Hybrid Formicaria Gen & Class
Whys is it called a hybrid formicarium?
A “Hybrid” formicarium combines different materials to get the most out of each. In the ant-keeping hobby, it is common to see formicaria made out of wood, ytong, gypsum, grout, cement or porous plasters, acrylic, 3d printed plastic, etc.. each has benefits and weaknesses.
For example, plastic and glass do not absorb water and can feel wet, but gypsum does that very well. Gypsum can often be chewed through, unlike plastic or glass. The external wall of a gypsum, ytong or mineral nest evaporates water fast where plastic or glass retain water; this is why we often paint the outside of such nests creating a barrier that slows evaporation from them. The lists of possibilities and comparisons between materials can go on and on.
Our hybrid formicaria use a 3D-printed plastic frame sealed with clear glass as the outside shell while capturing humidity; the frame holds the tubing ports, glass & magnets, hydration chambers, structure and the mineral porous substrate for the habitable chambers. This frame benefits from design features that can be achieved with 3D printers. Plastic provides tubing ports that don’t wear out as quickly and grip tubing securely. It has a good bond with the adhesives used on glass and magnets. Lastly, plastic is more resistant to chewing or digging than mineral substrates adding an extra layer of security.
The substrate is a porous material with a unique formulation of mortar paste mixed with absorbent mineral additives. A rougher surface brings benefits like better flooring and grip (cocoon spinning species benefit a lot), reduced stress levels due to a more contained space with crevices to store brood, less flooding issues as the material can absorb water, brood rests against a humid material. Overall, the substrate provides a more natural feeling and keeps the ants away from the unnatural texture of plain plastic and glass.
We also have a formicarium hydration guide that explains the difference in hydration mechanisms; jump to it here.
Our hybrid formicaria are classified into three generations plus three classes. Gen one up to three are all very similar, and the class defines a drastic or significant difference in style and use.
GEN 1, GEN 2, GEN 3, Evaporator module class, Test tube class & Naturalistic class:
Gen 1: Hybrid formicarium with glass-sealed direct hydration chamber inside the plastic/glass frame. Such nests can stand vertically with water against the glass, like the Honeycell mini (always vertically), the larger Honeycell (flat, 45 and 90º), and the Classic (on the stand at 45º or flat on the back). The substrate is white.
Gen 2: Has unsealed direct hydration chamber inside the plastic/glass frame and stands in one direction only; this implicates that when the glass is removed, we can also access and clean the hydration chamber. The substrate is white.
Gen 3: Has a concealed direct hydration chamber located at the design's bottom under the lowest point of the substrate. The substrate is grey and changes from light to dark as humidity increases or dries out.
Evaporator module class: such are formicaria that work in conjunction with the water evaporator module, an indirect hydration mechanism. The culture tube formicarium, the curvesome and the elevator feature a connection port for such modules with a mesh for ease of service and connectivity. The gyro block has a twistable and removable water tray that brings water vapour through a stainless steel mesh. Further, vinyl tubing can connect the evaporator module to any formicarium.
Test tube class: all products that house ants inside a glass test tube, whether refillable or not. Working with test tubes allows for easy expandability, simple hydration, excellent visibility and practicality.
Naturalistic class: these formicaria have a mix of soil ants use to dig and create their tunnels. , It is exciting to see and construct their nesting chambers, deciding on their size, location and shape. It is the old classic ant farm concept we grew up accustomed to. However, it is also defined as a sandwich-style ant farm. Usually, a vertical formicarium is a sandwich as the substrate exists in a narrow gap between two flat clear panels, facilitating observation of the tunnels created y the ants.
List of standard raw materials used in all of our hybrid formicaria and products:
White and black PLA Pro (Polylactic acid with enhanced strength) - compostable bioplastic derived from plant sugars, can be exposed to temperatures up to 50ºC.
Disc Neodymium magnets nickel plated - Strength N35 & N52 - 3mm and 2.5mm diameter.
Clear glass - 2mm, 1mm and 0.15mm thick.
Borosilicate glass test tubes.
Aquarium-safe silicone (Acetoxy cure).
Cyanoacrylate "Superglue" is safe for pets after curing.
Clear UV-cured resin is safe for pets after curing.
Mortar paste bases mixed with inert absorbent minerals, in particular, three different mixes for different layers.
Clear vinyl tubing, the most common being 9.5mm (3/8") and the lesser 12.7mm (1/2").