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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Although I am not officially in the PDFs hobby, I am researching to make sure I can afford the money and time I will have to spend if I decide this is something I want to pursue.

Fast moving insects that can crawl up walls (including flightless fruit flies) freak me out a little. For that reason, I would like to explore alternatives. Regarding food for PDFs (specifically leucomelas), I would like to know:

1) What are the options for "staple food?" I have heard of fruit flies, woodlice, roaches, rice beetles, and springtails. Which of those can I feed every day without malnourishing or making the frogs obese (not enough nutrients vs. fatty treats)?

2) What type of food is the most "low-maintenance"/easiest to cultivate?

3) Which type of food is the most affordable to cultivate?

4) Based on the answers above, which food would be my best choice if I want a very low maintenance and very cheap source of regular food for my (future) leucs?
 

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While I have never worked with rice beetles, I can tell you that every other bug listed can crawl up walls. Sorry to tell you this, but if crawling bugs freak you out, this may not be the right hobby for you.
Fruit flies are pretty much required as a mainstay. They others are suppliments. You would have to have huge cultures of the others to try to produce enough.
That said, if you are willing to take on your bug phobia head on, fruit flies are very cheap to culture if you are willing to mix up your own media.
Isopods (woodlice) can be cultured on primarily vegetable scraps but you'll need to suppliment some calcium.
Springtails can be cultured very cheaply on Active Bakers Yeast. It's very cheap if you pick up the 2 lb bag at Costco.
Roaches? Anybody even slightly phobic about bugs has no business bringing Roaches into their home. My wife would kill me if I brough roaches into my frog room. She is very understanding about the frog bugs but that would be TOO FAR!
If it helps, keep in mind that these are cultured in clean conditions. It's not like your flies will be snacking at the landfill.
Some info on culturing for you. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/66991-how-culture-isopods-woodlice-springtails.html
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/62277-guide-making-ff-cultures.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Doug. You answered to all my questions in one post.

I had a feeling there was no way around FFs. Just wanted to make sure.

I spent a great deal of time reading both your woodlice and springs threads today. Awesome threads.

I have vermicomposting bins (composting with earthworms). Would that be an environment where I could cultivate woodlice? Any idea?
 

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Bean beetles are a good staple ,are cheap, and easy to culture.They do climb though,but as Doug said just about everything will.You can culture pinhead crickets,but they are not liked by many because they are annoying.They are somewhat easy to culture,but are noisy.You can use ff cups or plastic shoe boxes to culture Isopods,but I would culture them by themselves ( I don't think the worms and isos would be good together).As far as cost and ease I would say bean beetles,springs and isos should be on your frogs menu as variety is good.No matter what you choose to feed it is important to supplement the feeders with a good vitamin rotation.

Lou
 

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Thank you Doug. You answered to all my questions in one post.

I had a feeling there was no way around FFs. Just wanted to make sure.

I spent a great deal of time reading both your woodlice and springs threads today. Awesome threads.

I have vermicomposting bins (composting with earthworms). Would that be an environment where I could cultivate woodlice? Any idea?
While you could cultivate in compost bins, I would recommend a cleaner environment with less chance of passing disease on to your frogs. Just go with the plastic shoeboxes as described in my thread. You could do it in mason jars too.
 

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No, I haven't. They weren't around as a common feeder my first trip through the hobby, years ago. Now I'm working with only thumbnails and pums and as I understand it, they are too big for my frogs to take interest in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Another question about feeders Doug:

What is easier and cheaper, mite paper or water tray? What are the pros and cons of each?
 

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Bean beetles climb and also fly, which IMO makes them entirely more annoying than wingless FF's.

The other feeders you mentioned are for the most part only good for supplemental feeding and in the case of springtails, raising small froglets. Iso's typically culture too slow to be fed as the main course, some frogs will not take flour beetles, and most roaches get too big for PDF's.

TBH, flightless ff's sound much worse than they are. D. hydei are pretty visible and can live for awhile outside of vivs/cultures, but if you stick with D. melanogaster, they usually die pretty quickly if they escape and are so tiny you likely won't notice them. I would also definitely not call them "fast moving" at all.

FF cultures are really cheap, you should pick one up and decide in person if you're willing to tolerate them before you write them off. You should be able to a melanogaster culture from a local frogger for ~5 bucks.

