My first formicarium Mold

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AntsMclama

My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13525Post AntsMclama
Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:49 pm

So i'm going to be using a grout setup formicarium, All but one item has already arrived at my house so i went and did whatever i could beforehand.
So i made a mold!
Image
This mold is 5inch by 7inch, The tunnels are 1 inch(2.5cm) tall and the water chamber is 4cm tall.
It will house what i believe is tetramorium ants. (haven't ID yet, but I'm sure they are)

Some of the tunnels could be a little too close i thought, but this is the general layout of what the ants will live in for a while.

Tomorrow or the next day when i get the last item, I will continue with it and post pictures here when its all said and done!

Lukestewart

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13633Post Lukestewart
Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:47 pm

Can you explain more about your hydration system? I will be watching so keep the updates coming. ☺

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13636Post AntsMclama
Tue Oct 11, 2016 11:49 pm

Lukestewart wrote:Can you explain more about your hydration system? I will be watching so keep the updates coming. ☺
the plan is going to be that much like Crystals tutorial video, and her thread from formiculture.com
In the picture, the bottom right piece which is by itself is the water reservoir, Its "deeper" than the tunnels of the nest by 1.5cm. I'm going to mold it slightly bit more when i receive my perlite tomorrow and begin work on it.

I will apply cooking oil to the entire mold so that later on, it will be easier to take the mold out.
I will mix a Unsanded-grout 1:2 perlite ratio mix(A), with some water to a "Pancake thickness" as her video explains.
I will then pour mixture A into the mold, about 0.5-0.8cm (my opinion) above the highest point of the tunnel, which leaves the water reservoir sticking out.
I will then put some Chamois cloth (super absorbant cloth, known as shamwow to most) around this "central" point of the formicarium. This is to carry the water to the other portions of the formicarium easier, and to allow the hydration system to be more effective. (this is my understanding of it, i don't think her thread fully explained it)
In her thread, she said you could use sand instead, but i don't want to risk having a colony go half a year and then fail on hydration, So i am trying to be safe, than sorry.
I'll pour on some more of MIX A, A thin layer.

Then ill make a sanded-grout 1:1 sand ratio mixture, and pour some that in, I think this is just a "filler", but I'm doing this step because i thought it would save me money and resources. I don't think it is that much. Mixture B wont absorb much water and will just simply make the formicarium stand up a little more.

Then i .. let it dry for 24 hours, take out wood, dry 12 hours, remove the clay from it and drill the holes now before it gets even harder, then wait 5 more days before introducing water (because its drying), and the ants.
Thats the plan!

And i'll be taking pictures of what i do tomorrow :) And post them here afterwards!

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13669Post AntsMclama
Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:07 pm

I just realized i said 1:2 perlite, its unsanded-grout 2:1 perlite ratio. I'm beginning work on it now ;)

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13677Post AntsMclama
Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:27 pm

Well, I attempted it the first time, And as of right now i don't know if the formicarium will work due to the water.
Here is a picture of the half-way point, I had too thin of a mixture and i realized that the containers were only HALF full with grout.... So i was working with a limited supply of unsanded grout.
Image
I went and tried to sprinkle a LITTLE bit of perlite and sand near the water reservoir, But my sand was slightly wet and i realized that it started to sink into the grout, of which i did not have a thick enough layer above my tunnels as i wanted. I also made sure the cloth was touching the clay a little better than in the picture.

I then poured the sanded-grout with sand mixture, once again messing up and putting too much water in it. I learned now that i should put a TINY bit of water, then put in the other stuff, and add water when i need it.
Here is the final pour, with a lot of excess water on top that i did drain a lot from already once before.
Image

My worry is that the water will somehow be able to make it into the actual nesting area. In 36 hours i guess i'll be able to see if it did or not!

Now to wait 24 hours before removing the wood from the mold.

Lukestewart

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13699Post Lukestewart
Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:56 pm

AntsMclama wrote:
Lukestewart wrote:Can you explain more about your hydration system? I will be watching so keep the updates coming. ☺
the plan is going to be that much like Crystals tutorial video, and her thread from formiculture.com
In the picture, the bottom right piece which is by itself is the water reservoir, Its "deeper" than the tunnels of the nest by 1.5cm. I'm going to mold it slightly bit more when i receive my perlite tomorrow and begin work on it.

I will apply cooking oil to the entire mold so that later on, it will be easier to take the mold out.
I will mix a Unsanded-grout 1:2 perlite ratio mix(A), with some water to a "Pancake thickness" as her video explains.
I will then pour mixture A into the mold, about 0.5-0.8cm (my opinion) above the highest point of the tunnel, which leaves the water reservoir sticking out.
I will then put some Chamois cloth (super absorbant cloth, known as shamwow to most) around this "central" point of the formicarium. This is to carry the water to the other portions of the formicarium easier, and to allow the hydration system to be more effective. (this is my understanding of it, i don't think her thread fully explained it)
In her thread, she said you could use sand instead, but i don't want to risk having a colony go half a year and then fail on hydration, So i am trying to be safe, than sorry.
I'll pour on some more of MIX A, A thin layer.

