Do isopods need live plants?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

As an expert in isopod care, I can confidently say that isopods do not need live plants to survive. While feeding them live plants may have some benefits, such as increasing their reproduction rates and improving overall health, isopods are perfectly capable of thriving solely on dead plant matter.

Isopods are detritivores, which means they primarily feed on decaying organic matter. This includes dead leaves, rotting wood, and other decomposing plant material. In their natural habitats, isopods play a crucial role in breaking down and recycling organic matter, which helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Feeding isopods live plants can provide them with additional nutrients and variety in their diet. Some plant species, such as leafy greens or fruit, can be offered to isopods in captivity. However, it’s important to ensure that the plants are safe and free from pesticides or other harmful substances.

Feeding live plants to isopods may also stimulate their reproductive behavior. Some species of isopods, such as the popular Armadillidium vulgare (commonly known as the pill bug or roly-poly), are known to exhibit increased breeding activity when provided with a diverse diet that includes fresh plant matter.

While it can be beneficial to offer live plants as part of their diet, it’s important to note that isopods can still thrive without them. If you choose not to provide live plants, a well-balanced diet of dead plant matter, such as leaf litter or decaying wood, will still meet their nutritional needs.

It’s worth mentioning that isopods are primarily nocturnal creatures and tend to spend a significant amount of time hiding under the substrate. This behavior is their natural instinct to protect themselves from predators and adverse environmental conditions. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for isopods to remain hidden for extended periods, even if you provide them with live plants or other food sources.

If you want to observe your isopods more frequently, you can try luring them out from their hiding spots. One effective method is to provide a moist area in their enclosure, as isopods are attracted to damp environments. You can also place small pieces of food on the substrate surface to entice them to come out and feed.

While isopods can benefit from live plants as part of their diet, they can still thrive on a diet of dead plant matter alone. Feeding them live plants may increase reproduction rates and improve overall health, but it is not a necessity. Isopods are fascinating creatures that can be observed and appreciated, even if they spend much of their time hidden under the substrate.