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Looking for a Good Substrate "recipe"


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#1 Offline cap_backfire - Posted March 25 2021 - 10:26 AM

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OK folks, I'm really into substrate, as a breeder of isopods, and want to do a setup where they have room and substrate to dig their own tunnels.   I'm using a largish sterilite container, with a slightly smaller one nested inside so I can try and see them up against the walls of ... You know what I'm talking about.   The inner bin will be their "innie outworld" and they'll have a floating island in there for them too.   

Anyway, what "recipe" have you guys used in the past for digging medium?   I've seen things with clay and sand but I guess I'm looking for ratios maybe?  Or really any reccommendation? 

Please and thank you.  



#2 Offline Chickalo - Posted March 25 2021 - 10:39 AM

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It really depends on the species, like some species will only nest in pure sand, and the moment there's clay they'll move out.  Other's like more clay like substrates, it really depends.  I'd do some research on the species you want to keep and observe and test the soil that you find them in to find "the perfect match"


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#3 Offline cap_backfire - Posted March 25 2021 - 10:54 AM

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OK this is an even better idea than I had planned.   So you literally can't just expect them to move into any old substrate.    

So weird that they will accept blank formicaria without issue but a dirt difference messes them up. 
Still not sure what I'm going to put INTO the setup so research will commence ASAP.   

Thanks so much! 


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#4 Offline Manitobant - Posted March 25 2021 - 11:22 AM

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For high humidity genera like myrmica or ponera i just use coco fiber from the local pet store. They sell it to be used in terrariums for reptiles.
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#5 Offline Chickalo - Posted March 25 2021 - 11:45 AM

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For high humidity genera like myrmica or ponera i just use coco fiber from the local pet store. They sell it to be used in terrariums for reptiles.

Sphagnum moss also help retain humidity, SerpaDesigns has a good Tropical Substrate mix


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#6 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 25 2021 - 12:41 PM

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Take a look at my FormicaFarm to see an idea of what I’ve done. You don’t need an exact ratio, but I mixed clay from my yard with white play sand in a 50/50 ratio. You want to bake both things to make sure they are very dry for mixing and pouring. Baking will also kill nasty nematodes (learned the necessity of this the hard way). I use clay from my yard because I’ve been blessed with the hardest pure clay around, which is great for terrariums, but absolutely horrible for everything else. Alternatively, you could just dig up soil from areas where your target species is living and bake it. You’ll know the species will like it in that case.
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#7 Offline cap_backfire - Posted March 26 2021 - 5:42 AM

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I like the idea of clay from my yard because I definitely have that.  I'll check the area I collect them in and see what's up for sure.  

In a larger setup would you maybe recommend offering several types of soil?   I would basically have like, 4 "sides" to the setup and could potentially offer 4 grades of mix and let them decide.   

Anyway, key seems to be check where they are collected and go from there.   Thanks guys!  



#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 26 2021 - 6:47 AM

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I don't think it is necessary to offer different types of soil. A sand/clay mix is basically ideal for most species, and they will prefer it infinitely more than any man-made formicarium. The hardest part is getting them out of it if that day comes!


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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.


#9 Offline cap_backfire - Posted March 26 2021 - 7:53 AM

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HAHHA, fair enough.  I don't intend on having to get them out of it but that thought might have just given me edits to the design I currently have planned.   A floating island above the roof of the formicarium proper is not ideal if they ever have to be moved.   Well, like moved out of my house.  Excited for this build but want to have a fair colony to put into the vivarium so I can see as much activity as possible.   Trying to work on patience...   


Edited by cap_backfire, March 26 2021 - 7:59 AM.


#10 Offline AntaholicAnonymous - Posted March 29 2021 - 5:33 AM

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Please post a picture here when it's done I gotta see that floating island.

I'm working on a floating island myself currently

#11 Offline cap_backfire - Posted April 7 2021 - 7:19 PM

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Please post a picture here when it's done I gotta see that floating island.

I'm working on a floating island myself currently

Sadly it took a back seat to other things the past few weeks... I hope to have it going again in a few weeks.  Working outside and doing other house projects has kept me pretty busy.  I don't even have the ants for a setup yet so soon I hope to get to it again.   I have all the equipment except lava rock for the drainage layer and decor in the outworld (I love lava rock) and possibly as part of the aesthetic for the floating island.   We'll see and I'll keep you all posted of course!  






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