Substitution for Sand in an Ant Farm
Natural Soil Mix
- Ants have a life span of 90 days.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Other than ant sand and play sand, one substitute for ant farm substrate is a mixture of soil and sand. This is a natural mixture that is commonly used in classroom settings because it simulates the ants' natural environment. Before this mixture can be used by the ants it must be sifted so that it does not clump, and it should be infused with adequate amounts of moisture to prevent the ants from dehydrating.
- Nutrient gel proved its worth on a 2003 NASA space mission because it allowed ants to farm in a zero gravity environment under "G" force vibrations, which means if the ant farm is "bumped" while on Earth the tunnels will not collapse. Since then, nutrient gel has been used by ant hobbyists as an all-in-one tunneling substrate that also serves as a food and water source. Despite the convenience nutrient gel ant farms offer, they are generally used for short-term projects because the replacement gel is difficult to find.
- There are several ant farm designs, but they all have to maintain adequate substrate moisture conditions for the ants to effectively use the soil to build tunnels and a nutrient source. Ants should begin tunneling in a new substrate within a day once they settle in. If not, a few drops of sugar water in the top of the substrate will help get them tunneling. If ants are not tunneling within three days, they may have been damaged in the moving process and need to be replaced.