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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m shipping a bunch of bugs out and this is my care sheet for them.

Isopod / Woodlice culturing

These are shipped “concentrated”. There will be too many isopods in the container I ship them in too try to culture them this way. You will want to set them up as soon as possible in a bigger container. For the Dwarf Whites and the Dwarf Greys you could use a fruit fly culturing container or a 1 quart jar. I prefer to start mine in small Ziplock style containers. King Soopers makes a knock off, Kroger one, for very cheap. I use the 24 oz. size which measures about 6” x 4.5” x 3” tall. It looks like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
For Giant Spanish Orange Isopods I like to go straight for the larger size as Oranges are much more active and they will do better with more space. I also use the larger size as your Dwarf Whites and your Dwarf Greys outgrow their original, 24 to 32 oz container. The larger size is also available from Ziplock or, better yet, King Soopers/Kroger. It is 76 oz. or 9.5 cups. It looks like this, plus a pic of the two sizes side by side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The reason I don’t go straight for the bigger container for the whites and greys is so they are in close proximity to each other for breeding, while the populations are lower. The oranges are so active that this is not necessary for them. With whites and greys, grow them in the small containers for a month or two. When your population is visibly growing, it's time to move them to their bigger home.
Regardless of your container choice, don’t forget the air holes! I use a safety pin, heated with a candle or lighter, to push through the lid, melting your hole in. I have been using about 15 or 20 small holes in one end of the smaller containers and about 30 or 40 in one end of the bigger container. Putting them in one end may help allow the isopods a choice in hanging out on the wetter side or the drier side.

Substrate choices
I am having excellent results on ABG Mix mixed with 50 percent hand crushed leaf litter. We use oak leaves from our tree in the backyard. Any non toxic leaf litter will work but Magnolia may not be the best choice as we want it to be able to break down easily for the isopods to eat. ABG Mix is available from Josh’s Frogs.
ABG mix (4 quart)
You can find the recipe for it here if you want to make your own. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63915-truth-about-abg-mix.html
ABG works well because it is light and airy, stays moist, and is packed with organics that your Isopods/Woodlice can eat.
A cheaper alternative would be a peat based mix with plenty of organics mixed in. Something like this.
2 parts Peat Moss (this is the pulverized, brown, dirt like stuff)
1 parts Orchid Bark (supplies wood for the woodlice)
1 part charcoal (I like the Cowboy or Frontier brand from Lowes because it is cheap. Throw some chunks in a pillowcase and smash them into about ¼ to ½ inch bits)
4 parts hand crushed leaf litter
It is a good idea to fully moisten, and then microwave your substrate, to kill off any potential bug eggs.

Your substrate should be kept moist, but not saturated, at all times. Isopods/Woodlice require humidity and humid air or they will quickly die.
I lay several pieces of brown, corrugated cardboard on top of the culture. I like to cover roughly 2/3 of the surface with the cardboard. Your cardboard will have to be replenished from time to time as it breaks down and is eaten.
Here is a shot of the type of oak leaves that has been working well for us. Also, a shot of a completed, producing culture, and just some Giant Oranges wondering where lunch is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We have also had good results culturing this method http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/46452-how-i-culture-woodlice-isopods.html but I believe my first method has reaped better harvests for me. I'm sure different people will have differing results. I must admit the the extremely low maintenance approach that MarkBudde's method presents, is tempting and does give nice results too. I will always be using his suggestion of Ultra high quality dog food even if I decide to discontinue my jars.
Here you can see some of my "BuddeJars" and in the culture you can see some Dwarf White Isopods and some of the cardboard strips decomposing into dirt. You can also see where I decided to experiment with starting to add some fish flake to some of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Feeding your Isopods/Woodlice.
So many great foods to try. Ultra high quality dog food is great. We like to crush it into a powder first. Quality fish flake food is also great. They go absolutely NUTS over fish flake food! The good thing about fish flake and dog food is that it offers the necessary proteins along with all the added vitamins and minerals. If you only feed vegetable bits, you are missing out on calcium and a lot of other good things. I’m going to reference my son’s post here as it is great for Isopod food choices. It also talks about how much to feed.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/64919-great-isopod-woodlice-culture-foods.html
Basically you want to feed small amounts of food, once or twice a week. Only feed as much as they are eating. If you are seeing mold, skip a feeding. Too much mold can wipe out a culture. Remember that’s it’s better to be feeding not enough, than it is to feed too much. When we feed too little, it’s not a problem because of our substrate. They have peat moss to eat, wood bits, leaves, and cardboard (which is just processed wood), lots of good stuff to snack on until you get the mold under control and can add more scraps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Summary and Feeding Out
That’s pretty much it. Don’t forget to mist your culture now and then if it needs it. Remember, moist but not saturated. A good rule of thumb is this, If the cardboard is dry, it could use a little misting. To feed out of your culture, lift a square of cardboard and brush the bugs into a small container. I like to use a tiny modeler’s paintbrush for this. Dump it into your viv. If you want, you can brush the adults back into your culture first, then brush the babies into your feeding container. In fact, you pretty much always do Giant Oranges that way as your frogs can’t eat them anyway.

