Setting Up & Selecting Your First Isopods

A Basic Guide To Setting Up & Selecting Your First Isopods

When it comes to isopods, if you search online you will find many different ways suggested to keeping them - generally speaking (depending on species) Isopods can be kept a multitude of different ways with very good success. Here is a guide I have made below which highlights the way we would personally setup and keep isopods. We have this question asked many times so I thought I would write a blog post/article to try help with this.

Enclosures

Most people begin keeping isopods in small enclosures such as 1.3 or 3l braplasts, whilst this is and can be done with great success personally I find setting up isopods in larger enclosures from the start enables me to maintain the environment much easier for them especially the humidity and temperature gradients. Due to this I would personally recommend WHAM Crystal tubs from the range which can be found here we generally start with the 11litre tubs unless you are looking to setup a larger isopod species such as hoffmanseggii or hellabravia in which case I would go for a 17l tub.

Substrate

This is arguably the most confusing part of the setup with so many options available, for a quick solution you can purchase a ready made substrate from our friends at the bug room here 

If however you would prefer to make your own, here is how I personally create mine.

Organic topsoil - most brands are ok just make sure they don't contain pesticides, I personally have used top soil from Wickes and The Range and personally prefer the one from Wickes here

Wood Pellets - This is a trick I learned from my good friend Tom at Exotic Empire. One of these bags will last a long time, simply put some of these pellets and add hot water and the pelletts will swell up and turn into a sawdust like substrate. Some leave this overnight but I have found it swells and cools within a few hours but always best to leave a little longer just to be safe. You can find this at a lot of retailers such as amazon and the range but for ease ill link you to the one at the range here

Worm Castings - this is not a requirement but more a nice to have, again like most things on this guide, the brand isn't importand as long as it is organic but i personally use this one 

Other Staples

Cork Bark - Cork bark serves several purposes, not only is it a great source of food for your isopods but it is also a great hiding place for your isopods and allows you to monitor your colonies population easier as most isopods will generally hide on/under this cork bark. Before adding to your enclosure we recommend putting it in the over for around 45-60minutes at 160c (on a fan assisted oven) to ensure any hitchhikers or other things are killed to ensure a safe environment for your isopods

Cuttle Bone - Cuttlebone is a great source of calcium for isopods, you can achieve similar results from calcium powder or egg shells but i find these can sometimes go a bit mouldy over time wheras I keep cuttlebone in my enclosures until the isopods have eaten it all. Cuttlebone also works as another great hiding place for your pods.

Leaf Litter - Some people like to add leaf litter into the enclosure as a food source from time to time, we however find we personally have better results from keeping leaf litter available at all times. This also makes it easier if you are going away for a short time as they will always have a food source available.

Moss - Moss is a great source of food for the pods and also helps with humidity for them too which is a win win. 

Ventilation

Ventilation can be added in a number of ways, the amount of ventilation you require depends on the species you choose. These are the 2 ways we personally add ventilation

Holes around the top of the tub - These can be added with a soldering iron or a drill

Vents - Vents are something we have started using more recently since Exotic Empire started selling them. We personally use his 42mm vents where you drill a hole with a drillsaw piece and then the vents screw to the tub from either side of the tub. Tom makes these himself so please don't hesitate to ask him if you want them in a particular style or colour

 

 Food Choices

Isopods in the wild live on waste therefore they will generally eat pretty much anything. Some species may require different nutrition from food however this is the difference between how well your pods thrive. We generally alternate feeds between fruit/vegetables and then a high protein food source. Cucumber and butternut squash are strong favourites however they can be fed a wide variety of foods. The main thing i would say is experiment and wash any food you give them thorough beforehand. 

Isopods generally love tropical fish flake and TETRA pond sticks, both of which you can get from most supermarkets and online stores.

 

The Pods!

Now onto the fun bit! Choosing your isopods!

Most people would go for dairy cows for the first isopods which is a great choice, they are very very resilient and have great appetites and breed quickly however personally I prefer Powder Isopods, these like dairy cows are relatively cheap and  like the dairy cows they are not picky eaters and have a good appetite however these are are available in a variety of colours and are very active which is one of the main reasons I prefer these over dairy cows. 

We currently have these in 3 colours, orange, blue and white.

For a more exotic option, you can also get panda king isopods these will hide more than the powders and dairy cows when you first get them but as they settle in and grow in numbers so will the confidence of them. These are one of the easiest cubaris to keep, so much so we started keeping ours in a 17l tub but are now in a 62l tub due to how prolific of breeders they are 

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