Tips for keeping a tiny roach colony?

Moakmeister

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Oct 6, 2016
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632
Good news guys! I might be getting my first tarantula soon! :D I'm planning to get one that is about 2 inches long, and I'm planning on using some .25-.5 inch long dubias as feeders. I was wondering how to keep the dubias at this size for a long time, if at all possible. As I am to understand it, dubias have a life expectancy of about two years, definitely shorter than the tarantula. This would mean they would grow faster, right? I'm planning on feeding one per week, but after a few weeks the remaining ones will have all molted, and pretty soon they'd be too big for me to feed because the tarantula would be too small. And I was planning on feeding the dubias some fish flakes and an orange slice every two days or so. Is that a good amount, or should I feed them less/more often?
 

Walker253

Arachnobaron
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Jun 12, 2016
Messages
556
I feed my dubia roach chow, but feed whatever. I leave it continuously in a dish and another dish with water crystals. I check on those once a week. I also toss in on a small plate a couple of pieces of fruit cut in half. Pull the fruit before any mold appears. Mold will kill a colony. The dry food needs to remain dry. They are pretty simple.
 

Moakmeister

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Messages
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I feed my dubia roach chow, but feed whatever. I leave it continuously in a dish and another dish with water crystals. I check on those once a week. I also toss in on a small plate a couple of pieces of fruit cut in half. Pull the fruit before any mold appears. Mold will kill a colony. The dry food needs to remain dry. They are pretty simple.
Do the water crystals and the food need to be in a dish? I'm worried about the tiny dubias not being able to climb up into the dishes to get to the water and food. Also do they need a sbustrate of any sort, or can they just be on the plastic floor of the enclosure? And ya i was gonna use vertically stacked egg cartons as recommended.
 

EulersK

Arachnonomicon
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I breed and sell dubias as a part time job, and here's what I've learned so far. Note that almost everything is experience based, so this will be much less fact-based than my posts about tarantulas.

A) Ironically, a small colony is more difficult to keep than a large one. When you have a colony of even just a couple thousand, they act as their own cleanup crew. The newly hatched nymphs will eat the dead before resorting to any food you offer. This is great, because you will have die-offs for various reasons. Since you will be keeping a small colony, you'll need to clean more often. I clean my colonies about once every two months, you might have to do it every month or so. Just judge it - if the colony begins to smell like ammonia, then it's time to clean.

B) Keep humidity low in there. As has been said, mold will decimate a colony. Also ironically, these roaches aren't very durable. To keep humidity low, don't offer fresh food very often. They need water crystals available 24/7, as they desiccate very quickly. So, there's no avoiding that. But if you're constantly feeding fresh fruits/veggies, you'll have not only the moisture of the food but also the moisture of their frass ("feces"). When fed a diet of dry food, their frass is sand like. When fed a diet of wet food, their frass is very wet.

C) Concerning food, don't buy roach chow. Biggest ripoff I've seen in the invert hobby. You can buy a 50lb bag of unmedicated chick feed for about $15, and that will last you forever. Some places will sell it to you by the pound. Just find a farm feed store around you, most areas have at least one. Also, note that I said unmedicated chick feed. Unmedicated for obvious reasons, and chick feed to ensure high protein and high fat. Chicken feed will work, but as you can imagine, it's not as nutritious. The only reason you'd need to supplement this with fresh fruit is if you're breeding, as they appear to need vitamin C to reproduce quickly. If you just want to keep them alive, a diet of 100% unmedicated chick feed will do just fine. My non-breeding colonies survive off of this, and are always nice and plump. No need for a dish here, just pour it onto the ground.

D) Water crystals are a must. Do not buy them from a pet shop - also a total ripoff. Buy this and it'll last you over a year. Add roughly 2tbsp to a gallon of distilled water and you're ready to go. You need to put this in a dish for obvious reasons. Dubias can't climb smooth surfaces, so ensure it is a rough dish. I use cheap deli cups that I rough up with sandpaper. If you do this, be sure to rough up all surfaces - inside and out.

E) They will certainly grow faster than you'll feed them off, no doubt about that. You can help quell the growth by not offering heat and not feeding constantly. I have food available to my roaches 24/7, but I wouldn't do that if I were in your shoes. Feeding once per week would suffice. This will make them grow much slower.

F) No substrate needed, but there's a caveat here. Like most roaches, if they fall onto their back, they can't get back up. You don't want any open floor space other than where the food and water is. If you have open floor space, just put in some torn up egg flats in that area. Speaking of, you can get these for free at most restaurants. Obviously target breakfast joints like Denny's.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
 

Moakmeister

Arachnolord
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Messages
632
I breed and sell dubias as a part time job, and here's what I've learned so far. Note that almost everything is experience based, so this will be much less fact-based than my posts about tarantulas.

