Small Modular Formicarium (Ant Farm)




Introduction: Small Modular Formicarium (Ant Farm)

About: I like to make useful things with my laser and 3D printer. I share the best of them here and/or on my Etsy page.

This Instructable is for my small design. The medium version is here.


  • 3 ports with magnetic plugs that won't fall out even when the formicarium is tilted.
  • Ports easily connect to other formicaria, outworlds, or test tubes.
  • Multiple nest block designs that can be easily swapped out in minutes.
  • 100% of the nest interior and outworld are visible. There is nowhere for your ants to hide.
  • Removable front acrylic panel.
  • 0.35 mm hole steel mesh window for ventilation and to prevent ants from accessing the hydration box.
  • Hydration boxes can be removed, cleaned, and replaced in minutes without disturbing ants.
  • Escape-proof glass magnetic lid that will contain even the smallest species.

This Instructable will show you how to make a high quality formicarium, but it won't be easy or cheap. Read the entire thing before you take the plunge.


Step 1: How to Use the Formicarium

  • Safely using the glass lid:
  1. Using two hands, slide the lid a few inches before lifting up. Put it back on with the same method in reverse. This prevents the very strong magnets from slamming the glass onto the top of the formicarium and disturbing the ants. Take care to ensure that the glass lid and the upper surface of the acrylic that it slides against are free of sand and debris that could affect the seal and scratch the glass.

  • Filling the hydration box:
  1. Use a blunt-tipped syringe to add water to the hydration box via the syringe hole in the top front of the box. Be sure to check it at least once a week so that it doesn't dry out. See photos 1 and 2.
  • Replacing the hydration box:
  1. Slide the formicarium forward until the front is sticking out off of the table and the button screws on the hydration box bracket are accessible. See photo 3.
  2. Use the 2.5 mm ball hex key to loosen each screw. See photos 4 and 5.
  3. Put your index finger through the loop and push the back of the hydration box forward as shown in photo 6.
  4. Remove the box and separate the lid. See photos 7-8. Clean and dry both pieces and then place them back on the formicarium. Tighten the screws.
  • Using the magnetic port plugs:
  1. Use any ferrous object to pull the magnetic plug out. It can be replaced by hand, or by the same ferrous object that you used to remove it. This is demonstrated in the video below.

  • Barrier application:
  1. The glass lid should be a nearly airtight seal on the top of the formicarium that will prevent even the smallest ants from escaping. Still though, it is nice to have a primary barrier as well so that there aren't ants crawling on the underside of the lid.
  2. Dip a Q tip in olive oil and slide it along the inside edge of the acrylic part of the lid as shown in photo 9. Try not to get olive oil on the top of the acrylic where it touches the glass or else it will leave a smear.
  • Using a heating cable:
  • Any heating cable that can fit through a 9.5 mm hole in the nest block should be fine. This is the one that I use. See photo 10.

Step 2: Choose a Nest Block Variant

I will update this Instructable with new variants as I design them. I also update older variants occasionally, so the prints might be slightly different from the photos.

Choose a style that matches the size of your ants. Alien, for instance, is only good for small ants like Monomorium whereas Camponotus should be housed in Cavernous, Asymmetry Large, or Port Asymmetry Large. Mirrored versions of the asymmetric designs are also available in the 3D Print Plastic Parts section. This can be useful if, for instance, you want the port to be on the left side of the Port Asymmetry Large rather than the right.

Step 3: Choose a Nest Entrance Plug

The nest entrance plugs come in sizes from 2-6 mm, inclusive. The exact sizes are: 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.25, 4.5, 4.75, 5.0, 5.25, 5.5, 5.75, and 6.0 mm. Choose a plug that is appropriate for the size of the ants you will be keeping in the formicarium.

