Test Tubes, Inserts and accessories
Why Test Tubes?
Test tubes are a versatile and easy way to create a founding set-up for your ants (beginning home). Test tubes provide a clear view of your growing colony while containing humid air, drinking water, and oxygen access.
Test tubes keep moisture in for a longer time than formicaria (nests); this is due to the size of the water chamber compared to the air chamber; so we can leave the queen undisturbed for as long as possible; as we know, checking on your ants often, vibrations, sudden light changes or unnecessary movement cause stress and such leads to queens abandoning, eating their eggs or slowing the growth of the colony.
Also, test tubes are inexpensive, quickly cleaned and sanitized, simple to stack and store (test tube rack), and can be connected using tubing making endless possibilities for your setup.
On this page, you’ll find various inserts, attachments and accessories to customize your test tube set-up and its connectivity completely.
Picking the right-sized test tube and accessories:
The biggest mistake most ant keepers make is that we think bigger is better and tend to humanize ants by assuming they feel cramped or trapped in a smaller test tube. The truth is, ants like tiny small cramped spaces! They are ectothermic (cold-blooded); it is instinctive for them to maintain heat within the nest with metabolic heat produced by all workers.
Keeping that in mind, a 16mm test tube works well with all species and is the recommended standard test tube size. Once you pick a size, it is crucial to stick with it so that any accessories, adapters, tubing, etc., fit with one another. This ensures you have everything you need when you need it and makes the expanding process much more seamless.
Now that you’ve picked your Test Tube size, we encourage you to add a Test Tube Insert! The insert is treated with a unique mineral substrate to form a rougher surface, allowing the ants to have a better grip (especially beneficial for cocoon spinning species). It is also a versatile space for ants to store their brood. The insert provides humid and warm crevices that are ideal conditions for the brood, and it will even absorb water, protecting them from flooding. This reduces your colony’s stress by providing a more compact and natural space while increasing brood development.
If you have a small to medium-sized species of ants or slow-growing species, then a Cryptic Test Tube Insert will be more suitable. These inserts provide a more compact layout with low ceilings so you can view your growing colony better. This is done by raising the ants to the top and providing them with the moisture they need as it rises to the chamber’s top.
Last but not least, fully-claustral queens only need food once the nanitics eclose (first workers are born), and semi-claustral queens need to have access to food at all times as such queens do not stay inside their confined chambers and need food to develop their colony; we recommend attaching a foraging area for such purposes, often called an outworld or outside world. Feeding your ants in an outworld is much easier and produces far less stress than inserting and removing food directly inside the test tube. We have all possible sizes of foraging areas starting with the smallest “nano feeding station” up to the “glass display arenas found” in the outworld category.
To make this an even more ideal living space, add a tiny amount of loose substrate so the ants can bring it back to their chambers to create their preferred humidity distribution.