A) Ironically, a small colony is more difficult to keep than a large one. When you have a colony of even just a couple thousand, they act as their own cleanup crew. The newly hatched nymphs will eat the dead before resorting to any food you offer. This is great, because you will have die-offs for various reasons. Since you will be keeping a small colony, you'll need to clean more often. I clean my colonies about once every two months, you might have to do it every month or so. Just judge it - if the colony begins to smell like ammonia, then it's time to clean.

B) Keep humidity low in there. As has been said, mold will decimate a colony. Also ironically, these roaches aren't very durable. To keep humidity low, don't offer fresh food very often. They need water crystals available 24/7, as they desiccate very quickly. So, there's no avoiding that. But if you're constantly feeding fresh fruits/veggies, you'll have not only the moisture of the food but also the moisture of their frass ("feces"). When fed a diet of dry food, their frass is sand like. When fed a diet of wet food, their frass is very wet.

C) Concerning food, don't buy roach chow. Biggest ripoff I've seen in the invert hobby. You can buy a 50lb bag of unmedicated chick feed for about $15, and that will last you forever. Some places will sell it to you by the pound. Just find a farm feed store around you, most areas have at least one. Also, note that I said unmedicated chick feed. Unmedicated for obvious reasons, and chick feed to ensure high protein and high fat. Chicken feed will work, but as you can imagine, it's not as nutritious. The only reason you'd need to supplement this with fresh fruit is if you're breeding, as they appear to need vitamin C to reproduce quickly. If you just want to keep them alive, a diet of 100% unmedicated chick feed will do just fine. My non-breeding colonies survive off of this, and are always nice and plump. No need for a dish here, just pour it onto the ground.

D) Water crystals are a must. Do not buy them from a pet shop - also a total ripoff. Buy this and it'll last you over a year. Add roughly 2tbsp to a gallon of distilled water and you're ready to go. You need to put this in a dish for obvious reasons. Dubias can't climb smooth surfaces, so ensure it is a rough dish. I use cheap deli cups that I rough up with sandpaper. If you do this, be sure to rough up all surfaces - inside and out.

E) They will certainly grow faster than you'll feed them off, no doubt about that. You can help quell the growth by not offering heat and not feeding constantly. I have food available to my roaches 24/7, but I wouldn't do that if I were in your shoes. Feeding once per week would suffice. This will make them grow much slower.

F) No substrate needed, but there's a caveat here. Like most roaches, if they fall onto their back, they can't get back up. You don't want any open floor space other than where the food and water is. If you have open floor space, just put in some torn up egg flats in that area. Speaking of, you can get these for free at most restaurants. Obviously target breakfast joints like Denny's.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
I do have a few. First of all, I live in a very humid city, so will that pose any problems for my roach colony? We don't normally get a lot of mold growth on our food here. Second, will fish flakes work fine as their dry food? And do I need to put any protein powder in their water crystals/food? Third, if i keep a colony of 25 medium roaches from jamiestarantulas, will they really be able to survive on just one feeding per week? And lastly, the miracle-gro water crystals look like they all need to be added to the gallon of water at once. How would i store so many water crystals for over a year?
 

Moakmeister

Arachnolord
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Messages
632
I breed and sell dubias as a part time job, and here's what I've learned so far. Note that almost everything is experience based, so this will be much less fact-based than my posts about tarantulas.

A) Ironically, a small colony is more difficult to keep than a large one. When you have a colony of even just a couple thousand, they act as their own cleanup crew. The newly hatched nymphs will eat the dead before resorting to any food you offer. This is great, because you will have die-offs for various reasons. Since you will be keeping a small colony, you'll need to clean more often. I clean my colonies about once every two months, you might have to do it every month or so. Just judge it - if the colony begins to smell like ammonia, then it's time to clean.

B) Keep humidity low in there. As has been said, mold will decimate a colony. Also ironically, these roaches aren't very durable. To keep humidity low, don't offer fresh food very often. They need water crystals available 24/7, as they desiccate very quickly. So, there's no avoiding that. But if you're constantly feeding fresh fruits/veggies, you'll have not only the moisture of the food but also the moisture of their frass ("feces"). When fed a diet of dry food, their frass is sand like. When fed a diet of wet food, their frass is very wet.

