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Silverfish and Isopods


Roachman26
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I've seen a few posts in the past about "clean-up crews". What's the latest on this? I've got lots of silverfish running around and at least two species of isopods(we call 'em rolly-pollies in this part of the country). Can I just throw a few in there, or do I need specific tropical ones? I've just recently set-up my first few bins with substrate and I'm wondering how hard it will be to clean them in a year. In other words, if there are 3000 babies and nymphs buried in two or three inches substrate, how do you find them all? Is it possible to set up a semi-self-sustaining eco-system, like a fish tank?

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I've seen a few posts in the past about "clean-up crews". What's the latest on this?

These are generally used in arachnoculture, and have no benefit in a roach culture as both isopods and roaches are detrivores by nature, so the isopods in effect are competing for the same food items/water sources.

I've got lots of silverfish running around and at least two species of isopods(we call 'em rolly-pollies in this part of the country). Can I just throw a few in there, or do I need specific tropical ones?

You can use one or the other or both. I would not recommend it though unless you just thought it was neat.

I've just recently set-up my first few bins with substrate and I'm wondering how hard it will be to clean them in a year. In other words, if there are 3000 babies and nymphs buried in two or three inches substrate, how do you find them all?

Sifting with hardware cloth or a sieve. Toss the fines and keep the rest. You may or may not lose a dozen or two in the process. I put my fines in a bin al together and when it all goes dry I burn the whole batch.

Is it possible to set up a semi-self-sustaining eco-system, like a fish tank?

Not really. But some people just let it go and add new stuff to the top over the course of some years at a stretch (which works fine) and then may start a new bin with some of the stock transferred over and then loss of the remains. You have a long while before you have to cross that bridge either way though.... ;)

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When my hisser colony used to be outta control I would pick out all I could with their hides, move the substrate to one end of the tank and put up some hides on the bare end. Then the next couple of nights I could take out the hides and shake them into the new container. I put all of the substrate in a bag and put it in the freezer for a day or leave it outside overnight during our disgusting Utah winter. I doubt hissers can survive in Utah but I doubt our neighbors want any, even temporary, stay pets. Once you reach a healthy population level this method of removing nymphs is an easy way to cull.

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When my hisser colony used to be outta control I would pick out all I could with their hides, move the substrate to one end of the tank and put up some hides on the bare end. Then the next couple of nights I could take out the hides and shake them into the new container. I put all of the substrate in a bag and put it in the freezer for a day or leave it outside overnight during our disgusting Utah winter. I doubt hissers can survive in Utah but I doubt our neighbors want any, even temporary, stay pets. Once you reach a healthy population level this method of removing nymphs is an easy way to cull.

I like this method, I'll give it a try when the time comes.

As far as culling, I and my friends, relatives and business associates could probably feed out 10,000 a day. I know a lot of people with a lot of hungry mouths to feed. The problem is they all want it for free. A lot of the people I work with called me when they heard about my new roach colonies and told me they'd be glad to "help out" if I have any extras. It will be months before my colonies really start taking off. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they all compare as far as speed of reproduction. My hissers have been going crazy for years and I understand they are on the slow end of the spectrum.

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I like this method, I'll give it a try when the time comes.

As far as culling, I and my friends, relatives and business associates could probably feed out 10,000 a day. I know a lot of people with a lot of hungry mouths to feed. The problem is they all want it for free. A lot of the people I work with called me when they heard about my new roach colonies and told me they'd be glad to "help out" if I have any extras. It will be months before my colonies really start taking off. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they all compare as far as speed of reproduction. My hissers have been going crazy for years and I understand they are on the slow end of the spectrum.

Have you ever kept lobster roaches? ;) They reproduce as fast as you can throw the food in the bin....

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Have you ever kept lobster roaches? ;) They reproduce as fast as you can throw the food in the bin....

Not yet, but I'm working on it. How fast are Blatta lateralis compared to lobsters?

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Not yet, but I'm working on it. How fast are Blatta lateralis compared to lobsters?

lats are fast in an explosive manner, lobsters are more of a fast but steady increase. Both are fast, but I would say few if any for me reproduce as fast as a Nauphoeta cinerea (lobster roach).

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Hi

Well... I don't know whether I just have a subjective placebo impression or if I'm an exception but I have less problems with isopods in moist roach cultures.

Its right that isopods and some cockroaches share the same nutrition BUT isopods eat the poo of roaches and they are a lot smaller and thus feed on smaller debris roaches can't eat. This strongly reduces mold and such. In addition isopods eat decaying and putrid roaches or roaches of species which don't touch dead insects (like my Therea olegrandjeani, Panchlora nivea, or Phoetalia pallida). In the case of the first two species the isopods help to break down bigger chunks of rotten wood to make it available for small nymphs.

It might be that in my case there is less to no competition between roaches and isopods because of size difference, speed and sufficient food and therefore roaches eat the bigger and fresh things (on top) whilst the isopods feed on the small and old left-overs (in the soil).

Besides the isopods I for sure have a bunch of other saprophytes like mites, springtails and others in the moist cultures but the isopods are the main critters removing "dirt".

Grüessli

Andreas

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Hi

Well... I don't know whether I just have a subjective placebo impression or if I'm an exception but I have less problems with isopods in moist roach cultures.

Its right that isopods and some cockroaches share the same nutrition BUT isopods eat the poo of roaches and they are a lot smaller and thus feed on smaller debris roaches can't eat. This strongly reduces mold and such. In addition isopods eat decaying and putrid roaches or roaches of species which don't touch dead insects (like my Therea olegrandjeani, Panchlora nivea, or Phoetalia pallida). In the case of the first two species the isopods help to break down bigger chunks of rotten wood to make it available for small nymphs.

It might be that in my case there is less to no competition between roaches and isopods because of size difference, speed and sufficient food and therefore roaches eat the bigger and fresh things (on top) whilst the isopods feed on the small and old left-overs (in the soil).

Besides the isopods I for sure have a bunch of other saprophytes like mites, springtails and others in the moist cultures but the isopods are the main critters removing "dirt".

Grüessli

Andreas

What species of isopod are you using? Any pics? I might throw some in a new set-up with some roaches, just to see what, if anything, happens. Does anyone see a problem with tossing some wild caught isopods and or silverfish into a bin on the other side of the room from my main roaches? I don't want to introduce anything that could threaten my beloved roaches.

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Hi

I have those small white ones marketed as Trichorhina tomentosa and another brown species of the same size but unknown name (they seem to be traded as brown or striped isopods <_< ).

Tossing in endemic species wouldn't be an additional problem for me because the things they might have stick on the stuff I feed my roaches or use as a substrate anyway.

Isopods, especially tropical ones, are an easy trial because one doesn't has to remove them upon failure; just keep the substrate completely dry for a few days and the isopods are all dead and gone again.

EDIT:

Silverfish to my knowledge feed preferably on cellulose, starch and other polysaccharides which means that they help decomposing the egg crates which in turn leads to an increase in mites (platitude: decomposed carton and equal seems to be a main source for mites in roach cultures which I can confirm by my own experience with moist substrates). On the other hand silverfish eat mites (according to wikipedia)...

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