Step 4: 3D Print Plastic Parts

  1. Find the files that correspond to the nest block and entrance plug that you selected in the previous steps. Download them along with the Nest Block Bottom and .375 in OD D46 Magnet Sleeve files, which are the same for every variant of this formicarium.
  2. Print out the nest block, nest block bottom, entrance plug, and 3 of the magnet sleeves.
    1. The nest block should be oriented with the caves facing up, and requires supports for the internal heating cable channel.
    2. The nest block bottom should be printed with support with the truncated square depression facing up as shown in photo 2. This depression will hold the steel mesh later.
    3. The entrance plug should be printed flat side down and doesn't require supports, although its small size might require slower print speeds.
    4. The nest block bottom should be printed with the side that has the wider holes facing up and doesn't require supports.
    5. The magnet sleeves should be printed with the openings facing up and don't require supports.
  3. Remove supports/brim/excess plastic from the pieces.

Step 5: Magnetic Port Plugs

  1. Gather the D46 magnets and the 3D printed sleeves. Many are pictured in photo 1, but you only need 3-4 for one formicarium, (4 if your nest block has a port).
  2. Choose an orientation for your magnets. I picked one randomly before I had a compass to tell which is which. It doesn't matter which orientation you choose as long as you're consistent. The North point of my compass is pointing to the outside surface of the magnetic port plug in photo 2. That means that the South side of the magnet is sticking out of the plug. In all of my builds, all of my magnets have the South side facing out. This is true of the magnetic ports and the magnets for the formicarium lid.
  3. Once you've decided on an orientation, place a few drops of gorilla glue on the side of the magnet that will be inside the plug, then push it into the plug. If excess glue squirts out, wipe it away and use less glue next time.
  4. Once you have one plug finished, you can use it as a template to make sure that the rest of the plugs are in the same orientation. Place the finished plug magnet-side down and put a new magnet on the top. Add a few drops of glue. See photo 3.
  5. Pick up the finished plug and new magnet with glue. Flip them over and press the magnet into a new sleeve as shown in photo 4.
  6. After an hour, check that the plug fits into the port. If it doesn't, sand it with 220 grit sandpaper until it does.
  7. Repeat until you have as many plugs as you need.

Step 6: Cut Acrylic Tubes

  1. Gather your hack saw, 1/2 inch OD acrylic tube, and 3/8 inch OD acrylic tube.
  2. Cut three 12.5 mm long pieces and two 8mm pieces from the 1/2 inch OD tube.
  3. Cut one 8 mm long piece from the same 1/2 inch OD tube.
  4. Cut one 11 mm long piece from the 3/8 inch OD tube.
  5. Sand the cut edges until they are flat and smooth. Use your fingernail or X-Acto blade to pry off any plastic burs that stick inside of the tube.
  6. Wash and dry the pieces.

