This founding formicarium is just like one of the big city apartments you would find for a human, small and cozy with tiny rooms minus the outrageous rent cost!
This formicarium is for small to medium founding queens, a small colony and small species, and it features the following benefits:
The centre chamber has low height; it is small and cozy; it also has a rugged substrate making cocoon spinning easier, distributing humidity, and having a texture that is more “natural” to ants.
The two chambers can be used one after the other, providing a smaller starting space and, later when needed, expand gradually; keeping the formicarium space as small as required increases the growth rate.
Ant species like prenolepis imparis likes to rest against hard moist substrate, the wall next to the water chamber has the most humidity, the rest of the chamber has humidity gradient that lowers as you go further from the water chamber wall.
The entrance chamber is dryer as it does not have substrate and does not receive water directly, this graident is ideal for ants as they will be able to use the areas according to their needs.
The water chamber allows controlling the humidity depending on the frequency and quantity of water added. This means the formicarium can fit dry to humid species. ** The unit is very efficient at retaining humidity and needs very little water on a planned schedule. (see instructions below).
The unit includes a 4 cm vinyl tube that has a polyester fibre plug, this allows to provide ventilation into the unit, please see photos for reference as it can be used in 3 different positions creating variations on how the chambers are used. The plug can be removed and substituted for cotton, or you can plug the entrance with the material of your choice.
Combined with a small foraging area the apartment is a very small efficient way of founding a colony in a compact and easy to observer nest.
Specifications and Instructions
Dimensions: 25 x 75 x 16 mm +/- 3%
Features a hole on the front to fit approximately 9.5 mm (3/8-inch) tubing. Yes it is small but trust us, this is what ants like, even a camponotus queen can fit thru thus tubing.
Optical glass (1 mm thick) with exceptional transparency mounted with Neodymium magnets.
The frame is 3D printed using PLA plus/pro plastic.
The water chamber is made with a special formulation of porous grout to ensure water transport; inside walls have 3 layers composed of different ratios of unsanded/sanded grout and mineral additives.
Weight: 26 grams +/- 3%
Before introducing any species, please fill-up the water chamber with distilled water from 50 to 75% of its capacity; we recommend introducing ants 24 hours after the first initial hydration.
Please read water chamber instructions below for further information on humidity control.
Photos illustrate the 3 main ways the hose and ventilation plug can be used, for example you can bypass the frontal chamber or you can create a small tiny chamber on the tubing itself.
Heating cables or heating mats are both acceptable ways to add warmth to your colony, we recommend passing the heating cable on top of the glass towards the front chamber or on the side same towards the front chamber only using a “U” shape against the wall. If using a mat then only place the front of the formicarium on top of it. If the water chamber or central chamber are directly heated humidity build up will occur fairly quickly, we also recommend using a temperature probe to control the heating element temperature.
Avoid intense vibrations or impacts as this can crack the grout and glass.
Hydration Chamber Instructions
This formicarium needs very little water under normal conditions. For example, house with an average temperature of 20 Celsius and a relative humidity of 40% would require to fill the water chamber to around 20% capacity once a week.
Please use distilled water or highly purified water to avoid mineral build up or introducing organic materials that can cause mold, fungi or bacterial growth.
Small vermiculite or perlite chunks can be added to fill the water chamber to 75% capacity when dry and before introducing any species, in use this allows to spread humidity longer without having to add much water, once more little goes a long way. (keep in mind doing this won’t allow you to know how much water remains absorbed in the vermiculite thus humidity can only be controlled by recording the water dosage and frequency).
Even when the water chamber looks dry, the substrate still retains humidity, it is wise and recommended to only refill the water chamber after 24 to 48 hours of observing the chamber emptying out, if the water chamber remains dry for long and the environment humidity is low the internal chamber will dry up eventually.
We suggest observing the glass and grout surfaces for condensation, having some condensation early in the mornings is normal (or with any drop in temperature) but if it is always there or it takes longer to disappear as the day warms up this means you need to add less water and less often. On the contrary, if you never see condensation even with quick reductions in temperature then you may need to add more water and more often.
How to clean
Cleaning your formicarium is very easy. Remove the front glass with a gentle pull to detach the magnets and gently remove all the dry debris, apply slight pressure to avoid cracking the interior grout.
Once done, we recommend using 3% USP hydrogen peroxide and a very soft brush to clean the grout on the walls; it can be purchased at any pharmacy. The mildly abrasive properties of hydrogen peroxide act as a gentle non-toxic bleach. If you have any hard to remove stains, you can also let it sit submerged in a 50/50% solution of distilled water and hydrogen peroxide for 20 to 60 minutes, once done and ready rinse with distilled water and let it air dry for at least 24 hours without the front glass before it is ready for its next use, alternatively after rinsing you can let it soak in distilled water for 24 hours to ensure all absorbed substances can leak back into the water, changing and rinsing this water often during this time period is recommended, then air dry and use.
Do not use any soaps or acids like vinegar to clean your grout formicarium as such acids eat away the lime, calcium and other minerals in the grout, they could also leave toxic residues within the porous grout.
The design corresponds to our second generation of “Hybrid” formicariums, an external layer printed with a sturdy frame of plastic sealed with clear glass, an internal layer made of grout, sand and mineral additives. Paired with a watering chamber specially designed to distribute moisture evenly through the chambers.
The exterior layer is very water-resistant and very efficient at retaining humidity, due to the slow evaporation the inner layer maintains very constant levels of humidity, it needs very little water and controlling the dosage of water and frequency determines the overall inner relative humidity of the nest, very little water is needed.
The inner cavity has a sandy and rugged texture, as this provides a better grip for ants with the substrate, similar to the one found on our grout inserts and the most high-quality formicariums on the market.