Starting a springtail colony

EulersK

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Well, I once again wander in from the tarantula subforums to ask you all for some help. I've already done my research, so I'd like a yae or nae on my care before I get the culture. Lastly, I'll have a couple clarification questions.

Care
Shallow tupperware container with some kind of susbtrate - peat moss and topsoil is what I plan on using, the same as what my tarantulas get. Mix in a few chunks of charcoal. Generously add distilled water for a swampy environment. Just a few holes in the lid will suffice for ventilation. For food, offer dry rice; the rice will mold, feeding the springtails. Offering anything that molds, though, is sufficient (fruits, veggies, bread, etc.). Keep them at 70F+ for breeding, but not more than 90F.

Does all that seem about right? Any extra tips? Anything I missed?

Questions
I live in the Mojave desert, meaning it is quite dry year round. My main concern with isopods is the possible risk of infestation. How much should I be worried about this? They will almost certainly escape my tarantula's enclosures at one point, and even routine maintenance will undoubtedly result in escapees.

What's up with the charcoal? Why does every care guide suggest that?

Which species do you recommend? I am getting these only for my humid enclosures, so a species requiring humidity would be perfect. They won't be going into a dart frog enclosure, so it's nothing even close to 100% humidity. No, we're talking about enclosures that are as humid as heavily overfilling a water dish every week.
 

Aquarimax

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@EulersK In general, your setup sounds good, but I have a few suggestions:

The substrate should be moist, but not soggy. Soggy substrate
can attract pests like fungus gnats, or worse, can go anaerobic.

You may want to omit the ventilation. Again, it provides a means of entry for pests, and if you're opening the container every few days, there will be enough air in there.

Be careful feeding grain-based foods. Many seem to contain and/or attract mites, which can easily ruin your culture.
Rice is probably ok though...I used mostly nutritional yeast from the health food section of the grocery store.

Tropical isopods are VERY unlikely to infest your house, especially in a dry area like yours.

Hope that helps!
 

EulersK

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You may want to omit the ventilation. Again, it provides a means of entry for pests, and if you're opening the container every few days, there will be enough air in there.
So opening the container just every few days is enough oxygen? Fascinating. I mean, I know they're small, but their numbers are wild.

I saw yeast being suggested a couple of times, but the vast majority of tutorials suggested... well, a plethora of things. Yeast does seem to be the most fool proof, though.

Thank you very much for the info! I'm looking forward to getting these going. Now let's just hope that my enclosures are humid enough for them to survive.
 

nepenthe

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Looks like you're on the right track! I keep my springtails with no charcoal. I tried it and found it messy and not worth the hassle. I keep mine on a thick layer of coco peat. Basically as long as they stay moist they won't die out. You can feed them anything that will grow mold, but in most cases they can scavenge what they need. If there's no mold in the tank for them to scavenge for whatever reason a bit of yeast or fish flakes will do the trick (rice should work too!). You don't need a lot of mold! If you mold growing in the bin don't feed again until it's all gone. I haven't had huge problems with mites yet but if you see any cut back on the moisture a bit and your springs should hopefully be able to overpower them as long as you don't let the substrate dry out completely. I wouldn't worry too much about escapees, your house is likely much too dry for them to establish outside of the enclosure.
 

ErinM31

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No need for charcoal in the substrate! Charcoal is used alone in a bottle with some water and a sprinkling of yeast that molds to feed the springtails, then you can wash some springtails out with water to feed dart frogs or other creatures.

And agreed on the not needing a lot of mold and the substrate should never be saturated! I'd start with letting some decaying wood mold. Supplemental foods such as pieces of fruit or root vegetables and kibble (once allowed to absorb moisture) are good to use in small amounts. This is what I've observed from the thriving springtail populations with my roaches.

These springtails have done the best for me.
 

EulersK

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Ah, thank you guys so much. I was not looking forward to dealing with charcoal, I'm happy to read that I don't need it. It seems like this will be a balancing act with mold to springtail ratios until I get husbandry down. The good news is that these guys apparently breed like mad, so there's a lot of room for error.
 

sdsnybny

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This is one time you can go to "organic soil" its full of rotting things they love to eat. Mine will go nuts for a slice or two of any mushroom as well as slices of zucchini, bits of dark greens, decaying wood and leaf litter. I actually house my P, scaber colony with my springtails. If you feed yeast make sure you open the container every couple of days as the yeast goes off it increases the Co2 and can kill off the colony.
 

