New Antkeeper Questions

Questions from those who are just starting or considering getting into the ant keeping hobby. If you’re intimidated or confused by the in-depth posts of the other sections of this forum, feel free to post here, and we'll start from square one!

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Allaric
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Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:33 am
Location: Tampa, FL USA

New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16385Post Allaric
Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:09 am

Hello Antkeepers!

I have a couple questions as I prepare to keep ants for real for the first time. My wife isn't super excited about it, so I need to make sure they don't end up on the lawn, myself included :)

1) Does a well-kept ant farm smell? My ants would be kept indoors and I need to make sure that i don't stink up the house. I am willing to spend time cleaning it each day to try remove trash, bodies, and clean up as much poo as possible. Part 2: what is the best ant-safe cleaning material for an acrylic tank? Am I down to water and a soft-bristle toothbrush?

2) Does a well-kept ant farm look gross? I have watched a ton of videos here and some of Mikey's nests look real clean, and other times it is kind of gross. I can see he has about a 1000 colonies going, so I would imagine he is willing to let it go a few days sometimes as long as it doesn't hurt his ants, but that won't work for my situation. I only plan to keep one colony and I will spend the needed time to keep it always clean if that is possible. I also plan to have alternating outworlds and nests every few months so I can clean them real well without feeding my ants my hands. My planned species likes to move so that should be OK with them.

3) Can you potty train an ant? Now that you have stopped laughing, I thought it might be possible. Ants seem to poo in the same place, and I was curious if you could smear some ant-poo from your colony onto a plate/dish or whatever and encourage them to poo there (at least primarily). Maybe even place it where they picked to begin with to ease them into it. Then you could replace that tray, reseed and save on cleaning effort. Thought it was worth asking.

4) I plan to keep Pogonomyrmex badius which are reasonably large in my experience. Is a 3/8" ID tube large enough for them to move around? How many queens should I catch to ensure a colony but avoid starting a GAN farm? I wouldn't mind offloading a few, but I am not looking to start 2 hobbies at once. Any experienced collectors have any helpful hints on this species? Is a polystyrene test tube setup appropriate to start?

5) What is the safest/healthiest way to restrict the size of the ant colony? I will have a good sized space for the ants (2 12" x 9" outworlds, 1-2 6" x 12" formicariums) and would like a few hundred ants, but I want nothing to do with a colony the size of Mikey's Solenopsis colony. That would be a no-go. I know you are supposed to restrict the food to control the population, but how do you know if you are doing it right? I don't want them to starve, but I don't want them to explode either.

Thanks for your help, I am excited to get back into ants!

Martialis
Posts: 1172
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Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16391Post Martialis
Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:35 am

The answers to your first 3 questions are the same: No. As for the rest, here are the answers:

4. The 3/8 ID tubing should work fine. You might try collecting around 4-5 queens, to account for those who will die. If too many queens get workers, you can always release some.

5. Try limiting protein by a small to moderate amount. This should limit the amount of brood the colony can sustain.
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Serafine
Posts: 254
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Location: Germany

Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16519Post Serafine
Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:43 pm

1) Most ants do not smell, at least not to a degree where it is recognizable in the room. If you lift the foricarium you might smell something (my Camponotus barbarcius mildly smell like a mixture of oil color, hair spray and superglue) but it won't spread.
Noticeable exception are ants from the genus Atta (Leafcutters) which have a very strong smell (other fungus-growers might smell, too).

2) Most ants are rather clean and usually dispose their waste into the outworld. However since the nest is moist it WILL get dirty over time and after 2 years it should be disassembled and cleaned (move then ants to another part of the setup before). Grout and Ytong nests need to be disposed and replaced as they cannot be properly cleaned.

3) No. The ants will pick a place and you have to live with it. If you're lucky they are clean - my Camponotus pulled some cotton from the plug and made a dry toilet area that does never mold (because it and the tube in general are rather dry with no condensation - that won't work for ants that need it more moist though), also they quickly dispose all unneeded food leftovers in the outworld.

4) When will the US finally move to the metric system use by the rest of the world?

5) The most effective way is to lower the temperature to the lowest they can live with. That will significantly slow their growth. You can also limit their protein food but that way you risk breakout attempts with the more nomadic species (Black Crazies, Solenopsis, Pheidole, etc.).
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Martialis
Posts: 1172
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:30 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16521Post Martialis
Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:53 pm

Serafine wrote:4) When will the US finally move to the metric system use by the rest of the world?
Lol. :) When will y'all come back? 3/8 of an inch is 0.9525 centimeters.
Keeper of

Aphaenogaster cf. rudis

Tetramorium caespitum

Crematogaster sp.

Tapinoma sessile

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Serafine
Posts: 254
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Location: Germany

Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16524Post Serafine
Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:04 pm

My Camponotus (queen 18mm long) came in a 15x100mm tube and were perfectly fine. I had to settle them to a new tube (30x200mm, because the old one ran out of water) which is perfect as well, although I wouldn't recommend placing more moisture-loving ants in such a big and thus dry test tube.
"We should respect all forms of consciousness. The body is just a vessel, a mere hull."

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shaky33
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Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16525Post shaky33
Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:47 pm

If you dont mind the smell diluted vinegar is great for cleaning. Its a natural disinfectant and easy/cheap to get your hands on.
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Allaric
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Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:33 am
Location: Tampa, FL USA

Re: New Antkeeper Questions

Post: # 16645Post Allaric
Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:46 pm

Thanks for the helpful information everyone.

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