Karınca Çiftliğim Formicaria Design 2 & 3 Review
Karınca Çiftliğim or “My Ant Farm” is Turkey’s first and only ant store that supplies ant keeping accessories, formicariums and outworlds.
They are present on all social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube with almost 28 000 subscribers and lots of videos for the past 8 months. Their own website, karincaciftligim.com, showcases all their available products and prices (all in Turkish). You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t worry because they speak fluent English.
Their products range from vinyl tubing, water feeders, heat mats and other accessories, as well as 3d printed and y-tong formicariums, and decorated out worlds to match their formicariums.
Product description and purpose
Design 2 is a four layer horizontal nest (top view), three layers made of 3d print and one layer of thick glass.
Design 3 is also a four layer horizontal nest (top view), with two layers made of 3d print, one layer of ytong and one later of thick glass.
First layer is called the water base and has a capacity of 70ml. The second layer is called main frame, the third layer is called main chamber, and last and fourth layer is the glass layer.
The nests totally assembled have the following dimensions:
Dimensions - 130 x 110 x 32 mm
Dimensions - 130 x 110 x 32 mm
Let’s have a closer look at Design 2. For easier understanding let’s name the chambers within this Design.
In blue we have the Queen’s room, in green Chamber 1 and in orange Chamber 2.
The queen’s room has two external connection points and one internal chamber barrier to Chamber 1. Chamber 2 has one external connection point and one internal chamber barrier to Chamber 1.
The main frame can be fitted on water base in any orientation, this is quite good because sometimes you would want to have certain external points facing a particular direction, since the water base is rectangular, it might influence the way you display them in your ant room or cupboard, etc.
As shown before, the nest is divided into three separate areas that can be opened or closed in case of necessity. The areas vary on size, so depending on what you want to do you can choose the most adequate combination to fit your needs.
For single queens, you can place them inside the Queen’s room with a water reservoir test tube attached (also included with the nest). For colonies you can choose to open the full nest, or partially Queen’s room and Chamber 1, or Chamber 1 and Chamber 2 or just Chamber 2.
Design 2 comes with two chamber barriers. They can be accessible from underneath the main chamber and not the top as previously seen in AntsRussia formicariums.
The biggest difference is that these barriers are comprised of two interlocked pieces, and you can give access for other areas without fully removing the barrier from its slot, avoiding ants to escape through the slot.
It won’t be easy but it is possible to do it.
Now let’s look at Design 3 in more detail.
Both Design 2 and 3 share the same water base and main frame (with 3 openings), but since Design 3 main chamber has only one entrance, a special corner 3d printed piece was incorporated to allow you to close the two typical Queen’s room entrances.
Design’s 3 main chamber is made of y-tong, and is actually very light and porous compared to others I have tried before. The layout is organic and has three all communicating chambers.
Outworlds can be purchased separately.
Setting up and suitable species
Once you get the nests, you will have to unwrap them, expose the water base and add your preferred humidification medium, cotton, soil, etc. You can choose to fill the base with medium to the top of the main chamber, or leave it a few mm gap below.
After that, just close everything, connect your tube to any entrance, humidify the medium, and connect it to your existing colony tube/formicarium, and wait for the ants to start moving.
Design 2 is intended for single queens or small/medium colonies and aiming to house them in the long run providing new additional areas as the colony grows. Since the expansion can be achieved progressively it is possible to control the living space accordingly.
Design 3 is not intended for single queens, but for small colonies only.
The horizontal nests with a glass transparent cover offer the possibility of observing and photographing/recording the colony very easily.
Regarding suitable species, one could say any that fits ☺ but that is not really the case as we are about to see.
The suitable species can be from 3/4mm to 15mm for Design 2 and above 6mm to 15mm for Design 3. Why the difference?
We wouldn’t recommend it for smaller ants like monomorium, tetramorium and solenopsis, “the escape artists” because they will find the small gaps openings between the ytong and the main frame and escape through the humidification holes of the water base. This happens because the shape of the ytong is variable and those imperfections will allow small ants to move in-between.
Also ants known or with tendency to chew through ytong aren’t really advisable.
Price, Payment, Handling, Shipping and Packaging
Design 2 is being sold at $45 USD and Design 3 at $60 USD (shipping not included).
The whole process was carried out through Facebook in our case, because we were already acquainted with Karınca Çiftliğim payment was done through Paypal. Regarding handling and delivery, we found the service to be very smooth. Once payment was done, it was a 4 day waiting period to complete the order, and 12 days to receive the package (with tracking number). Shipping was $28 USD from Turkey to South China.
Packaging was great; all items were individually and properly wrapped in protective film.
My experiences, my mistakes and my recommendations
Firstly, Design 2.
