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Culturing Isopods - cheat sheet
#1
Keeping / Culturing Various type of Isopods

Isopods, also known as Rolly-pollies, Sowbugs, Woodlice, Pill bugs. Available in various colours and morphs; dwarf white, giant Spanish orange, tan, striped and even purple. They are considered "Viv-friendly" and do not ravage Viv plants or bother the frogs. All frogs relish the larvae and most other sizes - they are considered good feeders and usually high in Calcium.

The first thing you want to do upon getting your newly acquired culture home is to “Split it”. Try to replicate the type of soil or substrate that came with the original one. Then transfer up to ½ of the original culture into the new one, thus effectively making a second culture.

Never "use-up" 100% of your culture all at one time. If you must seed a vivarium with it, then again, only use up to ½ of the culture. Always try to keep “splitting” your cultures in this hobby, that way, you will be assured of having an extra should you need it, or even if one goes bad or fails. You can also make your own cultures of feeders to supply other hobbyists with or even recoup your own initial investment.

Isopods do well on “dirt” type soil. Use any combination of garden soil, loam so long as it does not contain any chemicals, fertilizers / manure or Styrofoam / perlite ect. I mix up a huge batch that includes organic soil, some small amounts of sphagnum, a small amount of medium size charcoal bits and some small pebbles ect.
When mixed with clean water, the soil should be moist and damp but never sopping wet.

I also lay 2 small 1.5 inch square pieces of clean, plain, non-colored corrugated cardboard laid directly on the surface of the soil and these can also be damp but not soaking.

The cardboard is very important for two reasons:
1.The Isopods will congregate on the board, allowing for easy removal of adults or shaking out of the larvae.
2.The cardboard will allow for a quick and easy visual check of the overall level of moisture in the culture. If the cardboard is too dry or too wet, you will be able to see it very easily.

Food for the Isopods is easy to provide as well. I use any good quality flake fish food or pellets and you can use small potato slices as well.Small pieces of fruit- mango or melon buried under the surface of the substrate works well with the tropical species. Just remember to feed small amounts of the fish food so as not to foul the culture with uneaten food.

Isopods can be used in 2 different ways:
1.They can be “seeded” by placing a portion of the culture soil directly into the vivarium substrate and allow a few weeks or months for the seeded portion to reproduce and escape frog predation. These Isopods will take on “janitor” duties, removing frog waste, fungus, rotting plant matter and creating small tunnels for other insect microfauna.

2.The tiny larvae which look very similar to springtails in size and colour can be found on the cardboard squares and shaken out into the viv to directly feed froglets. The larvae that survive frog predation can grow and then take on janitor duties as well.
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#2
May also be worth noting that if you are culturing these they love anything with lots of calcium, about once a month or so I give each of my cultures half an egg shell to eat, they start by eating the egg albumen on the inside of the shell but after about 10 days or so there are only small remnants of the shell left
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#3
phelsumaman Wrote:May also be worth noting that if you are culturing these they love anything with lots of calcium, about once a month or so I give each of my cultures half an egg shell to eat, they start by eating the egg albumen on the inside of the shell but after about 10 days or so there are only small remnants of the shell left
now thats a great tip that would never of occured to me,do you treat the eggshell in anyway? you wouldn't be the Ben by chance that I've been talking to in good ol' blighty?
thanks great tip
Stu
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#4
Hi Stu, yes its me :-)

No need to treat the eggshell at all - I just crush slightly & place it under the cardboard, they will usually begin nibbling the remains of the egg yolk before starting on the shell itself - good to see you in these parts. I'm a Yank (Miami born) but have been in the UK since I was 7 so like to keep up with what's going on the other side if the pond :-)
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#5
phelsumaman Wrote:Hi Stu, yes its me :-)

No need to treat the eggshell at all - I just crush slightly & place it under the cardboard, they will usually begin nibbling the remains of the egg yolk before starting on the shell itself - good to see you in these parts. I'm a Yank (Miami born) but have been in the UK since I was 7 so like to keep up with what's going on the other side if the pond :-)
wow small world mate!! Ben these guys have been really kind to us,a great depth of knowledge here methinks,ha it only took a while for me to start quizzing you,best of luck with that build mate,anytime i can chuck an idea at you just shout
Stu
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#6
....and Bob's your uncle !

I've been waiting to use that one.

Great to have the Brits and Co over here, I'll tell ya that.
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#7
Philsuma Wrote:....and Bob's your uncle !

I've been waiting to use that one.

