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Your Dubia Colony

Discussion in 'Feeders' started by AdamL8, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    I want to compile some good detailed information from people that currently keep large colonies of well established Dubia. I don't want responses from people who are new to keeping Dubia or who do not have large colonies because that information wouldn't be very helpful. I want to know the information that you have found through keeping a large colony for a length of time and not just theory that somebody came up with and never tested.

    1. What do you currently use for your dry food? Do you make a mix yourself or do you buy a pre-made food that is made for a different type of animal?

    2. Are you having a lot of success with this dry food? What I mean by this is have you been having consistently low die offs and high breeding numbers while using it?

    3. How many Dubia do you currently keep and what size tub do you keep them in?

    4. How many full size 12x12 egg crates and/or cut egg crates do you use for the number of roaches that you have in each tub?

    5. Do you have your fruit, water, and dry food bowls on the ground of the tub or raised up and sitting on top of egg crates? I ask this because since putting mine about 8 inches up on top of egg crates it seems like they aren't hardly getting to them even though egg crates are surrounding them making it easy to get in and out.

    I think that I had one more question but I accidentally deleted all of the write up and had to redo it so I don't know what I had written. If you can think of any extra information to add please do so. I'm sure that this will be helpful to more people than just myself.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Cap10Squirty

    Cap10Squirty Elite Member

    I currently have two bins setup, not sure on the dimensions but I do know that they are rather square shaped, 27 gallon Rubbermaid or sterilite tubs.

    In the "grow bin/nymph bin" I have nymphs of all sizes and as they make their final molt I pull the females and place into the breeder bin and feed the males to my ornate monitor as a treat, usually a dozen or two at a time (even 30 male roaches don't stand a chance against her!)

    In the breeder bin I keep track of how many females and males I keep in there and I check on a weekly basis the nymphs in this bin and pull them out. That might sound like overkill but it's summer and when I'm bored, counting roaches isn't all that bad. I have moved 613 nymphs to the nymph tub so far for the month of July. I checked today and there are 163 females and 32 males. Not a single one has died since I placed the breeders in their own bin as of late June.

    As for food, I use an inexpensive cat food, one that was kind of in the middle
    As far as protein percentages. I blended up half of the bag ~ 8 lbs or so, a pound of oats, a pound of powdered milk, a box of milk bone dog treats, and an entire bag of generic captain crunch cereal. I find that the roaches really enjoy their sweets.

    I try to cut up an orange every other day for both bins and it's usually gone the next. As far as the height of the food dishes they are sitting right on the bottom with egg crates packed aroun them so that the littlest ones can climb aboard for their food/water.

    Occasionally I'll give them leftover food from my hornworms and superworms and anything that the dubias don't finish I toss to the earthworms even if it's moldy. Anything that I deem unfit even for the earthworms I throw to the maggot and black soldier fly larvae bin out in the FAR back corner of my yard. They ate through an entire uncooked fish the size of my hand in 4 hours yesterday!

    Oh and for the number of egg crates, I pack the bin from left to right if possible (however many that would fit in yours) so that it makes for a nice rigid setup. I used to have 4-5 and there was enough room on one end for more and the roaches underneath kept moving and knocking over the egg crates.
  3. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    What do you use to blend your dry food? I previously used an old coffee grinder and did about 10 pounds of dog food and sweet cereal when I had first gotten my roaches but the next time that I tried to make more it barely worked. After that I started feeding the same dog food not ground up and they still destroyed it. I had been noticing what I would consider higher death rates with this (maybe 2 weekly), mostly adult females which prompted me to switch the feed. I'm trying Chick Starter Mash now because I had read that it was a good and cheap option but so far they don't seem to have hardly touched it. I wasn't certain that it was the actual food that was the problem as opposed to the food being up high on the egg crates so I moved it back on to the floor and hopefully they will start eating it in mass since I bought a 50 pound bag of the stuff expecting there to be no way that they wouldn't eat it. I also tried sharpening the blades on the coffee grinder to use on the Chick Starter Mash but it still didn't do hardly anything and then to top it off the thing started smoking from its inside so I ended up just throwing it away. While I know that they can and will eat things that aren't ground up, I also know that they seem to eat more of the same things if they have been ground up so I was hoping that it would encourage them to go back to emptying their food bowl daily which they were doing previously. I'll just have to check tomorrow and hope that moving the bowl back to the floor did the trick.

