CodeWilster

DIY Modified Sterilite Gasket Tubs from Target

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Hey guys, it's been a long time since I've posted anything (or have been involved in the invert hobby for that matter). Long story short I'm back into it as of a few months ago but that info will be for another post. After posting the above photo of my bug tubs on Facebook the other day, I had some people want to see how I made them. Because I had more to make, I figured I'd photograph the whole process and post it here. Of course, there's a million ways to make practical and effective colony enclosures. This is simply what I do for mine. They work fantastic for just about all species (including pests). For all of you DIY out there, hopefully this inspires you. It's a very simple job but does require some tools you'll need to pick up or borrow.

What you'll need...

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The tubs can be purchased at Target - this particular size runs for about $7. There's a few other matching larger sizes available. They have a blue gasket around the sides which keeps roaches from sneaking out. Besides the tubs you'll also need a drill, hole saw (same size as vents, the one above is 3"), clear silicone sealant, various razor blades, cutting surface, no-see-um netting or mesh of similar type, and the vents.

The vents come from THIS website. The ones I use are the "open screen tab style" (in mill) - they come in all different sizes. I primarily use the 2", 3", and 4" sizes.

The vents come with these tabs. You certainly could use them like this, but the tubs I'm making I wanted to be able to keep fungus gnats from freely entering/exiting the tub, and to also keep the tiniest of roach nymphs in. Because the vents aren't fine enough for that, they need to be reinforced with no-see-um netting. In order to break off the tabs, just bend them back and forth several times until they pop off cleanly.

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Mark your center on the tub lid where you'll be using the hole saw, and then pre drill a hole using a bit that is just a tad smaller than the hole-saw attachment's bit. If you're going dead center in the lid, there's already a mark there actually. Use a high speed setting on the drill so it drills/melts without much pressure.

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Next, drill the 3" hole using a 3" hole saw. Best way to do this is with the lid on the actual tub and the sides latched to keep it in place, and then hold the tub itself in place while drilling. I recommend a slower setting on the drill for this. Try to drill directly downward and start slow, then increase speed gradually as you feel it smoothly cut. You want to apply even, slight pressure. Push too hard and the lid will crack. I've done about 80 of these containers and have only broken ONE. It was one of the first ones though, and that's when I learned what the lids can/cannot take. As you can see, this is obviously pretty messy and is best done in a garage.

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After cutting the hole, pull off all of the excess plastic strips by hand. Then, using a razor blade (ideally the type pictured) very carefully smooth out any rough edges and excess plastic that could get in the way of the vent rim.

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You should end up with a nice clean hole like this that is ready for the vent.

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Next, you'll want to cut a piece of no-see-um netting to reinforce the vents with. I got the netting off of Amazon for about $10. This was for a pretty big sheet that lasted for a good 50 or so vents of various sizes 4" and under. It's fine enough to keep those pesky fungus gnats from flying in and out (the gaskets on the tubs also prevent this) and therefore creates a pretty much "gnat-resistant" container. Additionally, you can keep Blattella species this way and not have to worry about nymphs escaping while the lid is on. As for cutting, place the netting on a cut-safe surface and using the vent as a reference, liberally cut a piece of netting that's about an inch larger than the vent on all ends using a razor blade. You'll see why to be liberal with the excess mesh in a second...

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Next, add a very thin line of silicone around the rim of the hole. I chose to use silicone but don't see why you couldn't use a hot glue gun for this project. Afterwards, gently lay the sheet of no-see-um netting over the top of it.

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Next, add a layer of silicone around the inner rim of the vent. I wouldn't use more than pictured here as it will gush out the sides when you put it on and silicone is a pain to wipe away. Obviously too little doesn't do the job either, so try to match the amount pictured here.

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With the mesh relatively tight (pull a couple ends) go ahead and insert the vent right into the hole. It should fit perfectly. You can swivel it side to side a bit to even the spread of the glue underneath.

