Springtails in Clay New Formula. Temperate Springtails clean-up crew, on Calcium Bearing Clay in 8 oz deli cups.
Our new clay-based springtail (Folsomia candida) colonies are a huge improvement over the old-school charcoal and water colonies. I have always been less than thrilled with the charcoal and water cultures, for a variety of reasons, everything from the hassle of harvesting the springtails, to the difficulty of shipping what was basically a cup with some water and chunks of charcoal. Shipping cultures stress them out and it may take some time after shipping to regenerate. Be patient and don't use all of the cultures as it can produce thousands more.
Recently, I was reading on one of the dart frog forums about a hobbyist who was making his cultures with clay, and I was fascinated, especially because the cultures he showed were thriving, and the springtails could easily be poured out into a tank or a feeding container. (Doug Hollister, thanks!) So, I gathered the materials, different types of clay, calcium, and so on....and the results are just as amazing as the posts suggest! C The food source is instant activated yeast, a sprinkle every few days or once a week. Occasionally spritz it with water to keep the culture moist, avoid getting it too wet, you don't want to see any standing water! Keep it cool, no warmer than 72-74 degrees, and that's about it, a nice harvest can be had once a week or so, and the lifespan of the culture is probably a couple of years, possibly a good bit longer. They live freely on the surface of the culture and the production is amazing! Harvesting is as simple as taking the lid off and tapping the culture over a clean deli cup to get a bunch of springtails out. Or if you are just feeding a tank, open it and invert it over the tank.
So, I've put these medium-size cultures together to spread the springtail goodness! Your springtail culture comes in an 8 oz tub, it's been seeded with springtails for a few weeks, so they get established, and the result is a super springtail culture!
While Springtails are a great cleanup crew member, for me the more important use of them is as food. While adult and juvenile dart frogs of all sorts will enjoy snacking on these, they really shine as a food source for small and delicate baby dart frogs. Oophaga pumilio and larger "egg feeder" species, as well as some "Thumbnail" (ranitomeya species) dart frogs, produce babies that are small...very small! And these little guys have a hard time finding things to eat that are small enough. for baby dart frogs, Spiders, mantids a booming culture of springtails is just the thing to help get the dart frog babies up to a size that is large enough to eat fruit flies.
Springtails are delicate and are easily overheated in particular.