Meet “the Cave 2.0,”; which features a discrete watering system, a gray textured mineral substrate that changes tone with moisture, and top and front glass window openings with great visibility so that light can enter one side so observation, photography or filming can happen on the other.
This nest is perfect for colonies with at least 25 to 50 workers; it is a spacious space, so it is best to move a mature colony ready for such ampleness. We also have a mini-version available.
Two heat cable canal positions run on the underside; one canal is closer to the front glass while the other is closer to the rear near the water reservoirs. It is advised to use low heat cables under 15 watts; it is recommended to regulate the cable temperature to a constant range between 25 and 31 degrees celsius.
You have the option to add on pre-cut high light transmission red films and or black-out plastic lids.
The formicarium has two independent water reservoirs localized on the rear bottom corners; each has two small round tunnels to allow convenient access. This unit requires very little water. The water chambers control the humidity depending on the frequency and quantity of water added; the grey substrate changes tone or coloration depending on the moisture level, ranging from a clear whitish gray to a darker tone. Therefore, it is best to add water on a planned schedule; for example, “add 1mL of water every five days to one side only), see further instructions below.
For filming and photography, we recommend using a diffused light source on the side glass; on the image gallery, you can see a LED handheld flashlight with a paper towel in between the glass; the Speedlite flash head also has the built-in diffuser extended.
Why is gray a good colour for photography? a gray background will look different depending on how much light is hitting it and the direction in which it’s hit. With minimal effort, you can turn a gray backdrop into white, black, or pretty much any colour you can imagine; gray is a chameleon of sorts; gray has no predominant “hue,” being true neutral like white or black. True neutrals are neither warm nor cool and have no temperature or “colour cast.”
Specifications and Instructions
The body block measures 10x5x 5 cm (LxWxH), each removable glass measures 10x5cm. Tubing ports on each side can be 9.5mm (3/8″) or 12.7mm (1/2″) in diameter.
It is made with PLA pro plastic, clear glass, neodymium magnets and mineral substrate based on portland cement grout plasters and additives.
Before introducing any species, fill up the water reservoir to the max capacity at least 24 hours before introduction. After that, add distilled water as needed; read below for further instructions.
Approx Weight: 180 grams.
Hydration Chamber Instructions
- Always use distilled water; this helps diminish mineral build-up.
- It is ideal to wait at least 24 to 48 hours after the water chamber empties before adding more water.
- The substrate will go from light gray to darker depending on how humid it is; use this colour change as an indicator to add more water or wait.
- If water droplets are present on the glass or substrate, or if it looks wet, do not add more water; unless you know what you are doing and are dealing with a high humidity species, remember too much water can cause mould outbreaks and also such water will look for ways to escape and evaporate.
>> The goal is to create a watering schedule, for example, “1mL of distilled water every five to six days”. The temperature and humidity around the formicarium change how fast the water escapes; we want to add just enough to keep a balance around the moisture needed.
The glass has been carefully paired with the unit to ensure a perfect seal using the magnets pull. 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 quickly go through it but gets absorbed within the material. The water chamber uses porous materials to transfer humidity to the inside walls of the nest, similar to cotton inside a founding test tube. Still, we can control the amount of liquid on the other side.
OK, so how do we do it? Measuring how much water goes in and how often, and the colour of the substrate is the recommended method.
When water is added to the chamber, it is expected to absorb into the rest of the inside walls slowly. You can observe the substrate changing from a light grey to a dark grey as humidity distributes thru the inside walls. Using this gentle change in colour, you can determine when the nest is starting to dry again and, at such time, add a small amount of water.
The water chamber slowly distributes the liquid through the entire nest; this creates a humidity gradient. If you overfill and water to often the nest, the walls will become soaked. In addition, the water will look for ways to evaporate and most possibly leak through the glass or crevices in the plastic frame and increase the possibility of a mould outbreak or mineral build-up.
We suggest observing the glass and substrate surfaces for condensation; having some minor condensation early in the mornings is typical (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 or do so more often; you can test this quickly 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 mineral substrate formulations are MOLD resistant, BUT > any leftover food or organic materials as well as excess humidity can result in a mould outbreak; the key to preventing this from happening 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 and top glass with a gentle pull to detach the magnets and gently remove all the dry debris, apply slight pressure to avoid cracking the interior substrate.
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 10 to 20 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.
Do not use any soaps or acids like vinegar to clean the formicarium as such acids eat away the lime, calcium and other minerals in the substrate, they could also leave toxic residues.
The design corresponds to our third generation of “Hybrid” formicaria, an external layer printed with a sturdy frame of plastic sealed with clear glass, and an internal layer made of grout, sand and mineral additives and paired with a watering chamber specially designed to distribute moisture evenly through the chambers.
The difference with generation two; is the use of a gray colour substrate for photogenic purposes and a moisture presence indicator. Also, the water reservoir is hidden from view and sits at a lower gravity level than the bottom interior substrate; last; the medium used to transfer the humidity is synthetic.
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 moisture; it needs very little water and controlling the dosage of water and frequency determines the overall internal relative humidity of the nest, very little water is required.
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 formicaria on the market.