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ANTdrew's Tetrararium Journal


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#1 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 13 2019 - 9:24 AM

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Intro 5-13-2019

 

The very first queen I ever caught was a Tetramorium immigrans queen found on my patio on June 16, 2018. This colony has absolutely thrived under my care, so much so that I can hardly keep up with them. I had created them one of Chrystal's bead container formicariums, which worked out nicely for a while, but they quickly outgrew it and found some way to exit the thing. As a result, I decided I would like to move them into a terrarium that could contain them for a good while. I had a three gallon betta fish tank that I refashioned for this purpose. The tank is acrylic and measures 10x10x10 inches. I drilled an entry hole in the top for tubing and a drainage hole at the bottom that I lined with micro-mesh.

 
To begin setting up the terrarium, I made a drainage layer with some pebbles and charcoal on top. To divide this layer from the soil, I used coconut fiber flower basket liners I found at Home Depot. Then I filled the thing up with a thick layer of soil from my yard, which is straight up clay! I mixed a little bit of sand into this as I went to help some with drainage.
 
Tetramorium love nesting under rocks, so I placed a flat rock on top, which already had some lichen spots growing on it. Around this rock, I put some patches of star moss and thread moss, and I planted two lawn violets. I don't want too many plants to overcrowd the tank; the violets should stay pretty small. After planting, I went in my compost bin, under rocks, and in my log pile to find various decomposers like spring tails, isopods, millipedes, and wood roaches. I'm somewhat doubtful all of these things will survive the onslaught of my Tetramorium, but time will tell.
 
A big plot twist came as I started to observe more and more Monomorium minimum workers in the tank and some carrying brood. It seems I had inadvertently dug up part of a colony and perhaps a queen! I doubt they will survive the Tetramorium blitzkrieg either, but again, time will tell.
 
I hooked up the ants' old tubs and tubes set up and then had to leave to go have Mother's Day dinner at my parent's house. When I returned a few hours later, I was amazed to see most of the brood already moved in and a bunch of excavated soil. By morning, all the brood and 90% of the workers were in the terrarium. I will probably dump any stragglers tonight.
 
I'm hoping at least some of these creatures like these isopods will coexist. I guess that will be the most interesting aspect of going down this natural nesting road. More updates to come...

 

 
 

 


Edited by ANTdrew, May 13 2019 - 10:43 AM.

  • Scherme, FeedTheAnts, rbarreto and 2 others like this
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#2 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 13 2019 - 9:26 AM

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Here's a view of the completed tank I've named the Tetrararium:
 
I glued on an overhanging lip lined with fluon and the whole thing will sit in a tray filled with oil as a moat, so nothing is getting into or out of the set-up.

Edited by ANTdrew, May 13 2019 - 10:39 AM.

  • Acutus and antsandmore like this
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#3 Offline Acutus - Posted May 13 2019 - 10:57 AM

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Looks cool! Looking forward to seeing how it goes. :)


  • ANTdrew likes this

Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#4 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 22 2019 - 11:00 AM

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Update 5-22-2019

My massive Tetramorium colony has been living in this vivarium for over a week now. I think they really like as it must be almost identical to their natural habitat. The amount of tunneling they've done is truly impressive. They have tunnels right up against the sides of the tank already, so there is a lot to observe. The downside is that my pretty mosses have been covered up in clay they've dug up and deposited. I'm seeing less and less of the Monomorium, and I assume they won't be able to coexist with the Tetramorium marauders. I'll see an isopod every once in a while and some random beetles. Overall, though, I'm concerned about how much of the clean up crew will survive. There is a wood roach I see frequently that can easily outrun the ants.

This is a very interesting way to keep ants in my opinion, and it seems like a micro-cosm of what we humans are doing to our planet in a way. In retrospect, I think a much bigger tank would have been better to accomplish the goals I had for this arthropod community.

 Here are some tunnels:

 
I've been watering the tank using a toy cup with drip holes in it every few days. I think 3/4 cup of water will be a good amount to drip on without flooding the drainage layer. Of course the ants got down into the gravel below, so I need to be cautious of overdoing it. After watering one day, an earthworm came up and was quickly dispatched by the ants. Yikes!
Here is the wood roach:

 


  • TennesseeAnts and Somethinghmm like this
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#5 Offline Acutus - Posted May 22 2019 - 11:19 AM

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Looking good! :D


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Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#6 Offline NickAnter - Posted May 23 2019 - 2:21 PM

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Very nice terrarium!
  • ANTdrew likes this

Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax nevadensis, Temnothorax chandleri, Temnothorax arboreus Solenopsis validiuscula, Solenopsis truncorum, Solenopsis xyloni, Formica perpilosa, Formica cf. lasiodes, Formica cf. neogagates Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex salinus, and Myrmecocystus testaceus!!!!

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...


