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Secure 5gal setup for 2 hissers?


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Hello everyone, 

I joined this forum a while back but I thought I had lost my roaches as they had escaped and sadly would have no need for posting here. I have a male and female Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, and they both escaped at different times. Miraculously, the male turned up over a month later in fine condition, and when I found my female she had gotten bigger. Guess they really are resilient! 

They are both pets that were gifted to me from my favorite (and zany) professor. Being truthful, I have always had a fear of roaches but I couldn't bear the thought of them dying in shipment or being eaten eventually. I have made contact with them but haven't actually handled them yet. They are actually very beautiful and while I am still uneasy, I love them both and want them to have good lives. 

Both are escape artists, somehow sneaking their way out of my 5gal tank and absolutely vanishing, not even baited by food. There was the tiniest gap on my glass lid, since I had to buy one since this is a converted aquarium tank, and I couldn't fathom how such an incredibly narrow space could be enough room for 2 plump roaches to squeeze out of. Seriously, I can imagine a gnat being able to get in there, but that's how tiny it is. I have a temporary solution where I plug the spaces with sheaves of paper so there is no gap (they like to hang out on the paper. Waiting for a moment to escape again). I'm going to my local pet stores soon to try to find a suitable lid that will completely seal the enclosure. 

Right now I am using coconut substrate! There isn't much in their tank at the moment, I give them paper towel rolls and a miniature box for them to climb on but that's it. 

  1. These roaches require humidity, correct? I have been misting the sides of the aquarium every couple of days. Is that enough? Do I need a humidifier?
  2. Any tips/recommendations to help keep them from escaping?! 
  3. Is this adequate room for 2 adult hissers?
  4. They are extremely fussy. One moment they like bananas and then they don't. Is there a "favored food" by a cockroach?!
  5. My fruit seems to get moldy pretty quickly, and from my research mold is a serious concern. Should I be feeding them fresh fruit and then removing it daily? 
  6. Are there any other tips or pointers you could give me?

Thank you very much! 

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Welcome to the forum! :)

Wow, I'm really surprised they lived that long outside of their enclosure, those are some hardy hissers you got there lol! That's hissing cockroaches for you, they are true escape artists, especially as young nymphs. For that reason, you gotta keep them in enclosures with really lids, preferably airtight, these containers work well for many keepers, but there are other options as well. You could put a layer of petroleum jelly around the upper rim of the enclosure to try and stop them from getting to the lid.

Coconut fiber is a great substrate, and paper towel rolls work nicely as hides, though eggcrates provide more surface area. They need some humidity, yes, but are pretty dry hardy, I'd recommend keeping one half on the enclosure moist, and the other half dry, so they can choose how much humidity they want. A 5 gal tank is good for two adults, but since you got a sexed pair, you won't just have two adults for long, (at least not if the temps in their enclosure are in the high 70s), eventually once your culture grows, you'll need to move them to a bigger enclosure. 

Just feed them dog/cat kibble, fruits and veggies. They really aren't that fussy, yours may just be full at the moment, they don't have huge appetites. Remove all food after about two days, that's usually once it starts molding. Mold isn't a huge concern so long as you remove it once you see it, as long as it isn't covering everything in the cage, you should be good. 

Hope this helps! :D

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Can confirm that the hissers are master escape artists! I can't even tell you how many times I've played "Find that Roach." Just the other day I had two huge female G. oblongonotas get out of a completely sealed insect cup. I don't know how they managed to pop open the lid, but they did. And that's the second time this duo has gone missing! Luckily, I know all the hot hiding spots in my roach room so I found them quickly.

The best combo I've come up with is silicone lubricant and DIY gaskets. Vaseline does help, but it's messy. I use a food grade silicone lubricant (Super Lube is awesome). It goes on really smooth and stays on a lot longer. Whether you end up with a screen top and/or plastic bins for future nymphs, I recommend adding a gasket as the nymphs can squeeze out of those. I use 3/8" adhesive weather stripping. It works perfectly. BUT they do nibble on the foam, so you'll want to keep an eye on it and replace as necessary. 

And all of my hisser species will literally eat anything, but the key is to feed them only twice a week or so. For fruit you can't go wrong with oranges, and I've found it molds less quickly than most other fruit (esp. banana). In addition to the usual foods, mine also like dried oak leaves, fresh maple leaves, yogurt, granola bars and shelf fungi and mushrooms — just a few of the oddball things they like to snack on. 

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