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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It doesn't take much for your springtail culture to become contaminated with mites. Mites are everywhere. Mites can be attracted to your cultures and hang out under the lip of the lid just waiting for a feeding. You pop off the top, and inside they drop. You probably won't even notice for a couple of months until they are well established in your culture. This thread will detail ways to clean a culture.
Shown here is an unknown artist's depiction of your typical, invading mite.
Muh-Ha-ha-haaa!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
We are going to start with the following supplies.
1) A clean, sterile culture container and sterile media. I am using a 24 cup Rubbermaid container because it seals very tightly and will help keep our new culture clean. Because it seals tightly, suffocation will eventually occur if we don't ventilate it. I use .3 micron filters, hot glued into the lid for a filter. You can get your .3 micron filter disks here Fungi Perfecti: micron air filters I use hot glue because silicone does not stick well to the rubbermaid container.
2) A large pan with high sides
3) A standard cereal bowl
4) 2 straws, taped end to end
5) rubbing alcohol
6) a couple paper towels
7) whatever you need for your chosen method of harvesting springtails

Thanks to Frogparty for the idea and link for the .3 micron filter disks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Clean your tabletop thoroughly. Clean all your supplies thoroughly. A couple of mites on your supplies or on your table can ruin your efforts.
Fill your cereal bowl about 2/3 to 3/4 full of water. Harvest a large portion of springtails via your chosen method. Here, you can see how I sometimes harvest. I keep a piece a sterile tree fern panel on top of a coco fiber and peat, springtail culture. I hold the tree fern over the bowl of water and tap it rather aggressively with a spoon, or something. In the picture on the last post, you can see the pestle, from a mortar and pestle, that I sometimes use to tap it with. Thanks to James67 and Michael for sharing this method with us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here's my harvest. I want to point out the minimum of dirt in our cereal bowl. Dirt means mites and mite eggs. I also want to remind you that if you collected your springtails in your clean area, it is no longer clean. Get a paper towel wet with rubbing alcohol and clean the table again. This part is crucial to success! Clean the outside of the cereal bowl thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. I also carefully clean the inside lip of the cereal bowl. We have to make sure that any mites transferred are IN THE WATER and nowhere else!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Carefully set the cereal bowl into the large pan. If you spill a single drop of water you have to stop and clean up the large pan and the cereal bowl with rubbing alcohol again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
what is this un prepared nonsense!?! i am sitting here anxiously awaiting info.... come on doug get it together! its like christmas!

this is my mite cleaning device :)


happy friday guys!
Now I'm going to take a break for several hours just to spite Moty! Everybody thank him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Take your straw and blow gently on your springtails. Blowing across at an angle is helpful. What we are doing here is separating the clean springtails from the mites. Springtails are masters of walking on water, while mites seem to get stuck in the top film of the water.
Remember, you want to blow as gently as possible to facilitate the transfer. If you blow hard enough to transfer any dirt at all, or even the tiniest bit of water, your efforts are in vain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Now you see why we wanted a tall pot to do this in. If you don't have a big enough stew pot, a bucket would suffice.
Pull the cereal bowl out and set it aside. You can see why we had to be careful that the outside of the cereal bowl was mite-free. If it wasn't, you have already contaminated your culture before you even finished.
Here is a shot of my nice, fully cleaned, harvest of white temperate springtails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here I've tipped the pot to the side and tapped them down into one pile for you to see.
This is the harvest that I tapped out of ONE 4" x 4" tree fern panel square. Just throwing that in for anybody wondering how well the tree fern panel harvest works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dump them into your new, sterile culture and feed 100% active bakers yeast. I dumped 2 harvests into this culture so it is started with many thousands of springtails. I fully cleaned the bowl between harvests.
Using the tree fern harvest leaves plenty of springtails behind in the old cultures so I will probably do this a few more times, giving me a new, master culture in no time.
Of course you can continue to harvest out of your old cultures until your new one is producing.
Put your new culture AWAY from your old ones and on a piece of mite paper.