When your production is high enough, you will want to take a group of adult Isopods and try to establish them in your viv for in-viv food production and janitor duties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Giant Spanish Orange Isopods Only
The following is for Giant Oranges only. I have posted it elsewhere but this is where it belongs.
Everything above applies to Giant Oranges but I have been working with a method to drastically increase their production. Here it is.
I started with about a dozen adult oranges. I set them up in a plastic shoebox with half ABG mix and half hand crushed oak leaf litter. I put several squares of brown cardboard on top. Media mist be kept moist at all times. Any time the cardboard looks dry, we mist it. We took a paper clip and melted about 50 tiny air holes in the top. These are the foods we use. Great Isopod / woodlice culture foods
Our orange isopod production is very good and one of the things I credit it to is this. I leave the adults in the culture for only about one month, maybe two. Only until we see a good amount of babies scurrying around. Then we pull all the adults and move these adults on to a fresh culture. Using this method, I am up to three cultures in three months. The original 12 have had enough offspring to seed about 15 half grown individuals into 10 different vivs. So that's about 150 right there. Plus, the ones from culture number two are getting close to half grown and there must be another 150 there. We wait until they are half grown because they are going into thumbnail and pumilio vivs and I figure at half grown, they are big enough that they won't be eaten. Also, they can begin to reproduce at about half grown so that the babies will be lunch and the bigger ones form a thriving colony.
We recently pulled 10 of the bigger ones to throw in with the original 12 adults, simply to build upon the breeding culture population. I've been really pleased with how quickly I have been able to build the population.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Springtails--it's coming, need a break!
 

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This is perfect! Just what I was looking for - thanks Doug.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You're welcome guys! Ready for part 2?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Springtail Culture
There are a million different ways to culture springtails. I am presenting only one method here, with a possible variation for the Huge Black Tomocerus. This is the method that works well for me. There are some other great methods out there if you want to experiment.
I culture on charcoal but it cannot be properly shipped that way. I know people do anyway, but there is a large initial die off as the charcoal tumbles and crushes your bugs. I want you to be able to see your culture crawling with bugs NOW, not in a month. Therefore, I ship them out in a peat culture. Here is how we are going to transfer the peat culture to a charcoal culture.
The following supplies will be needed.
1) We are going to use the large size Ziplock / King Soopers / Kroger brand container. It is the 76 oz. or the 9.5 cup size. It measures 11” x 7” x 3” tall. Shown in picture 1.
2) I like the Frontier or Cowboy brand of charcoal available from Lowes. Any hardwood, or lump, natural style charcoal will work, but it’s nice and cheap at Lowes. Shown in pictures 2 and 3. You can use any horticulture charcoal, or even aquarium carbon, but that gets expensive!
3) Food. We will be using Active Bakers Yeast or live bread yeast. Shown in pics 4 and 5) You can find that 2 lb. bag at Costco for about $3 or $4 making it very cheap!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Put your charcoal in a heavy bag, or better yet, an old pillowcase. I have also just wrapped some in a towel. Whack it with a hammer! You will want a variety of sizes but anything over about 1.5 or 2 inches is going to start cutting down on surface area, or living space for your bugs. There will be lots of smaller pieces too. It’s all good and usable.
Drop it in a pot with some purified water and boil it for 5 or 10 minutes. Boil it longer if you need to use it right away. This kills off any possible bugs and molds and also helps it to soak up water. Now I like to let it soak overnight to really suck up that moisture. Fill your plastic shoebox with some wet charcoal. You are only going to go about half full for now. Add a bit of purified water, maybe a quarter inch or so in the bottom. Make a hole in the charcoal with your hands, big enough to set your culture of springtails into. Pop off the top. If you’re with me so far, it should look like this.
 

