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Old 11-13-2007, 02:41 AM
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Default Desirability/Importance of Isopods, Pillbugs to a Vivarium?

I have not yet set up my own vivarium, I am doing research, but I have a question I can't answer.

I keep seeing references to adding isopods and/or pillbug cultures to vivariums, but I have not been able to find out why. I can understand, perhaps, from a food point of view. But what are the benefits to the vivarium itself? Substrate, plants, etc?

-Jason
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:50 AM
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Isopods and Springtails are a supplementary food sources but also known as tank janitors. They eat decaying wood and plant matter and are also a yummy treat for the frogs. Personally i look at Springtails as a necessity, Isopods as a luxury. I have some tanks with both, some with springtails, and some with neither. I try to make sure my thumbs have established springtail colonys for a supplementary food source etc.., but have trouble establishing springs within the tinc tanks (they eat everything)....
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:14 AM
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I was also wondering the same, I just finished planting my first viv, and was wondering if I should try to establish some springtails in it before I get my frogs? If so what is the best way to get them established in a viv?
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:14 AM
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Just dump them in when you start your tank. Those that the frogs don't eat will hide in the soil and make more.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:36 PM
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So they don't tend to get out of hand, become a pest, or mess up a new tank setup?

Actually, this begs a question, would these be beneficial in any kind of setup one is growing tropical plants, even without animals like PDFs? I mean if I had a small terrarium-type setup growing cryptocoryne, or carnivorous plants, or bog plants would they be a benefit to the mini-ecosystem and plants?

-Jason
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:52 PM
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you can help them along with a few potato or cucumber peels

S
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rusticitas
So they don't tend to get out of hand, become a pest, or mess up a new tank setup?

Actually, this begs a question, would these be beneficial in any kind of setup one is growing tropical plants, even without animals like PDFs? I mean if I had a small terrarium-type setup growing cryptocoryne, or carnivorous plants, or bog plants would they be a benefit to the mini-ecosystem and plants?

-Jason
Their populations will fluctuate from blooms of many to very few, but even without frogs to eat them, they are beneficial to the soil and plants. I've had them in terrariums, house plant soils and in a greenhouse--always welcome and never a problem.

Gardeners have always seemed to get concerned about isopods such as sow bugs and pill bugs, some claiming they do eat living plant roots. If this is true at all, they certainly don't do enough of it to affect the plants.

I also discovered they make good kiddie treats. Years ago when my daughter was about a year old, I had her sitting near me while I was weeding the garden. I heard her saying, "Buck! Yum. Buck!" I turned to find her plucking up pill bugs with her little fingers and crunching them down. I didn't panic, because I just thought, "Oh well, the chickens eat them, and it's probably better for her teeth than candy." To this day, 50 years later, she remembers this, and claims they really tasted good. As an adult, she still has no qualms about eating bugs and insects. She says that roasted locusts taste like cashews, but has never convinced me to try them. I wonder what would happen if farmers could consider a swarm of locusts manna from heaven and market them instead of calling in the aerial spray squads.
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:11 AM
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Outside in the garden, I've seen pillbugs destroy certain varieties of hostas, and they made Lobelia cardinalis impossible to grow. They also went to town on orchid roots that had been put outdoors for the summer. In a vivarium, I've never had, or heard of, any problems with them.

Another benefit of isopods, springtails, and other soil microfauna is that they provide some internal nutrient cycling. So complex compounds found in plant leaves, and minerals in mineral based soils can become available as nutrients for frogs. That takes us a step closer to a more natural diet for the frogs.
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:30 AM
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This probably is a stupid question but i was once told the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so here goes. I see that isopds are good for your viv. Some types of pods are also good for saltwater tanks.

As i will be breeding pods in my fuges for my tanks are there any pods that i could breed that would survive both in and out of water? (I do have an extra fuge i could set up as freshwater if necessary. On the bright side once i got them established I could easily spread them around to people here if its doable.)
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:03 AM
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I'm pretty sure isopods do attack viv plants on occasion. I tried some Anthurium scandens seedlings in my viv and they promptly dissapeared. Of course, those not in the viv are doing fine at the moment.
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:44 PM
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Chano asked: "As i will be breeding pods in my fuges for my tanks are there any pods that i could breed that would survive both in and out of water? (I do have an extra fuge i could set up as freshwater if necessary."

