Liphistiidae/Liphisitiid- day!Liphistius ornatus breeding success

Ambly

Arachnobaron
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So my small Liphistius ornatus group produced spiderlings in captivity!

Warning, long post. Broken into basic info, then a bit of observations and discussions - what I'd have done better, what I found worked, cool spidery things, etc. I will disclaim that I'm currently not selling any of them - at minimum, I want to be sure there is a decent survival rate and they don't all croak.

I've gotta thank the folks here at Arachnoboard and elsewhere who gave me info, their experiences and observations, literature, and suggestions! I did lots of digging, reading, and bothering people with questions.

Set-up: 20 gallon tank with one large adult female and two subadults. Loamy, clay substrate - fluffy. Substrate at a slope with some live oak leaves. LED aquarium overhead light to promote moss growth. Hand-mist using a pressure sprayer. I tried to simulate their conditions and did... meh. I'd say substrate is most important in keeping these.

Timeline: Subadult leaves hole/trap and creates a temporary shelter from which, weeks later in late September 2014, it matures into a male and waits. Breeding observed late December 2014/early January 2015. The male was witnessed breeding several times over a few days with only one of the two females, but I suspect he attempted with both. Male later consumed and remains rejected as a black ball/bolus in front of the lid of unconfirmed breeder (though it is possible it was thrown and landed there by chance). Both females began excavating shortly after I witnessed breeding, followed by months of unusual inactivity. Females began cracking lids and feeding over the summer, beginning very sparsely, and spiderlings were observed August 4th, 2015.

Status of spiderlings: Spiderlings are feeding on D. melanogaster fruitflies and soon D. hydei and pinheads. I've separated a bunch of the free-roaming spiderlings out into a ten gallon in the same style as the adults and am figuring out what I want to do with those who are already set up in the adult's enclosure. Most of not all have traps set up.

Observations
1. Substrate is everything. It appears these have not done well in captivity or have a reputation for being less than hardy, which I attribute to lack of proper substrate. Like other trapdoors, these guys really ball up wet substrate and throw it - for that reason and many more, what they are digging into makes a huge difference in how naturally they act and how well they thrive. I believe the substrate is also somehow used in walling their tunnel - it does not appear entirely silken. If attention is paid to even minimally recreating natural conditions, these are hardy AF.
2. It is more exciting to feed them multiple, smaller prey items. From what I've seen and read, I believe they may more typically eat smaller prey more often then big prey rarely. If they miss or the prey item is really small, they seem to increase sensitivity and will even make some wild dashes out that seem unprovoked. Culturing fruitflies (my preference) or true pinheads is essential to raising spiderlings, but fortunately they grow out of fruitflies quickly.
3. They do not like being rehomed - nor do any trappies. It seems they lose some spirit. For this reason, I put my first 3 spiderlings (purchased) into a very soft plastic enclosure I could cut away when I planned to rehome and plant the container-shaped clay mass containing the traps into a 10 gal - this went very well, though I did have to remove one from it's hole.
4.I think these are best started in their permanent home. They grow fast if feeding a lot and create some pretty long lines. Doing it all again, I'd go even more substrate and a bigger tank: 20 gal-30 gal for 3 adults. For breeding, definitely best kept in groups.
5. Cannibalism does not seem common but it does occur, and I assume more commonly in spiderlings. I purchased 4 kept in pairs, and one was cannibalized. I have not witnessed cannibalism in the spiderlings, but I assume some has occurred. I have witnessed spiderlings trying to get into eachother's holes, to which the other usually kicks it out or flaps it's lid in some odd defense. The adults appeared to trade holes as well, not uncommonly.


Suggestions?

I've got a lot in a 10 gallon, but most are still in with the adults. There are high density areas of 3-5 traps in a square inch, maybe more. Part of me assumes there will be cannibalism and that some will eventually just be found on the surface as I have with the adults, so I might passively rehome them. The other part thinks that actively rehoming a few, i.e. tricking them out of their holes and into a jar to quickly rehome, may be better for the adults and the spiderlings. Plus, if the other female has spiderlings awaiting... they're doomed. My current thoughts are I might be able to trick them out using a paint brush or wire, or simply dump fruitflies in and grab those that jump out and take a moment to find their lids. Thoughts?

I may do another ten gallon group and set up some soft-plastic-cutaway enclosures.

I'll post some pics and videos soon, as well as future observations. It's pretty hilarious, the minefield.
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
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I love seeing successfull breeding of unusual inverts! Hope they do well for you, I would love to have a stable captive bred population in the hobby!
 

josh_r

Arachnoprince
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I am very very happy to hear you had success with these! Very cool story! Post pictures of the setup with the baby traps!!

