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Mold/fungus resistant test tube water - A simple how-to


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#1 Offline Subverted - Posted April 23 2017 - 12:42 PM

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Recently I had a discussion with someone who feels that filling test tubes up with anything besides just straight water is too hard for most people to figure out without a guide...so I am taking it upon myself to make this much more accessible than getting ripped off by spending $15 per bottle of test tube water. This uses no exotic materials, dangerous chemicals, or even any challenging methods at all. Methylparaben has been used for many decades in the preparation of fruit fly cultures along with being used as a food preservative.
 
Materials:
  • Test tubes
  • Cotton balls
  • Plastic bin (I use a shoebox sized bin with about 1gal of water)
  • Methylparaben
  • Cotton fabric or glove fingers (optional)
  • Baking Soda (optional)
  • Ascorbic acid (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
Process
  • Rinse out the plastic bin to make sure there are no residual oils on it from manufacturing or dust from where it has been stored.
  • Fill up the plastic bin with about 1 gallon of distilled water. Tap water is ok if you are sure that you do not have hard water - my tap water is around a pH of 8.5 so I don't use it for this!
  • Add in 1.5 teaspoons (around 3 grams if you have a scale) of methylparaben to the water and mix it well. (Optional: Add in baking soda, ascorbic acid, and food coloring at this step also...you will need to experiment with the amounts.)
  • Take a cotton ball, get it wet, and prepare it as usual for plugging up the tube.
  • Completely submerge a test tube in the water and while still under the water level use the cotton to plug the tube
  • Use a sharpie or some other clean cylindrical object to press the cotton down into the tube to open up whatever amount of space needed for the ants.
You should now have a completely full test tube with methylparaben water inside that will help to keep mold and fungi from causing problems for your colonies.
 
If you add in the baking soda/ascorbic acid please remember to check the pH levels and try to keep it in the range of 4-6 pH and absolutely not above a pH of 8. You may also need to experiment with more or less methylparaben - I generally only use about 1tsp per gallon of water but I don't usually have trouble with mold either.

Edited by Subverted, April 25 2017 - 2:49 PM.

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My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#2 Offline Martialis - Posted April 23 2017 - 3:01 PM

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Nice. This seems pretty useful.


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#3 Offline Subverted - Posted April 24 2017 - 3:01 PM

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Was mentioned to me that there has been some rumblings in private about this where a certain someone who is selling water for $15 a bottle is claiming this guide will kill your ants. I don't believe that to be the case (unless I made a major conversion error in the ratio) as I have been using this mixture for over a year in tubes.

 

If anyone has any data to suggest this could be dangerous to ants I am all ears.


My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#4 Offline Reacker - Posted April 24 2017 - 3:06 PM

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What species where you keeping in those tubes? How long were each of those colonies in the tubes with your mixture? What was their rate of population growth/other measure of colony healthy compared to the same species and colonies from the same time period without that mixture? Did all of your ants survive that year? Etc...

 

Please post your data as well. 


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#5 Offline Subverted - Posted April 24 2017 - 3:29 PM

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What species where you keeping in those tubes? How long were each of those colonies in the tubes with your mixture? What was their rate of population growth/other measure of colony healthy compared to the same species and colonies from the same time period without that mixture? Did all of your ants survive that year? Etc...

 

Please post your data as well. 

 

Lets see...everything in my for sale thread was in methylparaben water tubes: http://www.formicult...les/#entry34645

 

Aside from that there were the Myrmecocystus mimicus, Pogonomyrmex californicus, and Liometopum occidentale. All of these colonies had between  20-100 workers at the time they were raided by argentine ants.

 

Since then I have had one M. yuma colony living in a tube for about a year with the same batch of water as all the rest had. I had another colony stacked on top of it and it managed to escape the argentine invasion that wiped out the rest of my colonies in tubes.


Edited by Subverted, April 24 2017 - 3:29 PM.

My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#6 Offline drtrmiller - Posted April 24 2017 - 6:18 PM

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Content removed by author.

Edited by drtrmiller, April 25 2017 - 5:05 PM.


#7 Offline Subverted - Posted April 24 2017 - 6:27 PM

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The amount is volumetric to make it more accessible to people and are based off a recipe I used ages ago very successfully for fruit fly cultures.

I will totally admit that I flubbed a number on my conversions (I weighed 1/4 tsp and it was right around 0.5g) and it should be 1.5 tsp (~3g) per gallon of solution.

Next up you don't want the pH to be too acidic but having it basic at all will lead to the methylparaben having lower action - this is simple stuff. Here is a handy dandy chart for you:

Edited by Subverted, April 24 2017 - 6:31 PM.

My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#8 Offline drtrmiller - Posted April 24 2017 - 6:31 PM

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Content removed by author.

Edited by drtrmiller, April 25 2017 - 5:05 PM.

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#9 Offline Subverted - Posted April 24 2017 - 6:37 PM

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I reversed the two numbers...you don't believe someone can make an honest error? LOL

This queen has been living in this tube for right around a year with the last batch of water that I made up using the 3g per gallon figure (6x 1/4 tsp scoops).



You thought I was crazy when I suggested you "just use methylparaben" in the prepared test tubes you briefly pursued instead of hydrogen peroxide. I'm simply bringing this very simple technique to the masses.

My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#10 Offline Reacker - Posted April 24 2017 - 7:01 PM

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Isn't this your queen that you've said hasn't managed to raise a successful colony in more than a year because of your neglect? 



#11 Offline soulsynapse - Posted April 24 2017 - 7:08 PM

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thanks for this thread


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#12 Offline Subverted - Posted April 24 2017 - 7:09 PM

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Yup, still alive since I collected her back in 2015 and using that mixture of methylparaben water since then. Doesnt seem to be so toxic...my neglect is her main concern but having about a dozen nice colonies wiped out in one day was a pretty big blow so it took me awhile to come back to ants.
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My ants | My free feeder design | PM me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done.

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov


#13 Offline zlez93 - Posted April 26 2017 - 9:04 AM

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Pretty good stuff! We use parabens quite a lot in our foods in Europe so rest assured this stuff won't kill your ants (at low concentrations at least). This stuff can be pretty effective so you don't have to put as much as the OP says if your not convinced.

 

Just something I'd like to highlight but not crucial: keep air out of the tube! If not the extra carbon dioxide might cause some slight deviation in pH over time.


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