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nice write up. I prefer a completely edible substrate for my woodlice culture, and have been using pressure cooked madrone bark with excellent results. I only feed vegetable scraps, and dump left over dusting calcium and vitamins into my cultures as well, which they relish( something that had been posted here previously that I was skeptical of, until I tried it)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Now we are going to feed the culture with a sprinkling of Bakers Yeast. Not too much. You’ll get the hang of how much to feed as time goes by. For now let’s say maybe a heavy pinch or two, or perhaps 1/8 teaspoon maximum. But we are ONLY sprinkling this on the charcoal, NOT on the peat. Now you want to scoop the peat gently towards the outer rim of your small, shipping culture container. You are simply trying to sort of build up a hill for the springtails so they can easily escape the dish and get out into bigger plastic shoebox. Put your lid on tightly. Leave them this way for a week or two. When you feed, make sure you don’t get any in the peat container. This will lure the vast majority of springs into your main culture.
In a week or two, when most have moved over, pull the peat container out, feed the peat container and cap it. Put it aside for a back up culture or to build new cultures out of once they repopulate. Set up a friend with a culture so you have somewhere to turn if you crash yours.
Now you want to finish gently filling your main shoebox culture with charcoal and feed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Feeding your culture
We like to use Active Bakers Yeast as it may be less likely to carry grain mites into your cultures. You will get a feel about how much to feed. Best results will be had by checking and feeding your culture every 2 or 3 days. If there is still yeast left, you are feeding too heavy. When and if your top charcoal looks dry, you can mist it.
There are lots of other foods, but they may be more likely to carry grain mites in. I have considered taking some of these other foods, like:
Baby rice cereal
Baby oatmeal
Quality Fish Flakes
Ultra premium dog food, ground up
Malt O Meal
Take these dry foods and mix them together in a Seal-A-Meal pouch. Boil the bag for about 10 minutes to kill off any potential mite eggs.
Experiment with that for a springtail food.

Feeding your frogs
For small feeding, grab a piece of charcoal out of your culture and tap it into your viv. Be careful not to touch the viv with the charcoal as most vivs eventually get mites of some type. You don’t want to contaminate your culture when you throw the charcoal back in!
For large feedings, completely fill the culture container with purified water. Take a spoon and gently stir or jostle the charcoal a little. You should see hundreds or thousands of springtails floating. Pour the water and springtails out into a pitcher or other feeding container. Feed your frogs with it. You may want to pour some back into your culture. If you remove too many springtails from it, it will take a while to recover.
Now this is easy if your tanks have automatic drains. If not, you will need another step. You can run your pitcher of water and springs through a small meshed sieve, or you can siphon the water out from under the springtails. Dump them into your vivs.

Ventilation
I choose NOT to ventilate most of my springtails. I open them often enough that I haven’t had any problems. If you do ventilate, it can become a possible spot for mites to get in.
The big, black Tomocerus springtails are a different story. They are big, oxygen sucking machines!! I recently crashed my main culture (thank God for backups!). It was fine one day. I fed them and checked the next day…Every single bug was dead! I think between the little bit of Carbon Dioxide that the yeast produces, and the growing demand for oxygen from the bugs, they all died. Bummer.
Here’s my mite free solution. Actually, I want to thank Frogparty for this suggestion! I just ordered some of these .3 micron Synthetic Fiber Disks here. Fungi Perfecti: micron air filters I will cut a hole in the lid and silicone one of these in place. Once tested I anticipate putting them on all of my springtail and isopod culture containers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Variations for Huge Black Tomocerus Springtails
I do NOT use any standing water in my Tomocerus cultures. This makes the charcoal dry out a bit more. This doesn’t bother me as I really like the pure charcoal cultures. To combat this I simply mist the container when I feed.
If that bothers you, I would recommend using a mix of half charcoal, and half coco husks. Exo Terra : Coco Husk (Brick) / Tropical Terrarium Substrate This will help keep the charcoal moist. Make sure to boil it to sterilize it.
The problem with the coco husk is that it becomes a hassle to flood your culture for feeding. Yes, the huge Tomocerus springtails float, just like their smaller cousins, but so does the coco husk!
Keep in mind that a booming Tomocerus culture is a HUNGRY FEEDING MACHINE! Feed them often! Keep in mind that the baby Tomocerus are as numerous as the baby whites, but much harder to see. Your culture may not look like it has many bugs in it, but they are hiding under the charcoal and it’s just harder to see a black bug on black charcoal. They will surprise you with how the seem to be barely chugging along, and then one day, those babies start growing…Be ready to split that culture up or feed heavily out of it. Once those babies grow, you will suddenly have WAY too much bug mass for that culture to support! Trust me! I’ve been there!
Little tip. A good way to check your Tomocerus culture is to gently blow into it. Your breath will make them scurry! Another tip is to pick up a piece of charcoal and tap it onto a white paper towel. Now you’re going to see some babies!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
nice write up. I prefer a completely edible substrate for my woodlice culture, and have been using pressure cooked madrone bark with excellent results. I only feed vegetable scraps, and dump left over dusting calcium and vitamins into my cultures as well, which they relish( something that had been posted here previously that I was skeptical of, until I tried it)
Thanks Frogparty, you suppose they would go for Repashy Superpig? Turn those Giant Oranges even brighter orange?!
Oh and hey, thanks for your micron filter suggestion. Hope you don't mind, I referred to it here. Don't worry though, gave you the credit!
I have never heard of Madrone Bark. Guess I'll have to look into that. I love the idea of a completely edible substrate!
 
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