JOsh
 

pannaking22

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Awesome stuff! Glad to hear that you had success with these guys. I would probably try to rehome the slings as they wander instead of after they've made a new home, though if you can snag a few when they emerge to run down a prey item that may work too. I bet if you throw a bunch into a new 10 o20 gallon they'll set themselves up and you'll have a whole new minefield to play with lol.
 

schmiggle

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Fantastic! These are some of the coolest spiders around. The more the merrier! :) Will be eagerly awaiting videos.
When you say a clay, loamy substrate, what exactly are you using?
 

Ambly

Arachnobaron
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328
Morning, all! Josh_R, I was going to thank you directly in the post but chose not to without asking. Josh here was a huge help and answered a lot of questions, shared his experience, and bounced ideas back and forth - thanks a ton, man.

I'm using natural substrate, a loamy clay found up a river bank, mixed with coconut fiber to fluff and lighten it up a bit. It is grey or red and the final product looks like clay. I try to be mindful of where/how much I am collecting: avoiding pesticides and attempting to harvest from fallen trees and such. Fortunately, I work for archaeologists and they are constantly excavating good substrate of which there is always excess that doesn't make it back into the ground. I went with a slightly sandier clay substrate for the babies in the one ten gallon - they seem to be doing fine in it, but I am a bit concerned it won't ball up as well... I think they'll make do, but I'll likely try to integrate some clay up-slope and essentially slow-wash it in over time... the adults and subadults excavate so much that I sometimes collect the piles and distribute it up-slope for this reason. It appeared more clay based when I brought it in. The one I am setting up this afternoon will be a higher clay content.


But the real answer is: try and think about what they are digging into in the wild. They are found on banks and roadcuts, so even without any deep research you can assume the substrate has to be good enough to hold form (or it'd just erode away) and soft enough to be dug into.


I've got one 10 gal full of babies but will be separating more out. They are so close that they definitely pop up once in a while and have trouble getting back to their lids, or simply have been sharing - I've seen a few on the surface. I don't think it'll be hard to passively rehome some more, or actively rehome without being too invasive.

Thanks for your posts thus far! Gotta feed the babies in the adult enclosure tonight, then drop some food in for the adults among their own offspring. The adult females appear quite ready to feed.
 

Biollantefan54

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Congratulations! :D I want some of these spiders one day, they are awesome, really happy you successfully bred them! Looking forward to lots of pics :)
 

Jarvis

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Congrats on the brood or broods, great spiders and I'm glad someone has started to breed them. I have one that just molted 2 days ago, I'm using a clay, coco fiber and moss mixture for the substrate that seems to be working well. I would love to get some more and start a breeding project, but they seem hard to get a hold of, let me know if your ever plan on selling any of them, would love to get a few, I have a empty 20 gallon tank that's begging for a breeding project.

Are you breeding any other Liphistius sp.? I think it would be great to see more of them in the hobby.
 

Ambly

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I'll end up distributing some and I'd love to support more breeding in captivity. I've only got L. ornatus. I'd also love to see a "care sheet" for trapdoors here and may do some talking to see if we can make that happen... These have been very easy to take care of and I think some simple suggestions, especially picking a proper substrate, would help the survivability of many in captivity.

I fed the babies yesterday, and likely will every day as I had with my first 4 slings, and it was hilarious. Fruit fly survival rate of 0%. I've got some video but I'll be taking better quality video soon. They grow really, really fast.

Something I didn't mention: as these spiders age, they seem to go from 1. grey lightly banded spiderling, 2. more brown, clearly banded spider, 3. bulkier spider with reds and purples resembling adults. I predicted that my male was indeed a male, naming him Pitbull after the ever so talented (hahaha, ha) musician. I'm going to be watching some of the other spiders and see what factors might help identify males - if there are behavioral differences earlier on.
 

josh_r

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Morning, all! Josh_R, I was going to thank you directly in the post but chose not to without asking. Josh here was a huge help and answered a lot of questions, shared his experience, and bounced ideas back and forth - thanks a ton, man.

I'm using natural substrate, a loamy clay found up a river bank, mixed with coconut fiber to fluff and lighten it up a bit. It is grey or red and the final product looks like clay. I try to be mindful of where/how much I am collecting: avoiding pesticides and attempting to harvest from fallen trees and such. Fortunately, I work for archaeologists and they are constantly excavating good substrate of which there is always excess that doesn't make it back into the ground. I went with a slightly sandier clay substrate for the babies in the one ten gallon - they seem to be doing fine in it, but I am a bit concerned it won't ball up as well... I think they'll make do, but I'll likely try to integrate some clay up-slope and essentially slow-wash it in over time... the adults and subadults excavate so much that I sometimes collect the piles and distribute it up-slope for this reason. It appeared more clay based when I brought it in. The one I am setting up this afternoon will be a higher clay content.


