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Test tube inserts help remove the drawbacks of using plain test tubes with cotton; they add texture and substrate to the environment, among other benefits, and most species benefit from having such.


We understand that ant keepers have unique requirements. That's why we've made our inserts fully customizable. You can order a test tube with an insert and personalize it with a range of accessories. For specific options, we recommend visiting the respective product pages. And remember, bundling all your tube accessories on this page can save you money compared to buying each item separately.


Need a tip? Our favourite setup is as follows:

16x125 tube + sand texture insert + black jacket + 2 tall rings + no feeding accessories + refillable perlite chamber + tubing adapter for either 9.5 or 12.7mm


Such a configuration allows humidity control, an insert and cotton fixed in place by the firm water column and the front silicone fitting used for the tubing adapter. The black jacket can slide easily on the tube to reveal the colony, and the rings elevate the tube perfectly to the height of our outworld tubing ports and allow a heat cable to pass under.


Here are the six different categories to choose from:


1. Test Tube size:


Each insert on this page includes one matched borosilicate glass test tube to ensure a perfect fit; options are:


Rimless tubes measuring 16x125 mm, 16x150 mm or 20x150 mm


2. Insert texture finish options:


Plain plastic texture: The insert has five grooves across the floor that ants can use to spin cocoons. Also, the 3D printing process leaves micro lines on the surface that ants can grip, as opposed to plain smooth glass; this is a cost-friendly alternative to the sand texture inserts.


Sand texture: the insert is treated with a unique formulation of mortar paste mixed with mineral additives to form a mineral substrate base with a rougher surface, bringing 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, warm material. Overall, it helps brood develop faster and more significant total worker counts by making the test tube environment a tiny bit more natural.


3. Light protection and ring options:


The longer black jacket + 1 ring: This jacket has a ring attached to one end and a removable ring on the other end. Being longer, it is better suited for inserts in combination with feeding accessories. The jacket raises the tubes to the height of the test tube array formicarium, the test tube port, and the standard opening found on most of our outworlds and equipment.


Black jacket + 2 tall rings: The original short black jacket, long enough to cover the insert length, is paired with two tall white plastic rings that raise the tubes to the height found on most of our outworlds and equipment and allow for a heating cable to be passed under.


Black jacket + 2 short rings: The original short black jacket, long enough to cover the insert length, is paired with two short white plastic rings that raise the tube only 2mm above ground.


**Note: the taller version positions a 15/16 mm (diameter) test tube right at the entrance height found in our outworlds and larger formicaria; for an 18/20 mm test tube, a short ring is better for a similar height placement.


4. Feeding accessories options:


Suppose you use a cotton waterkeeper and the following feeding accessories with your setup. You will need the "short" length to accommodate the feeding insert and the nano dish measurements. The long cotton keeper is recommended only if the tube is connected to a foraging area.


Two nano dishes: can be used in any foraging area, big or tiny; best of all, they even fit inside most test tubes.


One feeding insert: simplifies introducing and removing food from test tubes; if you use one, you may prefer the longer black jacket to cover both inserts or the short jacket to leave the feeding insert uncovered.


5. Water chamber options:


Refillable perlite chamber: the back of the test tube has a small hole that allows refilling the water chamber as needed and contains perlite grains that have been sifted, washed and sterilized as well as cotton to deliver humidity. Such cotton and perlite are also tightly packed to keep inserts in place. As the water evaporates or dries out, you can easily refill the chamber; compared to traditional setups, this prevents moving ants too often to new tubes when they run out of water. This is the same concept used with our tubes and inserts in array formicarium designs. The tube comes already filled with perlite, with cotton in place, and is inserted for your first use; you can buy more "perlite granules" from us or fill this space with plain cotton or vermiculite when you need to restart the tube.


The long and short cotton water keeper: is a multipurpose tool for test tubes. It keeps the cotton in place, allowing for tighter cotton and a flushed fit with inserts. See the video in the gallery for a simple demo. Long is ideal if you feed directly on a foraging area (outworld); short is suitable if you use a feeding insert or require more space between the insert and the front rim of the test tube.


None / Clean tube, plain, clean, simple, traditional test tube.


6. Adapter tubing diameter options:


You can include a plastic cone adapter paired with a silicone fitting that enables the test tube to connect to standard vinyl tubing, 9.5 mm or 12.7 mm (3.8 or 1/2 inch), allowing direct connection with formicaria, outworlds, and other adapters. Please see the video in the gallery for a quick demonstration of its use. The silicone fitting also holds the insert tight against the rear cotton.




If you already have test tubes and want to fit an insert of a specific size, please visit our "Customizable inserts - without test tube." You will find a variety of diameters that will suit the most common test tube sizes.


The inserts are made using PLA PRO plastic. The insert length is 35 mm, and the feeding insert length is 25mm. Nano dishes measure 10mm in all directions.

Customizable Inserts - with test tube

PriceFrom C$4.88
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