Regarding your mite paper question- water is obviously cheaper as it comes out of your tap, but can be less effective since small mites may be able to cross the water without breaking surface tension (yep, they're that small).... mite paper is a more guaranteed method. One thing to keep in mind is that while initial startup costs can be a PITA, upkeep/maintenance costs are VERY low in this hobby if you do things right the first time (until you get addicted to frogs and decide to buy more ;)).

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks a lot Teddy. Good points about the FF's. Nice to know escapees die fast too. :)

As for paper vs. water, soapy water would do the trick to make the mites drawn, I believe.

So many things to consider. Exciting times...
 

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Have you heard of pea aphids? They're easier to culture than flies if anything, and make a great substitute for melanogaster. Some people use them as a staple. However, as others have said there's not a lot in it when it comes to the ickiness of small scurrying insects, it's just something you have to live with in this hobby!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am not familiar with Pea Aphids. Do you have links to "how-to's" that I can use as reference?
If they are any similar to aphids I find at rose buds, etc, they are REALLY slow moving.
 

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Have you heard of pea aphids? They're easier to culture than flies if anything, and make a great substitute for melanogaster. Some people use them as a staple. However, as others have said there's not a lot in it when it comes to the ickiness of small scurrying insects, it's just something you have to live with in this hobby!
I'm going to disagree with the statement that they are easier to culture than fruit flies.... and of the people I know that used them, none used them as the staple. There are a number of discussions on here about pea aphids in the search function. See for example http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/food-feeding/38600-culturing-pea-aphids.html


Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
its simple if you dont want FFs, then darts arent a reasonable choice.

james
As you can see on my OP, it is not that I don't want to use FFs... I just would rather use something different, IF AVAILABLE.

My OP was merely to find out if people are using any different type of staple food that I would enjoy working with more than the FFs.

So far, I have learned pretty good things on this thread, and as we stand, melanogaster FFs are my option #1. Even though a swarm of them makes me squeamish, I do not think I would give up on Dendrobates because of them. ;)
 

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You can always put a ff culture in the fridge for 15 minutes before you have to feed, this will slow them down nicely and stop them being quite so 'swarmy' perhaps.

Ed, I'll admit to not reviewing the pea aphid threads on here recently and being in a bit of a hurry now so this is from memory, but I remember a couple of the problems people had were that cultures were prone to mould and that timing of plant growth and aphid peaking were issues? If so we seem to have got round those to a large degree on this side of the pond, where they're slightly more established as a feeder by the look of it. I personally haven't been culturing them for very long, but from what I've seen I've stopped with mel cultures for the time being, still maintaining hydei though. I know a couple of people who use them exclusively of ffs now, which is what I was referring to when I mentioned them being a staple food.

To be honest I don't know anyone who's been culturing them heavily for over two years and I am aware of sudden unexplained crashes, but I thought it worth mentioning them to the op. It looks like the consensus unsurprisingly is that ffs are unavoidable unless you're good at culturing a range of other feeders instead.
 

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You can always put a ff culture in the fridge for 15 minutes before you have to feed, this will slow them down nicely and stop them being quite so 'swarmy' perhaps.

Ed, I'll admit to not reviewing the pea aphid threads on here recently and being in a bit of a hurry now so this is from memory, but I remember a couple of the problems people had were that cultures were prone to mould and that timing of plant growth and aphid peaking were issues? If so we seem to have got round those to a large degree on this side of the pond, where they're slightly more established as a feeder by the look of it. I personally haven't been culturing them for very long, but from what I've seen I've stopped with mel cultures for the time being, still maintaining hydei though. I know a couple of people who use them exclusively of ffs now, which is what I was referring to when I mentioned them being a staple food.

To be honest I don't know anyone who's been culturing them heavily for over two years and I am aware of sudden unexplained crashes, but I thought it worth mentioning them to the op. It looks like the consensus unsurprisingly is that ffs are unavoidable unless you're good at culturing a range of other feeders instead.
With more medias available through various vendors, better understanding of the culturing needs and continual work to improve the methods, fruit fly production has become extremely simple.. in many cases, it is some variation of add water and stir (and some use hot water so the real issue is letting the media cool down before inoculation with the flies).

I personally haven't tried pea aphids but know a number of people that did use them going back into the late 1980s and early 1990s... and that information plus the data published on them made me decline to use them as they were much more labor intensive for the return in time to simply provide a supplemental feeder.

Ed
 
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