    Thank you very much for helping out with the information.
  4. Cap10Squirty

    Cap10Squirty Elite Member

    By the way, thanks for posting that informative article by Allen Repashy on his bug burger. I have made a similar "bug burger" and my hornworms love it. Im sure the other critters will too. I need to check my percentages but I think by adding all of the other ingredients I have brought the higher protein ratio in the cat food down quite a bit.

    As far as the chicken mash, my parents have some at their house so next time I'm up there I'll grab some and give it a try, blended and not. The coffee grinder is what my brother uses for his roaches and his burned out too. I use a "bullet" blender that has various blade attachments and it works just fine on anything I put in it. Make sure you pulse blend things, I wouldn't keep the blender runnin for more than 7-10 seconds without a few seconds of rest....unless its one of those "can it blend" blenders on YouTube!

    Edit: are you able to identify the dead female roaches as being younger or older? How long have you had your colony going? Depending on whether or not the adults now were bought as adults or raised from tiny nymphs, you could be experiencing natural die offs....I've wondered about that sometime what sellers try to send you- their young prime females or their about-to-expire worn out breeders. Haha
  5. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    You're very welcome. I found it to be a great read and it definitely changed the way that I viewed their feed regarding protein.

    The dead were mixed in age. Most actually seemed to be young to medium adults I would say. I bought mine as 271 mixed with only 2 pairs of adults. That was 11 months ago and the die offs mostly started around 2 months ago I would say. It wasn't a lot of die offs but it was definitely more than there should have been and the fact that they were generally adult females was not fun to see. Most of the current adults have been with me since birth so they were almost certainly not dying of natural causes.
  6. TigerIvy

    TigerIvy Elite Member

    1. What do you currently use for your dry food? Do you make a mix yourself or do you buy a pre-made food that is made for a different type of animal?

    I use a mixture that I make myself normally. And sometimes I will give them Repashy Bug Burger.

    2. Are you having a lot of success with this dry food? What I mean by this is have you been having consistently low die offs and high breeding numbers while using it?

    What I have learned with die offs is too much protein kills them. I actually use baby cereal (the oatmeal or whole wheat) as a staple. If I use a cup of cereal I use 1/3 cup of GOOD quality dog food. Then I add some type of dehydrated green (I grow both wheat grass and lemon grass - so it's normally one of those 2, that I have dried). I also give them a good deal of fresh food every day - either way my reptiles didn't eat and/or whatever veggie I am making for supper. I give them about a cup at night, remove whats uneaten in the morning since they are more active naturally at night.

    3. How many Dubia do you currently keep and what size tub do you keep them in?

    I have 2 colonies, and a feeder bin. 1 breeder colony is a 90L steralite tote the other is a 30L steralite tote (just started the 2nd one because the first was too full!) Both of them have holes in each side and the top that is covered with screen inside and out and that screen is hot glued down and carefully trimmed. The holes on the large tote are 3 inches wide and 24 inches long, the smaller tote is 2 inches wide about about 15 inches long. The top of the large one is 2 squares about 8 inches square, the smaller one about 6 inches square - also hot glued and carefully trimmed. 1 top hole has 3 layers of screen because my room is cold in the winter, warm in the summer so I have to use the ceramic heater emitters for heat during the winter.

    The feeder is a 20L with a screen top and covered with alum foil and duct tape. Its ugly but effectively holds heat in the tank.

    How many do I keep? Enough to feed all my dragons (4 of my own + 2 rescues at current) and sell them on a regular basis!

