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Doug...the cultures I received from Josh's came with very small peices of charcoal. There wasn't any big chunks to pick up and tap.
OK, but if you upsize to bigger cultures, use some big and some small chunks. In the meantime, back in the day, when we cultured on sphagnum, we would put a coffee filter on top and mist it. Put a tiny amount of yeast or whatever you are feeding, on the filter. By morning it would be loaded with springtails and you just pick it up and sprinkle it in.
 

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Hey, that sounds like a much easier way to do it than anything else I've seen. I can see the sphagnum rotting...but is there some reason everyone stopped with the filters?
I've run sphagnum for a couple of years with no rot. The coffee filters will begin to disintegrate and be eaten by the springtails after a while. I think the charcoal tapping and the flood and dump method became more popular.
Another great one is a small piece (like 3" x 3") of sterile tree fern panel stored on top of your culture. They crawl up in it and you just tap away.
 

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Okay, here's what I did...

I bought two 6qt Sterelite containers because I couldn't find 5qt. I bought a 4qt bag of organic gardening charcoal and I filled each culture with 2qt of charcoal. I added enough distilled water until there was around 1" in the bottom, and I made sure all of the charcoal was moist. I then put half of the culture I ordered in to both containers. I put the lids on and put them in my room near my frogs. I then added 5 grains of rice in the middle of each culture, and I put 2-3 grains elsewhere around the cultures.

How moist should the cultures be?
Out of the many, many foods I've tried, none has produced as poorly as rice. Plus, rice is a grain. It's just a matter of time before you get mites. Yeast. Active Bakers Yeast.
 

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I don't put the food directly in the cultures anymore...the mold throughout the container grossed me out. Lately I've been placing the food onto one of those tiny butter bowl lids and then placing it into the container. If something happens and it gets a little too yucky, I throw it away and replace it with a new one. Just keeps things a little cleaner and still lets the mold grow without taking over everything.

If you're keeping about a half to an inch of water in your container, the humidity inside should keep everything moist enough as it is. That's what I do and there's always condensation dripping from the lid.
Hey Wendy, you should really try letting it get good and gross. It is the...liquifying food that they really go nuts over. Or, just go with Active Bakers yeast which liquifies right away on contact with the wet substrate. Try it and watch your production go through the roof!
 

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Yeah...I know, I know...it's the really disgusting stuff that they like. It just really, really grosses me out. I've cleaned out tanks and had my hands in frog poop, gently picked up a dead frog to check on it, killed fruit flies directly on my skin...but that mold...ACK!

I do use the yeast as well as fish food and rice (I know I've been lucky so far)...and my cultures produce far more than I can use. :)
Ahh, but if you eliminate the others, and only feed yeast, it liquifies in a non disgusting way, just like dissolving. Feed the right amount, a couple times a week, and you can totally eliminate the mold, odors, and "disgust" factor! Really!
 

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I've used rice for several years, and have never gotten mites (I have with other grains). In fact, I've never gotten mites since I started keeping springs on charcoal.

I've also never had any other foods produce springtails as well for me as rice has, especially after it forms a nice thick, moldy layer. They also produce a ton better for me if I keep them slightly cooler (I keep them on the bottom shelf in the basement).

To the OP - I would try a few different ways, and see what works best for you.
Curious if you have tried active yeast? I am wondering if the type or brand of rice makes a difference. When I was experimenting with rice, it remained untouched by the springtails for about 2 weeks. They showed no interest in the grains until it fully molded over.
 

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The rice does not produce springtails as quickly as the yeast does, but IME it produces more of them, and I can feed the springs much less frequently.
There are so many different ways to do this, friends, with many different pros and cons. I do like my yeast but I'm in there feeding once or twice a week. Certainly Zachs method has a nice plus in being able to walk away for a month!! I'm pretty sure mine would crash if I walked away for a month.
 

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So why did my vivarium grow mold on a dry log, but my wet springtail cultures with rotting food won't? :p

I noticed that apples mold quickly in my cricket containers. Is there a reason we don't feed fruit to our springtails?
I would imagine fruits could pretty easily bring mites in. In my vivs, however, the springtails love grapes.
 

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I would imagine fruits could pretty easily bring mites in. In my vivs, however, the springtails love grapes.
I have been experimenting with some different mixes and have had a lot of success by dampening a mushroom slice then dipping it into some yeast so that the yeast sticks to it then feeding those to the springtails. I have also tried rice and did fine but the mushroom and yeast thing seems to be the fastest producer for me.
I am interested in trying the grapes now though. Maybe a yeast powder crusted grape slice? (Kind of like a powdered donut for springtails. :D)
I mentioned grapes but I don't recommend grapes in a springtail culture. I think that they would easily bring mites in. Every viv, however, gets mites once it has been set up long enough. That is why I mentioned grapes within your viv. It works as a feeding station for your flies and doubles as springtail food.
 
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