Clown Isopods are just like their wacky human counterparts; bright, colorful, and sure to stand out in a crowded scene.
Exactly what you want from an isopod pet, right?
That being said, their nuanced behaviors and environmental needs make them great in certain niche cases, but not necessarily across the board.
Read on to find out how to best care for these enigmatic critters and when to use them in a bioactive setup.
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A Quick Overview of the Clown Isopod
Clown Isopods (Armadillidum klugii) are named for their characteristic spotted colors, which come in a variety of yellows and creamy whites – depending on the variety.
Besides just being fabulous, they’re probably a natural defense mechanism to deter would-be predators.
Personally, I’m not sure they make a convincing Black Widow Spider… but I definitely wouldn’t eat one. Hopefully the same could be true of any vivarium frogs and lizards too.
Interestingly, their temperament appears to match their evolutionary adaptions because they tend to be quite shy and avoidant.
Not something you’d expect from something called a Clown Isopod, right?
Besides their spots, Armadillidum klugii are also further labeled for the places they originated from.
Giving rise to the popular “Dubrovnik” and “Montenegro” varieties (from the Balkan regions of Europe no less) and each with their own unique smattering of bright colors.
Montenegro looks more on the red side than their Croatian counterparts and has colored spots vs. simple white spots.
Okay, now we’ve covered their characteristics; let’s move on to their care.
Clown Isopod Care
For some reason, Clown Isopods are often slow to get started in fresh cultures.
Losing some in the initial stages is seemingly quite normal too. They don’t take too well to travel.
So, if you’re planning on adding them to a bioactive vivarium/terrarium of any kind, it’s worth culturing them separately to get their numbers up.
As a medium-sized isopod species, they measure up at around half an inch (or just over a cm). That means you can get away with a reasonably sized culture container. A shoebox size should be plenty.
Though, your chosen habitat will need lots of ventilation.
Make sure to find (or fashion yourself) a box with plenty of ventilation holes around the sides and the top of the container. Any airflow dead zones could spell the end of your Clown Isopods.
You can always cover your ventilation with mesh to prevent any jailbreaks, but to be honest, the sheepish nature of these isopods means they’re unlikely to attempt anything. They seem to prefer to burrow than climb.
Many experienced breeders recommend a strong moisture gradient with this species.
Suggesting that Clown Isopods prefer a dryer environment overall, with a much more localized wet area to help them regulate when necessary.
So, clearly a humid tropical terrarium would not be the best fit… Especially those with automated misting systems that are going to indiscriminately water the whole environment.
On the flip side, this positions them well as potential cleanup crews in dryer bioactive setups.
It’s good to have options for all setups of all kinds, right?
To achieve this moisture gradient, you’ll want at least one area which contains a moisture-retentive substrate. Of course, you can still use a tropical substrate (e.g., ABG Mix) throughout your enclosure if you’re strategic about where you’re watering.
Or, if you’re using these in a more arid setup, you can keep this localized to one corner.
Materials like sphagnum moss and coco coir can help a lot here, plus leaf litter – lots of leaf litter!
Humidity and Temperature
The ideal temperature for Armadillidium klugii is pretty straightforward.
A typical room temperature of 70-85°F should be just fine, but you might find they’re more prolific at the higher end.
So, if you’re breeding your Clown Isopods or just starting out with a new culture, it might be worth pumping up the temperature a little to get them going… In more ways than one.
When it comes to humidity, the ideal amount appears to be up for debate.
Of course, all isopods need a minimum humidity level in order to breathe (they are crustaceans, after all). But, if you find they’re happier in dryer conditions, you can probably get away with a lot less than you typically would.
Anything above 50% is fine for most isopods, and it’s easily achievable in a closed container. So, as long as you’re giving adding some level of moisture to your container, I’m sure you’ll be fine.
All that said, I’ve seen a variety of keepers on Reddit saying that they treat their Clown Isopods like they do any other Armadillidium species with great success. So, it’s always worth experimenting to see what works for you!
The standard isopod diet of decomposing leaf litter and softwoods still works a treat for this species.
They’re not overly fussy, and you can easily supplement them with all manner of vegetable scraps from your kitchen. I’d add just a small bit at a time and stick to dryer things to prevent unwanted mold outbreaks.
As they’re not particularly prolific, you probably won’t need to top them up with food as often as you might other species/cultures.
Though, as with other species with a hard calcified carapace, you’ll find Clown Isopods appreciate a higher proportion of both protein and calcium in their diets.
Pop some cuttlebones or eggshells in there now and again, or throw in some frozen minnows to give them a big protein punch along with the calcium.
Where to Find Clown Isopods for Sale
As a fan favorite, Clown Isopods are widely available online.
You can find the Dubrovnik variety available over at Rubber Ducky Isopods.
With these, you’ll get your new 10 Clown Isopods and a startup system full of oak leaves, peat moss, and isopod superfood to help them get off on the right foot.
What Do You Think?
Clown Isopods make for great pets, and in the right cases can be an effective janitorial species too.
But how do they shape up for you? Are Clown Isopods the star of your show?
If not, why not check out some of the many other isopod species out there.