    4. How many full size 12x12 egg crates and/or cut egg crates do you use for the number of roaches that you have in each tub?

    I use entire 12x12 crates in the 2 large totes. The big one has 16 I believe the smaller one has 10. I just cover one entire side with them making sure there is a little space inbetween.

    5. Do you have your fruit, water, and dry food bowls on the ground of the tub or raised up and sitting on top of egg crates? I ask this because since putting mine about 8 inches up on top of egg crates it seems like they aren't hardly getting to them even though egg crates are surrounding them making it easy to get in and out.

    I have egg crates on one side, and 3 lids with things on the other side. So like on the left side is a row of egg crates, then on the right side is 3 lids (like one a cottage cheese container, a sour cream container and a cool whip tub) and yes they are on the floor. One hold water crystals and bug burger (if I am using it) one holds salad and other wet foods and the last holds dry food. At once point I had it loose in the tub but I found too much was wasted and I am MUCH happier with this method honestly. Normally, unless I do something stupid like put 5 cups of salad mix in there I have nothing wasted.

    And about die offs? I have very few unless I get too many males in the tank.
  7. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    I managed to find a blender for $2.50 at Good Will and it turns out to be a $45 retail blender that works amazingly. 2 cups of Chick Starter grinds down to powder in 30 seconds. I'm not doing the entire 50 pound sack at once because I'd be kicking myself if god forbid the blender burnt out. It doesn't seem like it will because it's really high quality but I don't want to risk it. I switched the bowl out that had the un-blended Chick Starter for blended Chick Starter and within minutes it was covered with Dubia. They were eating it so slowly un-blended that I was a little worried but now I think it's safe to say that they are all going to be getting their fill.

    I had a big female (2.5 inches) die giving birth yesterday unfortunately. She had a white sack hanging out that presumably held the babies that were only hours from birth. Haven't had that happen before but none of the babies made it out. I know that normally the sack is brown at the start but I'm guessing that this changes leading up to birth which is why I say that she died giving birth.
  8. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Good idea. I've never found an easy (and by easy I also mean cheap) way to chop them up.
    I'll have to check out our second hand stores.
  9. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Yeah, powdering the stuff seems to boost consumption tremendously, but I too have been trying to find an easy /cheap way to do it. I'm actually going to try an old hand meat grinder, but it may not make the stuff fine enough even if it doesn't jam up on me. Wonder if I could find one of the old commercial coffee grinders that they used to have in stores. Dog food in top, roach chow out bottom.
  10. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Why use dog food if you have roach chow?

    Remember, we feed our roaches to make them good food for the reptiles that eat them. You wouldnt give your lizard dog food, so why gut load your feeders with it.

    As far as a dry mix, I use as a staple alfalfa, then add corn meal, whole wheat, vitamin supplement and calcium carbonate. If you are going with a premix, then Repashy does some really great stuff. I think I have a more hands off approach to mine than most people. I dont use separate feed containers, I just put it straight on the ground of the tub. I only clean the tubs once or twice a year, and never clean them completely. The wastes keeps the tub nice and humid, so when I do clean, I usually leave a bit in the bottom and add a bit of soil.

    Ive got a couple thousand or so spread between two large Rubbermaid tubs. I have about ten egg crates in each. Ive never had any problem with them dying off, though I did have a grain beetle infestation in one of the tubs for awhile. Wouldve been great if I kept smaller lizards as they are a lot like a small mealworm, but since I dont they were just a pest that kept eating all the dry food!
  11. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    Dark was saying that it would go in to the machine as dog food then be ground up and come out as roach food, not that he had a roach mix already. Dog food can be OK as a staple to sustain them but what most people do is then feed them a healthy gut load prior to feeding them off. Dog food isn't ideal but it is cheap, easy to find, and works. Put good in, Get good out.

