Types Of Isopods

Bioactive Terrarium

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Several essential elements go into building a bioactive terrarium or vivarium. Such factors include the type of soil, the plants, the animal itself, the tank janitors, and lots more. These various elements work hand in hand to create a functional ecosystem.

An excellent example of tank janitors or clean-up crews is isopods. They are responsible for keeping the terrarium clean. They also help to aerate and enrich the substrate with nutrients. They do this by breaking down waste products in the terrarium into usable nutrients.

Isopods come in different sizes, colors, and shapes. To learn more about the various isopods, you could use them as pets or in a terrarium; keep reading.

What are isopods?

Isopods are an order of invertebrates, part of the crustacean group of animals. There are over 10,300 known species of isopods distributed worldwide. More than half of the known species live in marine habitats. The rest are classified as terrestrial isopods living on land.

Isopods come in different shapes and sizes, but all share similar characteristics. They all have two pairs of antennae, four sets of jaws, and compound eyes. Their bodies are also divided into seven segments, each with its team of walking legs.

When it comes to feeding, most isopods feed on dead and decaying matter. Some isopods act as predators, while some as external or internal parasites, living primarily on fish.

Types of Isopods Species

Isopods are an essential part of the ecosystem. They aid in the decomposition of both plants and animal waste. They achieve this by breaking down waste matter into different user types of nutrients. Doing so makes nutrients more readily available for plants and fungi.

Isopods are primarily used in bioactive terrariums to help clean up waste products. However, some people also keep isopods as pets. So if you are looking for isopods to use in your vivarium, we’ve got you covered.

So, in this part of the article, I will be discussing different types of isopods that you can use in your vivarium or as pets. The list includes isopods of various sizes, colors, and shapes.

Jungle Micropod

The first isopod on our list is the jungle micro pod, also known as the dwarf purple micropod or the Costa Rican micropod. They are mainly used as tank janitors or as a high calcium source for exotic pets such as frogs and geckos.

They are great decomposers, making them valuable members of any bioactive terrarium. They help decompose plant and animal waste faster due to their lively and active nature.

The dwarf purple micropod is the smallest isopod on our list. Their adults are usually 1 to 2 mm in length. They are primarily purplish-gray and are very easy to maintain. They love growing in warm and moist marshlands.

Trichorhina tomentosa

These types of isopods are also known as micro-white or dwarf-white isopods. They are very tiny, with a softer crustacean body. They are great tank janitors and serve as a calcium source for frogs, geckos, and other reptiles.

The dwarf purple micropod and dwarf white isopod share very similar characteristics. Their significant difference lies in their color. The dwarf white isopods, as the name suggests, are white. They are mostly found growing in moist, warm, and humid marshlands.

Dwarf white isopods are slightly more giant when compared to the dwarf purple micropod. Their adults measure 2 to 4 mm and are very easy to maintain. They have a high adaptability rate, making them great for bioactive terrariums.

Isopods sp. Tarragona

Another fantastic isopod is the isopod sp. Tarragona. They also have soft crustacean bodies and are fast breeders. They make great tank janitors due to their burrowing abilities and rapidly increasing numbers.

They are relatively more prominent when compared to other dwarf species like Trichorhina tomentosa. They are also faster when compared to other smaller-sized isopods, such as the dwarf purple and dwarf white isopods. They come in a grayish or orange morph.

They love living in wet environments and enjoy eating banana peels. One funny characteristic of the Isopoda sp. Tarragona is that they tend to play dead when disturbed.

Dwarf Gray striped isopod

Dwarf Gray Striped isopods are scientifically known as Nagurus cristatus. They are also soft-bodied and serve as great tank janitors. Nagarus cristatus is also a great source of calcium for other animals. They burrow through debris and waste materials quite quickly compared to other dwarf isopods.

They have a high survival rate when grown alongside animals like dart frogs. In addition, they are fast-breeding and capable of maintaining their population when kept in vivariums.

They are relatively larger than the dwarf purple and white isopods. They measure up to 10mm in length and come in a brownish or yellowish longitudinal pattern. They are marine isopods and are mostly found living in warm and moist marshlands.

Porcellionides pruinosus

The Porcellionides pruinosus is also known as powder blue isopod. They have a very soft exoskeleton, making them a good snack for frogs and lizards.

They are very active and love to hide under leaves and bark. They burrow less than other isopods and spend most of their time on the substrate. They make great tank janitors as they help clean the vivarium by consuming waste products.

Porcellionides pruinosus starts out with a purplish brown color. But right before molting, it develops a beautiful blue sheen.

They are mostly found growing in warm and humid marshlands. They are medium-sized and also fast breeders. Their sizes range between 3 and 15 mm.

Armadillidium nasatum “peach.”

The Armadillidium nasatum “peach” is an active isopod that breeds moderately. This type of isopod is mainly found in North America. They are primarily found in warm, moist, and humid marshlands.

They act as tank janitors by nibbling on leaves, barks, and animal feces. They also provide natural calcium boosts for animals in the vivarium or bioactive terrarium.