I have never found any that live on both land and in the water, although all are crustaceans and have gills, or what are sometimes referred to as pleopodal lungs in the terrestrial species.
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Old 11-16-2007, 11:31 PM
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regarding the issue of having them get out of control, I can attest to them getting fairly large numbers. What constitutes out of control is anyones guess but I wouldn't mind a few less in this one tank. A while back I introduced about 5 adult striped iso into one of my 10 verts. I wasn't expecting anything other than to see if they reproduced. Now it seems I have a staggering amount of them that my vents cant keep in check. These pics were taken in the daytime, I haven't bothered to get any in the dark when they really come out. I'd say at least double this amount per square inch. The do a wonderful job at keeping unwanted mold in check though.



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Old 11-17-2007, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaytonp
I have never found any that live on both land and in the water, although all are crustaceans and have gills, or what are sometimes referred to as pleopodal lungs in the terrestrial species.
0o0 i like experiments maby ill set up 2 exoterras one just for pod experiments.
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Old 11-17-2007, 12:41 AM
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Go for it, Chano. That's how people learn and get experience the best. If we all followed the dogma of current experts, the world would still be flat, and the sun would still be orbiting the earth. It might be cheaper to try this in some Sterilite containers rather than an Exoterra, but it's your project.
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:04 AM
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Yeah i was thinking that but at the same time i think the exo terra would be better for the simple fact that i wouls be able to see how they do in acutal viv conditions rantehr than just a box
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:47 AM
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bellerophon, good point and this can be tough with some of the smaller frogs. While I have not had that much luck with isopods I believe I have lost some frogs to springtale infestation. Its a tough call at times and I would guess almost any insect can get out of control with the right environment. I related my issues to poor substrate, and over feeding so the springtales had a ton to eat. In the end I think the numbers stressed out some retics and I forget what was in there tank I had the issue in.
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:22 AM
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on the sunject of overcrouding i have a 20 long about how many springtail shoudl i put in there to start a good population. mind you im not getting anyfrogs till after xmas. Im thinking 2 leucs
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle1745
bellerophon, good point and this can be tough with some of the smaller frogs. While I have not had that much luck with isopods I believe I have lost some frogs to springtale infestation. Its a tough call at times and I would guess almost any insect can get out of control with the right environment. I related my issues to poor substrate, and over feeding so the springtales had a ton to eat. In the end I think the numbers stressed out some retics and I forget what was in there tank I had the issue in.
This can also be an artifact of the enclosure. If the substrate has conditions ideal for the springtails then the springtails will be in large numbers on the surface irritating the frogs. If there are microhabits that are different then the frogs can escape the springtails.

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Old 11-17-2007, 11:38 PM
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I will bet that the mold is what is causing the isopod bloom in bellerophon's viv. Anytime you have an abundant food source and a lack of competitors or natural enemies (and pdf aren't really much of an enemy for isopods), you will get exponential population growth. I had a similar thing happen with millipedes which grew to a fantastically large population after I added cork tiles for a background to a viv. They ate all the cork, several plants, and several clutches of pumilio eggs but eventually they ate themselves out of existence and the population went down to a nice trickle of millipedes that are on balance beneficial. But it can take months for these population blooms to cycle through which is why when I set up a viv, I plan on keeping it unchanged for a decade or more so the ecosystem remains stable.
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Old 11-18-2007, 12:25 AM
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I've found that even slugs will tend to control themselves, eventually doing very little damage to plant leaves, in spite of the fact that they don't seem to have any natural enemies in the tank--at least the frogs sure don't eat them. But this is not a matter of months; it is a matter of years before they become less conspicuous. I've never had quite the blooms of millipedes that Brent describes, but newer tanks do seem to have quite a few, while in the old ones, they are difficult to even find at all. They have certainly never destroyed any discernible amount of cork bark or other wood features.

