you don't have the oranges.

    You will need...
    -Container (more floor space the better)
    -Organic Sphagnum/peat mix (Home Depot, Lowes and many Nurseries will have it on hand)
    - cardboard
    -veggie scraps
    -cous cous and uncooked rice
    -mister/spray bottle
    -Tool for making holes in the lid of the container

    Optional needs *recommended*
    - cork bark or wood (no soft or aromatic woods)
    - Paper towel
    - mite spray

    First what location will you be keeping them in? A area that stays in the 65-85f range is best. They do well with a light cycle so try and not use a opaque container or put them in a closet with no light. The put your holes in the container. You don't need a lot and only in the lid.




    As you see I have my tubs on paper towel. The paper towel is sprayed with mite spray once a month then let dry before I put the tubs back onto it. This keeps unwanted bugs from getting into the tub. I highly suggest this step.

    Now onto the inside of the tub...


    I have cork bark and cardboard in the tank. Yes that one piece of cardboard looks nasty. Its meant to. These guys like wet humid moldy places for breeding. The adults hang out on the wood while the young are under the cardboard.

    Here is the underside of some of the cork...


    Here is the undersides of the new cardboard that has only been in for a few days.


    close up of the older cardboard. About 4 weeks in the tank...


    Under that same cardboard...


    Dont worry this is not the only thing they eat. I also feed them a home made mix of Cous Cous and uncooked rice. About once a week I toss a very small pinch in the tub and then mist the tank down. Once in a great while I will put in a drop or two of CGD in the tank as well. I just put it on the ground. Also the occasional carrot or piece of banana peal works as well.

    Besides that not much needs to be done. They like being left alone and they take a long time to breed. This is not a quick thing to get going and producing. One other thing... sometimes you may notice mushrooms in the tank. Take this as a good sign that your set up doing well but pull the mushroom out unless you want spoors spreading around.

    Hope that helps. Please feel free to ask questions.
    Sarah & Jake
    LunarGecko.net
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    Awesome tutorial!! I may need to pick up some more, my mournings decided to hunt down every last isopod from the last group I got from you. Bahh!
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    Roly Poly's ahaha childhood name for these guys! these are also known as wood lice right?
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    Yes they have lots of names. I should bring up that the orange ones do not roll up like the common ones. If you look at the photo of the adults you can see that they are more flat and only have the segments to 'roll' on the back 1/4 of the body.
    Sarah & Jake
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    Thanks! Great tutorial! May I ask why the temperate ones won't work?
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    Because going into tropical tanks they wont thrive and reproduce well. Also keeping a tub to produce them in is hard to keep temperate with the correct amount of dry and humid spots.
    Sarah & Jake
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    Ah ok. Figured it was temperature related. Didn't know they needed a.dry area? They breath through gills so figured it needed to all be humid.
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    To put more of an explanation to it and my ideas behind it... Temperate has seasonal changes that change temperature,humidity and a list of other things. The temperate isopods adapt to these changes as part of their life cycle. I suspect that in the colder months they require a sort of hibernation or burmation that induces breeding in the spring when they wake up. Tropical tend to have less of a swing and need less in the way of temperature/humidity changes to stimulate breeding. SO unless you want to try and simulate the temperature changes as well as humidity and light cycles I think it would be hard to breed the temperate isopods with any true success. Though they will breed just slow.

    If it was for one animals tank it would not be much of a problem if your wanting to support more than 1-2 tanks you would need many many breeders to replace the ones who die and/or get eaten in the tank.
    Sarah & Jake
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    I actually plan to use these as occasional feeders because of the high calcium (which I remember reading about). So they won't be going into a viv. Interesting information though! Have you attempted hybridizing (er...spelling?) the temperate and tropical, or is that possible?
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  10. #10
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    I have kept my CB commons and my CB oranges together for a while now (only in one of my tubs). No hybrid has come of it that I have noticed.
    Sarah & Jake
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