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The all-in-one tunnel-digging formicarium places the classic tunnel-making ant farm concept inside an outworld. The nesting and foraging area are inside a well-cross-ventilated plastic frame with glass observing panels.


Seeing ants dig in the soil while choosing their chambers and tunnels in the substrate area is amusing. One of the most complex aspects of the ant-keeping hobby is knowing how much space to provide your ants; by letting them choose, we simplify the process. 


In this iteration, we combined what we have learned from our "Natural Tunnel Digging Formicarium" and our "Natural All-in-One Cube Formicarium." We will soon stop producing the "Natural All-in-One Cube Formicarium" and replace it with this new glass concept as we want all our observation panels to be made of glass in all our products.


Here is a list of advantages that the new product brings:


1. The formicarium area is located inside the actual outworld, removing the need for vinyl tubing; especially with an extended tubing network, ants can deposit lots of dirt or even hide in it.


2. The tunnelling area is visible from both sides. More importantly, we have reduced the gap between glass panels by as little as 4mm; this considerably increases the possibility of ants being visible; you can customize this gap from 4mm up to 14mm.


3. The substrate area has a removable top lid that reduces water evaporation from the tunnelling media, with openings that act as entrances. Reducing evaporation means less water is needed, and the outworld will be dryer.


4. The outworld is cross-ventilated from top to bottom with vent lines that run side to side; the width of each vent line is only 0.15mm (tiny!), enough to prevent escapes for all common species. In addition, this ensures any moisture that evaporates from the nest tunnelling media dissipates quickly.


5. Hydration ports located on both bottom sides; you can also hydrate from the top between the nest lid and glass or plastic walls; this depends on where ants decide to dig. 


6. Last, high-quality glass viewing panels, including a small window on the outworld dual-lid system, which, compared to acrylic, does not induce optical distortion and is harder to scratch. The nesting area's height is approximately 66% of the outside glass height.


Please read the following order options carefully:


Size (L x W x H) in cm; there are 24 size options, mainly in two different styles; the first eighteen options are wider vs taller and feature a rectangular look. The last six options feature a taller vs wider proportion and a square bottom foraging area (my favourite).


Please remember that the nesting area's height is approximately 66% of the outside glass height, so pay particular attention to the"L" and "H" selections (length & height); the taller the setup, the more vertical tunnelling area you will have vs the longer and wider area.


Nesting chamber width; is probably the most important aspect to research before ordering; this is the separation between the glass panels that hold the tunnelling media (soil), which ranges from 4mm up to 14mm. The slimmer the gap, the better visibility you will have as ants will most likely dig close to the glass; the more significant the gap, the more nesting area you have, but fewer chances of seeing the structures made. In addition, the more significant gap holds humidity for a longer time as there is more soil or media. 


How to select this? The general rule is; to choose the minimum amount needed by the species of ants that will be housed. Use the width of your queen, DO NOT use the length. The max option is 14mm; is that small? All species of ants, including the largest Camponotus (in Canada), can be housed successfully inside a standard 16mm test tube with an internal diameter of 14mm; most species require tight spaces. For reference, keep in mind that; the internal diameter of a typical 9.5mm vinyl tubing is 6.5mm, and most species can travel through such very comfortably. 


We suggest the 4mm width for species like; Tetramorium, Crematogaster, Temnothorax, 

Stenamma, Myrmica (basically most of the Myrmicinae subfamily, due to their slender bodies). 


Prenolepis and Lasius can also do well in 4mm up to 6mm, Formica and similar do best with 6/8mm, and Camponotus can do better around 10/14mm; however, species are dependent as some have been observed to dig like Pennsylvanicus or Novaeboracensis, and some prefer dead trees, rotten logs or stumps. 


Tunnelling media;

You can include enough tunnelling media for at least one fill or make your own. Our mix is oven-baked to ensure no mites and other organisms are present; it is loam mixed with some fine granules of ground vermiculite. 


You can also make your own; collect a sample of soil around the area where you captured your queen or a similar species has been observed, and bake the sample at around 110ºC/230ºF until it is dry (usually 2 hours is more than enough), let it cool and place on a wire strainer to remove all significant pieces of wood and rocks etc. Then, collect the resulting sample for use. You can add fine granules of perlite, vermiculite or similar additives to increase humidity retention; adding small wood chips, mulch, or coconut fibres can help with structure (use a strainer to separate); some species may prefer the majority of their substrate have more fibre vs soil, washing and baking the additives may help avoid pests. 