C) Concerning food, don't buy roach chow. Biggest ripoff I've seen in the invert hobby. You can buy a 50lb bag of unmedicated chick feed for about $15, and that will last you forever. Some places will sell it to you by the pound. Just find a farm feed store around you, most areas have at least one. Also, note that I said unmedicated chick feed. Unmedicated for obvious reasons, and chick feed to ensure high protein and high fat. Chicken feed will work, but as you can imagine, it's not as nutritious. The only reason you'd need to supplement this with fresh fruit is if you're breeding, as they appear to need vitamin C to reproduce quickly. If you just want to keep them alive, a diet of 100% unmedicated chick feed will do just fine. My non-breeding colonies survive off of this, and are always nice and plump. No need for a dish here, just pour it onto the ground.

D) Water crystals are a must. Do not buy them from a pet shop - also a total ripoff. Buy this and it'll last you over a year. Add roughly 2tbsp to a gallon of distilled water and you're ready to go. You need to put this in a dish for obvious reasons. Dubias can't climb smooth surfaces, so ensure it is a rough dish. I use cheap deli cups that I rough up with sandpaper. If you do this, be sure to rough up all surfaces - inside and out.

E) They will certainly grow faster than you'll feed them off, no doubt about that. You can help quell the growth by not offering heat and not feeding constantly. I have food available to my roaches 24/7, but I wouldn't do that if I were in your shoes. Feeding once per week would suffice. This will make them grow much slower.

F) No substrate needed, but there's a caveat here. Like most roaches, if they fall onto their back, they can't get back up. You don't want any open floor space other than where the food and water is. If you have open floor space, just put in some torn up egg flats in that area. Speaking of, you can get these for free at most restaurants. Obviously target breakfast joints like Denny's.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
also i was going to just keep a tub of mealworms, but i found out that mealworms are unhealthy for tarantulas
 

EulersK

Arachnonomicon
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Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
3,290
I do have a few. First of all, I live in a very humid city, so will that pose any problems for my roach colony? We don't normally get a lot of mold growth on our food here. Second, will fish flakes work fine as their dry food? And do I need to put any protein powder in their water crystals/food? Third, if i keep a colony of 25 medium roaches from jamiestarantulas, will they really be able to survive on just one feeding per week? And lastly, the miracle-gro water crystals look like they all need to be added to the gallon of water at once. How would i store so many water crystals for over a year?
The humidity really shouldn't be a problem, but that's all the more reason to give them a 100% dry diet. Fish flakes will work, but that's also pretty darn expensive compared to the alternatives. I understand that you don't need 50lbs of food, that was just to demonstrate how cheap this stuff is. For feeding... they're roaches. They eat pretty much anything. If they're really that hungry, they'll just eat the egg flats. If they're really hungry, they'll eat each other. So it's almost impossible to starve these things. For the crystals, you're misunderstanding. It comes in a bag of sand-like material, and you just make what you need when you need it. The bag even has a zip-lock built in for storage. Again, do not add the whole bag to a gallon of water. You'll ruin the whole thing. Only about 2tbsp of the crystals should be added to the water.
 

EulersK

Arachnonomicon
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also i was going to just keep a tub of mealworms, but i found out that mealworms are unhealthy for tarantulas
Where did you read that mealworms are unhealthy for tarantulas? I'd argue they're just as (if not more) healthy than dubias. They just have the added danger of burrowing and reemerging later on, but that is very easily avoided by crushing the heads... which you'll want to do with dubias anyway since they immediately burrow.
 

Moakmeister

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Joined
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Messages
632
Where did you read that mealworms are unhealthy for tarantulas? I'd argue they're just as (if not more) healthy than dubias. They just have the added danger of burrowing and reemerging later on, but that is very easily avoided by crushing the heads... which you'll want to do with dubias anyway since they immediately burrow.
Oh sweet! Screw the dubias. I'll just keep mealworms in the fridge and once a week give them an orange slice and some fish flakes. I read somewhere that if a tarantula eats too many mealworms it can result in impaction, and that mealworms have a lot of undigestable parts in their bodies. Also, do the adults have any biting mouthparts? I guess if a mealworm pupates and emerges from the ground as a beetle, the tarantula could still kill it, but would she damage her fangs biting the beetle's hard exoskeleton?
 

EulersK

Arachnonomicon
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Oh sweet! Screw the dubias. I'll just keep mealworms in the fridge and once a week give them an orange slice and some fish flakes. I read somewhere that if a tarantula eats too many mealworms it can result in impaction, and that mealworms have a lot of undigestable parts in their bodies. Also, do the adults have any biting mouthparts? I guess if a mealworm pupates and emerges from the ground as a beetle, the tarantula could still kill it, but would she damage her fangs biting the beetle's hard exoskeleton?
Mealworms absolutely have mandibles. I used to crush the heads with my fingers until I got bit by a larger one. You should always, always crush the heads. No exceptions. The mealworms can reemerge later while the spider is molting and turn your spider into a meal. Those mandibles become much larger when they mature into beetles, and I wouldn't ever feed one of those to a tarantula.

