Do I Need Springtails In My Terrarium? Helpful Tips

If you have a terrarium at home and you are having a hard time keeping it clean, you might consider using springtails. But why do I need springtails in my terrarium, you might ask? This blog will answer your question.

An essential part of growing a terrarium ecosystem in a home is recreating its natural systems in a contained environment.

This includes water cycles, microorganisms, and bio-nutrients that help plants to grow. Springtails are also a big part of a healthy terrarium.

With more people getting into the hobby of growing terrariums, there are a lot of questions about whether or not you can use springtails. So let us answer some of the main questions one might have on this subject.

Do I Need Springtails In My Terrarium

Do Springtails Help Clean Terrariums?

Springtails are one of the most beneficial creatures in a terrarium ecosystem. These moisture-loving bugs eat mold, leaf litter, and associated organic matter as their main food source.

They are also known as the “cleaning crew” of a terrarium since feeding on all this organic matter keeps a terrarium tank clean without needing you to intervene too much.

As annoying as it may be to allow little bugs to make the place their home, it could be the best way to grow your plants and keep their living areas clean.

How To Breed Them?

Breeding a springtail culture is easy to do if you do it separately in a controlled environment and then release them later into your terrarium.

Springtails thrive in moist environments and grow quickly in any dark and damp corner. You can use a shoebox-sized sealed space and add a substrate layer to grow them.

For the substrate, one of the things you can use is moist charcoal. It is easier to pick up and transfer the insects when the substrate is a hard substance like charcoal.

At the breeding stage, springtails do not require round-the-clock attention. All you need is to provide them with some food source like mold or dry rice about once a week.

These insects usually absorb nutrients from the soil they are living in and feed on dead parts of plants.

Adult springtails multiply rapidly, and they can easily escape from a non-sealed container. Once escaped, it is very difficult to get the insects under control.

So when you are breeding springtails, make sure to use a container that is properly closed on all sides.

However, if you are using an air-tight box, make sure that you open the lid once every few days to let in some oxygen for the bugs.

Do I Need Springtails In My Terrarium

How Do You Add Springtails to a Terrarium?

Gathering springtails from the sealed container is hard. You can use a springtail trap to get as many insects in one go as possible.

Once trapped, you can open your terrarium lid and bring the trap close. Springtails will always go to areas where moisture is high, but they might take some time to settle down.

Where Can You Buy Them?

There are a few places where you can purchase springtails for your terrarium. One option is to order them online from a supplier that specializes in selling live insects.

Another possibility is to look for a local pet store or garden center that sells these critters. If you have trouble finding them, you can also ask around at your local reptile or amphibian club, as some hobbyists keep springtails as food for their pets.

How to Introduce Them to Other Terrarium Inhabitants?

A terrarium is all about maintaining an ecosystem in a small space. And besides the plants, there may be other inhabitants.

You have to find a balance between insects and other living organisms to make sure your tank is maintained.

It is important to add springtails slowly over several rounds, each time checking whether they are adapting to the terrarium environment or not.

Never release them in your terrarium en masse. They need a week’s time to settle into their new habitat.

Keeping Their Population in Control

Springtail populations can explode if left unchecked. Each female springtail can lay as many as 400 eggs in her lifetime, and the eggs hatch and become adults in a matter of 4-6 weeks.

Springtails molt several times and keep growing as well. They can live up to a full year in a safe place.

However, the best thing about a closed environment like a terrarium is that springtails self-regulate their population. They eat away the molds, bacteria, and fungi, and when the food source gets diminished, many of them die off.

The dead carcass becomes food for the remaining springtails, and as they feed on these carcasses, other bacteria and fungi get a chance to grow back. This completes a virtuous cycle of population control.

Do I Need Springtails In My Terrarium

An Effective Ecosystem

There are nearly 10,000 species of springtails found in various climates. When you are growing bioactive terrariums, you have to choose what kind of insects you are introducing to the environment.

Maintaining a proper ecosystem with the plants and insects is the best way to make sure you get a proper terrarium tank to look at.

Both temperate springtails and tropical species of springtails can work as beneficial insects to your terrarium. It is important to track the growth of your terrarium and understand its requirements to keep the whole ecosystem healthy.

How To Remove Springtails From a Terrarium?

