Millipedes and Isopods living together?

Gail

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As I have been slowly building up the isopod and millies collection this question comes up. I have one terrarium set up to be a natural north American forest floor sort of deal and just read today on some random web page that 'pill bugs/roly polys are known to eat baby millipedes so don't keep them together if you want to breed them' - looking for input on this statement as I only found reference to this once (so far).
 

MrCrackerpants

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As I have been slowly building up the isopod and millies collection this question comes up. I have one terrarium set up to be a natural north American forest floor sort of deal and just read today on some random web page that 'pill bugs/roly polys are known to eat baby millipedes so don't keep them together if you want to breed them' - looking for input on this statement as I only found reference to this once (so far).
I would not keep them together. They will not benefit your millipedes and the possibility exists that they can do damage to your millipedes or their eggs. If you want another arthropod in with them I would add giant springtails. What millipedes are you keeping? :)
 

Gail

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I currently only have a handful of not really identified local millipedes - I unscientifically call them "the long skinny black one's" :biggrin: I have some bumblebee millies coming in from satchellwk this week and those were the one's I was more concerned with the isopods being in with as they aren't really native 'pedes. I have plans to go on a couple of collecting missions come spring in the area as well as the back hills of WV. I've become obsessed with the many types of isopods and will be collecting those as well.

Back in the day I had a huge tank of giant african black millipedes, which despite what others claimed, bred like crazy for me - I had hundreds of babies from tiny to 4 or more inches, plus the original adults. I ended up giving them up due to moving, life changes, etc. and could kick myself in the arse for it now :fury:

The local 'pedes live with 3 different types of local isopods and they all do well together. That is why I seriously question the validity of isopods eating millie eggs and babies. I found one online reference at a care page that said 'don't do it, they will eat them up' but I found many references (including a few here) where folks have had them together and no problems. Haven't been able to find anything in any of the scientific literature referring to it - still looking though! I was hoping that if the reference to naughty isopods was true that someone would be able to present the proof of it.

I have a tank ready for the bumblebees that already has springtails and my few male hissers in it that I don't want to use as breeders (no unauthorized breeding in this house!). It is a very natural set up with multiple levels of substrate and cork bark. I will likely end up putting in some type of isopod to help keep things in balance if I can't find any proof of them being a hazard.

That is actually my goal at this point - creating the nearly perfectly balanced tanks where the cycle of cleaning, eating, breeding, etc. is finely tuned enough to require very little intervention on my part past the spot cleaning, adding of further food items, moving out (or selling) excess individuals, and hopefully, only a once a year full clean out required. I've been successful in that view with terrariums full of various smaller local critters. I am expanding the idea into my roach tanks as well.
 

satchellwk

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I think it really depends on how sensitive the millipede species in question is and what risks you're willing to take. A few isopods should't adversely affect adult pedes, they only really pose a threat to eggs and the young. But, as you said, there is conflicting info on the web concerning this particular phenomenon. If you want to test out a multi-species setup, I say go for it, especially since you're using bumblebees. They're a very hardy species that breed very prolifically, so even if the isopods prey on some eggs, I doubt they'd get all of them. I definitely wouldn't do it if you get any fancier, exotic millipede species. Good luck with them!

By the way, what isopods species you thinking about using? I know at least for procellionides pruinosus they're some of the quickest breeding, ravenously feeding species I've dealt with, so I'd advise again using that particular species. I had groups of them nearly wipe out roach colonies by overpopulating and out-competing them. In my opinion, Armadillidium would be the least destructive species to employ because of their slow moving, slow breeding nature. Also, small species like trichorhina, venezillo, or any other "dwarf" species may be good possible choices.
 

zonbonzovi

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I wonder if anyone that "regularly" breeds millipedes has pulled eggs to test whether or not isopods will consume them? I know that centipede eggs go unmolested as I've used them in a tank with brood present. Even during a molt, isopods avoid the centipede but will immediately nip at the shed exo. I realize that is evidence for using isopods with centipedes and does not necessarily translate over to millipedes but I've not seen Porcellio sp. or Armadillidium sp. attack living tissue of any kind.
 

Gail

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I agree - so much conflicting information - I am erring on the side of caution while I continue to research. The bumblebees arrived today (THANK YOU!!!) and they have an enclosure to themselves at this point. I may try to "experiment" in the future once I get a good colony of them going, but for now, I don't want to risk it.

I keep my pruinosus in with my male hissers tank and they haven't gotten out of hand yet, might do with the fresh influx I received from you today :) Will definitely keep an eye on them as the newbies did immediately swarm the food bowl - might have just followed the scent trail of the pruinosus in there already as every night it is a pushing match between roaches and isopods at the food dish. I think they may be doing OK because it's only male hissers in this particular tank, so no babies that might get starved out because they can't muscle the isopods off the food.

---------- Post added 01-29-2015 at 04:23 PM ----------

I think that would be worth a test - may do myself once I have a good colony of bumblebees going. If I ever find anyone with African black millies for sale I doubt I'd ever risk anything with them... still kicking myself for giving up the huge breeding colony I had... kick... kick.... kick....

---------- Post added 01-29-2015 at 04:24 PM ----------

not sure why my reply to you ended up as an edit to my last post...
 

satchellwk

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I wonder if anyone that "regularly" breeds millipedes has pulled eggs to test whether or not isopods will consume them? I know that centipede eggs go unmolested as I've used them in a tank with brood present. Even during a molt, isopods avoid the centipede but will immediately nip at the shed exo. I realize that is evidence for using isopods with centipedes and does not necessarily translate over to millipedes but I've not seen Porcellio sp. or Armadillidium sp. attack living tissue of any kind.
That's good info regarding centipedes.
I'll add, though, that I have definitely witnessed large populations of porcellionides swarming over molting blaberus giganteus roaches.
 