For further information on culturing springtails and isopods, please check out my culturing thread. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/66991-how-culture-isopods-woodlice-springtails.html

As you may have guessed, I am gearing back up to supply you with some fresh, clean cultures. I want to be ready for when this horrid, cold, wintery crap goes away!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Next, let's take a quick look back at how I have cleaned large springtails (Giant Black Tomocerus) in the past. If it seems familiar, I've posted this method before but thought it should go here.
For a large springtail like a Tomocerus, here is what I do. Collect a small amount from your contaminated culture. This will obviously have to include some of the target critters, Tomocerus in this case. It can also include media and the contaminant (springtails, mites, or whatever). Put a lid on it and put it in the fridge for a while. It may take an hour or so before they get sluggish. Now take off the lid and put in the freezer for about 30 seconds to a minute. At this point they will look dead. Quickly pour them onto a refrigerated kitchen plate. You may want to get your wife/girlfriend out of the house for a while before pouring bugs all over her kitchen plates!! Refrigerating the plate gives you longer working time before they "wake up" and start jumping around. I also like to put a couple of refrigerated gel paks under the plate. Using a tiny modelers paintbrush, quickly seperate about 30 of the largest ones. Make sure there are no contaminants in your separated sample. Brush them into your new, sterilized, media. Feed em and close them up tight. You should make several small cultures in case you messed one up and got a few whites in the mix. As you are starting with a small sample, it will show up quickly if you messed one up. Good thing you made 3 or 4!
IMPORTANT Work with only a small portion of the master culture at once! If you get distracted and leave it in the fridge or freezer too long, they will die. You don't want to risk your entire culture.
Once they are producing well and you know they are clean, Dump your old contaminated culture into one of your vivs.
For obvious reasons, this method works best with large springtails like Tomocerus.

A second method I have done with Tomocerus is to harvest some onto a small, clean plate, and put it into my tall stew pot. Wait about one minute till some jump off the plate. If you wait too long, mites can crawl off the plate into your pan so you are only going to harvest a very small percentage this way. Dump your plate back into your old culture and dump the pot into your new, sterile culture. Clean the plate well and repeat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
How to clean your Isopod cultures

This is a little more time consuming. Put a small pile of flake fish food or whatever food your isopods can't get enough of on top of the culture. Give them overnight to be attracted to it.
Get a pint sized deli container or some other container and put a damp paper towel on the bottom.
Pull a handful of isopods and media out and put it on the center of a dinner plate.
Using a small modelers paintbrush you can carefully brush your isopods across to the edge of the plate where you will knock them off into the deli cup. This is going to take some time. Don't worry about the babies, just get as many adults as you feel like taking the time to get.
Dump the rest of the plate back into your old culture. You will continue to feed out of the old one until your new one is producing well.
Now put a lid on the deli cup and shake it up a bit. You are trying to knock loose any clinging mites or springtails off of the mites.
Dump the deli cup onto a CLEAN plate. You will have to use your CLEAN modelers paintbrush to knock them off of the paper towel and onto the plate.
Now prepare another CLEAN deli cup with a CLEAN, damp paper towel.
Repeat the process. Doing it twice like this just helps to remove any clinging mites or springtails.
When you are done, transfer the cleaned isopods into your new, sterile container. Don't forget to make sure it is tightly sealed and ventilated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Doug,

Could you dust the Isopods when in the deli cup to help with removing the mites? Would this be a bad idea?

Bo
That sounds like it would be worth a trial run. Don't do them all at once because I really don't know if it would interfere with their breathing in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nice method. What about mites attached to the springtails?
I would think that whacking the tree fern panel during the initial harvest would knock them loose.
 

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I pulled giant oranges from a mite infested culture and dusted them with Reptical before putting them in an new clean culture. Its been a few weeks so far and no signs of mites yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nice method. What about mites attached to the springtails?
OK, I've been thinking about this and an extra couple steps could be even safer and take only a few more minutes.
After the initial cleaning, before you sprinkle the springtails into the new culture, pour them into a clean deli container half filled with water. Put a lid on it and give it a few shakes. Pour it into a second, clean bowl. Give your large pot a quick HOT water rinse or alcohol wipe. Set the bowl inside the pot and use your straw to blow the springtails off again. Now sprinkle them over your new, sterile culture.
 
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