    How long have you been keeping them like that Jarich? Too much calcium is deadly to Dubia and since you can simply put the calcium on the outside prior to feeding it seems silly to put extra in their diet. Once or twice a year cleaning is just asking for trouble. A year without cleaning at this point would fill up half of the tub with frass for me. I don't know how that would work. You would also think that a dry food mix on the humid substrate would be a major mold hazard.
  12. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Hey Adam,

    No dog food is not a good staple for them or even an adequate one. I see you made reference somewhere to some reading about protein. What did that tell you about their protein requirements and how they metabolize it? Roaches are adapted to a low protein diet and do well with about a 10-15% protein diet. While a little higher isnt an issue, a lot higher can be. Dog and cat foods are usually around 20-30% protein. Dry dog food is barely good for dogs, and not good for anything else. As well as the protein issue, it contains preservatives, higher phosphorous levels and a higher amount of fat than needed. Use food that is designed for the animal. They do make roach chow if you are looking for cheap and easy. Mazuri makes a good one if you are able to find it online.

    As for too much calcium being deadly to them, where did you get that information? A high calcium diet can be hard on crickets, but again you are talking a rather high amount, like 10% of the diet or more. Roaches do not appear to have this issue, but either way I am not mixing it that high. I usually have about 5% of the dry mix as calcium. While you can dust, it is MUCH less effective a way to increase the calcium levels. Gut loading with calcium is a much better and more effective way of increasing their calcium levels and getting it into your lizard.

    When I clean mine there is usually a good few inches of wastes in the bottom, yes. Again, not a problem for them at all and very natural actually. Ive never had any problems with mold. Ive kept them for about two years now, so I know how much to feed them every other day without it building up on the bottom and causing mold problems.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  13. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    Good stuff Jarich, thanks for weighing in. I was keeping an eye on this thread hoping your'd stop by, I know how much you like talking diets lo.
  14. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Haha, ya its become a bit of a passion of mine. Always more to learn ;)
  15. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    While it is true that higher protein is going to kill more of them than something closer to 10-18%, they still will grow and thrive on it. Dog and cat foods are too high to be ideal but they will work for sustaining a colony as proven by many people growing thriving colonies using it. It isn't a gut load but it will grow them. The reason people feed these options is mostly because of the widely spread misinformation stating that roaches need a super high protein level. I'm not trying to convince people to use it but it isn't the end of the world if a few do. The majority of "Roach Chow" options from large scale roach breeders are usually a few things made for other animals mixed together and blended. I agree fully that there are much better options but clearly some of these less complex options still work.

    I don't remember exactly where I read it but while I was searching for a good recipe for a roach chow that I could make in bulk, I read it in several different places. The logic behind it seemed sound at the time although I don't have any references for you. How is dusting with Calcium less effective than feeding it to the roaches. Regardless of how you do it, the calcium will be getting in to your reptile. By dusting it you can get more calcium on to the roaches.

    After a quick search I did find a thread on another forum that seems helpful in this conversation. Link

    I can definitely understand how you would know how much food to add to make sure it's gone before molding after 2 years. It does surprise me that you have never had mold in 2 years of keeping them that way however. It sounds like it would be a time bomb but you seem to have it perfectly under control. I'll continue doing monthly cleanings but if annual cleanings work for you then more power to you. Less work for you.
  16. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    While you are right, they can breed and live on dog or cat food, that really isnt the point, especially on a reptile forum. People can also use dog poop, hamburger and coffee grounds and roaches will live and breed on that diet. Again, they are adapted to low nutrient environments, so the decision of what to feed shouldnt be based on what simply keeps them going. Rather, the decision should be what is best to feed your roaches so that they breed readily and make good reptile food. Feeding them dog or cat food does not make them good reptile food (or even particularly healthy roaches for that matter).

    As for Roach Chow, what I meant was Mazuri, Timberline, or one of the reputable food manufacturers. They specifically formulate food blocks for many different kinds of animals, including roaches.

