Millipedes and Foliage, Other Inverts, and Substrate Composition

goliathusdavid

Arachnobaron
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Joined
Oct 27, 2020
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386
Hey, that's a great strategy! Whatever works for you!

Also would you be willing to PM me where you've been shopping? I'm not far from you in PA and have been looking for physical places to shop for inverts once case rates go down.
 

Edoggerson

Arachnopeon
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Jan 26, 2021
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49
I'd suggest fitting an acrylic lid and then putting in some vents, rather than having the whole lid as one giant vent. If you've not bought the aquarium yet, you can get ones that come with a clear lid, and then just put the mesh over the holes intended for the filter and such.

The plants are likely to be fine for nutrients, but may get eaten. The critters will mix the substrate, so you're not going to have layers.

No telling really if the woodlice will eat all the millipedes or if they'll be able to co-exist. I'd suggest avoiding protein-hungry ones like species from Porcellio and Porcellionides. Less snacky ones include Armadillidium and Philoscia muscorum.

Green banana cockroaches (Panchlora nivea) would be something a bit different, but keep in mind that they can fly, so the lid needs to have no open holes.

Keeping some animals back for single-species backup colonies is a good idea. There's a risk with any communal that one species will out-reproduce the others, even if nobody eats anybody else.
When spritzing water "frequently", is frequently like 2-3 times a day with a consistent 72 degrees Fahrenheit heater on? I'm unsure how a heater is going to affect dry-out rates.
 

Polenth

Arachnobaron
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Sep 29, 2018
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I'm rather afraid of the survival of the millipedes before even introducing any other kind of life beyond plants. Those kinds of pillbugs live natively around me! Even by observing their lifestyles it's easy to see that they're very slow to eat and reproduce.
Obviously, just keeping millipedes is the safest way to go. Springtails also pose no risk.

I'd note that only one of the woodlice I mentioned is slow to eat and reproduce: Philoscia muscorum (they only breed once in their life, which is unusual for woodlice). The rest are likely to quickly outnumber the millipedes, which is when problems start.

When spritzing water "frequently", is frequently like 2-3 times a day with a consistent 72 degrees Fahrenheit heater on? I'm unsure how a heater is going to affect dry-out rates.
That's turning low maintenance animals into high maintenance animals. This is why having a more covering lid is a good idea. I only need to add water to my woodlice and millipedes once every few months usually. Pouring is better than spraying as it gets it down to the lower levels of substrate.

I keep my bumblebee millipedes at around 20-23C, with it being 20C in the winter. They breed at those temperatures. My Florida ivories did not breed. So that might help you decide with a colder house.
 

Edoggerson

Arachnopeon
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Jan 26, 2021
Messages
49
Obviously, just keeping millipedes is the safest way to go. Springtails also pose no risk.

I'd note that only one of the woodlice I mentioned is slow to eat and reproduce: Philoscia muscorum (they only breed once in their life, which is unusual for woodlice). The rest are likely to quickly outnumber the millipedes, which is when problems start.



That's turning low maintenance animals into high maintenance animals. This is why having a more covering lid is a good idea. I only need to add water to my woodlice and millipedes once every few months usually. Pouring is better than spraying as it gets it down to the lower levels of substrate.

I keep my bumblebee millipedes at around 20-23C, with it being 20C in the winter. They breed at those temperatures. My Florida ivories did not breed. So that might help you decide with a colder house.
Ah okay. With that being said, I'm wondering if it's possible to bake my eco-earth before moistening it. I saw a lot of reviews that the coco fiber had mites in it.. Do you have a strategy for this, or just put it right in? I don't mean to make this a high-maintenance job, but I want to measure twice and cut once.
 

Polenth

Arachnobaron
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437
Ah okay. With that being said, I'm wondering if it's possible to bake my eco-earth before moistening it. I saw a lot of reviews that the coco fiber had mites in it.. Do you have a strategy for this, or just put it right in? I don't mean to make this a high-maintenance job, but I want to measure twice and cut once.
You don't need to bake coco fibre. The mites will move in whatever you do. Little critters like mites and springtails are inevitable as the tank matures and act as cleanup crew. You don't need to worry about them.

Do bake wood and leaves you get from outside. That'll kill potential parasites and predators that might be there. This can be a bit of a job, but I do that in one big batch and put the cooled leaves and wood in a sealed box for later.

My point on time is more that no task needs to be done every day with a decent setup. If you find it needs attention every day, modify it until it's once a week or longer.
 

Exoskelos

Arachnosquire
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Sep 15, 2017
Messages
137
I only keep millipedes, so don't have much to say regarding communal setups, but here you go.

Don't use coniferous woods or needles, its poisonous.
Peat needs pH stabilization before adding in large quantities or you will have massive die offs due to soil acidity.
Coco fiber allegedly causes gastric issues with millipedes. Although I've never had a problem with it, it lacks nutrition. I add it to my substrate as a gauge for when it needs changed, if they're eating the fiber, then they need new substrate.
You really only want the bottom molting layers to be the coco fiber and peat, and the top layers to be the nutrient dense section, otherwise you'll never see the millipedes
Don't use potting soil, it has all kinds of additives, and at least here in the US, so-called "organic" brands include sewage sludge from water treatment plants (not sure which brands do this, still researching).

With calcium, I've had luck with using ground oyster shells (the kind used as chicken feed), its roughly $5 for a 50 pound bag that will last you forever.
It's also fairly important to spread the calcium out in the substrate, with more in the lower layers as they will chew on it while constructing their molting cells.
Somehow, small garden snails infested my enclosures and I originally tried to exterminate them, but they seem to do a good job of circulating calcium in the enclosures.
Worms of any variety are bad. Earthworms degrade the substrate and will destroy molting chambers, nematodes degrade the substrate and can become parasitic to millipedes, causing gastric issues.

Springtails are a must or you'll wind up with mold outbreaks of all kinds.
I would advise against an open top setup, humidity is the key to success for almost all inverts, I tend to over water them because it only takes a few hours in a dry environment to kill most species.
Also, millipedes will climb the corners of glass terraria where the silicone joints are, and they will get out if you don't have some kind of cover.

The species you choose will affect what the majority of your substrate should be. With T. macropygus and Thai rainbow for example, they will rarely eat sawdust or rotten wood and almost exclusively feed on dead leaves and fruits/vegetables. The same goes for C. splendidus, however I've noticed they have a particular fondness for beech leaves and will eat them first before moving on to other leaves.

For Narceus sp. millipedes, particularly americanus and annularis, a large layer should be hardwood sawdust or rotten wood chunks, ideally oak. They'll eat leaves also, but have a tendency to eat maple leaves first. N. gordanus seems to mainly eat rotten woods, and normally doesn't fuss with leaves unless they are very wet or partially turning into topsoil. I haven't kept bumblebees, but I would venture to say they will probably eat anything, since they're invasive in Florida.

I've had numerous issues with Florida ivories, they seem to need a ridiculous amount of calcium in their substrate, frequent protein supplements (softened dog food, magic worm powder) and will still occasionally die due to molt issues. They overpopulate extremely quickly and will cause a population crash, kind of a high maintenance species, as far as millipedes go. Ivories are by far the most surface active of any millipedes I've kept though, would be great in an enclosure where you actually want to see the animals during the day.
 
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