insect vivarium

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The “Island Vessel Vivarium” is a terrarium inside an aquarium. Designed by artist Alberto J. Almarza, show-cased at the Geek Arts / Green Innovators Festival in April 2010. Glass blower: Pittsburgh Glass Center.

“As a passionate nature lover, there is nothing more gratifying than observing this active and thriving little ecosystem as if seen through a magnifying glass.” ~Almarza

Living ingredients include moss, violets, a spider, and a centipede for the terrarium, and for the aquarium: Java moss, banana plant, barnacles, ghost shrimp, and zebra danios. 

anonymous asked:

I'm not trying to judge you but what are the ethics on using insects as "cleaners"? I am interested in bioactive setups but don't want to force insects to have to eat poop if it's something they would do only when they're starving. Do you have any thoughts on it?

I can see why that would concern you! I actually keep a lot of insects for non feeder/cleaner purposes (cockroaches, praying mantids, etc), so I am very conscious of the quality of life for all the insects in my care (even the ones destined to become food for my other animals).

Animals don’t always have to be starving to eat poop. For some decomposers and scavengers it is just another useful source of energy, nutrients, moisture, etc. In fact my blue tongue skink, an opportunistic omnivore, once tried to eat my roommate’s rabbit’s poop when he was free-roaming and he certainly wasn’t starving (though I stopped him for obvious reasons haha).

Mealworms and mealworm beetles (aka darkling beetles) can and will willingly eat a huge range of food items, from vegetable matter to waste. In fact it has been discovered that mealworms can degrade polystyrene into usable organic matter and there were no differences found between mealworms fed a diet of polystyrene versus those fed a traditional diet. (source)

Also the cleaners in my setup are provided with various prepared fish foods (which they devour with enthusiasm) that they can eat in addition to the waste. This isn’t because I don’t think they want to eat the waste, but because Suki doesn’t produce enough waste to sustain them. Even when provided with other food items they seem to be perfectly happy to break the waste down though, because I have yet to find any waste in the vivarium when I sift through the soil. So they certainly aren’t starving.

I think your concern may be stemming from the misconception many people have that plecos (and other bottom feeders) will clean an aquarium by eating the poop of the other fish. This is obviously not true; plecos only eat the poop of other fish if they are starving. However in a bioactive vivarium the insects are just being opportunistic scavengers like they would be in the wild.