Our colony started in a small, 20-gallon fish tank we bought at a $1 per gallon sale at the petshop. We removed the silicon caulk from the corners so the little beetles would not creep their way to freedom. It worked great for months. Our dermestid population slowly grew and we learned to manage specimens.
But then a deceased American Bison came our way and the tank was Too Small.
We upgraded the colony home to a 48”x24”x24” feed trough. Stainless-steel and massive, this tank required only that we seal the welded seam with epoxy – again so the little beetles didn’t climb the weld caulking and escape into the greater world. The beetles liked the bison and their feed trough home a lot and the colony grew. Exploded even. Temperatures rose in the greasy warm frass layer and one day 10 or so of the dermestids felt the urge to flutter. And in glorious freedom they flew to the screening at the top of the feed tank. Which proved to be a poor decision as flying dermestids could become Free Dermestids (not good) and all but a lucky, wingless, few went into the deep freeze. Population bottleneck.
Evidently, the feed trough tank was Too Big.
A few weeks ago Ariel T. found a medium sized, 40-gallon aquarium on the side of the road, only slightly broken. A little epoxy on the cracked glass, a little caulk trimming in the corners, and the dermestid colony has a new home. Big enough for deer parts, small enough to control frass heat, and medium enough to move without carts, banged shins, and angry words.
The dermestids are happy in their new home. It is Just Right.
(Until the campus exterminators discover them, at which point we’ll be running with the tank into the hallways to find a new lab…)