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varnon

roach racks

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Hi bug friends.

I recently finished my phd in animal behavior, accepted an assistant professor position, and I'm starting up my new animal behavior lab. And guess what that means? More bugs! I will be looking into getting some bumblebees later, but for now I want a better setup for my cockroaches.

I would like to set up a roach rack. I am considering something like this snake rack:

The rack is a standard metal wire shelving unit with heat cable woven in between the wire shelf grid. Has anyone done anything like this? One concern I have is that the metal would simply act as a radiator and dissipate all the heat.

 
I will use something like tubs with gasket vents as seen here:
I'm not sure what size things I want yet. The rack will need to fit in a nook in my lab space (currently being renovated), and then I will get bins to fit the rack.
 
I will have hissing cockroaches, orange head cockroaches, and I'm hoping to get some glowspot roaches breeding. The hissers and orange heads will be for behavioral research, so I will have a few bins for them. The glowspots will be my cute, beginner-friendly roaches, to help people become accustomed to insects. I am not intending to keep banana roaches anymore, but I also still have some of those, apparently. 
 
Does anyone have any other thoughts about setting up a nice semi-professional rack? I do have some money I can spend.
 
Thanks for your thoughts!
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I actually use the exact same black wire racks from that video, they are very useful and not very expensive either. :) 

For heating, I use a brooder lamp fit with a 250 watt red bulb. I position this about 5 feet in front of the rack and it nicely disperses the heat around to all the enclosures. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this if you won't be filling up the whole rack though, simply because there would be wasted heat.

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Hi all, it has been a while, but I am making progress.

It took forever for my lab to be ready. They had to pull out carpet, add tile, and paint the walls. The space is nice, but a little small and oddly shaped. I searched hard for a rack to jam in this weird little corner, and I found one that fit perfectly! I found a website (https://www.webstaurantstore.com/search/regency-wire-shelves.html) where I can order wire shelves at many dimensions, and get the individual pieces, not just the kits.

I have 6 bins reserved for aquatic turtles on the second and third shelves. These shelves will have light units. I don't have them all installed yet. Wiring everything together is going to be tedious. Aside from that, it is bins to the ceiling! I probably won't have all 9 roach bins filled at once, but it is nice to have the space. 

I still have to install vents on the bins. Any thoughts on front vs top mounted vents? And then the heat source. The turtle lights may create enough ambient heat, or I might still need to do something different. I won't have space for a light in front of the rack like allaboutinsects suggested. The ventilation and temperature in this room is erratic, so everything will have to be thermostat controlled no mater what I do.

I'm really looking forward to finishing this. Thanks to this forum for all the inspiration.

IMG_4063.jpg

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1 hour ago, varnon said:

Hi all, it has been a while, but I am making progress.

It took forever for my lab to be ready. They had to pull out carpet, add tile, and paint the walls. The space is nice, but a little small and oddly shaped. I searched hard for a rack to jam in this weird little corner, and I found one that fit perfectly! I found a website (https://www.webstaurantstore.com/search/regency-wire-shelves.html) where I can order wire shelves at many dimensions, and get the individual pieces, not just the kits.

I have 6 bins reserved for aquatic turtles on the second and third shelves. These shelves will have light units. I don't have them all installed yet. Wiring everything together is going to be tedious. Aside from that, it is bins to the ceiling! I probably won't have all 9 roach bins filled at once, but it is nice to have the space. 

I still have to install vents on the bins. Any thoughts on front vs top mounted vents? And then the heat source. The turtle lights may create enough ambient heat, or I might still need to do something different. I won't have space for a light in front of the rack like allaboutinsects suggested. The ventilation and temperature in this room is erratic, so everything will have to be thermostat controlled no mater what I do.

I'm really looking forward to finishing this. Thanks to this forum for all the inspiration.

IMG_4063.jpg

Nice setup. For safety purposes, I would not have electric equipment below tubs with water in them. In my opinion, that is an unnecessary risk. 

As for heat, how much does the room fluctuate? Do you want these colonies to breed a lot (like feeder Dubia colonies) or just live? If the room stays around 70 and rapid reproduction is not a necessity, I would not worry about heat. The turtle lamps will definitely give off some ambient heat. before putting in any roaches I would set up a digital thermometer that keeps track of the high and low temperatures so you can see how much it fluctuates without the turtle lights and plan accordingly.

Those bins are also the largest ones available and can hold A LOT of roaches, so I would scale down to the smaller bins and save these for extremely large colonies or species that do not do well with crowding. All my colonies start in small bins and progress in size as the colony grows. 

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I am fairly competent with electronics, so I can handle any water-related risks. Although you are right, it is a major issue to contend with. I originally had the turtles on the bottom shelves, but moved them up one shelf so I could use gravity to siphon out the water. Immediately after I moved them, the siphon broke. I have a non-gravity powered siphon now, so I'll move the back to the bottom two shelves. Water should then be less of an issue.

I think you are right about the temperature, I'll check to see how much heat I get just from the turtle lights. It may be plenty. The temperature in this building is unpredictable, so I will definitely be monitoring it constantly.

I have smaller colonies of hissers and orange head roaches right now. I don't need to fill up all my bins, but I do need extra bins in order to do research. Essentially, I take adult roaches from the main colony, let them participate in learning experiments, and then put them in an empty bin. Once they have participated in one experiment, I can't use them again. But, I can let them live out their life in comfort (more than most lab animals get unfortunately), and their offspring can go back to the main breeding colonies. When I am collecting data I go through bugs pretty fast. In the last experiment I used up all my adult hissers and orange head roaches in just a few weeks. They got to taste sugar water with small doses of ethanol. They liked some of the drinks pretty well, but there is a point where it gets too strong for them. Later, when I have more new adults, I will see if the "mixed drinks" affect their learning and behavior.

 

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