Springtails are tiny, insectlike creatures. They are a great live food for small fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. In a vivarium with an appropriate substrate and sufficient humidity, they can also serve as an excellent cleanup crew. They eat detritus of various sorts, helping to curb fungal growth and infestations of mites and other pests.
Isopods are crustaceans. They are excellent as a cleanup crew in vivariums, and can also be used as a supplemental food for various reptiles and amphibians. Some people even use them as food for pufferfish. There are quite a few interestingly colored and/or patterned isopods; consequently, there is now a growing isopod hobby as well.
Here are the isopods and springtails that I currently keep. I will try to keep it updated as my collection expands:
Armadillidium nasatum ‘Peach’ pillbugs
Armadillidium maculatum Zebra pillbugs
These beautifully striped pillbugs are simple to care for, and easy to breed. They need good ventilation, and like things a bit drier than many other species. They love to congregate under a slab of cork bark.
Armadillidium vulgare ‘High yellow’ Common Pillbugs
I collected some high yellow specimens in a canyon near my home, and have begun breeding them. It will likely be some time before I know whether or not the trait will breed true.
Nagurus cristatus Dwarf Striped Isopods
These isopods are quite small, but not as small as Costa Rican Micropods or dwarf white woodlice. They are very fast breeders, and so can make good feeders, and are also a good choice for a clean-up crew.
Oniscus asellus Skirted Isopods
Porcellio sp. ‘Orange’
Also known as Spanish or Giant Orange isopods, these are popular for their vivid orange coloration, their ability to perform cleaning duties in a vivarium, and their usefulness as a supplemental food item for a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
Porcellio scaber ‘Calico’
While many of these have the interesting mottled or ‘calico’ pattern as in the photo above, some of these are the slate grey of the wild type, while others are pure orange. From what I have read, it appears that the males do not exhibit the calico pattern, but they do carry it.
Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’
As can be seen in the photo, this morph has irregular dark markings on a white background. The young ones are often pure white, and the markings develop as they mature.
Porcellio dilatatus Giant Canyon Isopods
These are one of the largest species that can be found in the United States. They can reach a length of about 20 mm, and their bodies are proportionately wider than those of their smaller relatives. They are as easy to keep and breed as other commonly kept species. They are a little more tolerant of dry conditions than many other isopods.
Porcellionides priunosus Powder blue isopods
These fast-moving and fast-breeding isopods are not quite as big as the Porcellio species. They are equally easy to keep. As is apparent in the photo, they are more silver-grey than blue, with a velvety texture.
Trichorhina tomentosa Micro white woodlice
This tiny species is one of the most commonly used as a clean-up crew for reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. This species reproduces by parthenogenesis: all individuals are female, and they produce young without need for a mate. They reproduce fastest when kept on the warm side, but will survive and even breed into the low 60s F.
Synocheta, Trichoniscidae sp. ‘ Costa Rican purple’/Jungle micropods
Another very small, species, it is also one of the most commonly used as a clean-up crew for reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. They can have a slight reddish or purplish tinge to them.
These tiny creatures make excellent cleaners of humid enclosures for reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates. They will eat fungi and detritus, and will help keep pests like fungus gnats and grain mites out by outcompeting them. They also serve as a great live food for dart frogs, small surface-feeding fish, or various other small, predatory creatures.
I offer two species:
This species is slightly hairy, faster-running, and shorter bodied. It does well in higher-temperature enclosures at high humidity, but is quite adaptable to a variety of conditions. It is a prolific creature, but breeds slightly more slowly than the other species I culture.
This is a smoother, slower, long-bodied species. It is adaptable, but may do better in cooler enclosures. Can do well in very high humidity, but is ok with slightly lower humidity than the other species. F. candida is a faster breeder.
A starter culture of either species is $5.00. This starter may be used to seed a vivarium as a clean-up crew, or cultured in a larger container to produce large numbers of springtails as feeders. A complete culturing kit with springtails included is $15.00.
Watch my quick guide on how to culture springtails here:
USPS Priority Flat Rate-
Up to four starter cultures can be shipped in a small priority flat rate box for $6.80.
Shipping for a complete culture kit $13.45
Please contact me with your ZIP code if you are interested in express shipping.
Add $2.00 for 72-hour heat pack, or $1.00 for cold pack.
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Provide me with a photo within 6 hours of delivery. If your order is DOA, I will refund the purchase price (excluding shipping and heat/cold packs) OR reship once.
Here is an interesting Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ with some orange markings: