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Cohabitants for a bioactive vivarium?

vivarium formicarium bioactive

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#1 Offline TypeD - Posted September 22 2022 - 9:56 AM

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Hey folks,

 

I'm looking for advice about what sort of animal life I could incorporate into a bioactive vivarium. I've currently got a growing colony of Camponotus -- with around 500 workers, I think -- in a 3 gallon vivarium. They've done quite well thus far, and will be needing a bigger enclosure soon. I have some cleanup crew critters in there: dwarf isopods, grindal worms, two kinds of springtail, booklice, and even some miniature roaches. But I'm thinking to make their next setup at least 3x as big: a 10-16 gallon long like this or this. I figure that in a vivarium of that size it might be nice to bring some other organisms into the mix, and I'm wondering if anyone has ideas/suggestions.

 

I'm looking for something that won't eat the ants -- or at least, not many of them -- and that also isn't vulnerable to harassment by them. I reckon that an enclosure of this size probably isn't big enough to comfortably house, say, an amphibian/reptile and the ants, but maybe there's some larger invert that could hack it. Despite being pretty gregarious, the ants don't usually do anything more than feebly chase the largest other invert in their current setup, the roaches. They don't seem to be effective predators of anything more formidable than flightless fruit flies, so I'm hoping there's something that could co-habitate with them and not get too fussed by their perennial presence. Bonus points if it's interesting or fun to watch.

 

I've also thought about the multiple-species-of-ants angle, because folks like Nordic Ants have done it with much success; but I think I'd want to make a much larger vivarium before I risk the lives of any of my colonies on it.

 

Anyway, thanks in advance for any insight. 


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#2 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted September 23 2022 - 4:56 AM

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I would include some plants for sure, extra points for your camponotus if you try to incorporate aphids in there. 


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#3 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 23 2022 - 6:14 AM

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Some giant millipedes might work since they are protected by potent benzoquinones, so I doubt the ants would mess with them. They're really easy to keep, but kind of boring since they only come out at night. 


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
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#4 Offline TypeD - Posted September 23 2022 - 7:05 AM

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I would include some plants for sure, extra points for your camponotus if you try to incorporate aphids in there. 

 

Yes, plants are definitely planned! (: There are plants in their current setup too, actually:

 

viv.png

 

Aphids are a cool idea, but I don't know much about how aphids would affect the health of the plants. As I understand it aphids in general are plant pests. Would definitely be neat to have ants tending aphids if they wouldn't kill the plants, though. What do you think?

 

Some giant millipedes might work since they are protected by potent benzoquinones, so I doubt the ants would mess with them. They're really easy to keep, but kind of boring since they only come out at night. 

 

Ah, millipedes are a good thought. Honestly, I might be willing to include them and some other boringish critters. I figure many boring parts might still make an interesting system, haha.


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#5 Offline ISpeakForTheTrees - Posted September 23 2022 - 7:20 AM

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You might be able to do some kind of large beetle like the Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). These guys feed on sap and fruit (I've heard both ripe and rotting) as adults, and they feed on decaying wood from hardwood trees as larvae. I know ants will sometimes eat the eggs of larger beetles (including the Eastern Hercules Beetle), but they shouldn't bother the grubs (juveniles) or the beetles (adults) themselves from what I've read. Dynastes tityus is even native to New York. If you do go with these guys though, they're fairly short lived, so you might want to try getting them breeding to keep a constant population. 


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#6 Offline NicholasP - Posted September 23 2022 - 7:49 AM

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I'd recommend adding ponera pennsylvanica and lasius neoniger so next year if you catch Lasius claviger you can introduce the queen to that neoniger colony and then you will have acanthomyops.


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#7 Offline TypeD - Posted September 23 2022 - 9:20 AM

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You might be able to do some kind of large beetle like the Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus). These guys feed on sap and fruit (I've heard both ripe and rotting) as adults, and they feed on decaying wood from hardwood trees as larvae. I know ants will sometimes eat the eggs of larger beetles (including the Eastern Hercules Beetle), but they shouldn't bother the grubs (juveniles) or the beetles (adults) themselves from what I've read. Dynastes tityus is even native to New York. If you do go with these guys though, they're fairly short lived, so you might want to try getting them breeding to keep a constant population. 

 

That's a solid idea. Only concern that comes to mind is that I don't keep lids on my tanks (for several reasons, but one of them being that the moisture of a lidded vivarium degrades fluon quickly). Do you know how flight prone they are, or if there's a comparable species that isn't?

 

 

I'd recommend adding ponera pennsylvanica and lasius neoniger so next year if you catch Lasius claviger you can introduce the queen to that neoniger colony and then you will have acanthomyops.

 

A cryptic ant would definitely be cool. Ponera or strumigenys would be perfect since there will be ample springtails anyway.



#8 Offline ISpeakForTheTrees - Posted September 23 2022 - 9:45 AM

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That's a solid idea. Only concern that comes to mind is that I don't keep lids on my tanks (for several reasons, but one of them being that the moisture of a lidded vivarium degrades fluon quickly). Do you know how flight prone they are, or if there's a comparable species that isn't? 

 

It is recommended that you keep a lid on their tank because of their flying habits. All the real show-piece beetle species I know unfortunately do require lids. There a few other cool, pet beetle species that aren't as showy that don't need lids, but the only ones I know are from the desert (and like half of them stink-beetles). 



#9 Offline TypeD - Posted September 23 2022 - 10:57 AM

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That's a solid idea. Only concern that comes to mind is that I don't keep lids on my tanks (for several reasons, but one of them being that the moisture of a lidded vivarium degrades fluon quickly). Do you know how flight prone they are, or if there's a comparable species that isn't? 

 

It is recommended that you keep a lid on their tank because of their flying habits. All the real show-piece beetle species I know unfortunately do require lids. There a few other cool, pet beetle species that aren't as showy that don't need lids, but the only ones I know are from the desert (and like half of them stink-beetles). 

 

 

Ah, gotcha -- thanks for explaining. Maybe I'll stumble on an alternative sometime.



#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 23 2022 - 11:30 AM

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Get a screen lid.
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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.





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