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Betta132

Non-roach bugs for domino setup?

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I'm thinking of turning my current domino+peppered roach setup into a peppered-only setup and moving the dominoes to an enclosure set up to resemble their native habitat. Can't find any pics of wild domino roaches, but, seeing as how one of their common names is "desert roach" and I know they live in India, I think I have a decent idea of where they live. I have them in coco fiber with pecan leaves right now, and they seem to be doing well. 

My idea for the setup would be to take the existing substrate out, sift it to remove as many nymphs as possible, then gently mix some coarse sand in- mostly for appearances. All the substrate and leaves currently in the setup would be transferred over to make sure I didn't miss any nymphs. Coco fiber with a bit of sand, pecan leaves over the top, desert wood for climbing, goat skull for hiding/chewing, kept lightly wet on one side of the enclosure and moderately dry everywhere else. They'd get a constant supply of cat food and hardwood leaves, and fruit of one variety or another now and then. The tank would get semi-indirect light from a lamp. 

Any suggestions for species that would do well in a similar environment? The dominoes are the main priority, so nothing that might eat the eggcases. I'd also like something that would eat the same food, or at least something that wouldn't have to be provided with fresh food daily- I prefer pets where you can put food in a couple times a week and it lasts. I'd also really like it to be able to breed and maintain its population. Bonus points if it can be taken out and handled to show off to people. Maybe there's a suitable millipede species, or some variety of beetle? I like darkling beetles, but I'm worried about the larvae attacking eggcases or domino nymphs. 

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Hi, I have Buffalo worms in some of my colonies, they are an overlooked custodian species, but they keep themselves to themselves, and help keep the cages clean. Very small though so not really handling material. 

Regards from Bill 

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On 02.12.2017 at 11:18 AM, Betta132 said:

one of their common names is "desert roach" and I know they live in India

They live not in a real desert, but in a biotope like dry semi-evergreen bush - with thickets of spiny bushes, trees, dry sandy soils and stone outcrops, and seasonal rains. Dead plant material is quite abundant, so roaches have enough place both to hide and walk.

I keep with "dry" roaches some large darkling beetles, like Scaurus, Blaps, Adesmia etc., they're safe for roaches, eggsacs and nymphs, though quite large and impressive by themselves. They sometimes have some issues with successful pupating, needing a piece of damp wood to pupate in it - but otherwise are undemanding.

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That's about what I was picturing. Sandy soil with more organic matter than straight sand, leaf litter piled into crevices, fairly hot and dry but not terribly so. We have that sort of environment in Texas, and a lot of bugs seem to do really well in it. 

Oh, I like the look of those guys, especially the Adesmia. Do they need a rotting piece of wood, or just a piece that's kept damp? Also, where would I potentially get some? 

What about desert millipedes? I don't think I'd be able to breed them, but they live a long time, so that's OK. 

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18 hours ago, Betta132 said:

Do they need a rotting piece of wood, or just a piece that's kept damp?

For Scaurus - just a piece of wood - soft enough for larva to gnaw a cavity and damp enough for pupating and beetle emerging. They do not eat it, only use for pupating. Adesmia and Blaps larvae usually pupate just in damp soil - under stones, e.g., but may use wood, too.

I tried to use plastic tubes etc, they definitely do not like anything but wood...

Adesmias look unusual, but, IMO, Scaurus are the most impressive, with their thick legs with hooks and all this, they've somehow prehistoric appearance:) 

Don't know whether it's possible to obtain exactly these beetles in the USA, but, IMO, you can find suitable beasts in your own similar biotope - the main issue will be with possibility of predatory larvae or adults, not all darkling beetles are completely herbivorous.

I myself live far from your country (and dream about some of your native bugs, yea! ;) ), but similar biotope means similar ecological groups - anyway you can find smth interesting just nearby.

18 hours ago, Betta132 said:

What about desert millipedes?

Try - it's always interesting to try smth new. I don't see any possible issues, the only trick is, IMO, possible with seasonal activity.

I've tried desert woodlice, they're large, spiny and overall gorgeous, they live in real families and seem safe for any type of companions. But they're also strictly seasonal, without wet-cool/dry-hot shifting they do not breed.

