Hi everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been undergoing lots of tests for my upcoming surgery, and I've been out of it quite a bit (in the drugged up sense), plus having difficulty sitting for long stretches of time. Anyway, I've missed you all.
If you want to skip all this explanation, the questions are easy to see when you scroll down to the bottom.
Anyway, I've finally met with success in breeding large crickets. Here's how, with the basic compenents in bold type:
1.) I put about 60 large crickets in a ten gallon aquarium, and covered the bottom with two jars of Fluker's High Calcium Cricket Feed. It's the light brown powder, almost looks like saw dust. Only $2.99 a bottle. I had to start with lots of crickets, because our brood goes through 7 or 8 a day (several frogs and geckos). Since starting, I've refreshed the population once with 30 more crickets.
2.) The set up is in the garage with a 75 watt bulb in a large lamp hanging about six inches over one end of the aquarium. The lamp is one of those black-on-the-outside, white-on-the-inside cone shaped things, with a wide opening (approx. 10" across).
3.) I put in about 10"/two rows of egg carton (not styrofoam), which itself absorbs/holds a little moisture, but not too much. They LOVE this. I call it the cricket apartment complex.
4.) In a corner on the cool/non-lamp end, there is about a handful of dry moss. For the crickets, I just used that beaked stuff from Petco, whereas I use the better sphagnum moss for the herps. The moss area seems to be where the cricks breed, e.g., hide there eggs or whatever they do.
5.) Every-other-day or so, I throw in vegetable scraps (mostly carrot, cucumber, apple and potato peels - or whatever's around), and dust them with ZooMed Repitvite. Once the veggies dry up, I remove them with tongs.
6.) I throw in a few pieces of dog food. They like it, too.
7.) I also use some of the flukers 'Orange Cube' water/gut loader product. I throw in about 4 cubes every third day, and remove them once they dry up. At this very moment, I'm boiling those dried ones to see if they come back to life and I can continue using them. I'll let you know if that succeeds. Has anyone tried this?
8.) I also put 3 of cricket water pillows in the tank.
9.) Approx. two weeks into it, babies started showing up.
10.) At every other feeding, I dust the crickets with mineral powder.
I know this set up sounds complicated, but once it's up and going, it's not hard at all. They really do exploit the various food options and temperature gradients in the enclosure. I feel good about the varied diet, because it covers more bases for the herps' nutritional needs.
Should I start removing the babies and putting them in a separate enclosure so the larger ones won't eat them? If so, I wonder if this younger colony will start breeding as well, or must they reach adulthood before starting to repro?
Besides these two questions, I'm also open to feedback on the entire breeding setup.
Thanks very much!