Adult Armadillidium nasatum are moderate in size and have an average length of 1.5 centimeters. They have a hard calcified body and have a peach color. The younger isopods are more palatable and easily consumed by most vivarium pets.

Armadillidium maculatum

The Armadillidium maculatum, also known as the zebra isopod, is very similar to the Armadillidium nasatum. Their main difference lies in their color. The Armadillidium nasatum has a peach color, while the Armadillidium maculatum is stripped. Their bodies are covered in white and black stripes, hence the nickname “zebra isopods.”

The zebra isopods are considered one of the largest species of isopods. They are very active and serve as great tank janitors. They are very good at aerating the substrate in their habitat. They are also a great source of calcium for your vivarium pets.

The adult Armadillidium maculatum size is usually in the range of 9 to 15 millimeters. They love dimly lit areas that are warm and humid. They are marine isopods and primarily reside in moist marshlands.

Armadillidium, vulgare Isopods

The Armadillidium vulgare, also known as the Rollie-Pollies or Pillbugs, is one of the most valuable isopods available. They are found in moist and humid marshlands all across the United States. Besides being great tank janitors and a source of calcium, they also help control mold, fungus, and mite infestations.

Armadillidium vulgare is a medium-sized isopod, having an average height of 3 to 13 mm. They are mostly grayish and usually feed on decomposing vegetation such as rotten leaves, grass, and fruits. Their females also exhibit greenish-yellow markings.

Armadillidium vulgare tends to run away or fold itself into an unappetizing hard ball when disturbed.

Porcellio’s scaber “Dalmatian.”

The Porcellio scaber dalmatian has a hard calcified body with a dalmatian look. It is one of the most popular species of isopods. They are straightforward to care for, very adaptable, and fast breeders. They love growing in mildly warm and humid environments but can’t tolerate overly wet environments.

They are very active tank janitors and a source of calcium boosting for most vivarium pets. In addition, they help to circulate nutrients across the vivarium by breaking down and transferring waste products.

They are moderate in size and can reach a length of 1.5 centimeters. Juvenile Porcellio scaber dalmatian starts out as all-white. As they age, black spots start to appear on their backs.

Porcellio hoffmannseggia

Porcellio hoffmannseggia is among the largest terrestrial species of isopods. Due to their fantastic size, they make a good source of food for most amphibians and reptiles. They are also great tank janitors or cleaners as they are very active.

Porcellio hoffmannseggia is native to Spain and thrives in warm climates. However, they do not fare well in overly wet environments.

They are more significant compared to other types or species of isopods. Adult versions of Porellio hoffmannseggia can reach a length of 2 centimeters. Their colors can range from brown to gray. They love feeding on fallen leaves, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes.

Porcellio hoffmannseggia tends to hide under leaves, bark, or branches when disturbed. This way, they are easily documented as they tend to converge together when under shade.


What are the most expensive isopods?

One of the determinants of how expensive an isopod is can depend on how rare it is.

The Cubaris isopods are probably the most expensive isopod genera available today. Cubaris isopods are expensive because they have a longer lifespan and a lower reproduction rate. Due to their lower reproduction rate, Cubaris isopods are challenging to breed on a large scale.

Isopods with high prices include

  1. Cubaris murina
  2. Cubaris’ Panda King’
  3. Cubaris’ Papaya’
  4. Cubaris’ Rubber Ducky
  5. Cubaris ‘Jupiter’

What are the rarest isopods?

Some isopods with beautiful designs, patterns, and colors are not readily available. Depending on the species, they are mostly purchased from hobbyists and might cost a lot of money.

Some of them include the following:

  1. Zebra Isopod (Armadillidium maculatum)
  2. Dairy Cow Isopods (Porcellio laevis)
  3. Dalmatian Isopods (Porcellio scaber)
  4. Papaya isopods (Cubaris murina)
  5. “High Yellow” Isopods (Porcellio haasi)

What species is an isopod?

Isopods are an order of invertebrates, part of the crustacean group of animals. There are over 10,300 known species of isopods distributed worldwide. More than half of the known species live in marine habitats. The rest are classified as terrestrial isopods living on land.

Is a cockroach an isopod?

Cockroaches are not isopods. Cockroaches are insects, while isopods are crustaceans.


Isopods are a vital part of the ecosystem. They help to break down waste products and aerate substrates. They also help in circulating nutrients within the substrates by burrowing through them.

If you plan to build your bioactive terrarium or vivarium, you should consider introducing isopods. As tank janitors, they will help keep your bioactive terrarium clean. Also, most species of isopods are fast breeders and serve as a source of calcium for most bioactive terrarium animals.

And finally, before introducing any species of isopod into your bioactive terrarium, you need to understand its needs. This way, you can create an enabling environment for them to thrive and grow quickly.

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Emmanuel Orta
Emmanuel Orta

Hi, I am Emmanuel, and I love everything about insects, plants and building terrariums.

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