I recently removed some P. vittatus from a corner bow tank with a fern panel drip wall and waterway in order to virtually rip it up and remove a lot of stuff that had taken over. I drained off all of the water, did my thing, then when I had replanted, replaced the water and started the pump up again, thousands of springtails were hopping on top of the water, all over the place, as well as some sort of soil mites I had no idea were even in there. I certainly never saw the springtails before this, although I had put some in there in the first place. This particular tank has never had slugs or millipedes at all, nor does it have the tiny flat snails I happen to like so much in other tanks. This is rather hard to explain, because I freely exchange plants and cuttings from one tank to another, and often purchase new plants from nurseries without being terribly strict about sanitizing anything.
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Old 11-18-2007, 04:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaytonp
I've found that even slugs will tend to control themselves, eventually doing very little damage to plant leaves, in spite of the fact that they don't seem to have any natural enemies in the tank--at least the frogs sure don't eat them. But this is not a matter of months; it is a matter of years before they become less conspicuous.
FINALLY! Someone who can confirm this. I've seen the exact same thing with snails and several people think I'm nuts for tolerating them. I have snails and slugs in every viv and they are rare. I had one viv that had a healthy snail population for about the first two years and then the finally fizzled down to a trickle.

Although this may seem off topic, I don't think it is because really the only potential downside of isopods in a viv is from the blooms that happen mainly to new vivs. Two things are happening with new vivaria. First, they have a lot of fresh organic matter that are just oozing with available nutrients - particularly carbon. That carbon kick starts fungi with a vengeance, which is why you see so many first time vivarists worried about all the mold. Those fungi then feed whatever invertebrates are in the viv so their populations soar. Eventually, the carbon becomes harder to access so the whole process slows and become more manageable. The second thing that happens is that pathogens build. And this helps to keep other stuff in check. Nematodes, bacteria, and viruses are some of the most common. In nature, pathogens are one of the most important drivers for maintaining biodiversity and no doubt they play a role in a vivarium too. I suspect that is the issue with snails. I don't think they are riding the wave of the initial nutrient flux because they just persist too long. But there are nematodes that attack snails which may be playing a role. Or there may be other snail pathogens that make an appearance. At any rate, the snails don't go extinct, but they never seem to reach their former levels again.
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chano
This probably is a stupid question but i was once told the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so here goes. I see that isopds are good for your viv. Some types of pods are also good for saltwater tanks.

As i will be breeding pods in my fuges for my tanks are there any pods that i could breed that would survive both in and out of water? (I do have an extra fuge i could set up as freshwater if necessary. On the bright side once i got them established I could easily spread them around to people here if its doable.)
Hrrm. This might work, but my guess is it would work only with freshwater pods, not saltwater pods. A lot of crustaceans, provided the humidity is high enough, can crawl about on land - but I would think the differences in specific gravity would be a big issue.
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Old 11-20-2007, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton

Hrrm. This might work, but my guess is it would work only with freshwater pods, not saltwater pods. A lot of crustaceans, provided the humidity is high enough, can crawl about on land - but I would think the differences in specific gravity would be a big issue.
Thats kind of what i was thinking. Even so fresh water pods would be fine and it would actually be easier as i could run a water feature out of the freshwater sump allowing breeding pods direct access to both the tank and sump.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:13 PM
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Their are freshwater copepods, isopods, and amphipods...so no need for that experiment.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Desirability/Importance of Isopods, Pillbugs to a Vivarium?

Ok so here is a question that I haven't seen asked would worm casting be beneficial to a Viv since they are very high in good bacteria and very low in nitrogen?
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Desirability/Importance of Isopods, Pillbugs to a Vivarium?

1) why are you assuming that the substrate in the enclosures isn't already high in bacteria
2) many of the soil bacteria are potential pathogens for amphibians so it isn't always a good idea to try and amplify thier presence
3) why did you tag this onto an old thread on isopods?
4) http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/fro...tml#post716668
5) typically there are already major nutrient inputs to the tanks in the form of supplements, invertebrates, leaf litter, frog waste.....

Some comments

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