But the real answer is: try and think about what they are digging into in the wild. They are found on banks and roadcuts, so even without any deep research you can assume the substrate has to be good enough to hold form (or it'd just erode away) and soft enough to be dug into.


I've got one 10 gal full of babies but will be separating more out. They are so close that they definitely pop up once in a while and have trouble getting back to their lids, or simply have been sharing - I've seen a few on the surface. I don't think it'll be hard to passively rehome some more, or actively rehome without being too invasive.

Thanks for your posts thus far! Gotta feed the babies in the adult enclosure tonight, then drop some food in for the adults among their own offspring. The adult females appear quite ready to feed.
You are very welcome!! I am glad I was able to help out! And even more glad to hear of your success!! I wish people would have worked with malayanus more when they were in the hobby... Oh well.

JOsh
 

Jarvis

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Any news with the spiderlings? and how they are doing? any behavior differences that help distinguish males from females?
 

Ambly

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Spiderlings are doing well! Just like the adults, easy to care for... mostly substrate and proper prey. They eat a ton so keeping both D. melanogaster and D. hydei fruitflies is an absolute must until they are big enough for pinheads. Currently, most are still in with the adults. I've got some split out, but not more than 20-30. Any I find surfacing or that are unable to find their lids if they jump out in a craze I rehome to one of the other 10gals. Eventually, like the adults, some will find their holes unsuitable and be found on the surface in the morning. I do not think they cannibalize often other than accidentally or in desperation, should one have chosen a place where it does not as readily receive food.

I have had some die-offs in one of the enclosures and I suspect this is because there was a bit of mold build up and the enclosure was less ventilated than others. I was on vacation and shortly after had to travel north at short notice for a funeral; while all other enclosures were fine, this one lost a few.

I do plan on being less selfish with them but, like Josh said above, these haven't done well in captivity. They're doing well for me and until I see a majority going into "adolescence," I will be holding most.

In the offspring, I notice no behavior differences. In the sub-adults, I have my suspicions regarding appetite, molt frequency, and how they maintain their lines... However, not nearly enough to make any confident statements. I've only had one molt to maturity and my 3 subadults are not mature enough yet.
 

Ambly

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I've been working like an absolute freak; mappin' night and day, and honestly have not had the time to do more than simply care for them. I have kept some notes however, and I intend to share more info when I have time... but, until then, just the low quality update above.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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Sounds like they're doing great! If you ever feel the need to post pictures... :)
 

Ambly

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Aug 20, 2012
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I've got some good pics and video I'll put up soon.

Is there still a Groups page? I would like to talk to some local (within tristate of Virginia) invert keepers about these guys.
 

Ambly

Arachnobaron
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Aug 20, 2012
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Haven't been lurking as much - couldn't find it. Also noticed they've changed the rules a bit!
 

Ambly

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So I've been in Madagascar doing some frog conservation work for the last 2.5 months, but my brother informs me as of yesterday that the babies are well and some have lids over the size of a nickel! I'm curious to see how many are in each enclosure and whether any cannibalism or outcompetition has occurred... My brother knows his stuff, cared for them well, etc. and it sounds like most are good... so I'll likely have to begin rehoming some spiders very soon.

Other news: My brother informs me one of the spiderlings I received and raised (not one of my hatch), which was dormant for maybe over 6 months, has since emerged as a male. So we've got another mature male!

I'll keep you all up to date on whether this male breeds... but I am glad, because this male is unrelated to my females. Project is going well. Unfortunately, they do require a lot of space.
 

Ambly

Arachnobaron
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Aug 20, 2012
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I will post very detailed observations soon, but...

I've witnessed 4 spiders emerge from their holes. 2 emerged as males with no prior emergence, 2 have emerged a few times each. These 2 were adult females, and there may be some seasonality related to their movement. I do think some of it has to do with space, as they both began heavy excavation when summer was arriving/shortly before the male surfaced after almost a year of only minor surface changes. They were together in a ten gallon and since, the female that last surfaced has been rehomed in another ten gallon with 4 spiderlings.

MALES! I suspected both of my males would be males... but it's hard to explain why and I'd only feel confident when observing several more mature. However, they both grew fast and ate a ton, assuming adult coloration quickly. They began with very long lines then eventually stopped upkeep with their homes all together and went dormant for a very long period of time. I think the time for maturity is approximately 2 years, as I raised this recent male from a spiderling.
 
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