Step 7: Nest Block Assembly

  1. The files come in .ai, .svg, .dxf, and .pdf. Download the Hydration Box Mesh Outline file in the type that works best with your laser and workflow. Cut the file from acrylic.
  2. Use the acrylic piece that you just cut out and a pencil to draw an outline on the steel mesh. See photo 1.
  3. Cut out the outline with scissors as shown in photo 2.
  4. Find the nest block bottom piece shown in photo 3.
  5. Put the mesh piece in the depression on the nest block bottom piece to check that it fits. See photo 4. If it doesn't fit, trim it until it does.
  6. Remove the mesh.
  7. Pull the plunger out of one of the curved syringes. Add a few mL of clear Gorilla glue and replace the plunger. Hold the syringe vertically and push out all the air. See photos 5-7.
  8. Use the syringe to squeeze a small bead of glue around the edge of the depression in the nest block bottom piece. See photo 8.
  9. Gather two pieces of scrap wood or acrylic and a piece of wax paper about the same size as the nest block bottom.
  10. Put the mesh into the glue-filled depression of the nest block bottom. Put the wax paper over the mesh. Put one scrap over the wax paper and the other below the nest block bottom. See photo 9.
  11. Use a clamp to hold the stack together as shown in photo 10.
  12. After at least an hour, remove the clamps, acrylic, and wax paper. The piece should look like photo 11.
  13. Use the syringe to apply a thing coat of glue to the bottom of the nest block as shown in photo 12.
  14. Place the nest block bottom on the glued part of the nest block and align the edges. Note the orientation in photo 13. The steel mesh ends up between the two pieces of plastic.
  15. Clamp the two pieces together and check that they didn't slip out of alignment. Wipe away excess glue with a paper towel. See photo 14.
  16. Cover the tip of the syringe in plastic wrap. The glue should stay good for a few hours. If you need more time than that, just squeeze the glue out of the syringe and back into the original bottle. Discard the empty syringe.
  17. After at least an hour, remove the clamps.
  18. If you are using a nest block that contains a port, follow the sub steps below. If not, skip to the next full step.
    1. Cut, sand, and wash a 17 mm long piece of the 1/2 inch OD acrylic tube just like you did in the Cut Acrylic Tubes section.
    2. Put a magnetic port plug in the tube and attach an N51-D52 disk magnet as shown in photo A. Make sure that the magnet and plug are aligned just like the photo. This is how the magnet, plug, and tube will be oriented in the nest block.
    3. Put a drop of glue in the round hole in the nest block. Carefully move the magnet from the tube to the round hole inside the nest block without changing its orientation. See photo B.
    4. Slide the tube over the magnet and press it firmly into the nest block until it reaches the end as shown in photo C.
    5. Put the plug in the tube and make sure that it is just about flush with the edge of the nest block as shown in photo D. If it's off by a lot, try pulling the tube back out and flipping the disk magnet over before the glue dries.
    6. Once you're sure that everything is positioned properly, remove the port plug and use Weld-On to glue the acrylic tube in place. Try to only apply the Weld-On to the end of the tube that is inside the nest, right where it touches the nest. I used a fine brush to apply it from within the tube without getting it on the sides. If you get Weld-On on the sides of the tube, it will make it cloudy. Make sure that this end is well sealed. If it isn't, ants could escape into the space between the acrylic tube and the front panel.
    7. Apply Weld-On to the outward facing end of the tube where the blue line is in photo E.
    8. Apply Weld-On 16, (the thicker Weld-On), to the same area and be sure to fill in all the gaps. See photo F.
    9. Finish following the outer numbered steps and don't reinsert the magnetic port plug until the nest block is finished.
  19. Use a soldering iron to insert the brass threaded inserts into the nest block. There are special soldering iron tips for this, but I don't have one, so I just use a flat chisel tip and some forceps to hold the insert in place. Press the inserts in until they are just below flush with the plastic. Do not leave them proud above the plastic. See photo 15.
  20. The inserts will slightly deform the plastic around them and the nest block bottom might not be perfectly aligned with the nest block top. Fix this by sanding each face of the block flat with 220 grit sandpaper. Then sand with 320 and 400 grit to get a nice smooth surface. This step is extremely important! If you don't have a perfectly flat face on the front of the block, there might be a gap between it and the acrylic front panel that could allow small ants to escape.
  21. Find the nest entrance plug and use Weld-on to attach it to the 11 mm long 3/8 inch OD acrylic tube piece. See photo 17.
  22. Wait 10 minutes for the Weld-on to evaporate and then sand the nest entrance plug's edges until they are flush with the acrylic tube as shown in photo 18.
  23. Find the 8 mm long 1/2 inch OD acrylic tube piece and use an X-Acto knife to slightly widen the openings as shown in photo 19.
  24. Check that the nest entrance plug and tube fit inside of the 1/2 inch OD tube as shown in photo 20. If not, keep sanding the entrance plug's edges until it fits.
  25. Press the nest entrance plug and tube into the hole on the back of the nest block as shown in photo 21. If it fits loosely, place a drop of Weld-on on the part of the tube that will fit into the nest block, then smear it with your finger. Once the solvent dries, the surface will be rough and more likely to fit tightly. If they fit too tightly, use an X-Acto blade to trim the tubes and the holes that they go in until they fit.

Step 8: Laser-cut Acrylic Outworld and Hydration Box Bracket Parts

  1. The laser cut files come in .ai, .svg, .dxf, and .pdf. Download the Outworld and Hydration Box file in the type that works best with your laser and workflow.
  2. Cut the file from 3 mm or 1/8th inch acrylic.
  3. Remove the masking and wash all the pieces with slightly soapy water.
  4. Rinse all the soap off and dry the pieces. In addition to ensuring the pieces are clean, this will remove static and make future steps easier.

