Cubaris Cappucino  isopods

Keeping Isopods With Live Plants

Isopods are a fascinating category of arthropods that have carved a niche for themselves in exotic pet ownership. Often known as roly-polies or pill-bugs, these tiny creatures thrive in specific habitats and offer a multitude of benefits. One of the most effective environments for isopods is a terrarium with live plants—an ecosystem that mirrors their natural habitat. In this article, we're taking a closer look at how to keep isopods with live plants, providing you with an enriching, sustainable, and low-maintenance mini-ecosystem.


Importance of Live Plants in Isopod




Isopods are detritivores, which means they feed on decomposed organic material—often plant matter. Live plants can augment this natural diet, contributing to an overall healthier, happier population of isopods. Moreover, live plants can maintain a steady humidity level, provide shelter, create a favourable aesthetic, and contribute to the overall wellness of your terrarium environment.


Selecting the Right Plants


Not all plants are suitable for isopod-friendly environments. Choosing plants that can thrive in high-humidity terrains and donate ample leaf litter is crucial. Common plants used in isopod habitats include varieties of ferns, miniature orchids, and bromeliads. These plants not only adapt well to terrarium conditions but also contribute to isopods' dietary and shelter needs.


Benefits of Isopods in a Plant Ecosystem


Isopods play an indispensable role in the plant ecosystem. Feeding on decomposed plant material, they convert dead organic matter back into essential nutrients. This recycling of plant matter leads to soil rejuvenation and promotes plant growth. By integrating isopods into your terrarium, you’re creating a self-sustaining, efficient environment where both parties benefit.


The Perfect Isopod Species


Numerous isopod species exist, but some are better suited for cohabitation with live plants. Species like Armadillidium vulgare, Porcellio scaber, and Trichorhina tomentosa are excellent choices owing to their hardiness, ability to breed easily, and compatibility with plants.


Setting the Ideal Environments


Creating the ideal environment is crucial for the harmonious cohabitation of isopods and live plants. Here's how to set up an isopod-friendly terrarium:


  1. Enclosure: Your enclosure should be well-ventilated & secure to prevent escapees, yet retain sufficient humidity.


  1. Substrate: Opt for a blended substrate of coco coir, sphagnum moss, and compost. This mimics the isopods natural environment and provides necessary nutrients for plants.


  1. Decor: To create a naturalistic setup, introduce places for isopods to hide and explore such as bark and rocks. These natural materials also contribute to their diets by decomposing over time.


  1. Temperature and Lighting: Maintain a temperature between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. For plants, ensure a cycle of at least 12 hours of light per day.


The addition of isopods to a live plant terrarium is a natural choice, promoting a balanced and thriving ecosystem. While many underestimate the impact these tiny creatures can have, they are, in fact, vital cogs in maintaining the overall health and efficiency of the terrarium.


Proper Maintenance


To maintain this mini-ecosystem, regular misting, maintaining optimal temperature, monitoring plant growth, and feeding isopods with calcium-rich food are necessary steps. Simultaneously, look for signs of isopod reproduction, which signify a healthy habitat.




Balancing the needs of both isopods and live plants can seem daunting at first, but by understanding the individual needs of each, and their roles in maintaining a sustainable cycle, you can create a beautiful, thriving environment. From nourishing the soil to promoting plant growth, these incredible creatures are an essential asset to the ecosystem cycle.


Keep these points in mind and embrace the delightful journey of raising isopods with live plants.


Remember, isopod and plant cohabitation isn't a hobby—it's an immersive lesson in biology, ecology, and the wonders of nature rolled into one.

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