The Dalmatian Isopod Species Guide: Spot the Difference!

You could call the Dalmatian Isopod more of an eccentric family than a specific species. 

After all, any isopod species with the “dalmatian gene” is capable of producing its own unique spotted pattern. It’s no wonder these spotted wonders are amongst the most varied (and sought-after) isopod varieties on the market.

That said, there is one species that’s arguably become the defacto dalmatian.

In this guide, we’re going to explore some of the best 101 dalmatian isopods on the market and figure out who is really the top dog.

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Popular (and Rarer) Dalmatian Isopods

Just a quick primer before we jump in.

Though many stunning spotted isopod species are on the market, a “Dalmatian Isopod” is technically only born of the specific dalmatian mutation.

Other genes (like the Koi gene) give rise to similar visual effects through different means. Visually, there’s not always much of a difference, but there certainly is when it comes to breeding. 

That aside, without any further ado, here we go.

1 | Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’ is undoubtedly one of the most popular species of its kind.

Prized for its classic black and white dalmatian look, it fits the dalmatian brief better than any of the others on this list.

dalmatian isopods
Dalmatian isopods really look the part!

But does a close resemblance make it the best isopod? Let’s find out.

I’m pleased to say, P. scaber ‘Dalmatian’  is not all bark and no bite.

These versatile critters are super adaptable, breed quickly, and are easy to care for – making them suitable for almost any setup. Average household temperatures and typical humidity levels of 70%+ should be absolutely fine, so they’re a great choice for a bioactive vivarium too.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Grab yourself a Dalmatian Isopod starter culture here.

And growing up to around 1.5cm in size, P. scaber ‘Dalmatian’ is a relatively large species that can certainly pull its weight when it comes to bioactive cleaning duties.

They also come in a cool Orange Dalmatian variety too!

Not to be confused with the “Orange Koi” Isopods, which look very similar but result from a different gene expression. Then there’s the Lava Isopods, another fascinating Porcellio scaber color morph (but I’m not sure that it’s because of the dalmatian trait).

2 | Dairy Cow Isopods (Porcellio laevis)

Dairy Cow Isopods are the other hot contender for the Dalmatian Isopod crown.

Sporting mottled black and white carapaces, they have a slightly different take on the classic dalmatian look. 

dairy cow isopods
The Dairy Cow Isopod is bold in design and in spirit.

If I were a judge on Crufts and comparing Dalmatian Isopods vs Dairy Cow, I’d give the bovine option points for size and their stronger look, but they lose points for visual accuracy.

At almost 2cm fully grown, these critters can get pretty big.

Just like the Porcellio scaber Dalmatians, Porcellio laevis are excellent bioactive custodians. An active nature combined with a large appetite makes for an effective cleaning machine.

I wouldn’t advise mixing them with any other isopod species though, nothing can outcompete these tanks and they don’t always play nice.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn more about the Dairy Cow Isopods.

3 | Japanese Magic Potion Isopod (Armadillidium vulgare)

Here, we add some color to the mix!

The Japanese Magic Potion Isopod has an interesting approach to the dalmatian gene.

As it only affects dark pigments, some of the dark elements of the carapace have been stripped to a creamy translucent white. Leaving behind dark spots and some characteristic acid-yellow splashes.

Japanese Magic Potion Isopod
The Japanese Magic Potion Isopod is certainly one of the weirder ones…

The contrast really is electric, and it’s fascinating to see genes play out this way.

You can get this species from two distinct lineages: American and Japanese. The American being the larger and more visually distinctive, but the Japanese being much easier to breed. 

Oh, and there’s also an Orange Dalmatian variety too. You’re welcome.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn more about the Japanese Magic Potion Isopods.

4 | Armadillidium maculatum “Zebra Dalmatian”

With its characteristic black and white stripes, the Zebra Isopod bears some of the hallmarks of a Dalmatian Isopod.

But, there’s a variety that takes it one step further.

Enter the “High White Zebra.” 

As we now know, the dalmatian gene affects darker pigments. So, in this case, we end up with a much whiter Zebra Isopod. Cool right?

Plus, the expression of the gene can produce very different results. Some isopods will still retain some of those distinctive stripes in the form of long black spots, whereas others have just a few black flecks more akin to a scale-like pattern.

Some even have a lovely brown color too!

๐Ÿ‘‰ Shop Armadillidium maculatum “Zebra Dalmatian”

Where to Buy Dalmatian Isopods

These days, Dalmatian Isopods are popping up thick and fast. 

Being pretty established in the hobby, the classic Dairy Cow Isopods and P. scaber Dalmatian Isopods are relatively easy to source. But with the others? Not so much.

๐Ÿ‘‰ That’s why I find the best place to buy isopods is over at Rubber Ducky Isopods.

Just look at these gorgeous speckled critters from Rubber Ducky Isopods!

Whether you’re looking to buy Orange Dalmatian Isopods, Zebra Dalmatians (or Lava Isopods – even if they’re not true dalmatians), these guys have you covered.

They have a vast (and rapidly growing) species selection, so be sure to check back regularly!

That’s a Wrap!

We’ve looked at a variety of classic and up-and-coming Dalmatian Isopod species.

Which do you think looks the best?

If you need more vividly colored isopod inspiration, why not check out the Powder Orange Isopods or Powder Blue Isopods?

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