Multi-Species Enclosure

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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631
So out of curiosity, has anyone ever set up an enclosure with several different animals in it? I've recently set up a tank with a few small (V. carolinianus) scorpions, one roughly 3 inch centipede (S. sexpinosus), and a small, random beetle that resembles a death feigning beetle (possibly Hydrochus sp but not sure). So far, everything is running smoothly with absolutely no sign of trouble. I threw in some small crickets and most of them were devoured after a few days. All of these animals are wild caught, in fact they all came from under the same mattress that had been discarded at the edge of the woods near my home. I wasn't sure if they would eventually eat one another or ignore each other but it seems to be the latter. There are several pieces of bark in the enclosure and they all seem to have staked claims on them. The scorpions have all chosen to reside under one piece of bark with the beetle while the pede has decided to remain more mobile, exploring it's world at night while burrowing and hiding during the day. I'm quite interested to see how things play out over time. I expect someday to walk in and find one really fat little animal and several conspicuously absent ones but I have plenty of prey items for them and I believe they'll be fine as long as they remain well fed. Anybody else keep things this way successfully? I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of people who have nothing good to say about keeping them this way. I've got a pretty good imagination so I can play these arguments out in my head, therefore, no need to post anything negative. I'm just interested in the possible positive experiences or people who are curious to try it.
 

shining

Arachnodemon
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
755
I've never tried it nor will I but I can say you could have success with it if...

The enclosure is big enough (to be determined by the specimens selected) and everyone is kept well fed.

I can imagine more success with arboreal scorpions given there is a substrate shark in the mix.
 

WeightedAbyss75

Arachnoangel
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
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921
Yeah, you'd need a huge enclosure for this kind of thing in regards to captive bred insects. Do you have a pic of the cage? It sounds awesome. I would try it, but I wouldn't want to end up with the worst case senario ( especially when you live near Chicago, there aren't many scorps amd pedes here :D )
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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631
I'll see if I can get some. My phone is my camera and it's pretty old so I don't know if it will turn out or not. Everything in there is so small and colored just like the substrate and the lighting is pretty poor so I'm not optimistic. I have a night time bulb on them for heat since they are nocturnal for the most part. I noticed this morning that sadly, the centipede that was roaming around last night is dead this morning. It was eating a couple days ago so I'm not sure what happened there. They seem to be less hardy than most of the critters I encounter around here. The little scorpions around here are bulletproof and will likely survive things that would wipe out most roaches. When I get home, I'll see about some pictures though even though it's not as diverse as it was yesterday.
 

DreamWeaver8

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
132
Sorry for the loss... I've actually been thinking of doing something very similar to this, like a multi-level food chain but I don't really know what would work with something like that, so i haven't really gotten too far in terms of species that would be usable
 

WeightedAbyss75

Arachnoangel
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
921
I'll see if I can get some. My phone is my camera and it's pretty old so I don't know if it will turn out or not. Everything in there is so small and colored just like the substrate and the lighting is pretty poor so I'm not optimistic. I have a night time bulb on them for heat since they are nocturnal for the most part. I noticed this morning that sadly, the centipede that was roaming around last night is dead this morning. It was eating a couple days ago so I'm not sure what happened there. They seem to be less hardy than most of the critters I encounter around here. The little scorpions around here are bulletproof and will likely survive things that would wipe out most roaches. When I get home, I'll see about some pictures though even though it's not as diverse as it was yesterday.
Could it be that it couldn't find food? The scorpions may be eating it all, and it is a big enclosure after all... sorry for the death, but I hope you continue with the idea. If it could work, that would be an awesome tank :D
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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My setup was done kind of out of necessity. I went to get crickets from one of the chain pet stores and instead of 50 they gave me closer to 200. It was more than I could use so my extra tank wet to crickets.
I would imagine that mixing species might be frowned upon but they have plenty of room, they were all caught together in the first place and they are well fed. I wouldn't normally mix them like that but now that I have and nobody has eaten anybody else, I wouldn't have a problem doing it again now that I've tried it.
If you want to try it, I would recommend species of similar temperament and speed. Similar size would probably be a good idea as well. I think as long as they have plenty of room and lots of hiding places they'll do just fine. It's kind of like keeping different kinds of aggressive fish together. I'd be interested in hearing of other's experiences. Surely I'm not the only one to have tried it
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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There are only three little scorps in there and they were all eating the other day. I've only had them all for about a week and a half and there are plenty of crickets to go round. It was running from crickets last night, even the ones without jumping legs so I don't think it was hungry. I'm not normally a pede keeper but I am hoping to expand in that area. I have kept a few and they are fascinating animals but I'll probably stick with captive bred from now on. Time will tell I suppose
 

