Isopod care 101
There are 5,000+ known species of terrestrial isopods only around 100+ species are kept in the Isopod trade. All Isopods live in different countries, at different elevations and all together in different environments. although they are so diverse, they have many things in common in terms of their care. In this blog we will cover all the basics of keeping isopods. In the future we plan on doing species profiles on specific Isopod care since this is just a broad care sheet on the more common easier to keep species.
All terrestrial isopods mainly live in soil. They breathe through a set of gills, so they all require a certain level of humidity. Soil and layers of dead leaves help create a perfect environment in captivity. Natural soils provide most of the organic nutrients and minerals isopods feed on regularly as well.
There are 2 main reasons to keep Isopods
Bioactive Enclosures used for housing Reptiles or Amphibians or culturing them for pets.
Isopods for bioactive enclosures need the following to thrive and be able to keep a bioactive setup clean and thriving.
-Organic soil/leaf litter mix
- Wood, Cork bark, stones, or other places for isopods to hide.
- A source of humidity
*** We always culture our isopods before adding them to bioactive enclosures so we're 100% their population can sustain the enclosures needs.***
Isopods being kept to culture can be provided much more in a smaller more controlled environment.
Depending on the amount of isopods you start with, a container between 6-56 quart container should be provided. Here is a chart for ideas. sizes of tubs and amounts of isopods will vary depending on species.
>30 pods - 6 qt
40-100 pods - 18 qt
100-300 pods - 32 qt
400+ pods - 56 qt
All terrestrial isopods need ventilation. Depending on which species you are keeping they could require anything from a loose shutting lid, to vents on all four sides of their set up. While most species of isopods live in dense forests, others live on rocky mountains and hillsides that receive much more airflow.
-Speciality Isopod Diets -Fish food flakes
-Cuttlebone/ Calcium powder
-Occasionally some vegetables
All terrestrial isopods are mainly detritivores, meaning that they feed on decaying matter wherever it is that they live. Fallen leaves, lichen, decaying wood, decaying vegetation, animal waste and remains are all things wild isopods eat on a regular basis. In captivity we are able to replicate this diet very closely whether it be in a bioactive set up or culturing pods in a separate enclosure.
In a bioactive set up, your isopods will likely already have all their food handy. Everything from their substrate and leaf litter, to the animal that is providing waste. Additionally we offer Isopod supplements/Diets that will help make your colony of isopods stronger! Isopods enjoy calcium wether it be in the form of egg shells, cuttlebone, or calcium supplements mixed into their substrate or sprinkled on food.
-Marsupial like pouch
-Some species are very prolific while some breed seasonally.
Breeding Isopods is one of the key components to culturing isopods, but as long as they are setup properly they thrive. Most species can be very prolific having multiple broods a year to several broods a month. On the other hand some Isopod species can be very difficult to reproduce in captivity or only breed seasonally with small amounts of offspring being born at a time. Typically the more difficult species to reproduce or kept as pets or rare species to add to an Isopod collection. Isopods best for Bioactive enclosures that house other larger vertebrates need to be very prolific and mature at a young age. These Isopods can quickly become a snack for any larger reptile or amphibians so keeping a steady population is key.