Advice for Formicarium

Show us your formicariums and ant setup, ask formicarium-related questions, or share your experiences with building an ant home. Here you will also find formicarium requirements for specific ant species.

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nate2o1
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey

Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 46937Post nate2o1
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm

Hello ant world! I would like to build my own formicariums and my question is, can i use styrofoam to make the cavities and tunnels and coat it with grout? Will that work? Pros/Cons? Or just don't do it.

nate2o1
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47031Post nate2o1
Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:12 pm

Ok, So I decided to build a 10 gallon formicarium using foam blocks and grout. I removed the top frame of the tank to slide the foam blocks in. I had some Styrofoam sheets from one of those food order services. I carved out the tunnels and caverns and coated them with grout. Now this is my first build and would like some advice before I finish it up. I have not installed the top panel for the outworld yet because I want to make sure everything is right before hand. Here are some pics.
10 Gallon Tank with top frame removed
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Tunnels and Caverns Blocks
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Tank with Blocks Installed
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Im pretty sure that I need to fix things so any advice/criticism would help me keep the ants alive.
By the way I will be housing a colony of camponotus pennsylvanicus that I accidentally found in my shed when I was rummaging through some old photos. They were destroying my old photo albums so I decided to collect the colony. It is mature with hundreds of ants and hundreds of eggs.
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Thanks for Helping

Thorond0r
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:50 am
Location: Rhenen, Netherlands

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47072Post Thorond0r
Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:04 am

This is my first year of ant keeping and so far i've only used test tubes and some very small containers as outworlds so i'm by no means an expert. First off i think what you made looks very nice but i'm not sure how well this nest can be moisturized. I have never used grout myself, but won't that block the water from entering the nest?
First year of antkeeping, already enjoying it!

Currently founding:

Lasius niger
Lasius umbratus
Lasius flavus


Still hoping to find a Formica queen.

NKantsalberta
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 6:48 pm
Location: Alberta

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47078Post NKantsalberta
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:31 am

I'm fairly certain camponotus will chew through the Styrofoam, so I would suggest a glass/ similar hard surface to place over the nest portion. If the grout you used does not absorb water, you will need to ensure you moisten the nest more often. However, I am pretty sure camponotus prefer a drier environment, so be sure to not over water, to avoid drowning them... id experiment and see what they prefer
Founding 3x Camponotus novaeboracensis, 5x Formica sp

Keeping 1x Myrmica Sp

MorbidBugg
Posts: 285
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:11 pm
Location: Orangeville

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47083Post MorbidBugg
Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:07 am

NKantsalberta wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:31 am
I'm fairly certain camponotus will chew through the Styrofoam, so I would suggest a glass/ similar hard surface to place over the nest portion. If the grout you used does not absorb water, you will need to ensure you moisten the nest more often. However, I am pretty sure camponotus prefer a drier environment, so be sure to not over water, to avoid drowning them... id experiment and see what they prefer
I concur with this. Even in a plaster of paris neat my Camponotus are constantly checking for weak spots and trying to dig.

A theory for moisten ing. If they don't chew through it all add little tube ports where you can add full testes of water with a cotton ball at the end. Place ports all around the nesting areas and in theory the heat from. The ambient heat should allow condesation to form in side the nest rather than pouting water 'willy nilly'
Ants are life's most successful invaders. Understand and respect that power.

MorbidBugg
Posts: 285
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:11 pm
Location: Orangeville

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47084Post MorbidBugg
Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:08 am

Me and my auto correct/ spell checker are about to throw down...
Ants are life's most successful invaders. Understand and respect that power.

nate2o1
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47090Post nate2o1
Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:24 am

So, on the left side of the picture I have a chamber for water. The bottom will be stuffed with cotton and a tube leading down to them. So my thoughts are that the left side of the tank will be humid while the rest of the enclosure will be fairly dry.
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I am in the process of making the outworld right now. Again I am using a sheet of foam. I coated it with Grout mixed with rough sand. On the bottom of the picture will be the main entrance, It is 5/8 tubing. On the right is another entrance 1/2" Tube and on the left is the tube for water. The two ropes is if I need to remove the top for any reason cuz it is fairly tight fitting. I do have another hole in the back that I have yet to make. Not sure if I should. I'm concerned about air because the outworld is tight against the glass.
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Should I make more entrances? More airflow? More Water chambers? Smaller tank (5 1/2 Gallon tank)? Other Suggestions/Objections, Comments/Criticisms?

MorbidBugg
Posts: 285
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:11 pm
Location: Orangeville

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47100Post MorbidBugg
Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:57 am

Hrmm perhaps pre made air holes filled with some form of plug. Ants tend not to like air flow too much in their nests. However this can be handY say if you need to introduce airflow to encourage a move if need one down the road. Perhaps section off one of the sides and make it a stand alone nest and attach a new nest hole it and keep it plugged again in case of wanting a new nest for health reasons or incase they need more room for brood and the like. I've got a 29 gallon tank that I feel may be a bit of over kill so I think the 10 gal should be adequate.
Ants are life's most successful invaders. Understand and respect that power.

NKantsalberta
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 6:48 pm
Location: Alberta

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47147Post NKantsalberta
Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:33 pm

Less airflow is better inside the nest for sure. All in all i would say this is a good size for your ants given they are a mature colony, you may even need to go bigger in a couple years if they get too crowded.
Founding 3x Camponotus novaeboracensis, 5x Formica sp

Keeping 1x Myrmica Sp

nate2o1
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Advice for Formicarium

Post: # 47149Post nate2o1
Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:28 pm

Well, working on the formacarium Im not too happy with it. The gaps in the front concerns me that they can burrow through it. I decided to start over, so that there are no gaps. But on that note, what you are saying is that those entrances are enough for air to circulate in? That would be the only air going into the nesting area as the top will be pretty air tight so that they can't dig through the sides. Maybe a few more entrances? Again this is my first Formicarium, and i'm just a beginner. I was not expecting to build one for a while as I just caught my queens a few days ago (The Formica Subsericea and one of the Camponotus Pennsylvanicas both have egg clutches as of yesterday).
But like I said I came across the mature colony of Camponotus Pennsylvanicas while looking for old photos in my shed and I want to house them as soon as possible. So this project came to me as surprise. I don't want to make mistakes and I certainly don't want to lose the whole colony.

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