The Hydro Penta formicarium features a large area capable of housing mature colonies, why the name “Hydro Penta”?; it has 5 independent water chambers, each hydrating a separate area, allowing for greater humidity control (see second image above for a diagram), each of these sections has porous substrate that receives and disperses humidity, the sections are separated from each other by plastic walls and tunnels.
The center has the round water chamber surrounded by four areas that lead to each corner section. This water chamber is connected to the least amount of substrate and can passively feed humidity to the rest of the formicarium through the air inside and crevices of the materials.
Being able to control humidity in each section of the nest means you can selectively dry up or increase humidity by area depending on the colony needs. Please keep in mind that although you can control the humidity of the substrate in each area, the actual humidity of the air contained inside will be greatly dependent on the overall humidity of the entire nest as well as the temperature, by watering only one chamber or one side you can help create gradients as they are preferred by ants.
This nest can hold a lot of water on its interior substrate, a little water in each chamber can go a long way, we recommend you start slow and increase the dose very slowly as needed. Please read the Hydration Chamber section for instructions.
ADVICE: we only recommend this nest for mature colonies that can occupy at least 50% of its capacity, if you introduce a small colony into such a large nest they will very likely store organic material inside, most likely leading to mold growth.
Includes a pre-cut high light transmission red film, formicarium includes 4 simple vinyl plastic plugs.
Specifications and Instructions
Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 2.8 cm +/- 3%
Features 4 tubing openings, two on each opposing side, such can line up to match our outside world openings perfectly. Tubing outside diameter options are: 9.5 mm (3/8″) or 12.7 mm(1/2″).
Conservation clear glass (2 mm thick) with exceptional clarity mounted with strong rare earth neodymium magnets.
The frame is 3D printed using PLA pro plastic (sturdier than the more common PLA plastic).
The water chambers are made with a special formulation of porous grout to ensure water transport; inside walls have multiple layers composed of sanded grout and mineral additives.
Weight: 660 grams +/- 5%
Before introducing any species, please fill-up the four side water chambers with distilled water to its max capacity, and the center round chamber to HALF capacity; we recommend introducing ants 24 hours after hydration.
NOTE > For high humidity species, the substrate hydration process can be kick-started and speed up by adding, 24 hours prior to use, 1 to 5 ml of distilled water throughout the bottom of few internal chambers, re-attach glass and then fill main hydration chambers.
Avoid intense vibrations or impacts as this can crack the substrate and glass.
If you remove the glass from the formicarium please ensure the glass is clean from debris as well as the top plastic surface, so there are no gaps between the glass and the frame.
Hydration Chamber Instructions
- Always use distilled water, this helps diminish mineral build up.
- It is ideal to wait 24 to 48 hours after the water chamber empties before adding even more water.
- When adding more water, only fill the chamber to a % similar to the relative humidity % your species requires, (it is rare to need a full fill).
- If water droplets are present on the glass or substrate, or if it looks wet, do not add more water; even if the water chamber is empty, unless you know what you are doing and are dealing with a high humidity species, remember to much water can cause mold outbreaks and also such water will look for ways to escape and evaporate.
The front glass has been carefully paired with the unit to ensure a perfect seal using magnetic force. Glass is waterproof, and the plastic frame around it is close to being waterproof, this means containing humidity inside is very easy. The substrate, is only water-resistant meaning water does not easily go through it, but it does get absorbed within the material. The water chamber uses porous grout to transfer humidity to the inside walls of the nest, similar to cotton inside a founding test tube, but we are capable of controlling the amount of liquid on the other side.
OK, so how do we do it? Measuring how much water goes in and how often is the best and most common method:
When water is added to the chamber, it is expected to slowly absorb into the rest of the inside walls. How quickly the water disappears is an indicator of how dry the nest is, rarely should you need to keep the water chamber re-filled all the way up, as this would only be ideal for high humidity species.
Watering the chamber quarter to halfway once a week seems to keep the inside humidity around 40% to 60%, but this also depends on temperature and external humidity. Each water chamber distributes humidity to its corresponding section, this creates a gradient in humidity, the water may disappear from the chamber, but it is now stored within the walls of the nest and will slowly evaporate as it is sealed inside by the plastic frame and glass. If you overfill the nest the walls will become soaked, the water will look for ways to evaporate and most possibly leak through the glass, or crevices in the plastic frame, as well as increasing the possibility of a mold outbreak and or mineral build-up.
We suggest observing the glass and substrate surfaces for condensation, having some minor 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, you can test this easily with a tiny piece of ice against the glass, do it on an empty chamber or right in front of the water chamber internal glass, pay attention to the times it takes to see condensation form and use that time as a reference
All of our grout formulations are MOLD resistant, BUT > any leftover food or organic materials as well as excess humidity can result in mold, the key is to provide foods that cannot be dragged into the inside, always use feeding dishes and liquid feeding trays, clean up as often as possible, keep humidity to the minimum needs and ensure your colony has a small tight space to ensure they keep it clean.
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 using a soft brush and or tweezers, apply slight pressure to avoid cracking or breaking off the substrate.
Once done, we recommend using 3% USP hydrogen peroxide applied with a soft brush to continue cleaning the substrate on the walls, you will notice the solution fizzing as it reacts with any organic materials. 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 10 to 20 minutes, if the formicarium is too big to submerge then leave the interior saturated with the solution instead and keep adding more peroxide as needed to avoid it drying up, once done and ready, rinse with distilled water and let it air dry for at least 24 hours with the front glass removed before it is ready for its next use.
The glass can be cleaned with soap to remove organic material and then vinegar to remove any mineral deposits that may occur naturally. Please use a soft sponge to avoid scratching the glass with any abrasive materials. Before re-installing the glass make sure the top plastic frame and glass surface are perfectly clean, dry and free of debris, so there are no gaps left between the glass and frame.
Do not use any soaps or acids like vinegar to clean your formicarium as such acids eat away the lime, calcium and other minerals in the substrate, furthermore they could also leave toxic residues behind.