15 hours ago, bigjej said:

Spiny bushes as in pine/evergreen type or acacia, shrubs ?

I've never seen there pines or any other coniferous plants, but - yes, acacias, mimosas, euphorbias and all these spiny shrubs with small, thick and hard leaves.

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Most sand that is sold for use in animal enclosures are too abrasive for roaches and can actually damage their cuticle, which slowly dries them out and can kill them. I highly advise against putting any in your enclosure.

As for using darkling beetles... just be careful. Many Tenebrionid larvae are opportunistic and IMO would definitely snack on molting roaches and their oothecae. Even the commonly used "Buffalo worms" @Bufo Bill suggested would probably cause problems with the Therea, those are better for larger Blaberids like Blaberus and Blaptica

Desert millipedes like Orthoporus could be nice additions to their enclosure, and they rarely breed in captivity, so you don't have to worry about them out-competing the roaches. However, if the Orthoporus were to molt, and the roaches burrowed into the molting chamber and it collapsed, the millipede would probably die...

Honestly I have a hard time seeing any mixed species container doing well long term, that's just my opinion though.

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15 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

I have a hard time seeing any mixed species container doing well long term, that's just my opinion though.

I have :) - for years already :)

#1: Pycnoscelus sp. (initially it was smth like indica, then nigra came with additional substrate, now they're happily coexisting) + Gyna lurida + some small greenish-grey striped millipede from Malaysia + some unidentified grey woodlice from Lao + Trichorrhina tomentosa + some small darkling beetles from southern Zagros + some small xylobiotic Myrmicinae ant from Thailand (nests under dry bark on twigs, migrating to new place when twig is being diminished by companions). Enclosure about 20l, moderately moist, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

#2: Therea regularis + Schultesia lampridiformis + Adesmia + Scaurus + some unidentified small slender woodlice from Kerala. Enclosure about 10l, semi-dry, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

#3: Oxyhaloa deusta + some unidentified roach from Makran mtns + Scaurus + some small xylobiotic darklings from Vietnam + some unidentified small slender woodlice from Kerala. Enclosure about 10l, semi-dry, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

And more...

These are initially and purposefully organised as communal vivariums, but, in fact, I have now several species of woodlice nearly in every enclosure, somewhere with darkling beetles.

Population sometimes changes - new species arive, but, IMO, it's nothing unusual in coexistance.

15 hours ago, Hisserdude said:

Most sand that is sold for use in animal enclosures are too abrasive for roaches

You're exaggerating :) - sand in their habitat can be much more abrasive, especially in case with nearby lava fields: lava sand is terribly abrasive, for feet, shoes, bottoms of tents etc., so I don't see any problem here.

Problems may appear if sand is chemically not clean, containing smth like heavy metals etc, but, IMO, if you take sand purposed for aquarium, there're no problems - by the way, it can be also rounded, for small loaches, cory etc..

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19 hours ago, mehraban said:

I have :) - for years already :)

#1: Pycnoscelus sp. (initially it was smth like indica, then nigra came with additional substrate, now they're happily coexisting) + Gyna lurida + some small greenish-grey striped millipede from Malaysia + some unidentified grey woodlice from Lao + Trichorrhina tomentosa + some small darkling beetles from southern Zagros + some small xylobiotic Myrmicinae ant from Thailand (nests under dry bark on twigs, migrating to new place when twig is being diminished by companions). Enclosure about 20l, moderately moist, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

#2: Therea regularis + Schultesia lampridiformis + Adesmia + Scaurus + some unidentified small slender woodlice from Kerala. Enclosure about 10l, semi-dry, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

#3: Oxyhaloa deusta + some unidentified roach from Makran mtns + Scaurus + some small xylobiotic darklings from Vietnam + some unidentified small slender woodlice from Kerala. Enclosure about 10l, semi-dry, with coco-soil, oak leaves, dead oak/willow twigs with lichens. Food - vegetables, fruits, aquarium fish flakes etc..

And more...

These are initially and purposefully organised as communal vivariums, but, in fact, I have now several species of woodlice nearly in every enclosure, somewhere with darkling beetles.

Population sometimes changes - new species arive, but, IMO, it's nothing unusual in coexistance.