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Using a very sharp razor blade, now you can cut off the excess mesh. If there's not much excess it's difficult to do this and that is why I recommend cutting the screens liberally. If you have enough to grip with your fingers around the sides, you can cut it nice and cleanly. As you can sort of see in the photo, you'll want to pull the screen so there's slight tension for cutting, and then cut it while simultaneously putting pressure directly down onto the vent (with both your other fingers and the blade itself). This will keep it in place while cutting. Once you've cut off the excess mesh you'll want to double check the vent is sitting level.

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Because silicone takes quite a while to dry, you'll want to let it sit overnight at least. The hole saw itself makes a good weight that you can leave on the vent to help it dry correctly.

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And that's it! Now you've got a good-looking, gnat resistant, escapee resistant invert tub. Of course this was just a how to for installing the vents. You can always get crazy and do more for those species that require more ventilation.

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I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. By the way, leave the stickers on the tubs and save your receipts until you're done. That ONE tub I broke (below) I was actually somehow able to take it back to Target and exchange for another one ;)

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Awesome write-up! I'll be doing some containers like this soon, so it really helps! :D

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I wish they would make them even clearer.

Now do the right thing and show us your collection and enclosures. :P

Oh an make a YouTube video too

 

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Very nice. I really like the ventilation holes. I'm going to be setting up something new for myself soon, this is very helpful.

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like @Tleilaxu said I'd love to see your collection! Those racks in the background with all those container are very intriguing! I want to know what's in them :) 

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38 minutes ago, Roach collector said:

like @Tleilaxu said I'd love to see your collection! Those racks in the background with all those container are very intriguing! I want to know what's in them :) 

I'll do a roach room tour eventually. Hang in there :)

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Nice simple directions and a sweet end product, thanks for sharing! =]

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i love those bins. so cheap and make a great habitat for a variety of animals

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Looks similar to something I tried, only much nicer 'cos I only clumsily siliconed fine mesh over the holes! Those vents look dead professional. :)

 

(One more for the roach tour, here,)

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Thank you very much for the photos and detailed instructions!  Great tutorial that I'll be using very soon!

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Excellent write up, very helpful and thorough.

 

Quick question - why do you do the aluminum vent in addition to the no-see-um netting?  Couldn't you just glue the netting down?

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5 hours ago, Hell-Spawn said:

Excellent write up, very helpful and thorough.

 

Quick question - why do you do the aluminum vent in addition to the no-see-um netting?  Couldn't you just glue the netting down?

Some roach nymphs are exceedingly tiny and it's important to have a tight fit, even more so if you keep severely pestiferous species like blattella germanica.

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Very nice and good explanation! 
Quite similar to what I do, albeit that yours look definitely better. 
I recognize the 'broken plastic' issue. I did not dare to return to the shop... Buying a sealed container to have a hole punched in :) 

I use stainless steel frying pan splatter guard as mesh. It's very fine (< 0.5 mm / 0.019685 inch holes), stainless, and because it's metal, I can melt it in place with a soldering iron. I use a metal plate cutter to cut out round pieces that are a bit larger than the hole I've drilled. 
I mainly use it to keep small nymphs in, but of course keeping gnats out would work as well. And whatever wants to pass, it better had strong teeth! 

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Very nice Stanislas, I wouldn't have thought to use a splatter guard that's a great idea! Especially for occasional chewers like Periplaneta, etc. 

To Hell-Spawn, Tleilaxu pretty much said it. It's got to be a tight fit to function best. The issue is the round vents do have a nice fine screen that would work great for most roaches, but tiny roach nymphs (Balta, Blattella, etc) can get through them as is, and so can the fungus gnats. I wanted something fine enough to block everything in/out and that was also cheap/very clean looking by the end and so this is what I went with. You could easily glue/solder just about any mesh - I just wanted a professional look with total effectiveness. Maybe one day somebody will make perfectly round vents like that but with micro screening. Until then, gotta make them myself!

