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Dirt Shack Starter Formicarium v1.0 (7 mm, for Medium-Size Ants)


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32 replies to this topic

#1 Offline drtrmiller - Posted June 16 2017 - 12:38 PM

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I've reached an informal agreement to work with dspdrew on the marketing, distribution, and continued development of his "Dirt Shack" formicaries.

The "Dirt Shack" is available now in the byFormica store on Amazon for $24.99. This product is fully designed and manufactured by dspdrew, and currently ships from his location in California.

Check out byFormica products on Amazon for additional photos and product details.


Edited by drtrmiller, June 16 2017 - 7:26 PM.

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#2 Offline nurbs - Posted June 16 2017 - 4:18 PM

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The name "Dirt Shack" doesn't have that marketing appeal.

I humbly submit a new product name that exemplifies the love ants and antkeepers have for each other.


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#3 Offline drtrmiller - Posted June 16 2017 - 4:20 PM

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Haha. "Dirt shack" is just what Drew has been calling it. You all can discuss among yourselves, and if there's common agreement, I'm sure the name can be changed.


#4 Offline nurbs - Posted June 16 2017 - 6:49 PM

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Options to come with pink sand.


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#5 Offline Hikari - Posted June 16 2017 - 9:26 PM

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My Formica ants would probably love this, but it seems kinda small. I don't know how many would fit before I'd just have to move them again. Granted, I have a small colony already. This would be fun for a founding queen.



#6 Offline drtrmiller - Posted June 16 2017 - 11:45 PM

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It's got 4 sides, so it's about 8x3 inches of digging area. Yeah it's small, but it would house a colony until they could fit in a much nicer formicarium, and the hydration system is unmatched and extremely low-maintenance compared to other founding formicaries.


#7 Offline dspdrew - Posted June 17 2017 - 3:46 AM

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:lol:

 

Correction. "Dirt Shack" was what drtmiller mockingly called it way back when it was just a very simple crude design, and I thought it was funny. I don't even know exactly what it should be called. I've just been referring to them as "dirt boxes", even though it's far more sophisticated than a box of dirt.

 

BTW, I've had colonies of hundreds of medium to large sized ants in one of these small ones no problem.


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#8 Offline ctantkeeper - Posted June 17 2017 - 9:11 AM

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YES!!! YOU JUST MADE MY DAY MAN!!!!!



#9 Offline Nathant2131 - Posted June 17 2017 - 9:17 AM

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Any instructions for hydrating and what not? It looks like a fairly complicated nest.



#10 Offline drtrmiller - Posted June 17 2017 - 9:39 AM

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Any instructions for hydrating and what not? It looks like a fairly complicated nest.


You literally just unplug the silicone plug at the top right and squirt water down those tubes. You'll know when it's full because the tube will start to back up with water. It hydrates very, very slowly from the bottom up, and creates a perfect moisture gradient with zero effort, and one refilling supposedly lasts a really long time. I, too, was skeptical before I actually got my hands on one; but after seeing it in person, there's nothing as predictably easy to use as this box of dirt by Andrew Smith Enterprises.

Edited by drtrmiller, June 17 2017 - 9:39 AM.

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#11 Offline Tyrael - Posted June 17 2017 - 9:48 AM

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Correction. "Dirt Shack" was what drtmiller mockingly called it way back when it was just a very simple crude design, and I thought it was funny. I don't even know exactly what it should be called. 

Dirt Shack does not adequately describe the prestige of this fine estate. Terra Manor is more suitable. :tongue2:


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#12 Offline Nathant2131 - Posted June 17 2017 - 10:13 AM

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Any instructions for hydrating and what not? It looks like a fairly complicated nest.


You literally just unplug the silicone plug at the top right and squirt water down those tubes. You'll know when it's full because the tube will start to back up with water. It hydrates very, very slowly from the bottom up, and creates a perfect moisture gradient with zero effort, and one refilling supposedly lasts a really long time. I, too, was skeptical before I actually got my hands on one; but after seeing it in person, there's nothing as predictably easy to use as this box of dirt by Andrew Smith Enterprises.

 

Ok thanks  ;)



#13 Offline SoySauce - Posted June 17 2017 - 2:08 PM

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It's really not complicated at all. I have bought many of them and love them. They are a great starter formicarium and provide a lot more natural environment than a test tube. I highly recommend them.
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#14 Offline Goldsystem - Posted June 17 2017 - 4:11 PM

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Could I keep 1mm-2mm ants in one of these?

#15 Offline SoySauce - Posted June 17 2017 - 4:26 PM

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Drew makes them for small ants too although they don't seem like they're available yet.

#16 Offline dspdrew - Posted June 17 2017 - 5:15 PM

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Could I keep 1mm-2mm ants in one of these?

 

No. I don't design these to contain ants any smaller than about 3mm. At those sizes, it's a possibility they could find their way into the inner hydration container or out of the nest entirely.



#17 Offline dspdrew - Posted June 17 2017 - 5:25 PM

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Any instructions for hydrating and what not? It looks like a fairly complicated nest.


