Isopods are the hottest new pet on the market, haven’t you heard?
These little bioactive beasties are on the up, and there’s never been a better time to get started in the isopod hobby.
That said, with so many species to try and new varieties emerging – seemingly every day – it can be a little overwhelming at first.
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to get started with isopods. Where to find the best starter isopods for sale (and the rarer/more advanced kinds), along with all the kit and information you’ll need to get started.
Let’s get to it.
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How to Choose From the (Many) Isopods For Sale
People flock to isopods for different reasons, but there are generally two main drivers.
- To keep as pets – They’re cute and cool to look at; what more do you need?
- To use in a terrarium – Along with springtails, these bioactive critters are an excellent way to keep a terrarium healthy, vibrant, and clean (and they can be a potential tasty snack for reptiles and frogs).
Technically, the giant isopods from the sea are a food delicacy for humans too, but we’re not going there…
So naturally, what you want your isopods for is a good place to start.
If you’re looking for a shiny new pet isopod, you can go straight for the most aesthetic and unusual kinds.
Whichever catches your eye the most!
The Rubber Ducky Isopod is perhaps the cutest and most famous of all, but it’s also relatively rare and a little pricey. Perhaps not the best place to start… but a fun challenge for the more experienced keeper.
Beyond that, lots of isopod species come with a variety of color morphs and mutations (like the Dalmatians or Koi), so there really is a lot of diversity to explore.
So many isopods, so little time.
Of course, you’ll need to tailor your isopod’s environment to the needs of your chosen species, but if you’re keeping these as a pet in their own enclosure, this is pretty straightforward.
Check out the individual care guides linked in this article for more tailored advice.
Other easy beginner isopods include:
- Magic Potion Isopods – One of my absolute favorites! Their electric yellow spots really stand out against their translucent white bodies (and against the enclosure on a whole – you can’t miss them).
- Dairy Cow Isopods – Much like their bovine namesakes, these are large, hardy, and super active making them hard to miss for very different reasons.
*Whichever you choose, I’d recommend sticking to just one type of isopod per enclosure. You might find the more dominant species (cough, Dairy Cows) might outcompete the others for food.
Which one sounds the most exciting to you?
Bioactive Isopods for Terrariums
If you’re putting isopods to use in a terrarium, it’s much more important to be selective about your species choice.
Not every isopod species will make an effective bioactive cleaner, and you’ll need one that’s well adapted for life in a warm and moist tropical environment. There’s also ventilation to consider, as some species won’t be able to handle closed terrariums with poor airflow.
Thankfully, there’s a range of tried-and-tested species in the vivarium hobby.
Here are a few to check out:
1. Dwarf White Isopods (Trichorhina tomentosa)
These tropical isopods are perhaps the staple terrarium/vivarium isopod. They’re super small, well-adapted for terrarium conditions, and they breed insanely fast.
Did I mention they reproduce parthenogenetically (i.e., they can effectively clone themselves)?
No wonder Dwarf White Isopods are so easy to culture….
The Dwarf Purple Isopods (Trichoniscidae sp.) are a similarly good choice. They don’t come with the extra cloning feature, but unless your colony is subject to regular reptile snacking, you probably won’t need it.
Both are diligent terrarium cleaners, and due to their burrowing habit, they help to aerate the substrate too.
I’d recommend either one for an effective (albeit mostly hidden) clean-up crew.
2. Spanish Orange and Lava Isopods (Porcellio scaber)
Here we have a cornerstone vivarium species.
One of the originals that formed the basis of the hobby. Which is why nowadays, this medium-sized isopod species come in so many colors and varieties.
They’re so reliable and hardy, breeders have been able to go nuts with genetic combinations to produce some stunning new looks.
3. Florida Fast Isopods (Atlantoscia floridana)
This Floridian species is a natural choice for super humid enclosures (like for dart frogs).
They’ll have no problem settling into a lovely tropical terrarium. Plus, as the name suggests, these speedy little critters are seriously fast and can easily keep up with cleaning duties.
Though bigger than the Dwarf Whites and Purples, they’re still relatively small as far as isopods go.
Being crustaceans, isopods need some moisture to survive.
So in an arid setup, it’s not so much about finding desert-loving isopods (I don’t think they exist) but rather isopod species that are hardy and tolerant of dryer conditions.
That said, as long as you have a designated moist area in your terrarium, you can overcome some of these barriers. Even just a damp area under some wood or around a water feature can often be enough,
Here are some hardy species to consider:
- Powder Orange Isopods (Porcellionides pruinosus) – These isopod all-rounders perform well in terrarium conditions of all kinds. They’re amongst the most adaptable of all isopod species and one of the few that can handle a true arid setup.
- Giant Canyon Isopods (Porcellio dilatatus) – These big beasties are well-adapted to dryer conditions, and they’ll serve as a great cleanup workhorse for your enclosure.
Buying Isopods Online
For most people, online is the best place to buy isopods.
They’re still a relatively niche industry, and I’ve only ever known them to be stocked in specialist vivarium stores. I doubt searching “isopods for sale near me” is going to bring up many local options.
So, where do we start?
With a reputable breeder. One that understands the challenges associated with keeping (and shipping) live isopods. Plus, a wide variety of species is important, as let’s face it – that’s half the fun, right?
Personally, I recommend the team over at Rubber Ducky Isopods. 👈
They have an enormous (and ever-growing) selection of the hottest isopod species.
They offer free standard shipping with every purchase, but you might want to consider upgrading to express shipping to take advantage of their Live Arrival Guarantee.
That’s a Wrap!
Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down the giant list of isopods for sale.
Have I missed off your favorite species?
Let me know in the comments.