Arthroverts

Arachnoprince
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I've got a little tub that has 3+ Crytopid centipedes, a beetle, a small snail and various other little things in it. Python, your setup sounds pretty cool, so sorry your centipede died.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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631
The way I figure it, and I could be wrong, keeping aggressive fish together may be a bit more detrimental to the animals since fish are generally more active and have less places to hide. I think that since inverts are less active unless hunting and most keepers provide plenty of hides so they aren't constantly bothering each other. If they do happen to cross paths, which they will from time to time, they generally run away from each other. In the years I've been on this board I've seen many people who have kept different species together though it probably wasn't obvious at the time. Isopods of various types and beetles are frequently kept in enclosures to keep things clean, although they generally aren't viewed as prey items by the inhabitants of the enclosure. This isn't really a new idea at all but I'm guessing that it isn't a readily accepted means of keeping animals. Since beginning this thread and seeing the interest that it has generated, I may expand on this idea with larger enclosures, another taboo subject I've noticed. I've had a vision in my head for many years about a naturalistic enclosure that is large enough to be almost self sustaining, aside from water concerns. I think that if it's big enough and has enough hides to accommodate several animals, prey items thrown in would begin to breed and perpetuate themselves enough to sustain the main residents. The only problem with a setup like this is that the animals would always remain hidden.

Just a little background on this idea. Many years ago, before I joined this forum, I first had the idea for this. Over the years I've tested various aspects to see how well they would work alone. To begin with, I started keeping everything on dirt. Not special dirt that I bought in a store, just dirt. Microwaves or ovens take care of most pathogens or parasites that are to be found in native soils. once I started keeping animals on dirt, the smells disappeared the cleaning schedule gradually diminished to almost nothing since everything degraded into the soil, and I also noticed that the clay content in our soil was perfect, once packed and settled, for burrowing. No collapses and the inside of the burrow hardens to some extent due to the humidity. Dirt was the biggest factor that I found in making a successful enclosure that would require little to no maintenance. Next was flora. I started trying to keep crickets alive longer since I live so far from a pet store and if I could get them to breed then I would have a fairly reliable source for all sizes of crickets on a regular basis. I figured, since I was keeping them on dirt, why not plant some grass in there for them to feed on. Cue the ryegrass. It grows in the dark on concrete in a dessert. The only maintenance I ever had to do was trim it with scissors when it got too long and mist it from time to time. This has me halfway to an enclosure that I can set and forget. A larger enclosure with planted areas and more hides than animals will help to keep a steady (maybe too steady) flow of prey items for the inhabitants to eat while at the same time keeping the humidity up and, if large enough, will actually create "dew" which will provide some water for the smaller critters to drink. All in all, I'm seriously thinking about actually starting this up, no animals to begin with of course, just to see how viable an option it could be. Let it run for awhile and keep an eye on the conditions inside and if things go well, introduce some critters.
 