Aquarimax

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So opening the container just every few days is enough oxygen? Fascinating. I mean, I know they're small, but their numbers are wild.

I saw yeast being suggested a couple of times, but the vast majority of tutorials suggested... well, a plethora of things. Yeast does seem to be the most fool proof, though.

Thank you very much for the info! I'm looking forward to getting these going. Now let's just hope that my enclosures are humid enough for them to survive.
One thing to keep in mind is that active yeast and nutritional yeast have some important differences. Active yeast makes a good food, but if over fed, can kill the culture by producing too much co2. Nutritional yeast is not alive, and less likely to cause such issues. They really seem to do fine with no ventilation as long as the container is opened often.
 

EulersK

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One thing to keep in mind is that active yeast and nutritional yeast have some important differences. Active yeast makes a good food, but if over fed, can kill the culture by producing too much co2. Nutritional yeast is not alive, and less likely to cause such issues. They really seem to do fine with no ventilation as long as the container is opened often.
This might seem like a silly question, but which one is better for them nutritionally? Or does it matter?

This is one time you can go to "organic soil" its full of rotting things they love to eat. Mine will go nuts for a slice or two of any mushroom as well as slices of zucchini, bits of dark greens, decaying wood and leaf litter. I actually house my P, scaber colony with my springtails. If you feed yeast make sure you open the container every couple of days as the yeast goes off it increases the Co2 and can kill off the colony.
Organic soil? Blasphemy! :p I actually intend on using exactly what I have for my T's. That stuff is growing mold that I want to go away, so clearly it'll be a food source. Great idea with the mushrooms, though! I never would have thought of that.
 

ErinM31

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This might seem like a silly question, but which one is better for them nutritionally? Or does it matter?
I doubt it would matter as they feed on the mold that grows on it, not the yeast itself. The only springtails that I use yeast for are those that I culture on charcoal. Personally, I would stick with wood and leaves that mold and produce as these work very well (and are also food for the roaches or millipedes that I'm culturing the springtails with).
 

EulersK

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Just thought that I'd give an update. I ended up buying two variants of springtails - Sinella springtails and a temperate species as well. I figured that I'm paying shipping anyway, so I may as well try two species to see which works best for me. Thanks again for all of the help you guys gave :D
 

Hisserdude

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Just thought that I'd give an update. I ended up buying two variants of springtails - Sinella springtails and a temperate species as well. I figured that I'm paying shipping anyway, so I may as well try two species to see which works best for me. Thanks again for all of the help you guys gave :D
You'll love the Sinella, they are extremely prolific! So prolific that they've become a real problem in the enclosures of my smaller roach species... Don't ever keep them in with anything that eats the same food they do and has young that are smaller than the springtails themselves!
 

Andrea82

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Maybe I am oversimplifying things, but this is how I got them started:
Buy a culture in a plastic box with soil in it.
Empty half the box in the humid enclosure you want them.

That's it. Beasties are doing very well in my E.murinus' enclosure. I don't have to add anything really.
 

richard22

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I tried wild springtails in an unventilated deli cup with charcoal and the whole thing went moldy and the springtails are no where to be seen. Maybe charcoal works for temperate springtails, the wild ones are doing fine in leaf litter though its infested with grain mites and every time I feed them the mites come pop up again. I have tried large black ones, medium-sized silver and red ones, small light-gray striped ones, and tiny white or gray ones all from Maryland leaf litter. Maybe wild springtails will do well with a ventilated and moist but not wet enclosure.
 

EulersK

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Years later, here is my update: Don't try so hard.

I've got several thriving colonies of springtails completely by accident. No idea what species they are, but they're certainly different. I got two from a isopod purchases, one from a tarantula purchase. I had no idea springtails were in either purchase - I simply noticed them after a few weeks when they had some time to reproduce.

How to grow them? Some topsoil, drop in a couple (small) slices of sugary fruits every so often. That's all. I'm sure that professional breeders have a more efficient method, but this method has yielded more springtails than I could possibly count. Overpopulation will inevitably happen, in which case they will simply eat the dead.
 
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