Crush.
The.
Heads.
 

Moakmeister

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Joined
Oct 6, 2016
Messages
632
Mealworms absolutely have mandibles. I used to crush the heads with my fingers until I got bit by a larger one. You should always, always crush the heads. No exceptions. The mealworms can reemerge later while the spider is molting and turn your spider into a meal. Those mandibles become much larger when they mature into beetles, and I wouldn't ever feed one of those to a tarantula.

Crush.
The.
Heads.
lol i can imagine that becoming a cheer

"crush the heads! crush the heads!"
 

Moakmeister

Arachnolord
Joined
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Messages
632
Mealworms absolutely have mandibles. I used to crush the heads with my fingers until I got bit by a larger one. You should always, always crush the heads. No exceptions. The mealworms can reemerge later while the spider is molting and turn your spider into a meal. Those mandibles become much larger when they mature into beetles, and I wouldn't ever feed one of those to a tarantula.

Crush.
The.
Heads.
anyway, i was planning on purchasing a 2-2.5 inch Grammostola pulchripes female for my first tarantula. I can't seem to find any websites that have any of those. Could you link me to a site/Arachnoboards user that does? Also, they like it to be dry, right? Since i live in a humid area, i would imagine that i wont need to ever mist the enclosure, and i should use a dry substrate. What substrate would you recommend?
 

EulersK

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anyway, i was planning on purchasing a 2-2.5 inch Grammostola pulchripes female for my first tarantula. I can't seem to find any websites that have any of those. Could you link me to a site/Arachnoboards user that does? Also, they like it to be dry, right? Since i live in a humid area, i would imagine that i wont need to ever mist the enclosure, and i should use a dry substrate. What substrate would you recommend?
I don't trust sexing at that size unless I personally know the seller. If a store guarantees a 2" spider is a female, you're probably being taken for a ride. Contact @cold blood, I'm pretty sure he still has some G. pulchripes about 2". The ones I have gotten from him are thriving. I water them down about once every other week, but that's mostly so they can drink. At 2.5" and on, you can keep it predominantly dry. As for substrates, I have a video on that here. Short answer: use coco fiber if you're just starting.
 

Moakmeister

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Messages
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I don't trust sexing at that size unless I personally know the seller. If a store guarantees a 2" spider is a female, you're probably being taken for a ride. Contact @cold blood, I'm pretty sure he still has some G. pulchripes about 2". The ones I have gotten from him are thriving. I water them down about once every other week, but that's mostly so they can drink. At 2.5" and on, you can keep it predominantly dry. As for substrates, I have a video on that here. Short answer: use coco fiber if you're just starting.
thanks for the advice bro. I can't seem to figure out how to send someone a direct message. Is there a way to do that, or should i post a thread and have his name in it?
 

EulersK

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Click on his name that I tagged and then click on "Start a conversation"
 

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Moakmeister

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Click on his name that I tagged and then click on "Start a conversation"
alright i just sent him a message. to be fair, G. pulchripes slings are everywhere, but theyre slings. The risk that the one i get is a male is a risk im just not gonna take.
 

EulersK

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alright i just sent him a message. to be fair, G. pulchripes slings are everywhere, but theyre slings. The risk that the one i get is a male is a risk im just not gonna take.
Dennis gives amazing deals. Buy several. Buy four, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a female then. Buy some P. cambridgei while you're at it :D
 

Moakmeister

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Dennis gives amazing deals. Buy several. Buy four, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a female then. Buy some P. cambridgei while you're at it :D
i can only get one tarantula. i need to hide it from my roommate b/c my college dorm doesnt allow pets :/ also my mom only wants me to have one
 

EulersK

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i can only get one tarantula. i need to hide it from my roommate b/c my college dorm doesnt allow pets :/ also my mom only wants me to have one
I still say buy four. Sell them off as they grow and you sex them. When you get a confirmed female, just sell the rest of the slings. Sorry man, it's about the only way this is going to happen.

Although, if you're in a dorm, you can't really be in the invert hobby at all. They routinely spray pesticides, and you have no say in it. Plus, if you get caught, you could be faced with some hefty fines or worse. Remember, you're bringing a venomous animal into a room that isn't yours. Is this really worth the discipline that you can end up facing? Seriously, just hold off until you get your next place. This isn't fair to the spider or your roommate.
 
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