    Ya, it happens often, like in that thread you linked to, that information gets sort of clouded and passed along without much to back it up. I know that I have read that it does hinder reproduction and molting in crickets, but Ive never seen anything about it as relates to roaches. Now thats not to say that it isnt true, just that Ive never heard or read anything reputable to say so.

    However, either way Im not suggesting a super high calcium diet that would cause problems, even in crickets. I use about a 5% calcium dry diet, which would put it even lower in their total diet. (I feed fresh vegetables as well). Ive never had any issues with my roaches dying and they breed quite readily.

    As for dusting, again Im not saying that it shouldnt be done. I think it should be done as an additional way of increasing the Ca:p ration. However its not as effective because it is greatly influenced by the type of powder used, the size of the insect (surface area:internal volume), how long before the insect is consumed, and the adherence factor of the particular insect. There have been numerous studies done, and gut loading has been shown to increase their calcium levels to a greater degree.

    As for the mold, I have occasionally had it but rarely so and its never been an issue of mortality in my roaches. I feed quite a lot of squash to my roaches, and in the NY summers (very high humidity, much like you have, Im sure) that means there is a bit of mold if I overestimate. Ive not found it to be an issue though. I should probably look into why mold is always stated as a big problem for roaches. I know Ive heard it from lots of people, but never looked into it.
  17. TigerIvy

    TigerIvy Elite Member

    Check on, thrift stores and yard sales. I bought mine for 1.00
  18. TigerIvy

    TigerIvy Elite Member

    jarich I have to agree with you on this one. I actually find if I use too much dog food I lose a good deal of roaches. If I use something with less protein and more balance (like baby cereal that I have TONS of right now) I have a great deal less die off problems. I have never tried chick mash before, I'm not sure how that would work but honestly my roaches get a good deal of fruits, veggies and other organic items like that. I have found they will eat different flower pedals that are reptile safe also. I will agree Mazuri works really well on them - I sometimes use it for gutload in the feeder tank.

    Again I agree on the internal gut load versus dusting. I actually just add a little powdered milk and it works fine. But here the past couple of days (I have a bad cold..bleh) I have just been giving them salad and the bug burger and I expected to find a good deal of deaths but surprisingly I have had very few.

    I have also noted they like sweet things, banana, oranges and almost any type of berry being popular with them. But I try to not overdose them on sweet things or else they don't appear to want much else. I have tried lemon and wheat grass - both of which they will eat with gusto as well.
  19. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    While those seem like extreme options, I do see the point you were trying to get across. Long term, It's a problem. Short term in a pinch if you can't find anything else I think it will be fine.

    Most of these type of things had an original basis in fact that gets lost or translated along the way. The way I view it, Why risk killing off some of your colony? Clearly the levels you use are perfectly acceptable but most people probably wouldn't know what is acceptable. I know that a while back I overdid it on the dry milk in a batch I made up and I did kill off an abnormal number of roaches. That may or may not have been entirely attributed to the calcium but in my mind it was so I made a mental note not to do that again.

    Even if you do get more in from gut loading, Do you already get enough from dusting? Gut loading could be doing 120% of what's needed where dusting gives 100%. In addition, an only 5% calcium gut load wouldn't come close to a full dusting, don't you think? The studies that you mentioned must have been using a higher concentration than just 5% to be able to say that it was better to gut load the calcium than to dust it. Doing both will surely do nothing but help but 5% just seems so insignificant in comparison.

    I would also like to know what about the mold is supposedly deadly to these insects that eat anything and survive. It seems almost silly that mold could kill them but it's not something that anybody wants to accidentally test just in case. If you find anything out about this I'd love to hear it.
  20. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Sorry, guess I should have said "ingredients in, roach chow out." I never meant that dog or cat food should be used exclusively, but it's an easy to get and inexpensive ingredient. I also use cat food some times, along with rolled oats from the feed store, and rabbit pellets, the powdered leftovers from my bags of rodent pellets, and a few other thing others have already mentioned. My comment was just really about the fact that powdered seems to get eaten much faster than pellets.

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