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Wait... substrate is bad?


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Hi everyone! Been a hot minute but I trust your opinions a lot more than the roach facebook groups. 

I made a new bin for my dubia colony. They are both feeders and pets btw.

The first one I did was too ventilated, it dried out so fast I feel like they were not thriving. I also heard they like it darker so I got a bin that was a solid opaque color instead of clear, put less venting on it, and made the substrate deeper. I use a blend of soil mix, eco earth, finely ground dried sphagnum moss, and a bit of aspen chips. This bin is kept on a shelf directly near the small space heater I use to keep the critter room warm so I do not use additional heating. I put some springtails in there too, figuring if nothing else it couldn't hurt. They seem active and happy to me (though I noticed an ooth that a female ejected, oh no!) but I got told by someone online (not that kindly) that my setup was crap and I "had to" have egg crates. 

Is substrate that bad? I mean, I imagine that there are no egg crates in whatever wild habitat they're from. They've got a bit of cardboard pieces in there to climb around on, should I be providing more climbing things? They seem to be happy with digging and pull all their carrot pieces and such underground. Apparently I'm introducing water to frass and they're all going to diiiiie... idk seems sorta suspicious to me, they've been here about a year and haven't all diiiiied yet even when they didn't have enough moisture... what say you?

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Substrate seems to be mainly a difference of pets vs feeders. Standard feeder containers make maximum use of vertical space with egg crates to pack a lot of roaches into a bin. That's the only function of egg crates. Zero substrate, is very easy to clean the dry frass, dead, and molts while not spending much time on the maintenance. I think of this as how people feed insectivores with the least amount of space and effort spent. Extra moisture in a bin with only paper, frass, roaches, and food can quickly lead to bacteria, fungus, pest insects, etc.

On the other hand naturalistic containers with substrate, bark, leaves, branches, etc are perfectly fine. You're just replicating nature. There are hundreds of pictures of similar setups in the forum here. It's how tons more people including myself have kept reptiles for years also. The big difference is that the feeder bin i described previously isn't bio active. A little extra moisture (for short periods) in a naturalistic bin is perfectly fine when roaches are low density, and in balance. If someone thinks dirt and moisture are what kill cockroaches, there isn't much point arguing with them lol.

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Thanks, that makes me feel a bit better. I was keeping them more based on what my invert groups were doing than the reptile ones, so I guess that's the difference. Like yes, I dig around looking for little ones to feed off here and there, but I have one small bin of dubias and a single, four month old crested gecko, and a couple of tiny tarantula slings. So they're basically pets and every once in a while I kidnap a little one or two lol. The adults are far too large for anything I have to tackle, so I feel like it's a pretty decent trade off... I give them the nicest life I can muster and in return a few disappear sometimes- but still less than would in the wild so I mean, still a pretty decent deal I'd say. XD I genuinely like my feeders, the dubias and the little beetles and such. Fascinating little cuties! I just also have other little friends who need to eat. 

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  • 1 month later...

I keep all of my roaches on substrate that I would assume is bioactive at this point. Springtails and isopods with most of them. The soil becomes very rich, haven't had any issues with feeding them off or keeping them alive this way.

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