Isopoda is an order of crustaceans describing small, oval shaped invertebrates that are found in countries all over the world. They are amazing terrarium janitors by breaking down animal waste, leaf litter, and other plant debris. Terrestrial isopods have been growing in popularity due to their extremely low maintenance level and small size. Though isopods are tough, they are not invincible. They require food, water and hiding spots to thrive. 

Tropical Leaves

A shoe box size tupperware container works great for a starter culture. The box should be large enough to accommodate a wet and a dry side, but small enough to monitor the culture and encourage breeding. The box does not need to seal or be airtight, because isopods cannot climb smooth surfaces but holes for ventilation should be added along the sides of the box. For substrate you will need organic potting soil. Fill the tupperware about 3-4 inches deep with soil and add a layer of leaf litter on top. I always add an additional layer of moist sphagnum moss to the wet side of the enclosure to keep humidity up. 


Most isopods don’t require a heat source. They are comfortable at a wide range of 65-75F . Adding a heat source (such as a heating pad) can boost growth and breeding (especially if the ambient room temp is in the low 60s). However, heat sources should be used with caution because they can cause a culture crash if the temp becomes too high or the isopods do not have a cooler area to escape to.

Isopods are detrivores, an animal that eats any decaying organic matter. They will graze on leaf litter, moss, wood, and seed pods in their enclosure. You will need to offer high protein foods like egg shells, fish flakes, dried shrimp, dog and cat food for a thriving colony. Calcium is a key element to incorporate into any culture’s diet.