Just about to get underway with Pogonomyrmex Occidentalis as a first time ant keeper.
For the holidays I picked up a TarHeelAnts Mini Hearth and Fallen Fortress. I recently placed an order for a 20+ colony Pogonomyrmex Occidentalis. It was the recommend smallest size colony they had to move into a mini hearth. The FF is for when they need more space eventually.
Before I ordered the colony I got the mini setup on a thermostat and day/night light.
The place here is small and has the thermal properties of a tent, so the ants just have to live out in the space with us. No closet or room corner to give over to a tighter climate controlled area for them. Whatever it is outside it kind of is inside here mostly. The location is in a room that gets little sun light and the room lighting is often dim(computer room) so I included a day/night light cycle for them too.
I wanted to be sure they had an area that was setup to cope with all the temperature fluctuations automatically for my work and sleep times when I’m not available. To that end I have a dual probe thermostat with one probe getting air temps(not touching anything) inside the mini on the left side where the most heat cable comes into contact with it (away from the water tower). It controls the heat cable at 85f-86f on/off.
The other probe is attached to the back getting surface/outside temps at the outworld/nest line. It controls an overhead 40watt ceramic heater. Temps 80f-84f on/off. The other half of the dual dome is a 40watt basking bulb lighting on at 730am off at 630pm. It provides a fair amount of day time heat, but when it is cold here it is needed.
Once I got everything in place I used a General HT08 air temp/rh data logger.
It does not fully fit in the outworld of a mini(mostly, lid won't close fully), but it gets me a good idea of what’s going on overnight reading from in the outworld and just outside the formicarium by the outside temp probe.
During the recent cold spell here the daytime temps held easy at 85-86 internal and about 82-84 in the outworld. Nighttime temps dip down to the high 70s in the outworld and I estimate the low 80s, maybe 79/78 in the nest. Overnight when it’s cold the overhead heater and wire don’t shut off but do manage to keep the internal nest space warm. And the whole space warms back up to the daytime temps by about 9am.
After several days of temperature data logging I felt comfortable that the cold would not be an issue for them and placed an order with THA for the colony which I now await arrival of.
The first image shows the setup with thermostat on the wall in the background. The rubber feet came wiht the lamp stand. I cut a groove for the heat cable to rest in. It's not glued on or anything just sits on the fit nicely.
I found that to not get condensation i needed to be sure and heat the glass up at the same time with the body of the formicarium. I was getting condensation filling about half of the glass and if i placed the heat cable in contact wiht it it would eventually clear about 4/5 of the glass. but that last bit was an equilibrium of evaporation cooling that just kept it there. But when i unplugged and let the whole thing cool down, then warmed it back up wiht eh heat cable in contact wiht the glass as seen in the image, no condensation ever. Just a matter of being sure the glass isn't let to be too cold/warm compared to the internal temps. The probe can be seen in the left side of the nest using the back nestmate port.
This is the back just showing the temp probes. The one in the nestmate port has a rubber-band around it to make it fit tight into the port. There was just about 1/16 of an inch of empty space around the probe and that gave it a tight fit plugged into the port. the other one is there touching the outside of the mini where the outworld and nest meet.
Thanks to all for the great info i picked up while prepping to be an ant keeper.
I’ll update the journal here as things unfold.
Edited by Full_Frontal_Yeti, January 6 2023 - 7:28 PM.