Do You Need to Feed Microfauna?
Photo courtesy of Hans Braxmeier
There are two answers to the question, “Do you need to feed microfauna?” The first answer is, well, no, you don’t have to. They’ll probably survive.
But the second answer is, if you want a thriving vivarium, one that is self-sustaining, then yes, you should feed the microfauna.
Here’s what to know about why you should feed tank custodians and what to feed them.
Why feed microfauna?
The simple answer to why to feed microfauna is that it ensures more of the population stays alive. If you are depending on only organic matter in the tank to sustain your custodial colony, then the population will suffer, and you may end up needing to refresh the colony with new specimens.
On the other hand, a well-fed custodial colony will reproduce and maintain its population on its own.
In addition to feeding microfauna in the bioactive terrarium, the other time that you will need to make sure you feed the microfauna is when they are being kept in a separate breeding tank. Outside a bioactive setup, they will need extra food to sustain them.
In some cases while in the vivarium, microfauna will be able to eat any uneaten food left behind by your reptile or amphibian, depending on the pet’s diet.
What do microfauna eat?
As detritivores (animals that eat decomposing matter), microfauna can eat a range of plant and animal foods. They will get some nutrition from items making up the bioactive habitat, such as decaying plant leaves, shed skin from a reptile or amphibian, and animal waste.
Additionally, you can give them their own small piece of vegetable or fruit once a week and a nutrition supplement for microfauna once a week (on different days). They really aren’t picky. Some acceptable foods include:
- Dried fish flakes
- Dog kibble
Here’s a video where a dart frog keeper talks about what he feeds to his microfauna:
Be aware that it’s not advised to feed grain-based foods (like bread or cereal) to the microfauna simply because it attracts mites in the vivarium. Mites are a nuisance that can harm plants and animals. The best way to keep mites out is to make sure you aren’t leaving too much food (of any kind) sitting around in the habitat.
As far as supplements specifically for microfauna, here’s a formula we suggest for keeping your isopods healthy and satisfied:
Repashy Morning Wood is a powder mix you form into a molded gel food for microfauna. It’s easy to make and ensures plenty of nutrition to keep the tank custodians going. In fact, you can mix up a big piece of the gel and store it in the refrigerator. When it’s time to feed, slice off a piece.
Be sure not to overfeed the microfauna, as well, because overfeeding can lead to a population that is too big for the tank, as well as reducing their cleanup efficiency.
The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights provides all the supplies you need to keep your bioactive setup thriving. Feel free to talk to our team if you have questions.