Step 9: Hydration Box Bracket Assembly

  1. Find the 7 pieces shown in photo 1.
  2. Remove the masking.
  3. Press together the three pieces shown photos 2 and 3.
  4. Press the three pieces from the previous step into the large rectangular piece as shown in photos 4 and 5.
  5. Press the boat shaped piece on top of the previously assembled pieces as shown in photos 6 and 7.
  6. Put the last two pieces in place as shown in photos 8 and 9.
  7. Weld the pieces together with Weld-On.

Step 10: Hydration Box and Jigs

  1. Find a large scrap of acrylic or plywood and place its corner at the origin of your laser.
  2. Download the Hydration Box Jig and Syringe Hole Jig files in the type that works best with your laser and workflow.
  3. Open the Hydration Box Jig file and set the black and green lines to cut. Set the red text to vector engrave.
  4. Run the green and red parts of the file, but not the black. See photo 1.
  5. The jig is now complete. Remove it from the laser and tape at least one AMAC lid on the right row as shown in photo 2. The lids should have their flat sides against the tape. Only use the right row. The other two rows in the file are for a different formicarium.
  6. Place the jig back in your laser with the same corner as before against the origin.
  7. Turn off the green and red cuts and enable the black. Delete all the black shapes that don't correspond to the lids that you taped onto the jig.
  8. Run the black cut and the lids should have well centered holes as shown in photo 3.
  9. Put the lids back onto the Amac boxes that they came from.
  10. Cut the Syringe Hole Jig file from a scrap of acrylic as shown in photo 4.
  11. Use calipers to measure the diameter of the syringe that you will use to water the formicarium and select a drill bit that is slightly larger. My syringe had a diameter of about 1.2 mm so I picked out a 1.5 mm drill bit.
  12. If the hole in the Syringe Hole Jig that you just cut is smaller than the drill bit diameter, drill it out with the bit.
  13. Place the box vertically with the rounded square hole in the lid towards the top as shown in photo 6.
  14. Place the jig squarely on top as shown in photo 7. Drill through the hole in the jig. The plastic is thin and fragile, so you're less likely to crack it if you spin the drill at a high speed and apply very little pressure. The friction from the fast moving bit will heat up the plastic enough that it will give without cracking.
  15. The completed hydration box should look like the last photo.

Step 11: Outworld Assembly 1: Mesh Window and Weld-on

  1. Download the Window Mesh Outline file in the type that works best with your laser and workflow.
  2. Cut the Window Mesh Outline file from acrylic and use it to draw an outline on the steel mesh as shown in photos 1 and 2.
  3. Cut out the mesh with scissors.
  4. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the acrylic scrap that you used in a previous section. Place the mesh cutout on top of the wax paper. See photo 4.
  5. Place the acrylic back panel on top of the mesh so that the window is aligned with the mesh. See photo 5.
  6. Clamp the entire stack together carefully so that you don't mess up the alignment. See photo 6.
  7. Ready another syringe of Gorilla glue. Use the syringe to apply a thin bead of glue around the edges of the acrylic. The glue should slide down the edge and bond the acrylic to the mesh below. See photos 7 and 8. Cover the syringe with plastic wrap or recover the glue as before.
  8. After at least an hour, remove the clamps and wax paper. The mesh should be securely glued to the acrylic with no gaps. If there are gaps, drip a little more glue and wait another hour for it to dry.
  9. Press one of the 12.5 mm long 1/2 inch OD acrylic tubes into the hole below the window as shown in photo 9. Make sure that the mesh side is down and the acrylic tube is sticking up.
  10. Press the two remaining 12.5 mm long 1/2 OD tubes into the acrylic side panels as shown in photos 10 and 11. Make sure that they are arranged exactly as in the photo so the tubes don't end up sticking out the wrong way.
  11. Find the side panel and two additional pieces shown in photo 12.
  12. Put the two pieces together as shown in photo 13.
  13. Press the two pieces into the side panel as shown in photo 14.
  14. Press the other side panel on top as shown in photo 15.
  15. Flip the pieces upside down and put the bottom panel on top as shown in photos 16 and 17.
  16. Flip the pieces so that the front is pointing down and put the back panel on as shown in photos 18 and 19. Make sure that the tube is sticking inside the box and the steel mesh is on the outside.
  17. Find the front panel and the 8 mm long 1/2 inch OD tube as shown in photo 20.
  18. Press the tube into the panel as shown in photo 21.
  19. Flip the pieces so that the mesh is down against the table. Place the front panel on top so that the tube is pointing into the box as shown in photos 22 and 23.
  20. Carefully use Weld-on to attach all of the acrylic pieces at the seams, and the tubes to the panels. Don't drip excess solvent onto the panels or it will spread and leave a permanent mark.
  21. Find the three pieces shown in photo 24.
  22. Use Weld-on to make them into a ramp as shown in photo 25.
  23. Use Weld-on to attach the ramp to the rest of the outworld as shown in photo 26.

