New to this newsgroup so forgive me if I'm bringing up something that is discused too often. I looked a bit through the google archives and nothing much came up so I think it is probably safe.

Anyway I've been keeping planted fish tanks for a long time and always took a low-tech approach in that realm where fish, plants, and invertibrates are balanced so that the aquarium needs little to no maintenance (aside from feeding of course). Then one day I happened to have a spare tank laying around and though it might be neat to see if I could get the same approach to work on a land animal.

To that end I've set up a 10g aquarium with a good substrate and filled it with live plants, worms, and crickets. It has proper lighting and heating along with humidity maintained at the moment by misting two to three times daily. The main inhabitant is a green anole who seems to quite enjoy his new space.
So far the insects have been moving the dirt around enough to mix in the waste so that it can be broken down further by the worms and plants (as I hoped). So the only real maintenance so far is feeding the insects (I'm using fish food for that) and misting the aquarium.

I have two questions:

1. Has anyone else attempted this? I'd love to hear experiences ofothers in getting a balanced vivarium running. Specifically has anyone gotten their crickets to breed as fast or faster than the herp inhabitants can eat them?
2. Has anyone come up with a good DIY automated misting system? I sawone for sale but the reviews I read seemed to indicate that it did more dripping than misting and made a lot of noise. I would eventually like to automate the misting but I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to go about that. I don't think a drip line will provide enough water for the plants.
I also have a 20g long tank sitting around that I'd like to do something similar with but I wanted to get some experience with a smaller system before I tried anything too big.
-Daniel
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I also have a 20g long tank sitting around that I'd like to do something similar with but I wanted to get some experience with a smaller system before I tried anything too big.

I think the 20g would be better from the anole's perspective, in order to get enough space for sufficient cricket-breeding area without getting too much predatory pressure from the lizard (and to give the lizard room to escape the crickets if need be).
I also have a 20g long tank sitting around that ... with a smaller system before I tried anything too big.

I think the 20g would be better from the anole's perspective, in order to get enough space for sufficient cricket-breeding area without getting too much predatory pressure from the lizard (and to give the lizard room to escape the crickets if need be).

Good point.
In sufficient numbers, I'd not put it past crickets to feed on the anole!!!

Om.
"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-***." -Jack Nicholson
In general that is probably true but in this particular setup I don't think it will be an issue. Mostly because this tank is heavily planted. In freshwater aquariums the entire maintenance free ideal comes from having every available space packed with plants to process the waste and provide a natural environment for the inhabitants so I kept to that philosophy when setting up my vivarium.As a result the tank is pretty much covered in plant life. The crickets like to stay hidden in the denser foilage close to the ground - they also like being close to the damp earth. Whereas the anole prefers the higher branches and the tops of the plants where he can bask in the light. So the crickets pretty much stay away from the anole. I also make sure there is always food sitting in the aquarium for them somewhere. Since the crickets ate through the fish food so quickly I switched them over to breakfast cereal (rasin bran for now) as their staple diet with fruit (strawberries right now) thrown in for moisture (though I have seen them drinking droplets off of leaves when I mist the tank).

I have a strawberry plant growing in the tank and it is starting to produce some berries so I may be able to stop adding fruit to the tank soon. Depending on production rate I may add one or two more strawberry plants to facilitate this.
My main concern is getting the crickets to breed at least once before being eaten. I've had one person tell me he did it once but a single case of it working does not a science make. I'd like more examples if they exist. Anyone?
-Daniel
No - the crickets are fairly small. I assume at some point I will have to put adult crickets into the tank in order to get a culture going but I wanted to get the anole settled in and eating well before I did that. So for now the crickets are rather small - not pinheads but no where near adults either.
Have you bred crickets before? If so how soon after introducing adults could I expect to see a batch of baby crickets? How successfull are the crickets likely to be at breeding under these conditions? I read that they will breed easily in warm damp earth but I'm still looking for some personal accounts of this so I know what to expect.

-Daniel
In general that is probably true but in this particular setup I don't think it will be an issue. Mostly ... a single case of it working does not a science make. I'd like more examples if they exist. Anyone? -Daniel

Are they adult crickets? If so, the females are probably already looking to plant some eggs in the dirt...
They'll screw their little brains out... Doesn't take but a couple weeks (or less) to have pins, if you keep it at about 80F. A week or so later, they're 1/4-inchers
In general that is probably true but in this particular setup I don't think it will be an issue. Mostly ... a single case of it working does not a science make. I'd like more examples if they exist. Anyone? -Daniel

Well... Just to be sure, I'd go ahead and use your 20 gallon for the vivarium, and set up the 10 gallon as a separate cricket breeding tank. ;-) Even the large crickets I buy need to moult once or twice to sexually mature.
Line it with a light weight potting soil and keep it slightly moist, and provide the crickets with food and water. Cat or dog kibble would work, but I've also found that my crickets I feed to my frog prefer fish food.

In fact, I bought a container of tubifex worm cubes for my betta, and neither he nor the mystery snail seem to be interested in them.

In my 5 gallon tank for my baby bullfrog, (yes, she will be moved to larger quarters later but she's barely 4 months morphed at this point so not quite 2" long), I have fish tank gravel as substrate, a cave "hide" for the frog and a small resin pond for her to soak in. Later on, I want to make a vivarium that has land and water/pond combo to make it easier to switch her over from crickets to fish.
In the meantime, I use a 1.5" vitamin bottle cap as a feed dish for the crickets for gut loading. The crickets I buy are STARVING when I get them so they all hoard the food dish as soon as they are dumped in the tank! I free-feed Siggy the frog and she eats 2 to 3 crickets per day right now.
I was feeding the crickets bloodworms and brine shrimp since I had that on hand for the betta, generously dusted with Herpevite so they were gutloaded for frog food, but I just offered them a crumbled block of dusted tubifex worms. ;-)
Damn.
It's nearly as much fun to watch the crickets as it is to watch the frog! They went bonkers over the tubifex and were running off with small chunks of it, fighting and playing tug-of-war with one another!

I think fish food is a GREAT idea for crickets and it's not that expensive if you get the larger containers of freeze dried stuff, and dust it with the herpevite for the reptiles/amphibians.
K.
Sprout the MungBean to reply
"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell‹you see, I have friends in both places." Mark Twain
A DIY misting system that supposedly works well and comes in at around $100. I haven't built my own yet, but it's on my to do list.

http://www.barrs.com/spray.htm
Good luck and give us a link to some pics!
-M
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