If you're an avid aquarium or terrarium enthusiast, you might have come across some unfamiliar little creatures scurrying around in the substrate, seemingly minding their own business. These little creatures are none other than Trichorhina tomentosa isopods, commonly known as "dwarf white isopods" or "powder blue isopods".
Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are quite popular among hobbyists due to their beneficial cleaning properties. They belong to a group of crustaceans known as isopods, which are commonly found in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.
Description of Trichorhina tomentosa isopods
Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are small, white-colored organisms, typically measuring 1/4 inch (6mm) in length. They feature a distinctive "powder blue" appearance, with a white base coloration and a powdery blue hue on their hard exoskeleton. The species is native to Central America but has now been introduced to several parts of the world, including the US. Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are widely known for their ability to consume decaying organic matter, including leftover food, excrement, and carcasses. The waste materials are consumed to aid digestion and overall bioactivity in their environment.
Keeping Trichorhina tomentosa isopods in captivity
Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are typically kept in a vivarium or terrarium, and as such, they require specific care to thrive in captivity. These little critters prefer a moist and well-ventilated environment that is rich in organic matter. In captivity, they are best kept in groups of at least ten, as they tend to be highly social creatures and enjoy clustering together to maintain the humidity levels that are so critical to their survival. A substrate of coconut coir, leaf litter or soil mixed with coco peat, crushed oyster shell and sphagnum moss works well for Trichorhina tomentosa isopods.
Another vital aspect of keeping these isopods is temperature, which should range from 68°F (20°C) to 76°F (24°C) and humidity levels between 70-90% relative air humidity. In addition to a balanced diet of plant matter, it is recommended to supplement their diet with high calcium foods such as commercial fish food and powdered eggshells to allow for proper growth and moulting as well as reproductive success.
Bioactivity and Trichorhina tomentosa isopods
Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are an essential component of any bioactive setup, where the primary goal is to create a self-sustaining ecosystem. In a bioactive setup, isopods contribute to the break-down and decomposition of organic matter, which is essential in nutrient cycling to help improve overall air and water quality.
In a bioactive setup, factors like waste management, disease control, and even plant growth can improve thanks to the work of Trichorhina tomentosa isopods. They consume and break down dead plant matter, uneaten food particles and other organic debris that can cause harm and promote bacterial growth. More so, the leftover waste is then consumed by various other beneficial decomposers, including springtails.
In conclusion, Trichorhina tomentosa isopods are an excellent investment for any terrarium enthusiast looking to create an effective bioactive setup. These little crustaceans offer a lot of benefits, including helping with waste management, nutrient cycling and disease control, amongst others. Their small size, easy care and amazing colouration make them a favourite among hobbyists and a great tool for creating an intricate ecosystem.