Step 12: Outworld Assembly 2: Glue

  1. Use a curved syringe to apply a line of gorilla glue to every seam on the interior of the outworld, especially the ramp. This step is critical to keep small ants from escaping through gaps. See photos 1-3. Be very careful with the glue. It can drip through small gaps between the acrylic panels and end up on your hands or the work surface. If you smear glue on the acrylic, it will be nearly impossible to remove and will leave an unsightly mark. The ramp is missing from some of the photos because I accidentally did that step out of order.
  2. Put a magnetic port plug into one of the acrylic ports as shown in photo 4. Put one of the D51-N52 magnets on the port as shown in the photo. Don't worry about the orientation. The magnet will orient itself to stick to the plug. Just make sure it looks like the photo.
  3. Use the syringe to put a blob of glue on the floor of the outworld just below the edge of the port. Don't worry about getting glue all over the floor since this will all be covered in hydrostone later. See photo 5.
  4. Slide the D51-N52 magnet until it is just above the glue as shown in photo 6.
  5. Use a B555 magnet to pull the D51-N52 magnet down onto the glue. Do this by slowly bringing the B555 magnet up under the outworld. Feel which way the magnet wants to go and orient it so that it will be attracting the smaller magnet down into the glue rather than repelling it away. See photo 7.
  6. Repeat this process for the other two ports. Once you are done, it should look like photo 8.
  7. Apply extra glue to the top of the ramp. This will help the hydrostone stick to it later. See photo 9.
  8. Wait at least an hour for the glue to dry and then check all the seams that you glued. If there are any gaps, fill them and wait for the glue to dry. Pay extra attention to the gaps at the top and bottom of the ramp. When finished, it should look like photo 10.

Step 13: Outworld Assembly 3: Hydrostone

Wear a respirator when working with flocculent powders like hydrostone and pigments.

  1. Use blue painters' tape to cover up all of the seams on the bottom and sides of the outworld as shown in photo 1. This will limit the amount of hydrostone and water that drips out, but some will probably still leak, so don't do this on a surface that you care about.
  2. Measure out 1/4 cup of hydrostone.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the pigment of your choice and gently mix while still dry. Don't worry if the pigment doesn't show well yet. It will be much more apparent once you add the water.
  4. Remove a tablespoon of the powder mix and set it aside.
  5. Mix 1/8th cup of water into the larger amount of powder mix. You can eyeball halfway full on the 1/4 cup measure for this.
  6. Pour the mix into the outworld. Make sure that you get some on the top ledge as well as the bottom area. Use a toothpick to push the mix into the corners and pop any bubbles that form. Try to fill the bottom area until the hydrostone is on the same level as the inside of the ports, but don't go any higher. See photos 6 and 7.
  7. Wait a half hour for the hydrostone to set, then prop up the outworld so that the ramp's surface is horizontal as shown in photo 8.
  8. Fill a pipette with water and slowly drip into the powder mix that you set aside in step 4. Stop adding water when the mix is just thin enough to suck up in another pipette. If you add too much water, you can thicken the mix by adding additional hydrostone.
  9. Fill a pipette with the mix and squeeze it out over the ramp so that it is completely covered. Squeeze a few drops onto any gaps or cracks, as well as into the space on either side of each port. See photos 11-13.
  10. Wait an hour, then remove all of the tape.
  11. Use a damp Q-tip to remove flakes of hydrostone from the sides or other places where they shouldn't be.
  12. Check to see if the formicarium rests stably on a flat surface. If there's a slight wobble, you can correct it by sanding the bottom of the formicarium on a flat piece of 220 grit sandpaper until it stops wobbling.