JumpingSpiderLady

Arachnobaron
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
342
The way I figure it, and I could be wrong, keeping aggressive fish together may be a bit more detrimental to the animals since fish are generally more active and have less places to hide. I think that since inverts are less active unless hunting and most keepers provide plenty of hides so they aren't constantly bothering each other. If they do happen to cross paths, which they will from time to time, they generally run away from each other. In the years I've been on this board I've seen many people who have kept different species together though it probably wasn't obvious at the time. Isopods of various types and beetles are frequently kept in enclosures to keep things clean, although they generally aren't viewed as prey items by the inhabitants of the enclosure. This isn't really a new idea at all but I'm guessing that it isn't a readily accepted means of keeping animals. Since beginning this thread and seeing the interest that it has generated, I may expand on this idea with larger enclosures, another taboo subject I've noticed. I've had a vision in my head for many years about a naturalistic enclosure that is large enough to be almost self sustaining, aside from water concerns. I think that if it's big enough and has enough hides to accommodate several animals, prey items thrown in would begin to breed and perpetuate themselves enough to sustain the main residents. The only problem with a setup like this is that the animals would always remain hidden.

Just a little background on this idea. Many years ago, before I joined this forum, I first had the idea for this. Over the years I've tested various aspects to see how well they would work alone. To begin with, I started keeping everything on dirt. Not special dirt that I bought in a store, just dirt. Microwaves or ovens take care of most pathogens or parasites that are to be found in native soils. once I started keeping animals on dirt, the smells disappeared the cleaning schedule gradually diminished to almost nothing since everything degraded into the soil, and I also noticed that the clay content in our soil was perfect, once packed and settled, for burrowing. No collapses and the inside of the burrow hardens to some extent due to the humidity. Dirt was the biggest factor that I found in making a successful enclosure that would require little to no maintenance. Next was flora. I started trying to keep crickets alive longer since I live so far from a pet store and if I could get them to breed then I would have a fairly reliable source for all sizes of crickets on a regular basis. I figured, since I was keeping them on dirt, why not plant some grass in there for them to feed on. Cue the ryegrass. It grows in the dark on concrete in a dessert. The only maintenance I ever had to do was trim it with scissors when it got too long and mist it from time to time. This has me halfway to an enclosure that I can set and forget. A larger enclosure with planted areas and more hides than animals will help to keep a steady (maybe too steady) flow of prey items for the inhabitants to eat while at the same time keeping the humidity up and, if large enough, will actually create "dew" which will provide some water for the smaller critters to drink. All in all, I'm seriously thinking about actually starting this up, no animals to begin with of course, just to see how viable an option it could be. Let it run for awhile and keep an eye on the conditions inside and if things go well, introduce some critters.
I love the idea, but it may be difficult to find the balance. A few fish keepers have managed to have a very low maintenance setup with a low fish load and high plant load, but the plants have to far outweigh the animals. And these were setups without predators. I'd love to see what successes you are able to have. Perhaps it's not so tough with terrestrials. I couldn't say. Either way, I'm eager to see what you come up with.
 

Python

Arachnolord
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
631
The plants will be merely to maintain the prey. The enclosure I have in mind will be large enough to accommodate some dwarf plants for show but also some forage grasses or something. I worked for a guy one time and he had a 150 gallon tank in his living room and he never touched it for any reason. The first time I saw it the top was covered with duckweed and what water hadn't evaporated was only about 6 or 8 inches deep at the most. He had fish in there he didn't know about. Mostly Cory cats and a few tetras but they were all looking healthy and happy. The point is, he never touched it at all for several years. Of course I can't do that but the theory is sound. Under the right conditions, a low maintenance diverse enclosure is possible and I think that the various projects I've worked on over the years might just allow me to build something that not only looks awesome, but functions almost by itself as well. Of course I'll have to butt in and make sure things work properly but I should be able to let it ride for the most part
 

Arthroverts

Arachnoprince
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1,879
I am planning on doing almost the same thing Python, maybe a little a more reliant on me though. I cant wait to see where this goes.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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631
Oh my enclosure will certainly be reliant upon me. I'm just hoping that I won't have to buy feed a whole lot once I get it up and running. I'm not sure how much I'll have to do to it but I know that it won't be completely self contained.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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Mar 21, 2005
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The pedes we have around here don't get that big under the most ideal circumstances but they're often found side by side with scorpions, beetles, even earthworms. Of course they are predatory, just like everything else going in but they also seem to have preferences and if given the choice, they seem to prefer less defensive meals like crickets. If there is a steady supply, things should be fine and that is my intent.
 