Soil is classified into four types; Sand, Silt; Clay and Loam. Sand has the more prominent granules or particles, silt has medium grains, and clay has the finest texture (dust). Sand retains the least amount of water, progressing to clay which retains the most. Sand allows more airflow, silt a little less and clay restricts all airflow. Sand is more prone to tone collapse when dry, and with vibrations, silt is better, and clay is more compact and holds structure better. LOAM; is a mix of sand, silt and clay. 


The tunnelling media is considered soil and can not be imported to the USA or select countries (please research your local Customs laws for international shipments before ordering); such will only ship to Canada if selected.


We recommend using a thick barrier similar to petroleum jelly on the lip around the big lid on all surfaces; this helps lubricate contact areas and creates a seal between them. Use your preferred escape barrier (talcum powder, fluon, petroleum jelly, oil) on the top portion of the glass and plastic walls, as well as the horizontal ledge of the top lid (underside). Once in a while, refresh such and inspect to ensure no weaknesses in the barrier. Usually, combining more than one method provides sturdier escape prevention. 


Each unit includes plugs for tubing ports. It is made with PLA pro plastic and glass.

All-in-one Tunnel-Digging Formicarium

PriceFrom C$36.40
  • The objective is to fill the nest area with as much compacted substrate as possible without spilling too much dust or lose particles onto the outworld. 


    **Very well-compacted media like; LOAM mixed with fibrous water-absorbent materials like coconut fibre, perlite and vermicultie is best to avoid tunnel collapse. 


    You can place the substrate in a small plastic bag (loosely filled), cut a tiny opening on one of the corners (around 2 to 4mm should do), insert the tip between glass panels (remove the plastic lid) and gently pour and fill the gap. Tilting the nest towards the outside glass often helps slide the substrate in place. Gently tap the outworld as you fill to compact the soil and help spread the particles evenly; once you are around 1mm or less away from the top edge of the glass, insert the plastic cover in place. A small bristle brush can help clean the area as needed. 


    You can clean any dust with small pieces of dry and slightly damp cotton or even suction it out with a keyboard vacuum; you can make one with a regular house vacuum cleaner and a long enough piece of vinyl tubing, put one end of the tube inside your vacuum nozzle, cover the rest of the opening with a big enough cloth, the other end of the tube will be your outworld vacuum cleaner.


    Once ants start to dig, they will place solids in the outworld and waste; you can use the same vacuum technique to clean that up; please be careful not to suction any ants. 

  • The objective is to keep the substrate humidity close to the requirements of the housed species, never wet or soaked or arid.


    The hydration ports are located on both bottom sides of the nest area; each can hold a small amount of water and is meant to slowly dissipate the water through the soil, substrate or media next to it. 


    Use distilled water (to avoid mineral buildup over time) and a pipette or syringe to deposit water slowly into each watering hole; please be careful not to overflow and not to force the water in. Tip if water transfer is not starting, squish your pipette more aggressively on the first pump, and afterward, go gentle. Carefully observe the media for changes in colour and texture as indicators of water presence and dissipation. 


    When ants dig close to the water source at the bottom, you can hydrate from the top between the nest lid and glass, but only if they've dug in that area. Be sure to hydrate slowly and carefully from above, as water can erode the substrate as it makes its way down. This is especially important for tunnelling formicaria with the loose sandy substrate, as watering too quickly can also cause erosion and collapse.


    What if my ants dig all the soil immediately to the hydration ports?  

    This is always a possibility and the reason for having two opposite ports and the possibility of hydration from the top (between the glass and nest lid).

    The best approach is to attempt to prevent such from happening. This is done by placing a small amount of a porous semi-solid fibre material right next to the ports before filling with soil; this can be cotton, coconut fibre or my preferred method, compacted filter floss (non-toxic polyester fibres often used as aquarium filter media or pillow stuffing). The material will act as a barrier to ants and allow water to be absorbed and distributed even if the soil is depleted next to such.

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