Removing springtails can be a little more complicated than adding them to the tank. It is almost impossible to catch them by hand since they are tiny. So, here are a few things you can do:

  • Do not provide any kind of supplemental food to the insects in the terrarium.
  • Empty the terrarium and leave it dry for some time. This can get the insects out since they will not have moisture to thrive.
  • Removing the decorations from a terrarium and filling it with water can get the insects to float to the surface. Here you can remove them by hand.

Can Springtails Get Out of Your Terrarium?

Springtails will not be able to get out of a closed terrarium. You have to make sure that your terrarium tank does not have any kind of leak anywhere.

The only chance that they can get out is with the soil that you take out of the tank.

Springtails are known for their ability to jump long distances. This is why they are very difficult to control in large open environments.

In confined spaces like a terrarium, you will mostly find them buried under the bioactive substrate.

 

Whether you are growing a terrarium in a close or semi-close environment, you have to have proper seals in place to prevent the springtails from escaping.

Tight-fitting lids on the tanks are one of the most effective ways to prevent springtails from escaping.

Benefits of Adding Springtails to Your Terrarium

We can list several benefits of adding springtails to a terrarium. Here are a few that you should know about:

  • Springtails can thrive in highly moist environments, and a closed terrarium is appropriate.
  • These insects regulate their population according to food availability. This means that growing springtail colonies work more to keep your tank clean.
  • Springtails are very low-maintenance creatures in a terrarium since you do not need to feed them regularly.
  • Springtails feed on dead leaves and decayed plant materials that help in the cleanup process of a terrarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need both springtails and isopods?

If you are looking to create a more naturalistic environment, then you may want to consider adding both springtails and isopods, otherwise known as pill bugs to your setup.

However, if you simply want to add some extra cleanup crew members, then either should suffice.

Can you have too many springtails in your terrarium?

No, there is no such thing as having too many springtails in your terrarium. They are quite beneficial as they help to break down organic matter and aerate the soil. Moreover, you can never have too many because these bugs self-regulate their population as per the availability of food.

Do you need springtails for the bioactive terrarium?

No, springtails are not mandatory for a bioactive terrarium. However, these insects can be good for creating a healthy ecosystem. If you choose to add springtails, make sure to introduce them slowly so that the other inhabitants can adjust.

Do springtails eat poop?

No, springtails do not eat poop. These insects are detritivores, which means they eat dead organic matter. You can often find springtails in soil and leaf litter, where they help to break down organic material.

Wrap Up

Springtails are often misunderstood creatures. While it is true that they can be a big nuisance if you have a home infestation, they are also very useful bugs to have when you are trying to create a terrarium at home.

Introducing these bugs can be the first step to seeing your tiny terrarium tank grow into a beautiful space indoors. Thanks for reading! 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

9 thoughts on “Do I Need Springtails In My Terrarium? Helpful Tips”

  1. I had the same problem and i searched everywhere for an answer but the only solution i found was to clean the tank with saltwater which I was lazy to do I have a big tank and it’s hard to break it apart and clean it so I put three 100 watt lamps over the aquarium for two or three days they don’t like the high light and it worked I got rid of the bugs. try this maybe it works for you. Best of luck

    Reply
  2. nice photo! Here in Maine, we often call these Granite Bugs, since we see them in tide pools and rocky coastlines…I know now that they are spring tails, so thanks WTB…

    Reply
  3. I have these lil bugs and wanted to know how to get ride of them. My house is an older house but I have taken the bedroom window apart and they still seem to be getting in.

    Reply
  4. Really interesting find, I guess. Seems like there’ll be a lot more unique finds now that things are warming up in the northern hemisphere! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Hi, I have recently come across rock pools in North Ayrshire and it looks like these are there in the thousands. I was asking local people if they had seen them before but nobody has or knew what they were. I have a couple of photos and videos of them moving around and they were also crawling across the rocks to other small pools. If you would like the photos for the site you can email me as I don’t know how to upload from here.

    Reply
  6. Whilst visiting a beach in north Devon today, we saw the same. I photographed them and zoomed in. They were no bigger than a pin head.. but on zooming in look like lice. I’ve been trying to ID them all night and think this is exactly what they are.
    I have photos too if you would like them. Found in a still rock pool on woolacombe beach, Devon.

    Reply
  7. Hey Charles did you ever figure out how to get rid of spring tales in your water well? Or how they got there? I’ve just discovered the same thing in my well. We actually drink our water and wondering if we will get sick?

    Reply

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