Glad you've had such success with mixed species enclosures, every time I've tried doing one, it ended poorly, usually the "cleaner" species tend to disturb the main inhabitants too much. 

19 hours ago, mehraban said:

You're exaggerating :) - sand in their habitat can be much more abrasive, especially in case with nearby lava fields: lava sand is terribly abrasive, for feet, shoes, bottoms of tents etc., so I don't see any problem here.

Problems may appear if sand is chemically not clean, containing smth like heavy metals etc, but, IMO, if you take sand purposed for aquarium, there're no problems - by the way, it can be also rounded, for small loaches, cory etc..

Me and a few friends have had very bad luck housing "desert" roaches like Polyphaga and Arenivaga in very sandy substrates, even though they are found in sandy habitats in the wild. They get pretty skinny and die, as a result of the sand scratching their cuticle, which causes them to loose water and they usually slowly die off, even if a moist area is provided. Many desert dwelling Corydiids actually spend a lot of time resting in rodent burrows, which are usually lined with decaying organic material, not sand, which is why they do so well on coconut fiber and such in captivity. 

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Alright, I'll forego the sand. I can probably get a more scrubby/desert look without sand anyway. 

There aren't very many domino roaches right now, so I think I'll let them multiply further before I try to introduce anything else. When I do, I think I'll try a handful of herbivorous darklings, they seem like a good bet. 

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On 08.12.2017 at 8:15 AM, Hisserdude said:

They get pretty skinny and die, as a result of the sand scratching their cuticle, which causes them to loose water and they usually slowly die off, even if a moist area is provided. Many desert dwelling Corydiids actually spend a lot of time resting in rodent burrows, which are usually lined with decaying organic material, not sand, which is why they do so well on coconut fiber and such in captivity. 

I think you're right, though...

I've never kept Arenivaga by myself, but have a long and quite successful experience with different Polyphaga species, from Magrib and Eurasia. 

Kept them initially almost exclusively on sand - without any problems (later switched to coco and other organic substrates - they're just much more convenient for me). 

IMO, the main issue is that they really do not spend much time in dry sand, but in moist deep layers, emerging at night for feeding, mating etc. - so, in fact, they meet such a hard conditions only sometimes and for very short periods. 

Rodent (or tortoise) burrows are always full of life :) - even without rodents themselves, but they're not always available.

And, as far as I've seen, in such dry sandy areas any sheltered and "unsandy" place (leewards of any types, especially with some plant material - dry grasses, fallen leaves, dry twigs or logs...) always attracts life. Heavy clayish areas are covered with cracks and fissures, and they form an excellent network of shelters, too - so if surrounding space itself looks pretty unfriendly, you can find many interesting things while investigating these "hidden space":) - sometimes of unexpectedly large size :)

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23 hours ago, mehraban said:

I think you're right, though...

I've never kept Arenivaga by myself, but have a long and quite successful experience with different Polyphaga species, from Magrib and Eurasia. 

Kept them initially almost exclusively on sand - without any problems (later switched to coco and other organic substrates - they're just much more convenient for me). 

IMO, the main issue is that they really do not spend much time in dry sand, but in moist deep layers, emerging at night for feeding, mating etc. - so, in fact, they meet such a hard conditions only sometimes and for very short periods. 

Rodent (or tortoise) burrows are always full of life :) - even without rodents themselves, but they're not always available.

And, as far as I've seen, in such dry sandy areas any sheltered and "unsandy" place (leewards of any types, especially with some plant material - dry grasses, fallen leaves, dry twigs or logs...) always attracts life. Heavy clayish areas are covered with cracks and fissures, and they form an excellent network of shelters, too - so if surrounding space itself looks pretty unfriendly, you can find many interesting things while investigating these "hidden space":) - sometimes of unexpectedly large size :)

Maybe Polyphaga are different then, I haven't tried keeping them on a sandy substrate before. After all, that genus can supposedly collect water vapor from the air and use it for moisture, so they are probably way more resistant to drying out.

Indeed, the rodent burrows in the scrubland around me are often filled with all sorts of invertebrates, they are like little oases. :) (Sadly there are no Arenivaga or other Corydiids here in Idaho...).

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