Great to have the Brits and Co over here, I'll tell ya that.
:lol: and Fanny's your aunt,thanks kiddo,mustn't dwell updating time
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#8
Glad to see that ALL varieties of Isopods are becoming widely accepted and used by most all hobbyists, including newbies.
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#9
Philsuma Wrote:Glad to see that ALL varieties of Isopods are becoming widely accepted and used by most all hobbyists, including newbies.
Yup,i am mad into them Phil,they are a great source of grub ca high are they not, and of course the clean up squad,ha just managed to get a small starter of the giant orange in so coupled with the dwarf white,and the fast moving (i think peruvians) with the long antenae with have 3 types on the go,and of course our natives,they seem widely used here,although i didn't realise how useful they were back then,i used them as a kid too.

Phil would you name all the isos you guys use over there for me,it would be nice to know of any others that might be available. Here's a question i have often wondered about....Do the different species occupy the same niche...ie do they compete with each other?
Stu
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#10
Isopods need to take advantage of a clay substrate in order to be considered high in Ca, I think. Even without the clay, they are a great supplemental feeder and tank janitor.

In the U.S...we have:

1. Dwarf White - bright white colour, don't move very fast and reproduce quickly.

2. "Spanish" Giant Orange - Nice true orange colour - get pretty large and they tend to scare new people who incorrectly think that they may lunch on plants, eggs or even froglets. They are harmless to all those - I've keep them for years in many tanks without a single problem. Reproduce quickly.

3. Striped or Tan

4. Costa Rican "purple" - Fairly recently on scene here in the U.S. More of a grey colour and not at all purple, in fact, if they somehow "turn purple" they can become toxic to frogs (some sort of virus) - I'm told.
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#11
I have not done studies on if they compete with each other in a viv, nor have I heard anyone with info on this.....
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#12
Philsuma Wrote:Isopods need to take advantage of a clay substrate in order to be considered high in Ca, I think. Even without the clay, they are a great supplemental feeder and tank janitor.

In the U.S...we have:

1. Dwarf White - bright white colour, don't move very fast and reproduce quickly.

2. "Spanish" Giant Orange - Nice true orange colour - get pretty large and they tend to scare new people who incorrectly think that they may lunch on plants, eggs or even froglets. They are harmless to all those - I've keep them for years in many tanks without a single problem. Reproduce quickly.

3. Striped or Tan

4. Costa Rican "purple" - Fairly recently on scene here in the U.S. More of a grey colour and not at all purple, in fact, if they somehow "turn purple" they can become toxic to frogs (some sort of virus) - I'm told.

Do you have a Latin name for the striped Phil ?

Particularly intrigued by no 4, they might be the same one I have (which i thought was from Peru) i don't have much info on this, my friend whom I got the leucs from gave me a starter, its new here too I think. Phil ha this is a tough one could you describe it to me...is it real quick moving ? long antenna....if so, I'll watch the colour real hard !

Thanks again mate, its wonderful having you watch my back 8)
Very grateful,
Stu
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#13
Philsuma Wrote:I have not done studies on if they compete with each other in a viv, nor have I heard anyone with info on this.....
Hmmm interesting thought though. Presumably you always culture all separately and only introduce them to each other in the viv,and culture all with the above method,at the top of this thread? or do you vary anything,i wondered if the giant O might do better at slightly cooler temps,they are from spain aren't they. Oh and with regard to the Ca,a friend adds Ca betonite to his subs. will this do the job?
cheers again :lol:
Stu
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#14
Yeah...I would culture them all separately, unless of course, you want to try that "competition experiment". I have heard that if you do that with Springs....the temperate variety always "wins out" and thrives over the others.

I don't have any of the Latin names.. Cry

I would think that any Calcium in the substrate would be ok - def better than no Calcium, right ?
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#15
What sized container would you recommend culturing Isos in? I don't want a huge container, but I dont want one that is to small and hinders growth.
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#16
Good question. There is a school of thought that Isopods not only stay in one small area and don't need a lot of room, but the smaller size enclosure helps breeding as the culture is not spread out and they tend to stay and propogate in a small area anyway.

My "Master" culture size was a lot smaller than springtails even - 2 quart maybe. 12' by 10'....that sort of size ?
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#17
Hmm... I just bought these 12" by 6" containers at wally world for $2 and they fit perfectly on my shelf...

Think those would be an ok size? I would like to have 2-4 cultures going, as I will eventually have a lot of frogs!

they probably have some wider ones... I can look.

Im doing springtails in the 12x6 ers.
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#18
Go for it. Like 98.716% of everything in this hobby...culture size is far from an exact science.

The worst that could happen is that you get "so-so" production and then you can downsize an give her another go.
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#19
or upsize if it seems crowded.

thanks
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#20
Well...crowded is a blessing and won't need "fixed". When you have crowded....ya harvest and make sale or trade cultures for friends and reptile show vending.
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