Step 14: Outworld Assembly 4: Lid and Magnets

  1. Find the lid piece and check to make sure that it's perfectly flat. If it's warped or bent you will have to cut a new one.
  2. Laser cut acrylic can have small ridges of melted plastic along the cut edge. Feel the ridges on both sides of the piece, and place the side that has the less severe ridges facing up.
  3. These ridges will interfere with the glass lid and potentially allow ants to escape, so you have to very carefully remove them with an X-Acto knife. Do this by dragging/scraping the blade along each of the top edges. See photos 1-4 and pay attention to the arrows. It's important that you move the blade in the direction of the arrow and in the same orientation as the photo. Go slowly and be extremely careful. If you slip you could leave a deep gouge on the acrylic lid or even seriously injure yourself.
  4. Continue removing the ridges until the entire top surface of the lid feels smooth.
  5. The next few steps are the most difficult of the entire project. If you make a mistake here, you could potentially ruin the entire formicarium. Read the directions carefully and proceed cautiously.
  6. Place the lid piece upside-down on a completely flat surface. That is, the side that you just removed ridges from should be facing down. If you don't use a perfectly flat surface, your acrylic will be warped and ants will be able to escape between the acrylic part of the lid and the glass lid. I am using a piece of MDF for my flat surface.
  7. Place the outworld upside-down on top of the lid piece and align it. There may be small gaps between the outworld and the lid piece. Don't worry about them now, and don't try to force the formicarium down onto the lid to close the gaps. That will only cause the lid piece to warp. The reason for assembling the lid upside-down like this on a flat surface is to ensure that the glass lid will fit perfectly with no gaps. See photo 5.
  8. Once everything is aligned, apply Weld-on to the seam between the lid piece and the outworld. Don't touch the formicarium at all during this process. If you have it on a piece of something flat, like I did, you can rotate that to access the rest of the seam. If it's on something you can't rotate, like a table, you will have to reach around to get to the other sides of the seam.
  9. Let the formicarium sit for 10 minutes while you cut the piece of glass for the lid.
  10. Cut a piece of glass that is 110 mm x 80 mm. Use 220 grit sandpaper to dull all the sharp edges and round the corners. See photos 6-8.
  11. Prepare a curved syringe of Gorilla glue and use it to apply a thick line all along the inside seam between the acrylic lid piece and the rest of the outworld. Do this while the outworld is still upside-down to prevent the glue from dripping down the walls. Add extra glue to each of the four corners because this is where the B555 magnets will go. See photos 9 and 10.
  12. Be careful with magnet orientation. Use one of the magnet plugs from earlier to orient one of your B555 magnets by placing the plug with the magnet side facing up as shown in photo 11. Then place a B555 magnet on top of the plug as shown in photo 12. The top surface of the B555 magnet should be glued onto the acrylic lid piece inside the outworld.
  13. Place the magnet into the glue in the proper orientation and ensure that all three sides are right up against the acrylic. Once the magnet is in place, use one of the 4 extra B555 magnets on the other side of the lid to hold the first B555 magnet in place until the glue dries. See photo 13. Use the curved syringe to add a line of glue all along the edges of the magnet that touch the acrylic so that there are no gaps. See photo 14.
  14. Repeat this process for the other 3 corners. See photo 15.
  15. Once all the magnets are glued in place, use one of the plug magnets to check that all of the B555 magnets are in the same orientation. If they aren't, you will have to try to flip them into the correct orientation before the glue dries.
  16. Leave the outworld upside-down resting on the extra B555 magnets as shown in photo 15 for at least an hour.
  17. Flip the outworld back upright. Place the glass lid on top of the outworld and check to see if it wobbles. If you did the above steps correctly, it should be perfectly flat. If there is a slight wobble, you can still use the formicarium with ants that are larger than the gap caused by the wobble.
  18. Place D51-N52 magnets on each of the four corners of the glass, just above the B555 magnets as shown in photo 17.
  19. Remove one of the magnets and check that the glass lid is still aligned. Use the curved syringe to add a drop of Gorilla glue where the magnet was, as shown in photo 19. Put the magnet back on top of the glue.
  20. Repeat step 19 for each of the 3 remaining magnets and then let the glue dry for at least an hour.