#7 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 23 2019 - 5:28 PM

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Thank you! I’m really enjoying this approach so far.
Mini update: I ordered a rotating base to set the Tetrararium on, so now I can observe 360 degrees.
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 24 2019 - 9:23 AM

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Photo update 5/24/2019

Really cool tunnels are forming on all sides of the Tetrararium. I can enjoy them now because of the rotating base I set the tank on. I'm also happy to see how deep the violets roots are growing down into the substrate. I've basically given up on the moss because it's just going to get covered up by their excavating, but I may try to plant some more small plants in there like Oxalis clover or mock strawberry. I'm seeing less and less of the clean up crew. Can anyone experienced with terrariums offer advice on what to do about that?

 


"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#9 Offline NickAnter - Posted May 25 2019 - 11:36 AM

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That is a really cool idea, the rotating part. I should try that later on!


Edited by NickAnter, April 7 2020 - 5:33 PM.

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Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax nevadensis, Temnothorax chandleri, Temnothorax arboreus Solenopsis validiuscula, Solenopsis truncorum, Solenopsis xyloni, Formica perpilosa, Formica cf. lasiodes, Formica cf. neogagates Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex salinus, and Myrmecocystus testaceus!!!!

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...


#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 25 2019 - 11:42 AM

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That is a really cool idea, the rotating part. I should try that layer on!

Thanks! I got one on Amazon for $6.99.
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#11 Offline Acutus - Posted May 25 2019 - 12:38 PM

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Photo update 5/24/2019

Really cool tunnels are forming on all sides of the Tetrararium. I can enjoy them now because of the rotating base I set the tank on. I'm also happy to see how deep the violets roots are growing down into the substrate. I've basically given up on the moss because it's just going to get covered up by their excavating, but I may try to plant some more small plants in there like Oxalis clover or mock strawberry. I'm seeing less and less of the clean up crew. Can anyone experienced with terrariums offer advice on what to do about that?

 

Lookin' Good!!!  (y)  Love the lazy susan idea! :D


  • ANTdrew likes this

Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#12 Offline NickAnter - Posted May 25 2019 - 1:28 PM

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6.99! That is an excellent price!

Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax nevadensis, Temnothorax chandleri, Temnothorax arboreus Solenopsis validiuscula, Solenopsis truncorum, Solenopsis xyloni, Formica perpilosa, Formica cf. lasiodes, Formica cf. neogagates Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex salinus, and Myrmecocystus testaceus!!!!

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...


#13 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 3 2019 - 5:19 AM

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Update 6-3-2019

I really like this set up - it is stress free and interesting, and I finally have my Tetramorium happily contained, for now at least. My only complaint is that all the pretty colors I started with are slowing being covered up in brown clay by their incessant excavation. There are still some small patches of moss, and the plants are happy including a new purslane seedling I planted last weekend. I'm still seeing some millipedes in there probably because they are chemically protected. I'm hoping they can help out as a clean up crew. I'm also thinking of ordering some springtails to add in.

Here's a millipede I saw yesterday:
This is a feeding frenzy as they totally consumed two large beetles I put in! They are insatiable.

 

 


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#14 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted June 3 2019 - 5:22 AM

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Ummm. Big colony... I hope my three queens are not the polygynous Tetramorium!

#15 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 3 2019 - 5:29 AM

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I would keep them singly or you'll get overrun!


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#16 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted June 3 2019 - 5:47 AM

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But a polygynous Tetramorium colony would be epic!

#17 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 3 2019 - 6:07 AM

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Mettcollsuss has tried this out. The idea kind of terrifies me, to be honest. :o


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#18 Offline Skwiggledork - Posted June 3 2019 - 10:34 AM

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I didn't know there was a polygynous Tetramorium. Now I hope they are in my area and I can catch a few this year. lol


Current Journals:
Camponotus chromaiodes/pennsylvanicus- https://www.formicul...tus-sp-journal/

 


#19 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 26 2019 - 10:02 AM

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Update 6-26-2019

I found this queen one year ago. I've had a lot of nostalgia thinking back to the excitement of those days because she was my very first queen. I'm happy to report that the colony is definitely doing very well in their terrarium. They've excavated so much that the huge rock I put in there is completely buried now. I have to feed these several large insects a day now. I'm also giving them lots of cooked meats and hemp seeds.

 

Here's a nice look at all the tunnels they've dug:

 

This morning I took my kids on a "queen walk," and we found a new Tetramorium queen. It is incredible that something smaller than my Camponotus workers could create a society like this! I'll build her up into a good colony ready for sale later.


"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#20 Offline NickAnter - Posted June 26 2019 - 10:23 AM

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I didn't know there was a polygynous Tetramorium. Now I hope they are in my area and I can catch a few this year. lol

Tetramorium tsushimae is, and occasionally T. immigrans is as well. T. bicarinatum is also polygynous.
  • TennesseeAnts likes this

Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax nevadensis, Temnothorax chandleri, Temnothorax arboreus Solenopsis validiuscula, Solenopsis truncorum, Solenopsis xyloni, Formica perpilosa, Formica cf. lasiodes, Formica cf. neogagates Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex salinus, and Myrmecocystus testaceus!!!!

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...





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