Python

Arachnolord
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I got some photos of the initial setup. I'll eventually setup something a little bigger as the inhabitants become more numerous. On to business...

The substrate is two layers, the bottom is topsoil about 2 inches thick or so. then the top inch or so is shredded coconut fiber. I figure the coconut fiber could act as a sort of mulch, keeping the top layer fairly dry while the bottom layer remains somewhat moist. In the back corner I stacked sticks to make the top soil deeper and added sticks, shredded, broken and whole pieces in order to create lots of voids under the top layer of substrate. After that I layered pieces of bark on top of that to create cover with layers. The overall effect is like an underground high rise with tons of doors. Of course the back corner is only about 4 inches high or so but the effect remains the same. I also found that I had another pede in there when I went to take pictures. it's a rather large one, around 4 inches or so. I had apparently lost count when I put them in and that one had burrowed to the bottom and never resurfaced thus leaving me to forget about it's existence. I also found a rather small scorpion that I hadn't seen in awhile. I actually had thought it was bigger than it turned out to be but oh well, it is what it is. I shuffled a dead cricket over to it and it ate like a champ. There is also a wayward earwig and a small beetle that I haven't identified yet. It looks like one of those death feigning beetles but black instead of blue. Not sure what it is but it does play dead when I mess with it. I posted pics of a couple of the V. carolinianus in the gallery if anyone is interested. In all there are 4 in there but only two were interested in taking photos. That said, Sorry about the less than quality pictures, my phone is pretty old and leaves a lot to be desired. That's about it, except to say that water is provided by misting and a dish which at the moment is not in there. Eventually I want to come up with something that will provide water from an underground reservoir to keep the humidity at a reasonable level and so I don't have to constantly add water. I have an idea for that as well but that's for another day. Any ideas? Questions? Suggestions? Above tank.jpg Tank debris.jpg
 

Scolopendra1989

Arachnosquire
Joined
Aug 12, 2016
Messages
53
I got some photos of the initial setup. I'll eventually setup something a little bigger as the inhabitants become more numerous. On to business...

The substrate is two layers, the bottom is topsoil about 2 inches thick or so. then the top inch or so is shredded coconut fiber. I figure the coconut fiber could act as a sort of mulch, keeping the top layer fairly dry while the bottom layer remains somewhat moist. In the back corner I stacked sticks to make the top soil deeper and added sticks, shredded, broken and whole pieces in order to create lots of voids under the top layer of substrate. After that I layered pieces of bark on top of that to create cover with layers. The overall effect is like an underground high rise with tons of doors. Of course the back corner is only about 4 inches high or so but the effect remains the same. I also found that I had another pede in there when I went to take pictures. it's a rather large one, around 4 inches or so. I had apparently lost count when I put them in and that one had burrowed to the bottom and never resurfaced thus leaving me to forget about it's existence. I also found a rather small scorpion that I hadn't seen in awhile. I actually had thought it was bigger than it turned out to be but oh well, it is what it is. I shuffled a dead cricket over to it and it ate like a champ. There is also a wayward earwig and a small beetle that I haven't identified yet. It looks like one of those death feigning beetles but black instead of blue. Not sure what it is but it does play dead when I mess with it. I posted pics of a couple of the V. carolinianus in the gallery if anyone is interested. In all there are 4 in there but only two were interested in taking photos. That said, Sorry about the less than quality pictures, my phone is pretty old and leaves a lot to be desired. That's about it, except to say that water is provided by misting and a dish which at the moment is not in there. Eventually I want to come up with something that will provide water from an underground reservoir to keep the humidity at a reasonable level and so I don't have to constantly add water. I have an idea for that as well but that's for another day. Any ideas? Questions? Suggestions? View attachment 217864 View attachment 217865
That looks great, I hope you update with pics of the pseudo-ecosystem! Should be pretty interesting especially with predators like pedes in the mix but I have faith and optimism in it tho
 
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