How To: Isopod Enclosure

Discussion in 'Hermit Crabs' started by Fanatic, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Fanatic

    FanaticFishlore VIPMember

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    I thought it'd be nifty for the hermit crab subforum to have an informational thread about setting up isopod living quarters for hermit crabs.

    Isopods are basically those childhood bugs that live under decaying leaves and dead branches on the ground, called woodlice or roly-poly bugs.
    Well, did you know that you can keep them in your hermit crab tank as a scavenger for uneaten food and waste?
    They do a wonderful job cleaning up after your hermits, and they are fun to watch when scurrying around the tank doing their duty.

    I am showing you how to assemble your very own enclosure so that you can have some isopods of your very own in your tank!

    What You Need
    • Glass Tank or Plastic Storage Tote
    • Tight-fitting Lid
    • EcoEarth, or Playsand
    • Driftwood or Cork Bark
    • Leaf Litter
    • Terrarium Moss
    • Cuttlebone
    • Dechlorinated Water
    Substrate
    First, you need to get your substrate into your tank, it can be coconut fiber, playsand, or the both mixed together!
    I like to get a nice layer of about one to three inches deep and make sure it's moist, but not too wet either.
    Don't pack down the substrate, it needs to have adequate airflow circulating, and the isopods will burrow very slightly into it.

    Branches
    You need to provide something for the isopods to hide and climb on, which is the tree branches or driftwood that you have collected.
    I tend to get small and large sticks and place them around the tank evenly.
    You can collect them from your yard, only as long as you do not use any chemicals or pesticides, or if no mosquito sprays are used in your area, this will kill your isopods.

    Moss
    Next, get your moist terrarium moss, and place an even layer or pile anywhere in the tank, the isopods love to hide in this, it also helps them retain moisture for drinking.
    You can use sphagnum or any type of reptile terrarium moss, they all work pretty much the same.
    I use new zealand sphagnum and spanish moss for my enclosures.

    Leaf Litter
    Isopods like to eat and hide in leaf litter, so it's important to provide a source of some in your enclosure.
    You can choose simple tree leaves, such as oak, maple, birch, beech, or even almond leaves. Grass clippings or even scraps and roots from plants may be good additions to your isopod totes, they will eat from the leaves of plants.
    I am currently using two types of oak leaves in my tank, they really like eating those.
    If you don't have pesticide-free leaves in your area, there are many shops around the internet that sell bags of leaves for a good price, so look into it!

    Cuttlebone
    It's very important to offer a calcium source to these creatures, which is where cuttlebone comes in handy.
    You can easily lay it right on the substrate, and they will crawl on it, using it as they need. You can also use egg shells for calcium, they work too!
    Foods that are rich in calcium will be just as good, they may also benefit the health of your isopods.
    They need calcium to properly molt, which is shedding their hard exoskeleton in means of growing.

    Watering
    Isopods do not drink from a dish, but certainly would be fine with a small one made from a bottle cap or similar, so you need to spray their tank regularly to boost the humidity levels, which is important for proper breathing of these animals.
    You don't necessarily need to use a gauge to measure the levels, if you stick to a schedule when you spray the tank, they'll be just fine.
    Please make sure that the water you are spraying has been treated with a proper water conditioner!

    Breeding
    These guys are prolific breeders, they do it on their own without any help from the keeper!
    You may notice that your colony is expanding, and that's a good sign, that means they are happy and healthy.
    If you don't want more than what you have already, or the isopods are getting out of hand, feed the extra ones to your aquarium fish, they will love that!

    You should end up with something like this:
    IMG_0083.JPG

    Important Information

    Temperature: 75 - 80
    You usually do not need to heat the tank if you live in a warm climate, or the room has sufficiently been temperature controlled.
    These guys do well at a wide range of moderate temperatures.

    Humidity: 70 - 90
    Anywhere within this range is acceptable, they may actually thrive at higher levels, but that will encourage mold to grow!

    Dietary: Most Fruits and Vegetables
    You can feed them scraps from fruit or vegetable cuttings.
    They don't need these items, but will certainly thrive from it.

    Warning
    If you are collecting your isopods locally, please be sure that you do not collect any blue or purple colored ones into your others, they are infected with iridovirus and will spread the disease to the entire colony.

    Alright, thanks for reading this guide, hope it helps you start your own isopod enclosure!
    If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!
    I keep these guys, and they are breeding very quickly, I have well over thousands of these guys and absolutely love them.
    I enjoy making these helpful guides, so please give me your feedback.

    Sources
    Isopoda - Wikipedia
    Isopoda
    Armadillidium - Wikipedia

    Updated
    8/19/18
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  2. aussieJJDude

    aussieJJDudeWell Known MemberMember

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    Ive had isopods drink from a dish, so they do fine with a small dish like a bottlecap or the lid of a jar for example.

    Its important to mention that if you source your own, be aware that iridovirus can be a big issue, but these individuals tend to be a blue/purple in colouration.

    Tree bark/twigs also forms an important food source as well as providing some enrichment.


    Edit: also handle a wider range of temps, but for increased colony growth higher temps will facilitate this.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Fanatic

    FanaticFishlore VIPMember

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    They don’t need a dish, but certainly would be fine with a small one! :)
     
  4. aussieJJDude

    aussieJJDudeWell Known MemberMember

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    Yeah, but maybe change the wording however, to mention that while you can offer a small (shallow) dish of water, they do fine without?
     
  5. scarface

    scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

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    Interesting idea. How about grass-clippings? My father uses it for mulch. There are a ton of isopods in them. Maybe they like to eat the decaying grass.
     
  6. Anat3maDev1ce

    Anat3maDev1ceNew MemberMember

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    As long as no chemical fertilizers or pesticides have been used.
     
  7. scarface

    scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

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    I know. I was just giving him some ideas. Grass clippings are as easy as it gets in collecting food or shelter for isopods, or at least from my observation. I actually find not only isopods, but a lot of earthworms in grass mulch. Since he mentiones pesticides, I felt no need to warn him.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Fanatic

    FanaticFishlore VIPMember

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    Yes, thanks for that suggestion!
    I will be adding that to the litter list :)

    Edit:
    @aussieJJDude @scarface
    I have addressed both of your comments and ideas, they are included in the guide.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  9. OP
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    FanaticFishlore VIPMember

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    How To: Isopod Enclosure
    Updated: 10/8/18

    I have updated the guide with added sources to do your own research on the species.
    I also wanted to mention that I have a full colony, and my tote is bursting at the seams it's so full.
    If anyone has hermit crabs, and they'd like some isopods for their crabitat, then please let me know!
     
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