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Matttoadman

What am I doing wrong?

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So I had collected several isopod species. A. nasatum, A. vulgare, P. scaber, P. pruinosis. I placed them in containers with coco fiber, rotten maple wood, dead oak leaves and kept them damp. After a few months everything vanished in all the cultures but the Armadillidium. There are some immatures but the fully matures disappeared. What am I doing wrong? Too dry? 

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By disappeared... do you mean dead? They do like to burrow into the substrate... Can you post some pictures? Also, temperate could be something to consider. And they don't need to be kept too wet, otherwise fungi can take over.

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Just gone. Very little evidence of dead bodies. I sifted through the substrate and found a few white pieces of Exoskeleton. I didn’t keep them wet, just moist.  Will they eat the dead? 

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Might have kept them too dry, and maybe not enough hides? How was their protein situation? Cannibalism can sometimes be an issue, adding some protein to their diet helps.

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2 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Might have kept them too dry, and maybe not enough hides? How was their protein situation? Cannibalism can sometimes be an issue, adding some protein to their diet helps.

Hmm I thought the rotten wood and leaves were all they needed. Perhaps my researching is incomplete. Fish food, dog food?

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Fish food, cat food or dog food will work just fine. I find that isopods can survive on dead leaves alone when their numbers are low, but the more there are, the more likely they'll cannibalize each other unless they have some sort of protein. 

BTW, they actually don't need rotten wood, none of my species have any available, and they do just fine. It's the dead leaves that they require. It won't hurt to leave the wood in there though, and they will nibble on it. 

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That explains why the Armadillidium sps in my frog tank are doing well. I would place the occasional piece of cat food in for all the other critters. So basically they should be kept like roaches. 

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Ya, like a moist roach species I even sprinkle some roach chow on the moist soil for them to eat but and if it molds they eat that to, bug only do that with small amounts.

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Ah yes, protein. I hadn't though of that since I regularly add some. I use dog food in mine once a week, they love the stuff. Always a feeding frenzy!

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I have figured it out. It’s phorid fly maggots eating the dead. I recently collected 6 unidentified specimens of isopod. I noticed I couldn’t find the 2 huge adults. I found the remains covered in maggots. The passed several months I have been finding phorid flies buzzing around the house. I have found tiny groups of them in a lot of my containers eating the dead. I even found them in a cup of land snails I had eating snail poop. It’s seems that no matter how hard I search I still find them.  

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I had something similar happen with the Armadillidium I gathered. Seemed like all the adults I gathered died off, but then waves of their offspring matured and multiplied. I think they were just at the end of the their lifecycle, were unhealthy to begin with, didn't adapt to changes I put them through, or some bacteria bloom or slightly lethal chemical in the coco fiber or box slowly got to them before gassing off.

I only have several months experience with A. vulgare, P. scaber, Porcellio dilatatus, but I've had all of those cultures go through relatively damp and drier conditions without denting their populations as long as there was some moisture somewhere in the box. I don't have problems with phorid flies, I think because I try to keep springtails in all those cultures, which cover carcasses such that I doubt a fly could land there. My Porcellio dilatatus culture is pretty much wall-to-wall springtails, which might annoy the isopods a little, but they plow right through them and are reproducing anyway. On the other hand, P. scaber seems to have overwhelmed their springtails such that I can't find any in their culture.

Now, in all their cultures I always keep a lid with water and charcoal (to climb) so they have a backup source of hydration. I also use that dish as a visual gauge of when I need to rehydrate an area of the enclosure.

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