Elytra and Antenna

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I know that centipede eggs go unmolested as I've used them in a tank with brood present. Even during a molt, isopods avoid the centipede but will immediately nip at the shed exo.
I think you may be missing relative density (and a handful of isopods can overpopulate a millipede cage after a few months).
 

zonbonzovi

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I think you may be missing relative density (and a handful of isopods can overpopulate a millipede cage after a few months).
Are you thinking that in a situation where there is isopod overpopulation, they will be more likely to branch out and eat outside of their typical menu?
 

Gail

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Are you thinking that in a situation where there is isopod overpopulation, they will be more likely to branch out and eat outside of their typical menu?
Apparently, there were forensic studies on human decomposition showing that certain species of isopod were actually snacking on the bodies - I believe armadillidium if memory serves? So I am thinking that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that in a high density population eggs and moulting roaches would get snacked on - particularly if the isopods were not being provided with a wealth of other protein rich foods.

I have, however, continued my search to find actual scientific papers showing that isopods feed on other arthropod species eggs and I am not finding a whole heck of a lot. I think this will require some testing but that will definitely have to wait until I have a nice healthy population of millipedes and can dedicate a single tank to the test - since I also fear that they would attack a moulting millipede if they will do for a roach :(
 

Elytra and Antenna

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Are you thinking that in a situation where there is isopod overpopulation, they will be more likely to branch out and eat outside of their typical menu?
Yes but I am also saying that it is almost a given in a millipede cage over time (unlikely in a centipede cage).
Apparently, there were forensic studies on human decomposition showing that certain species of isopod were actually snacking on the bodies - I believe armadillidium if memory serves? So I am thinking that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that in a high density population eggs and moulting roaches would get snacked on - particularly if the isopods were not being provided with a wealth of other protein rich foods.

I have, however, continued my search to find actual scientific papers showing that isopods feed on other arthropod species eggs and I am not finding a whole heck of a lot. I think this will require some testing but that will definitely have to wait until I have a nice healthy population of millipedes and can dedicate a single tank to the test - since I also fear that they would attack a moulting millipede if they will do for a roach :(
You're not going to find any scientific papers on captive husbandry of millipedes (if not including the Millipeds in Captivity book or IM).
 

Smokehound714

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I consider them pests in millipede tanks. They will eventually eat the millipede's food. the eggs and millipedes are probably safe due to their chemicals.


I actually like to allow mold to grow, I simply 'trim' it to keep it from going haywire, as fungi greatly help the breakdown of lignin and make wood easier to feed on. As long as you have a nice healthy population of springtails, you shouldnt really have to worry about mold.
 

Elytra and Antenna

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I consider them pests in millipede tanks. They will eventually eat the millipede's food. the eggs and millipedes are probably safe due to their chemicals.
The eggs are not chemically protected.

---------- Post added 02-04-2015 at 10:12 PM ----------

A short read on two common species of isopods:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.23...&uid=3739256&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=3739960&uid=4

It was interesting to see that they are not only attracted to detritus.
There is husbandry literature on isopods eating rhinoceros and flower beetle pupae as well if the pupal cell is damaged and they can gain access to the healthy pupae.
 

zonbonzovi

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There is husbandry literature on isopods eating rhinoceros and flower beetle pupae as well if the pupal cell is damaged and they can gain access to the healthy pupae.
Thanks. That changes my perception of what these are capable of, in general.
 

pannaking22

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Same here. Definitely going to have to be careful what enclosures the isopods get to go in. At least springtails are always a good option.
 

Gail

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There is husbandry literature on isopods eating rhinoceros and flower beetle pupae as well if the pupal cell is damaged and they can gain access to the healthy pupae.
I have to say that I must agree with other comments about being careful from here on out. I have found a number of references - some just obscure one or two line bits - sprinkled around on the web that shows the isopods can be unpredictably 'carnivorous'. I am pretty convinced that the reason I've not had issues with the colony in my tank of male hissers is that the hissers are all mature males. No molting means nothing for the isopods to attack. There is a lot of pushing and shoving at the food dish where the isopods tend to clean up anything left when the roaches walk away. Interestingly enough, I also put a small number of tropical pink springtails in there about a month or so ago and they have had a population explosion so I am guessing that the isopods don't bother them.
 

CrawlinChaos

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What do you guys think about the Jungle Micropods that Peter is selling over at Bugs in Cyberspace? They max out at 2mm, so I wonder if they would even go for something like millipede eggs or very young millipedes. I keep pink springtails in all my tanks, but I've been itching to have at least two species in my clean-up crew. If the isopods are just too much of a risk factor, I'll probably add another species of springtail, maybe blue ones this time.
 

Gail

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What do you guys think about the Jungle Micropods that Peter is selling over at Bugs in Cyberspace? They max out at 2mm, so I wonder if they would even go for something like millipede eggs or very young millipedes. I keep pink springtails in all my tanks, but I've been itching to have at least two species in my clean-up crew. If the isopods are just too much of a risk factor, I'll probably add another species of springtail, maybe blue ones this time.
I recently added these to one of my hisser breeding tanks as they are apparently well known for being able to completely consume dead adult roaches and even dead tarantulas in a very short amount of time. I will not be risking putting them in with my millipedes. They are small but breed quickly. One interesting thing about them though is that when disturbed they often feign death to the point of laying motionless on their backs (if that is how they happen to be unearthed) with feet sticking in the air. They will remain this way, in my direct observation, for an hour in some cases - which I think may be why some folks think they got a batch of dead one's when they order :laugh:
 
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