Roach Articles by Takeshi Yamada, Brooklyn, NY


Breeding tropical insects during wintertime need special attention especially temperature control of their tanks. In this article, I am writing the basic methods of heating tropical roach tanks. The methods described below can be used for variety of tropical roaches.

If you as an individual hobby roach breeder can maintain the room temperature consistently over 75F, then, you do not really need any extra heating mechanism for your Hissers' tank. Just make sure that the night temperature in the tank does not goes down below 60F.

Nevertheless, if you need to breed many Hissers (or any other smaller feeder roaches such as lobster roaches or B. Discoid roaches and etc.) to feed your reptiles consistently even during the winter time, you need extra heating mechanism to maintain the high temperature of their tanks. In this case, the temperature for Hissers' tank should be upper 80F to lower 90F. Incidentally, the ideal breeding temperature for Hisser is 88F according to many professional breeders.

Their tanks could be heated up by several different heating mechanisms during winter in your room. Following is some of the heating mechanisms to keep your Hisser tanks nice and warm during the cold season to keep smiles on their small faces.

You may use your computer monitor as heater to warm up your 10-gallon Hisser tank. (LOL, seriously, folks.) Unfortunately, placing a tank directly on the top of the computer monitor makes the tank floor too hot for them. Even the thermometer hanging in the middle of the tank says 85F, the actual temperature of the tank floor must be over 95F. I found almost all the Hissers stayed on the top of the chick water sponge and tree branches in my tank. Therefore, I placed small cardboard boxes between the tank floor and the computer monitor to control the amount of heat received at the bottom of the tank. By adjusting the height of the box and area that receive the heat, I found that this actually worked very well.

I also realized that it is very important to heat only the half of the tank bottom. In this way, we are creating the tank floor with different temperatures. This allows Hissers to choose their favorite temperature zone. In reality, almost all the Hissers stayed at the "coolest" area of the tank in this setting.

Placing the Hissers' 10-gallon tank on a long portable table (3 x 6 feet) next to the old steam heater works also excellently. The heat from the radiator panel of the heater warm up the tabletop and the tank is warmed up from the bottom.

This table could be used as your "tropical roach/insect research center" with roach logs, atomizer, tweezers, Swiss Army Knife, rulers, Foods in a plastic containers, calcium powder bottle, water bottles, bags of dried Oak leaves, several sizes of spoons, plastic trays, paper towels and etc.

The another benefit of warming up the tank from the bottom is keeping the tank floor dry, thus preventing the breeding of "Bad Mites" there.

Above mentioned heating methods could be replaced by a portable electric heating pad for human purchased at a pharmacy section of drug store for about $12. For larger tank such as 30 gallon, you may want to consider a double size electric heating pad for about $24. The heating pad usually has multiple temperature settings. The heating pad can be placed under the half of the tank floor or on the half of the side of the tank wall. Here again, you are giving the choice to your pet to choose their comfortable temperature zone. The heating pad does not necessary have to "contact" the surface of the tank wall as long as you can achieve your objective. Needless to say, you have to have thermometer in each tank to monitor the temperature.  

Above mentioned heater could be also replaced by a lizard's electric heating pad sold at any major pet supply store that handles reptiles.

An electric light bulb placed outside/inside of their tank could achieve the same objective. Incidentally, many lizard breeders use this method. In this case, make sure to hook it up to an electric on and off timer. If your room temperature is consistently over 70F, set up your timer on only during the day. You may want to try a red light bulb, as they are invisible to Hissers. Remember that Hissers do not like lights. They like dark places and move around mainly at night.  I have not tried this but love to hear your results on this experiment. Do not direct the light to their "apartments".

In Japan, many breeders of Kuwagata (stag beetle) build their small "green house" or "tropical room" - a small portable handmade room dedicated to warm up their many tanks and bottles of expensive tropical or Japanese Kuwagata during the winter. (The central heating system of the residents is mot as popular as the United States there.) See more details in many Japanese Kuwagata websites. (They are unfortunately written in Japanese.) Nevertheless, I believe that just watching how they look like is very informative. They are usually made of cheap wooden boards from a local lumberyard. They usually look like a wooden refrigerator from outside. They have several shelves inside that produce different temperature zones. Each shelf has separate thermometers. At the bottom, a large water dish for humidity, a small electric heater and timer are installed.

These methods are not "cast in stone", and meant to inspire your creativity to take care of your pet insects during the crucial time of cold season. Each method could be combined or modified to fit your budget, family situation and time to execute. Make sure to ask your Mom when using any electronic devices at home to make sure it is safely installed.

Good luck to you and your pet insects!
(c) Takeshi Yamada 2002


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