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So a few people have run into the occasional species that decide to chew the gasket seals. Out of my 100+ tubs, I've only had a couple do this and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why. For months they don't bother, then suddenly I take a lid off and there's a chewed area. The species that have done this that I've noticed so far include Periplaneta australasiae, Phoetalia pallida, Ectobiidae sp. "Malaysia" and that's it for me (P. pallida actually chewed to the point that small nymphs were escaping). My friend Spencer had his Eurycotis floridana do this as well but mine have yet to show any interest. I imagine some other species I keep may eventually decide to gnaw on the gaskets sometime.

 For those few species that gave me trouble, I have filled in the chewed areas with silicone and smeared some over the exposed edges of the gasket they could chew on. I want to look into some other alternatives though, such as "painting" a layer of something over the gasket to see if that stops them from doing it again. Silicone does seem to work but it's not made to be painted onto things like this and is pretty messy so I'm hoping to try something more fluid. 

Fortunately it's not a big issue considering how infrequent it is, but is an occasional problem with this caging system none the less and I want to tackle some potential solutions. I'll keep you guys posted!

Oh and just letting some of the commenters know that I haven't forgotten... :)

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10 hours ago, CodeWilster said:

Oh and just letting some of the commenters know that I haven't forgotten... :)

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Dang man, that's about the most chilling sneak-peak that I've ever seen! :D 

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Really excited for that room tour! :D

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Oh god pay special attention to the Periplaneta, they deserve the time to shine.

As for the chewers, perhaps sealing the vents from the outside of the cage maybe more effective, I've read several recommendations to seal both sides of vents to prevent this from happening.

On 8/15/2017 at 3:21 PM, CodeWilster said:

So a few people have run into the occasional species that decide to chew the gasket seals. Out of my 100+ tubs, I've only had a couple do this and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why. For months they don't bother, then suddenly I take a lid off and there's a chewed area. The species that have done this that I've noticed so far include Periplaneta australasiae, Phoetalia pallida, Ectobiidae sp. "Malaysia" and that's it for me (P. pallida actually chewed to the point that small nymphs were escaping). My friend Spencer had his Eurycotis floridana do this as well but mine have yet to show any interest. I imagine some other species I keep may eventually decide to gnaw on the gaskets sometime.

 For those few species that gave me trouble, I have filled in the chewed areas with silicone and smeared some over the exposed edges of the gasket they could chew on. I want to look into some other alternatives though, such as "painting" a layer of something over the gasket to see if that stops them from doing it again. Silicone does seem to work but it's not made to be painted onto things like this and is pretty messy so I'm hoping to try something more fluid. 

Fortunately it's not a big issue considering how infrequent it is, but is an occasional problem with this caging system none the less and I want to tackle some potential solutions. I'll keep you guys posted!

Oh and just letting some of the commenters know that I haven't forgotten... :)

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I actually wasn't talking about the vents they haven't touched those, and for the few I was worried about I did a layer of Vaseline around the underside of the vents hoping to help stop them from getting to it in the first place. Even in my tub of 500+ Periplaneta with no Vaseline the mesh hasn't been touched though. What I was actually talking about is the blue foam seal that comes with the sterilite tubs that seals the lid around the outermost edges. A few species occasionally gnaw on this as some have discovered.

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@CodeWilster Can you list links to the various drill components on amazon? I suck at "tool know how" and dont want to spend money on the wrong things. By the way its been a LONG time since your epic teaser. :P

Thanks.

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Home Depot is probably easiest for most. They're with all of the other drills and parts. You could ask an employee for help, just need a hole saw and bit/mandrill for any regular power drill. Here's a link to a cheap one I found on Amazon with both components. Just be sure to get the right vent size. 

Video is in the making but has been put on hold. It will come around someday :)

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Although much smaller than what you are using, I have discover mesh screen refills made for the vapor nicotine things. They are round,about the size of a nickel, very fine mesh size and cost a dollar for 5 at the peddlers mall. I haven’t used any yet but I bet they would prove useful for a lot of species. 

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