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What are essential nutrients for cockroaches?


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Can anyone lead me in the direction of a research paper, or good information outlining essential nutrients for any type of cockroach?  I fed too large of a squash before vacation and now have a gnat problem that still won't completely go away after 2 months. I want to mix my own all dry diet for the time being. If it works well, i'll probably still keep it as the main diet going forward. The goal is to have a course mix that allows choice based feeding, and covers all the bases. I understand all this isn't necessary for roaches to do fine, but I enjoy being thorough.


Also please help save me from the wrath of my girlfriend! 😅

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There's a thread on this site that supposedly contains information from a biochemist studying Blatella germanica and Periplaneta americana. That's probably the most accessible "research-quality" information we can get without diving into academic journals or databases that require authorized logins or paywalls. Basically, just feed your roaches what they will eat lol. You mentioned wanting to do an "all dry" diet but I think that would not necessarily help with fungus gnats. Try increasing ventilation in your cage or drastically decreasing the amount of food you feed at any given time for a few weeks. The gnats are never completely removable, if you have roaches  you're pretty much always gonna have a few around. The gnats are there for an ecological reason, so you can do some tweaking in the amount of organic matter you add to the environment. Springtails can also help fill this niche before the gnat larvae can.

But anyway one of the things that the thread I was referring to said was that feeding vegetables and fruits helps to "restrict" the amount of protein the roaches get in their diet, supposedly too much protein is bad for them. So if you want to go for a "laboratory" type of diet, this might work: try rotating between fish flakes/pellets, dog food, and some type of oat/wheat bran. For a water and vitamin source use carrots and apples. Make sure that the roaches finish eating them in less than 24 hours. Also leaf litter can provide a backup source of food and shelter.

But don't obsess over protein content or specific nutrients or anything. As long as you provide at least a somewhat varied diet, and your roaches are breeding and growing, you don't have to worry about their diet.

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Thanks for commenting Blatta. Are gnats something that really doesn't go away!? I've had a few thousand strong colonies for years in the past, and never a gnat. I do still offer carrots, and small pieces of apple. Large colonies of ravenous eaters are easy. I have a few small colonies that it's hard to gauge what they'll eat in a day or two though. These ones are still a gnat issue for fruits and veggies.

I did find a few good research papers giving protein to carbohydrate ratios based on choice feeding vs peak breeding efficiency. Nothing more in depth though. I'm just an enthusiast, so I assume there is research out there that I can't find.

I was looking to break it down further than protein to carbohydrate ratios. For many other animals there is information on essential amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins needed to survive/thrive. I know I've read information in the past on different amino acids that roaches are able to create within their bodies that are essential to most other organisms. I can't seem to find anything down this avenue though.

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  • 1 month later...

Yeah I think it would be hard for people to study the essential nutrients of roaches since they are omnivores that can survive on very little. Especially with a lot of roaches recycling nitrogen in their gut. Of course it would probably vary quite a lot between different groups of roaches. 

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I choose diets based on what certain cockroaches in their habitat can eat. To do this, I simply take a specific species and one of the geographic locations in which this species lives. Then I study the composition of the flora of this place and seasonality. As a result, I get a list of the main plant species with their vegetative and generative mass. To this we add cannibalism and carrion. In practice, for example, for "Madagascar cockroaches" of all kinds, I get the following diet: wheat bran, grass meal, meat and bone meal 2:2:1; in addition, once a week cockroaches receive fresh carrots in a single dosage, but this is not necessary at all, this is because I kind of feel sorry for cockroaches and I do it purely from "human" motives.

As for mosquitoes and other unnecessary living creatures, I completely exclude any substrate and moisture, since the "Madagascar cockroaches" (tribus Gromphadorhini) need very low humidity - they actually live in the desert.

With "wet" cockroaches, everything is more complicated. You can not feed the same food, because everything will be covered with mold. I just put leaf litter and half-dead crickets on the substrate. Leaf litter is eaten gradually, and crickets rather quickly. So, for example, I keep Polyphaga species that live in damp, warm burrows in the deserts of the Old World, emerging at night to feed on green and dry plant parts, mammalian excrement, and carrion. They have practically no mosquitoes, because they rummage in the substrate and if they meet some kind of not very mobile and soft living creatures, then they immediately eat it with appetite.

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