Then ill make a sanded-grout 1:1 sand ratio mixture, and pour some that in, I think this is just a "filler", but I'm doing this step because i thought it would save me money and resources. I don't think it is that much. Mixture B wont absorb much water and will just simply make the formicarium stand up a little more.

Then i .. let it dry for 24 hours, take out wood, dry 12 hours, remove the clay from it and drill the holes now before it gets even harder, then wait 5 more days before introducing water (because its drying), and the ants.
Thats the plan!

And i'll be taking pictures of what i do tomorrow :) And post them here afterwards!
Sorry could you post a link. I can't find her tutorial.

Thanks Luke

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13725Post AntsMclama
Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:16 pm

No problem, Here

And part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkgQl1vjGDI
Part 3 is nothing. watch it anyway :P
And she has a more updated method thread found here: http://www.formiculture.com/topic/2298-how-to-make-a-picture-frame-grout-formicarium-with-advanced-hydration/

And here is a picture i snapped earlier in the day after removing the wood.
Image

Lukestewart

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13758Post Lukestewart
Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:49 pm

Thanks so much. Does she happen to give an explanation to why she uses sanded and in sanded in certain spots etc. so fascinating. Would this way be better than say using hydrostone?

Pic looking good, you've inspired and taught me heaps. Thank you

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 13760Post AntsMclama
Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:09 pm

Its no problem, But with my recent learnings... as she explains in the video of which i did not follow this step.. make sure you use a rigid bottom to it, maybe even the glass itself or a larger glass pane. I wrapped some kind of cooking foil thing around some cardboard to make it smaller and easier to move around. I can tell you that it did help, but at the opposite end.
Image

I was able to get the clay out easily, the oil worked i just needed to get a stepping stone to pull out the cold clay.
Image
Once i got a little bit out, the rest was easy.

Back to that rigid problem.. well.. you see.... I put the glass on top to see how it would look, and it is NOT flat! The cardboard as you can see left some lines on top of it, and its also got a curve to it. Most likely happend when i picked it up to move it.

I don't think its THAT bad, i just hope that the ants won't think or start biting at the silicone.

Maybe someone can answer this for me.... , hmm...
I know some ants can chew through silicone, but can Tapinoma Sessile?

AntsMclama

Re: My first formicarium Mold

Post: # 14149Post AntsMclama
Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:15 pm

Okay, its been a bit and i gave the formicarium time to "cure".

Sunday i decided to put the glass on, but before that i tried to sand down a little bit of that "hump" and got most of it flattened after about a 10 minute session. I had to keep cleaning the sand paper because the tiny dust kept sticking to it.
Put the glass on and it's lookin good!
Image

I put some weight onto it, this wooden object thing that rotates.
Monday i check on it, i lift up on the wood and as its a inch or so off the glass, i realized that it wasn't 1 solid object, but two..... The bottom piece fell onto the glass and... well, 3 crack lines starting from a corner.
I thought about taking off the glass and applying a new one, But it is not as bad as it sounds and you will see a screenshot lower in the post.

Tuesday night, a few hours before i went to sleep i decided to start "hydrating" the formicarium, So i put about 26ml of water in the reservoir, It seems to hold about that much just fine. I also put some water inside of the tunnels and shook it around a little to try and jumpstart that area.
Before falling asleep i took a look. I noticed a little bit of the water drained, I had thought that it should be empty with the Chamois cloth being inside! I filled it up some more!

Wednesday And by the time it was morning.. it was completely dry.
I filled it up with water again, and when i checked 30 minutes later, it was completely dry! It seems it just needed some kind of "kickstart" to get goin. I was filling this thing up every 30-60 minutes for about 5 hours until it really slowed down. I kept watering it to full the rest of the day.
Along with the morning, i decided to introduce the formicarium to the ants. It is the middle stone from the test tube, to the outworld i have created.
Lots of ants explored it, but at this moment i don't think the formicarium is just "ready" yet.
Image

Leaning into
Thursday pre-3pm EST
Lots of ants just seem to be resting inside the formicarium now! This is new and cool. But no queens or any of their small brood.
But one thing i did notice is... The hydration system is working! I notice little tiny droplets of water along the walls of the tunnels!!! But i hope its not too much!
Image

As I am writing this, I'm noticing ants going back an forth between test tube and the formicarium entrance, You can see i have some yellow paper so i can see them easier. :)


With this process, my first formicarium is done. I learned many things!
Recommendations... Use the chamois cloth, Grout absorbs slowly.
Glue at least some tubing into your formicarium, Letting them rest their may cause for some "accidents" as silicone is not enough.
Give yourself a half inch wall between your tunnels, I'm scared mine will break somewhere as mine is a little thinner.

And i'll move onto a journal in the future and separate from this post!

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