Step 15: Final Assembly

  1. Find the completed nest block.
  2. Attach the acrylic front panel with 4 of the button head screws. Loosely tighten each screw first, then go back and tighten them fully. Don't overtighten.
  3. Flip the nest block upside-down.
  4. Attach the hydration box bracket with two more screws as shown in photo 4. Make sure that the rectangular side of the bracket is facing forward. Loosely tighten each screw so that the bracket can still be wiggled.
  5. Slide the hydration box into the bracket as shown in photo 5. Make sure that the syringe hole is facing forward.
  6. Align the hydration box and bracket with the nest block and finish tightening the screws. It's easier to install the hydration box this way, but it can also be replaced while the formicarium is upright with ants inside.
  7. Flip the nest upright. It is now ready to be attached to the outworld.
  8. Slide the nest block into the outworld as shown in photos 7 and 8.
  9. Attach the pieces together with 4 more button head screws as shown in photos 9 and 10. Loosely tighten each screw first, then go back and tighten them fully. Don't overtighten.
  10. You're done!

Step 16: Tubing and Port Adapters

The ports can link formicaria to other formicaria, outworlds, or even test tubes.

To make a test tube to port adapter:

  1. Cut, sand, and wash an 11 mm piece of 1/2 inch OD acrylic tube and a 22 mm piece of 3/8 inch OD acrylic tube. Use the same technique as you used in the previous tube-cutting section.
  2. Put the longer, thinner tube inside the other one as shown in photo 2.
  3. Use Weld-on to fuse the pieces together as shown in photo 3.
  4. Check that the adapter is small enough to fit into the end of a spare test tube.
  5. Begin wrapping the adapter in electrical tape as shown in photo 5.
  6. Continue wrapping until the adapter just barely fits into the tube as shown in photo 6.
  7. Use scissors or an X-Acto knife to remove the excess tape as shown in photo 7.
  8. Push the adapter into the tube. It should go at least 1/3 of the way into the tube. If not, unwrap and cut off a small length of tape and try again. See photo 8.
  9. The adapter should now be able to be plugged into the formicarium. Wait at least a day before using it on a test tube with a colony in it to allow the Weld-on to fully evaporate. See photos 9-11.

Options for tubing:

  • The simplest method is to buy 3/8 inch OD diameter clear vinyl tubing and plug it directly into two ports. The downside to this method is that it can be hard to plug and unplug the tubing. Wetting the ends of the tube before plugging it in makes it much easier to get it into the ports. See photo 12.
  • Another option is to cut, sand, and wash two 22 mm long pieces of 3/8 inch OD acrylic tubing. Wet each tube and push them halfway into each end of a length of 1/2 inch OD 3/8 inch ID vinyl tubing. This style of tubing is easier to plug into ports. See photos 12-15.
  • A variation on the previous method is to cut one end of the 22 mm 3/8 inch OD acrylic tube at a 45 degree angle. By using Weld-on to glue two of these 45 degree angled tubes together, you can get a single 90 degree angle tube. Put 2 of these 90 degree angle tubes on the ends of a 1/2 inch OD 3/8 inch ID vinyl tube and you will have a more compact way of connecting ports. See photos 16-18.
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    2 years ago

    This is amazingly well designed! So nice.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you!