How to Remove Unwanted Tiny Insects from a Vivarium


This step by step article will show you how to remove tiny bugs from your vivarium.


Below is a description of a method I came up with after my vivarium got heavily infested with millipedes. This will most likely apply to any pests. Read on, you might find it useful. This was my 90gal diamond shaped prior to the Operation Jungle Fever . Millipedes got so bad that I could count hundreds of them crawling all over the tank…it was disgusting!!! I did not want to rip my tank apart because I sunk a lot of work and money into making the background and water features, foggers, lights, etc. I embedded tubes and wires in the background, plus things were healthy and well rooted and growing beautifully. I wanted to kill only millipedes and a few slugs, but nothing else. Pesticides and chemicals were out of the questions, since I kept dart frogs in the tank. Eventually they would go back into the tank. I started experimenting with carbon dioxide – CO2. It is heavier then air, thus easy to put into a tank. Any bug will eventually need air, so I figured it will die without any oxygen… Plants love CO2. After the procedure the tank would just need to be vented for a little bit to replace the air. Seemed there would be no downside! I looked into getting a CO2 tank, but it turned out too expensive and not worth the hassle…. I used dry ice, which is compressed, solid form of carbon dioxide. Here’s what I did….I’m extremely excited, because my idea worked flawlessly for me and I’d recommend it to anyone with similar problem. You can do the same thing with a single orchid, by either putting it into an empty Tupperware container. No reason, why it wouldn’t work. Post back if you try it. I was a bit concerned with using dry ice, because I was afraid it will lower the temp and kill my plants in the process, so I took a few precautions.



I put 3 x 32oz containers partially filled with dry ice. I didn’t want to leave them in my tank and let the dry ice naturally sublime into CO2 for the fear that I will lower the temp and kill my plants. After all they’re all tropical and dry ice is -78.5’C = -109.3’F. I decided to make the CO2 really fast.


I poured hot water over it. … It was quite a show. I wanted maximum CO2 production without slow temp reduction. It looked great and there was a lot of CO2 produced. I made sure that the top of the vivarium was slightly open, so the CO2 could displace any air that was there.


I then took the containers out and placed them right above the tank and let the CO2 slowly by gravity fall into the tank to further displace any remaining air.



Once I was satisfied that all air was displaced, I closed the vivarium. In 30 min, all the millipedes were dead or dying… All slugs were dead…Plants are so far a OK! I will reply in a few weeks to let everyone know how the plants are doing. I left the tank filled with CO2 overnight to make sure everything was killed.


Next day, I removed most of the dead millipedes, the ones I didn’t see, became fertilizer. I repeated the process few weeks later to make sure that any new millipedes, slugs would also be killed. This sounds to me like a safe way to get rid of any nuisance you have living in your viv or on your plants. If you have some bug on your plant, why not put it into a tank filled with CO2 for a day? Ahhh, victory at last!!! I waited a long time to see this next Picture…DEAD MILLIPEDES!!!! YIPPPPEEEEE !! After living with this problem for months and seeing their populations explode, it was a real nice feeling.


Few weeks after the procedure, I noticed a real growth spur in all my plants. Prior to the procedure, sporadically, I’d see a mushroom pop out once in a while, but after the CO2 bath, a whole cluster sprouted. It was completely cool !


Few things to remember: Make sure that you are in a ventilated room… You don’t want to do yourself in, although you’d probably start gasping for air first. Carbon dioxide doesn’t work like carbon monoxide (running car in a garage). Nonetheless, you want to take precautions. Contain the CO2 to the vivarium only!!! Obviously, be sure not to do this with animals (frogs, lizards, etc) in the tank. The procedure was done in August 2005. It is now March 2006 and I have to say that I have not seen a single millipede since then. No slugs either. I’m now noticing tiny snails though. They must have arrived on new plants…. sigh… never ends! I’ll repeat the process in a few weeks. As a precaution from now on, I’ll treat any new plants with an overnight CO2 bath.




Thanks to Marty at


Here is the link to where this information came from.


  1. That explanation was awesome. I do have a few millipedes in my tank, as well as tiny snails, and tiny little isopods (which I actually planted in my paledarium, as cleaning crew), but all only eat is dying plant matter so I’m keeping them there for now. Now… I do have a couple of mini ferns that once in a while get affected by scale bug! Those I’m going to take out of the tank and clean up with your incredibly ingenious method. So thank you!

    One question I have though, what are those blue hoses under your hood? Are those irrigation? And what lights are you using?

    thanks so much!

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