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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had a number of people ask me how I keep my firebrat (Thermobia domestica) colony, so I figured I would post my technique for all to see.

I have a colony of a few thousand at the moment that are housed in a 10 gallon tupperware. The tupperware has a zoomed heat pad attached to its base. The heating pad and tupperware are then placed inside a styrofoam ice chest to retain the heat.

I am not certain on the colony's internal temperature, but I am sure it is above 100F.

Now into the tupperware we go... I initially laid down an inch or so of wheat germ. This will serve as a nice bedding as well as food. On top of the germ are alternating layers of cotton gauze and egg flat. Some people claim cotton is essentially for egg deposit, others say it is unnecessary. I feed my colony mainly powdered milk and occasionally some fish food.

I also have a few covered jars of salt solution to increase humidity within the colony. Water would work just as well. Additionally, I provide a couple water gel crystals every couple weeks.

When I first started the colony it was exactly as I have stated with exception to the fact that it was not housed in the styrofoam ice chest. At that time, the colony actually seemed to be declining. Upon putting it into the ice chest the colony rebounded and began to produce quite well. I hope this helps for all who plan on culturing firebrats in the future.

Styrofoam Ice Chest


10 gallon tupperware


Heating pad attached to the base of tupperware


The colony, everyone is hiding :)


Internal shot of the colony with alternating egg flats and cotton


Base showing wheat germ, some powdered milk and a container of salt solution
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Salt solution is just another way to provide humidity. If made properly (saturated) it can provide humidity but also prevent condensation in the culture because it will remain in equilibrium with the surrounding air.... that said, it is overkill. I am aware of this ;). A bottle containing water with some pantyhose over it (to keep the firebrats out) will work perfectly. Just make sure to check every now and again for condensation problems.
 

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I had to google firebrat and I have to admit my first thought was "you grow those ON PURPOSE???" - yech. look like silverfish.

I'm assuming they must be excellent food because no one would grow them as pets.
 

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Last year I purchased some firebrats from someone on this board ;) and I wanted to share some of my experiences with them. First, they have to be about the cleanest and easiest feeder that I have even attempted to grow - they don't smell at all and I have only dumped the detritus out of the tank once. They are also very fast moving which tends to attract the attention of hungry frogs (although they are sometimes too fast and escape). To minimize escapees, I make a feeding station out of small glass bowls that I bought at the local Dollar Tree (4 bowls for $1!) which they can't climb out of. I did deviate slightly from the suggestions above as I used Carefresh Crinkle paper rather than egg flats. With this, I was able to fill an aquarium about 3/4 full which provided a tremendous amount of surface area for the firebrats to live and grow on (since they can't climb, I do not have to worry about any escaping). I also use a small dish of water crystals in one end to maintain humidity rather than a salt solution or covered jar.

If for no reason more than their extreme ease in culturing, I highly recommend firebrats as an occasional alternate food source.
 

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Most people dont know it, but firebrats are a mainstay in the diet of larger darts in most European collections. They are fairly new to beign used in the US and for some reason havnt really caught on.
 

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Well lets hope we can change this cause I'm sure gonna try. With these and many more strange feeders. Aphids next lol.

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larger pums could take smaller firebrats. But I would say they are more appropriate for medium to larger frogs. Say, stuff the size of vittatus and on up.
 

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I don't dust anything but my flies. I don't dust isos because it does kill them if they can't get it all off of themselves

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thumbs can easily take firebrats just as long as you are not feeding adults. When they initially hatch out they are incredibly small, smaller than any fruit fly I have encountered. It is fairly easy to separate adults from the rest.

And I dust them like any other feeder. They really are pretty easy to deal with.
 

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Tried silverfish a while back, but I didn't start with enough, so the colony never really expanded. Plus I wasn't heating them. I'd like to try them, or firebrats again sometime.
 
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