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Banana Roach Colony Maintenance

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Hi all,

Last October I ordered a few banana roaches from roach crossing. It took me a bit to figure out their husbandry, but after some initial tinkering they started doing very well. And now they are very numerous. I'm honestly not sure how many hundreds of roaches there are. I love flipping through their cover and seeing and hearing all of them scatter. It is like a rain stick! Now that there are so many I am thinking about optimal husbandry again.

I have the colony in a black plastic bin. See:


There is a few inches of ecoearth and reptibark mix for soil. I have a few stacks of cardboard in one corner or sometimes propped up against the wall. The roaches generally live in soil in the corners or on, under, or in the cardboard. Now that I have so many roaches the cardboard deteriorates quickly. The lid fits pretty tightly, but I still add a layer of vasoline. Some banana roaches do end up in my hisser bins on occasionally, but the escape rate is pretty low. I feed the roaches aquatic turtle pellets and whatever fruit and vegetable scraps I have handy. They have a dish of water crystals, but the bin is usually plenty moist. I recently drilled a few holes in the top of the bin for ventilation, but for the last few months there was no ventilation and they were fine with only fanning the bin out every day or so. The colony also has sow bug isopods that I added, and some sort of spring tail that found their own way in the colony. The colony sits on a heat mat, I am not sure off hand what the temperature is in the bin.

Any suggestions for upkeep of the colony? I am recently finding many dead roaches, but they are all adults and I understand this species is not very long lived. I have never found a dead nymph and there are still a few hundred adults left so I am not incredibly concerned. Should I be concerned? With my hissers, I can remove roaches, sift out frass, and add new substrate as needed. But the banana roaches are everywhere in their bin, I'm not sure how you would even clean the soil or anything else in the bin. When they shred the cardboard enough I remove it and add new pieces. But I'm not sure what else to do. What do you guys do to ensure your colonies stay healthy as they grow? I was intending to use these for teaching and research, but so far they have been mostly pets. I am not using them as a feeder colony, so my colony will continue to grow and grow.

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Actually I keep them much drier than many people do. Medium moistened substrate+thick layer of leaf litter+minimal ventilation, that's what my set up looks like. Leaf litter is their major diet, and they got all the water they need from substrate. I toss in little amount of dog food occasionally for treat. As a result the whole bin is clean and mold-free, and the colony is growing like weed; I started with 2 dozens and now I even cannot tell how many thousands of roaches in there.

A lot of dead adults is common for this species if you've got a big colony.

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Instead of cardboard you might want to look into getting a few peices of cork bark. It doesn't get soggy, lasts a long time, looks nice, and the roaches enjoy chewing on it.

I've had good luck with the species also. Once the colony gets kicking you will start to see dead adults. The males especially don't live that long, and if you are only seeing adults than I would guess they are aging out rather than husbandry problems. I have several inches of coco fiber, some leaf litter, and cork bark for my set up. I have a wet side and a drier side when it comes to substrate, so they can choose where to hang out depending on needs. I don't add a seperate water source for drinking since they get it from the substrate and food. Mine really enjoy their fruits/veggies. I find it interesting how the adults and nymphs can be drawn to certain foods. For instance the nymphs will inhale the zucchini I add while the adults love to swarm banana. I also add in a couple peices of dog food and sprinkle in some plain oatmeal every couple of days.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am still having a good many adult deaths, but still not seeing dead nymphs and I still have a billion roaches. So I am feeling pretty good about the colony. I am feeding them a little less, and now the dead adults are being eaten a good bit. I'm not sure if it is the roaches or the isopods that are eating them. I also added some darkling beetles. They might help too. I like the idea of having multiple species in a bin to kind of balance out the tiny little ecosystem.

I made a more permanent roach house from balsa wood I got at the hobby store. They really like it. It is always completely filled up with roaches. If I shine a flashlight through it I cannot see the light from the other side! (And then all the roaches start to pour out). You can see a lot of condensation in the picture, but all the dirt in the center of the cage is very dry. I'm not intentionally creating humid and non humid areas, but it does work out that way. I meant to measure temperature and humidity just to have the information, but I keep leaving my stuff at my lab.

RomanBuck, I wonder if, for a short lived species it is important to get a mixed age group. I only had about 15 adults in my order of 100. They died fairly quickly, but a few did breed and the colony did establish itself very well. I don't think that would have happened if I just had an order of large nymphs or adults.


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