Trichorhina tomentosa

Trichorhina tomentosa – Tropical isopods

Breeding Trichorhina tomentosa for live food

Breeding Trichorhina tomentosa for live food

Trichorhina tomentosa are not often cultured despite their suitability as a live food. They are small (making them suitable for small species) soft bodied isopods. Being isopods means they have a very high calcium content within their exoskeleton. They are able to live in terrariums for a long time before being eaten providing there are moist areas (this makes them very popular with amphibian keepers). Trichorhina tomentosa can also be beneficial as vivarium custodians, eating scraps of food which would normally encourage mould growth and mites.

To breed Trichorhina tomentosa you will need a suitable encosure. The size of this will depend greatly on the size culture you want, it can range from an old waxworm tub to an old aquarium or storage tub. The only requirement of this is that is is not light permeable (eg light cannot pass through it so it remains dark) as woodlice will not breed in daylight. By providing dark conditions 24/7 you are essentially doubling the ammount of time when breeding can take place.

Once you’ve chosen a tub put a couple of inches of moist compost in the bottom of it (in smaller cultures a few inches will not be possible, but as long as you can provide places for them to hide lack of substrate depth shouldn’t be too much of a problem). Upon this scatter dead leaves, these can be collected from outside but make sure you microwave them before you put them into the culture to kill off any bugs. The leaves will provide both cover and a food source, they should be replaced as they are used up.

In theory, you don’t need to add anything else to the culture, but to increase productivity it is recomended you do. You can provide alternate food sources in the form of vegetable peelings, bits of soft fruit etc. This is only really viable in larger cultures however because smaller numbers don’t eat all that much. One thing you could and, in my opinion should offer is rotting wood. Go to your local woods and find a very old fallen tree. The wood on it should crumble away easily in your hands and it should still be white in colouration. Collect some of this and add it to your culture. This seems to be a very good food source for them. They will actually eat this at quite a suprising rate and favour it to any other food source.

All you need to do now is make sure the culture is always moist but not wet. A dry culture is a dead one (being woodlice they have gills and so need water to survive). If you can, keep them at 25-30c as this is their optimum temperature for growth and reproduction. Just top up the food as and when you need to and the woodlice will do the rest.

Trichorhina tomentosa as vivarium custodians

Trichorhina tomentosa as vivarium custodians

Trichorhina tomentosa make very good vivarium custodians in the right conditions. They will eat scraps of food (such as left over insects and dead leaves if real plants are used) which would normally encourage mould growth and even worse, mites. Using these woodlice in your terrarium means there are no scraps left for the mites to eat so they dramatically reduce the risk of a mites outbreak. If you already have mites they cannot get rid of the mites but they might be useful as part of a strategy to rid yourself of mites because the isopods would compete with the mites for food and as the Trichorhina tomentosa are bigger they would probably win.

All you need to do is add a few adults to the terrarium (I’d recomend adding atleast 10) and forgetting about them. They are quite hardy and providing their moisture requirements are met (they will only survive where they have a water source, in a relatively humid to a very humid terrarium for example). For food they will simply scavenge, eating left over insects, dead leaves, the waste of the creature they are living alongside, etc. They really don’t require any help surviving.

Sourcing Trichorhina tomentosa to start a colony

If your after some Trichorhina tomentosa to start your culture, email me via the contact page and I’ll be able to sell you some very cheaply.