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As of May 21, 2016, nearly a year into selling our very first higher-end formicarium, custom orders for the GroTube/GlassBox have been discontinued to focus on new product development. Therefore, you have been redirected here.
I will be manufacturing the last remaining GroTube and GlassBox components to be sold as ready-to-ship units in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reply here, or to email [support at byformica.com].
byFormica accessories are still available in three Amazon stores, depending on where you live:
Posted May 29 2015 - 11:15 AM
Nutshell: The GroTube nest entrance includes various tubings which may connect with a test tube to transfer ants directly into the nest.
The big hole of the GroTube XL fits standard 1/2 inch OD (outer diameter) vinyl tubing, which is included.
Also included is 1/2 inch ID (inner diameter) silicone tubing, which can be stretched to fit around a 16 mm or 13 mm test tube, and then coupled with the 1/2 OD tubing for easy insertion into the 1/2 ID nest hole.
Either way, I've always moved my ants in by joining their test tube to the entrance with tubing, and the move-ins have always been rather effortless.
I do not recommend introducing the ants in the foraging area, because it may take a while for them to find the nest entrance.
With the original GroTube, I recommended people wait until they had a small number of workers.
With the new GroTube XL, I am more inclined than ever to believe that it is exceptionally suitable for rearing queens. I am rearing non-boosted Solenopsis invicta queens in a GroTube XL on the byFormica Ant Cam, and they are faring better those in other setups. The ability to precisely control moisture levels so as to emulate a humid subterranean environment, is what separates the new GTXL from its competitors.
Now the big question is why one might spend so much money on a setup for an unproven queen? That is a user preference issue—not everyone has hundreds of queens. For claustral or semi-claustral queens that you want to have the best shot at getting started, I can finally say that the GTXL may very well be an ideal setup.
Eventually, the arena and nest will be sold separately. Also in the future, I'm working on an extremely inexpensive founding nest, currently listed on the roadmap as Petri Dish, but that will soon change, as I am ditching the petri dishes for a custom housing.
Thanks for the info, I was about to buy the $40 nest when all of a sudden, all that was available was the $75 version. Instead I just bought the THA inseption chamber, because it was one of the cheapest options available currently.
One of the biggest challenges I've had to face is communicating with people how the simplistic design can accommodate both large and small ants simultaneously. That's why I changed the name to GroTube XL (extra large), after all.
I have a Camponotus queen in one, and I also have a Pheidole colony whose workers are about 1/100 as massive as the Camponotus queen, in another.
Here is a Camponotus noveboracensis queen and nanitic in one:
Thanks for the info, I was about to buy the $40 nest when all of a sudden, all that was available was the $75 version. Instead I just bought [something else], because it was one of the cheapest options available currently.
There is no comparison between what you purchased and the GroTube XL.
GTXL isn't simply another founding nest. It is feature packed, with an attention to detail and quality, visual focus, user customization, and features that work, unlike any other.
Large petri dish (manufactured by some unknown company, probably in China)
Small petri dish (again, made by someone else)
Hand-poured plaster or other surface compound
Species size must be specified at time of purchase (small, medium, large)
byFormica GroTube XL with GlassBox Arena:
Custom designed and machined durable, reusable plastic nest housing, made in USA
Thick, .25 inch acrylic arena, custom designed and made in USA
Working features no one else has (hydration, escape prevention, liquid feeding integration, more to come)
Premium, detail-oriented decor
Versatile for all but the largest ants (Myrmecia, C. gigas, etc.)
Mix and match foraging area/nest
Thousands of user configuration options (colors, styles, sizes)
True, but it is also well over double the price... Don't think that I'm not drooling over it, I just need something that will get the job done. I will probably buy yours as later as well. I think yours is a lot better, but is also a lot more expensive.
Posted June 2 2015 - 5:19 PM
That's why I'm also working on an economical founding nest with a target price between $5-10.
My plan is to offer it on Amazon.com with their new "Small and Light" shipping program, which offers free shipping to all customers with no minimum order.
The design is completely custom, and builds on both my own work, and incorporates some hydration techniques Drew has used in the past, with great success.
That's great! Would've bought your Grotube XL, but chose THA instead as it was cheaper. I only get $20 on birthdays since I am still a kid, and I don't get any other money at all. The money I get is spent on test tubes and the such. It's great that someone is willing to put time and money into something quality and price it so that anyone is able to get into ant keeping without having a Camponotus colony nesting in your wallet, literally. Looking forward to buying it!
Posted June 3 2015 - 6:36 AM
For those of us that missed any posts during the development of this product, could you detail for us or direct our attention to a post that explains how the variable hydration system works? In particular, how does the antkeeper know how much hydration he's creating and that whatever adjustments are made match expectations. Is that a gel I see in the reservoirs? Is that gel injected with syringe?
Posted June 3 2015 - 7:33 AM
I made a computer model for you. I'll make a live demonstration at a later date:
This is a model for how the GroTube XL responds to hydration.
Water infiltrates the plaster stone at the entry points in the reservoirs, and soaks through, similar to a sponge.
Because the water is generally flowing upwards, it is difficult or impossible to flood the nest. However, adding too much water can make the responding section very damp, temporarily.
The actual response time is 3-5 minutes. I advise users to add 1 ml at a time, as there is a subtle difference in the appearance of the substrate that is wetted, versus that which is dry. The coconut fiber, especially, becomes darker when wet. 1.2 ml pipettes are included, allowing for precise hydration control.
The water crystals in each of the reservoirs shrink when dry, and expand when in contact with water. This ability means that a dry nest is less likely to be over-watered by an overzealous user, as the crystals will absorb any excess water in the reservoir. Similarly, a well-hydrated nest will be difficult to over-water, because the water crystals will take up the bulk of the reservoir volume, only allowing about 2 ml of actual standing water to remain in the reservoir.
In particular, how does the antkeeper know how much hydration he's creating and that whatever adjustments are made match expectations.
To answer this question, the user should, at first, only hydrate one of the reservoirs. If the ants gravitate toward the hydrated section, then the user will know it is likely acceptable to hydrate the second reservoir.
If the ants are repelled by the hydrated section, the user will know to keep, at most, one section hydrated, or partially hydrated.
Interpreting feedback from the ants is critical, since different ant species prefer more or less wetness to their nest. Many ant species tend to place eggs and larvae in wetter areas of the nest, and pupae in drier areas. This is why the two reservoirs, allowing a mix of wet and dry areas, is a good solution for maintaining a natural balance.