You literally just unplug the silicone plug at the top right and squirt water down those tubes. You'll know when it's full because the tube will start to back up with water. It hydrates very, very slowly from the bottom up, and creates a perfect moisture gradient with zero effort, and one refilling supposedly lasts a really long time. I, too, was skeptical before I actually got my hands on one; but after seeing it in person, there's nothing as predictably easy to use as this box of dirt by Andrew Smith Enterprises.

 

 

Andrew Smith Enterprises :lol:

 

The way I initially hydrate these nests is by squirting about a 1/4 inch of water on the surface. I take that opportunity to wash the dust off the sides of the plastic. That amount of water will completely soak all of the dirt, and then continue slowly soaking into the vermiculite in the inner container, leaving the nests with the perfect dampness for new queens to start digging their nests. The reason I soak all of the dirt in the beginning is so that as the upper layer dries out, it hardens, protecting the nest against collapse.



#18 Offline antking117 - Posted June 17 2017 - 10:00 PM

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Correction. "Dirt Shack" was what drtmiller mockingly called it way back when it was just a very simple crude design, and I thought it was funny. I don't even know exactly what it should be called. 

Dirt Shack does not adequately describe the prestige of this fine estate. Terra Manor is more suitable.  :tongue2:

 

YES



#19 Offline drtrmiller - Posted June 30 2017 - 12:45 AM

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Technical Explanation of a Self-Regulating Hydration System:
 

 
I've been learning more about this product as I've used it and experimented with making variations of the design.  Here is an important point I think I have learned:

Drew has explained that the inner tank must be filled with a material to "absorb" water.  Drew completed a series of tests, which resulted in his using compressed vermiculite in the inner tank.  He noted that this material "absorbed" the greatest volume of water.  I think, however, that "absorption" may be a misnomer, as perspective can become distorted when inner workings are concealed.
 
In my judgement, the material in the tank serves two distinct purposes:

1) The material in the tank holds or suspends water.

Depending on the material, water will be collected and suspended in a network of air pockets both in and between the particles.  As water is absorbed by the hydrostone floor, any remaining water in the connected network will continue to flow through the hydrostone and external digging medium via capillary action.
 

2) The material takes up volume, creating a self-regulating system by limiting the maximum saturation ratio.

This is where things get tricky.  50 cc of vermiculite (4.6 g) compressed to a space of 35 cc will only hold about 15 g (15 ml) of water in the vermiculite before the water reaches the bottom of the container (a graduated cylinder) when filled from above.  Prior to reaching this critical point, it is mostly suspended by the vermiculite.  If water is continued to be added until the top is completely saturated, it will have a maximum holding capacity of about 23 g (23 ml).  At maximum capacity, compressed vermiculite and trapped air represent 34% of the volume, closely held water represents about 43%, and free water represents the remaining 23%.
 

 
Imagine for a moment that the 75 cc inner tank is not filled with any material.  Adding 75 ml of water, bringing it to full capacity, would result in liquid slowly draining out through the hydrostone until an equilibrium of 100% saturation was reached between the inner and outer tanks.  If the outside soil could not hold 75 ml before reaching 100% saturation, the formicarium would flood.
 

In a different scenario, the tank is filled with about 75 cc of compressed vermiculite. This 75 cc of vermiculite has a saturation capacity—the amount of liquid it will hold before water starts to pool at the bottom—of 23 ml of water, and a maximum holding capacity—the maximum amount of excess liquid that may be held by the vermiculite without draining away due to gravity—of 35 ml of water.  Outside the tank, there is about 80 cubic centimeters of usable volume for sand or other digging medium.  Depending on the medium used, this will absorb quite a bit of water, but always less than 80 ml.


#7 Small:
Total inner tank volume: 75 cc

Total outside tank digging volume, less hydrostone block: 80 cc
Inner tank saturation capacity (with compressed vermiculite): 23 ml
Maximum holding capacity (with compressed vermiculite): 35 ml


So what is happening when water is added to the formicarium?
  
With no compressed vermiculite, 75 ml of water added to the 75 cc inner tank will result in all 75 ml being drained into the 80 cc outside tank.  Eventually, the inside tank and outside tank will reach an equilibrium, but the outside will be completely flooded.

With compressed vermiculite inside the tank, the 75 cc of space only comfortably holds up to 23 ml of water, even though up to 35 ml may be filled before the inner tank begins to overflow. Because the vermiculite is "holding" the liquid, not all of the water drains away.  For sustained, long-term use, the characteristic of water to be held by the compressed vermiculite or other holding media in the inner tank, until the outside digging media becomes dry and thirsty for more water, is what makes this system work.  The outside saturation level is regulated by the limited saturation capacity and maximum holding capacity of the inside material.  
 
What about a smaller tank and no media?
 
While a reduced inner tank capacity of 25 cc or 35 cc would probably saturate the 80 cc of outside digging media similarly to the 75 cc tank filled with compressed vermiculite, it would not have the self-regulating feature of the compressed vermiculite.  Unless the maximum holding capacity of the outside digging media was known, and the current capacity was also known, filling the smaller tank when the outside digging media is at or near maximum capacity could result in the outside media becoming oversaturated and flooded.

Edited by drtrmiller, July 18 2017 - 11:25 AM.


#20 Offline dspdrew - Posted June 30 2017 - 1:09 AM

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Geez that sounds complicated. :lol:






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