Much like its cuddly namesake, the Panda King Isopod is rare, elusive, and visually spectacular.
Albeit much, much smaller…
These exotic Asian critters have only recently been discovered, but that hasn’t stopped them from causing panda-monium in the isopod community!
Well, perhaps not quite as much as their rockstar Cubaris cousins, the Rubber Ducky Isopod, but they’re still plenty sought after. Are these the next big thing?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything that’s known about these new contenders – laying it all out in black and white – so you can create a thriving colony of your own.
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Intro: Panda King Isopod Size & Appearance
The Panda King Isopod may be on the smaller side (around 1cm in size) but it’s a bold-looking species with plenty of visual contrast.
Named for its characteristic striped coloration, the Panda King is one of several “Panda” Cubaris species, each with its own unique striping patterns and colors. Though, as a relatively new isopod that hasn’t been properly classified, they still all fall under the interim scientific name Cubaris sp.
Being a little less popular than the wildly successful Rubber Ducky Isopod, their price is a fair bit lower. Making them a great entry-level Cubaris isopod.
Plus, they’re generally much easier to keep and breed – so they’re much better beginner species too.
They’re great as a pet or as a bioactive custodian in a terrarium or vivarium. So what are you waiting for?
Read on to find out how to care for the Panda King Isopod.
Panda King Isopod Care
Temperature & Humidity
As you might expect from a species found in damp tropical caves, Panda King Isopods love high humidity.
Like 75%+ humidity ideally.
Which shouldn’t be hard to achieve if you follow the habitat guide in the next section. It really is important though, as too low a humidity can cause your rare and relatively expensive isopods to dry out and perish.
Thankfully, they’re more forgiving on the temperature front. Sharing a typical range of 70-80°F (21-27°C) with the Rubber Ducky Isopods.
Alas, with great humidity comes great
power pests. So it’s a good idea to add some springtails to your colony.
They’ll help to keep any would-be pests in check (through out-competing them), plus they’ll tackle any mold growth that your isopods can’t keep up with.
With a small to medium-sized species like this one, you can easily manage a new colony with a shoebox-sized container.
A Tupperware box with some holes poked in for ventilation is an quick way to get started, or you can grab one of the specialist enclosures like these ones from EZbotanicals.
Panda King Isopods seemingly aren’t as sensitive to ventilation as other species, so you can keep the holes to a minimum in order to preserve that all-important humidity.
Just make sure they’re well distributed to maximize airflow through the container.
For your substrate, you can help maintain those high humidity levels by choosing a mix with excellent water retention. I like to run with a variation of the classic ABG mix in my bioactive terrariums, and it would work great in isolated colonies too.
Start with a coco coir base, then supplement with sphagnum moss and orchid bark, and finally earthworm castings for additional nutrition – a great foundation to keep your isopods fed and watered.
It’s worth noting that Reddit users report that they like to burrow a lot, so they’ll need a reasonable substrate depth to accommodate them.
Pro Tip: This is why they’re such excellent bioactive custodians. The burrowing process helps to aerate and replenish substrates, so add them to your larger setups to increase the health of the ecosystem.
Cool right? Though it also means they can be a little harder to spot.
Be sure to add plenty of softwood branches (like cork bark) and leaf litter too. They’ll really appreciate the natural hiding spots, and it’ll provide a stable source of nutrition for them.
Panda Isopods eat a wide and varied diet of detritus and food scraps.
Though rotting woods and leaf litter should form the backbone of any isopod diet, it’s easy to supplement with vegetables and protein sources.
Freeze-dried shrimp and minnows make a convenient protein snack, or fish flakes can often work in a pinch.
Just be sure to only add an amount that you think your colony can finish in one sitting. As food can quickly spoil in a high humidity enclosure, inviting a mold and pest party that can quickly spiral out of control.
As with other Cubaris species, a sprinkling of crushed limestone is a crucial element of their diet too – designed to mimic their natural cave habitat.
Cuttlebone and eggshells can be other helpful supplementary calcium sources.
For more help, check out my Isopod Food Guide.
Breeding Panda King Isopods
Thankfully, these isopods breed a lot better than their namesake panda bears.
I’m pleased to hear that these actually reproduce reasonably well for a Cubaris species, and certainly a lot better than their Rubber Ducky counterparts. Which isn’t difficult to be fair…
They’re still slow to start (it may be several months of settling in first) but under the right conditions, your patience will be rewarded.
Where to Find Panda King Isopod for Sale
Being an exciting new species on the market, Panda King Isopods are beginning to be stocked more often online.
As the cousin of the Rubber Ducky Isopods, it’s only natural I’d recommend the team over at Rubberduckyisopods.com to pick up your new colony of Panda Kings!
You’ll get 10-25 juvenile isopods and a culture start-up system of peat moss, isopod superfood, and oak leaves. Everything you need to get started!
There you have it, everything there is to know about Panda King Isopods.
Or, do you have some unique insights that I’ve missed out?
Let me know in the comments.
Alternatively, if you’re in need of more isopod inspiration, be sure to check out my Funky Isopod Species guide!