I chose for this nest my second Aphaenogaster senilis colony from Spain. I had them housed in test tubes located inside an outworld.
The transfer was extremely simple and easy. I chose cotton as my water base medium; I stuffed as many cotton balls I could and watered the cotton until they were all soaked. I closed the nest, connected the tube to my outworld and covered the nest with a dark cloth. Due to the colony size and because Chamber 2 has a bigger humidity exposure, I decided to connect the outworld only to Chamber 2, leaving access to Chamber 1 and Queen’s room closed.
It just took one night for 95% of the colony to move in, queen included.
A few days later I opened the access to Chamber 1, leaving the Queen’s room closed. The colony reacted well, and expanded into the new area. They started to sepperate brood (according to brood development) into different areas, probably due to different humidity levels.
I am very happy with how easy it is to humidify the nest, the colony of Aphaenogaster senilis called AS422 is actually doing much better than the one in the AntsRussia formicarium colony AS415, simply because it’s very easy to keep the humidity levels high. Colony AS415 is having a harder time because the nest dries faster and then cycle between outworld water feeder area and the nest (when humid).
Overall, the nest offers no major issues, good and clear visibility, glass is heavy and thick enough to prevent ants from inserting small stones in between the gaps and start lifting the glass to escape (yes, it’s true, I have seen them doing it – though it takes them two weeks to do so). The medium is easy to replace, though it creates a bit of havoc because of the airflow it creates.
There are some things to point out though. The problem that thick glass creates is that it starts to distort photos taken at lower angles, very noticeable at higher magnifications.
Another issue is water ingress inside the nest from the medium. If you stuff the water base up to the top (like I did) with medium, the water will ingress into the nest on the chamber barriers areas as you can see from the photo below (bottom area and Queen’s room), because of that if you provide the ants with soil in the outworld, they will probably bring some soil inside (like these did) to cover the excess water. They will also drop small soil particles on the steel mesh area to try and reduce the high humidity.
Though these issues can be prevented if you just keep the medium at mid water base height.
Finally Design 3.
The colony I chose for Design 3 was also an Aphaenogaster, but this time Aphaenogaster polyodonta.
For Design 3 setup, I also used cotton as medium, but I didn’t stuff the water base. I left a considerable gap between medium and the main chamber, because I knew what would happen if I didn’t.
Excess humidity and contact between medium and y-tong can be a serious threat to the colony due to the condensation in the interior, especially if there is a big temperature difference between the nest interior and the outside of the glass.
They were initially in a test tube, and it took them no time to transfer once connected. I was very pleased with that.
They were kept for two or three weeks without any problems, just when the first mold spot started to develop. Just for reference, for this nest I kept water levels low, and when I watered, there were never water marks or direct water ingress. The reason why mold appeared was because Aphaenogaster will bring the prey inside the nest to consume, since many Aphaenogaster don’t perform trophallaxis, they need to place their larvae directly on top of their prey, and let them feed.
While I was waiting for the situation inside the nest to unravel a bit more, disaster struck.
I misplaced the cover of my outworld and left a small open gap. The colony nextdoor decided to take advantage of this and was unfortunetly no other than the yellow wolves, Anoplolepis gracilipes. Death came swiftly for the Aphaenogaster colony. In one night, the Anoplolepis ants killed and moved into the new territory.
If the formicarium was having a hard time with the Aphaenogaster feeding style, it stood no chance with Anoplolepis. The way I keep Anoplolepis is by leaving them on an open outworld with multiple test tubes that they occupy. They also bring their prey inside, but for unknown reasons (to me) they sometimes don’t dispose of their garbage outside the tubes, so mold seems to develop very fast. To avoid this as much as possible, I just add new tubes every two or three weeks and remove the dirty ones after they have transferred.
The end result of the Design 3 as follows
Please note the small stones in the gaps between the y-tong and the main frame.
I think there is not much to point out in Design 2, love it, works fine, easy to use, and highly recommendable for any ant keeper.
Design 3 is also an interesting and desirable formicarium, but for more experienced ant keepers who can anticipate the outcome of their decisions. To help reduce mold we would use it for species that perform trophallaxis and don’t bring their prey inside the nest such as Camponotus for example.
If you are not aware of the species characteristics we wouldn’t recommend Design 3, but Design 2, especially since Design 3 has an added value of 15 $USD compared to Design 2.
To close this review, both formicariums have fantastic options to consider. Indeed a good value for money when compared to others, clear view, easy hydration, untroubled maintenance and extended formicarium life.
We hope we managed to show the impact that our decisions as ant keepers can have, to make your life easier in choosing an adequate solution for your colony to come or your new caught queen, and continue to learn on a daily basis from yours, ours and other ant keepers experiences.