The Perfect Team: Isopods and Springtails in Terrariums

Terrarium enthusiasts know that when it comes to bioactive cleanup crews, one dynamic duo stands above the rest: isopods and springtails. Together, they keep the terrarium clean and contribute to the health of the plants. In this article, we will explore the unique advantages of combining these two natural microfauna partners to create a thriving and self-sustaining environment.

Isopods: The Ultimate Recyclers

Isopods are the champions of a bioactive setup. These hardcore munching machines devour decaying organic material, preventing any rot from setting in. By supplying them with leaf litter and soft driftwood chunks like cork bark, you can ensure their sustenance.

But the benefits don’t end there. The nutrients they consume are released back into the substrate via their fertilizing poop, known as “frass.” This efficient recycling process contributes to the overall health of the terrarium. Additionally, their burrowing nature helps aerate the substrate, keeping the soil soft and tilled.

Isopods also serve as a nutritious snack in reptile vivariums, making them a versatile addition to any ecosystem.

Isopods and Springtails

Best Isopod Species

When choosing the right isopods for your terrarium, it’s important to consider the cleanup potential and their ability to thrive in warm and humid conditions. Here are some excellent choices for different terrarium setups:

  • Trichorhina tomentosa: These Dwarf White Isopods are popular for planted terrariums and vivariums. Their small size and shy nature allow them to move undetected, and they are easier to manage in terms of population.

  • Porcellio scaber: This tropical species thrives in bioactive terrarium environments with high humidity. It comes in various color morphs, offering aesthetic diversity.

  • Porcellionides pruinosus: The Powder Orange Isopods are staple members of a vivarium ecosystem. They are well-suited for medium-sized tanks and have been part of cleanup crews for a long time.

  • Porcellio laevis: The Dairy Cow Isopod is one of the larger species and serves as a bioactive powerhouse. It works on the surface of the substrate, making it an accessible food source for reptiles.

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You can find a range of isopods at Ames Farm Center, where they offer high-quality options for your terrarium needs.

Springtails: Masters of Mold Control

In the battle against mold, springtails play a crucial role. These tiny creatures love to eat mold, fungus, and spores, effectively keeping outbreaks under control in hot and humid terrariums. They provide an essential service in maintaining a healthy environment.

Springtail culture with food

The combination of isopods and springtails is particularly advantageous because the ideal environment for isopods often triggers mold growth. Together, they cover each other’s weaknesses. Isopods thrive in humid and moist conditions but need help with decaying organic matter and supplementary foods. Springtails, with their insatiable appetite for mold, can prevent mold eruptions caused by overly moist food chunks.

Additionally, springtails out-compete pests like mites and fungus gnats for food. They also help spread the isopods’ fertilizing goodness to the plants by consuming isopod frass.

Best Springtail Species

While springtails haven’t garnered as much attention as isopods, they offer a natural diversity of color and adaptability. The most common choices for terrariums are:

  • Tropical White Springtails: These springtails thrive in higher temperatures and are suitable for tropical terrariums.

  • Temperate White Springtails: Despite being named for temperate environments, these springtails adapt easily to various conditions.

Other alternatives, such as Pink, Silver, and Black springtails, are less well-known and may vary in their effectiveness.

Adding isopods and springtails to your terrarium is relatively straightforward. Simply introduce them to the existing substrate, making sure there are enough bioactive materials like leaf litter. While isopods can be added directly, springtails can be rinsed off their charcoal substrate and then incorporated into the terrarium.

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Isopods in action

It’s advisable to provide some supplementary food initially for both isopods and springtails to ensure they have a good start. The cultures will take some time to settle in their new habitat, so be patient.

For more information on culturing springtails and their diet, check out the comprehensive guides available on Ames Farm Center.


Isopods and springtails are an unbeatable duo for maintaining a bioactive terrarium. Their combined efforts provide an effective cleaning crew while contributing to the overall health of the plants. By carefully selecting the right species and ensuring a suitable environment, you can create a thriving and self-sustaining ecosystem.

If you have experience with isopods and springtails in your terrarium or vivarium, we would love to hear about your favorite species combinations. Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below!

And if you’re interested in exploring the world of isopods further, feel free to visit our comprehensive buying guide on the many types of isopods for sale at Ames Farm Center. If you’re new to isopods, you can also check out our guide on “What is an Isopod?” for a solid introduction to these fascinating creatures.