Dan and Darci is an online shopping store selling light-up gel ant farms.
This review highlights the pros and cons of Dan and Darci ant farms, factors to consider in an ant farm, the advantages and disadvantages of a gel farm, and how we evaluate ant products on Ant-Keeper.com.
If you want just the quick summary:
Honestly, I’d give Dan and Darci’s Ant Farm a chance.
Ant-keeping can become pretty expensive. Starting with something like the Dan and Darci light-up Ant Farm will ease you into the hobby so you can find out if you like it or not.
If you do, you’ll always be able to transport your ants to a standard formicarium later.
If you don’t, you spent under $30 dollars and a couple of hours setting it up (and still had some fun).
You can purchase the Dan and Darci Light-up Ant Farm Terrarium from amazon: https://amzn.to/3S7af3s
The good about Dan and Darci’s Ant Farm
This kid’s light-up ant habitat is made of nutrient-rich gel. It’s way cooler than plain old sand ant farms. It’s also low maintenance.
It has a light-up feature to watch real ants dig intricate tunnels. A USB rechargeable high-performance quality battery is included. No batteries are required.
It comes with tunnel starter tools and a magnifying glass. It’s thus fun to watch harvester ants dig their intricate tunnels.
The accompanying 16-page ant-keeping guide contains cool and fun instructions on ant-keeping.
Dan and Darci ant farm is STEM.org authenticated. The products meet the highest standards of STEM learning. They’re a fun and exciting way to keep and learn about ants.
Read more on STEM.org here on their website.
The Bad about Dan and Darci’s Ant Farm
Live ants are not included, although you get a discount coupon to order live harvester ants.
No sand options – only the gel filler material product is available. Sand and other ant habitats are not offered.
Due to regulatory limitations, the live ants cannot be shipped to Oregon and Hawaii.
For reference, here’s one of our standard ant farms with a cleaner substrate:
We can see that these ants have much more room.
However, that leftover food will begin to rot, a problem you won’t have in your gel ant farm.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Ant Farm
There are several considerations for the best experience when farming ants. These include the size of the ant farm and the materials used to make it. The ant type is critical. Queens and workers thrive in different habitats. The facility should be secure not to let the critters escape.
You have to consider the size and the materials used. Other than filler gel, sand ant habitats are made using sand. Natural materials are an alternative to making “rainforest” ant habitats.
Ants adapt faster to a plain old ant habitat full of sand or natural materials than gel. The size determines the maximum population you can keep.
Ant species and type – different ant species live in different habitats. Not all species are suited for ant farming. For example, Harvester ants are the most suitable pet ants to keep in gel farms.
Viewing area – keeping ants is more fun when viewing them uninhibited. Some farms offer better viewing than others.
Security of the farm and ease of operating it – ant-keeping requires maintenance, feeding, and watering of the ants. A good farm should be easy to manage when feeding the ants. It should be secure and prevent escape.
Trust me, bad things happen when ants start escaping – below is just one example.
What’s good about gel ant farms?
A gel ant habitat comes ready to use. You can order live ants along with it. The material encourages ants to dig deeper into the gel. They require less maintenance. The transparent casing ensures better viewing of the ants, making it a fun and exciting way for kids to learn.
Keeping ants in a gel farm needs less maintenance. The gel contains moisture and is food for the ants. More time watching, less time working.
They provide better viewing of the ants. Most gel farms have a wide viewing area, making it really cool to sit and watch the ants.
Modern gel farms are sturdy and less prone to collapse. Sand farms easily collapse as ants dig more tunnels.
What’s wrong with gel ant farms?
Gel farms are an easy way to start an ant farm. But they’re less conducive than sand farms.
Though nutrient-rich, they’re deficient in proteins. They’re unoptimized for colonies. They need replacement after about a year as ants deplete the gel material.
Even though the gel is nutrient-rich, it does not provide the proteins necessary for the queens and larvae. The size of gel farms limits the population of ants you can keep. Etymologists discourage rearing colonies in gel farms.
Ants are fascinating insects. They do well in hidden spaces. The light in gel farms can be a nuisance to these critters that thrive best in dark environments.
Gel farms have an estimated 1-year lifespan, after which they need replacement.
However, this could easily be taken care of by a refill kit.
They can only host certain ant species. Some ant species reproduce in large numbers and need expansive spaces to live optimally. The standard gel farm is unideal for such species.
It’s also not very good for just “big” ants in general, like the ones below.
Should you get the Dan And Darci Light-up And Farm?
Honestly, I’d give it a chance. Ant-keeping can become pretty expensive. Starting with something like the Dan and Darci light-up and farm will ease you into the hobby so you can find out if you like it or not.
If you do, you’ll always be able to transport your ants.
If you don’t, you spent under $30 dollars and a couple of hours setting it up.
You can purchase the Dan and Darci Light-up Ant Farm Terrarium here from amazon: https://amzn.to/3S7af3s
Can you start an Ant Farm without a queen ant?
You can start an ant farm by harvesting ants in your neighborhood and introducing them to the farm.
However, you need a queen if you want to own a long-term colony. Workers do not lay eggs.
For the colony to thrive, an egg-laying queen is necessary.
It’s easy to collect workers from the same colony of common pet ants and introduce them to the gel farm.
Fostering a queen to grow a colony takes time and requires more work and additional ant-keeping skills.
To start a colony, you can capture a queen during nuptial flights.
Alternatively, you can order a queen from ant shops. (Source)
How We Evaluate Products At Ant-Keeper.com
We look for products that are designed for anyone, no matter their age. We love to see products intended to make ant science fun and engaging.
We believe Dan and Darci’s products do that, as their learning guide contains ant science facts.
Their Products are also easy to use, with a large viewing area.
Some ways they meet these criteria:
Kids-inspired designs – the products are educational and meant for kids. They foster a love for science and paleontology in a crazy-cool, fun, and engaging way.
The product is evaluated by STEM.org and has been authenticated as an excellent set for individual play or as a group for all STEM projects.
Materials – Their ant farms are made with bright blue gel, the same material used when ants were sent to the moon. This concept makes the farm even cooler than a plain sand farm.
The nutrient-rich gel encourages the ants to dig. The viewing area and the LED light-up enable you and the kids to watch your harvester ants dig intricate tunnels.
Learning guide – the product not only fascinates anyone as soon as they pull it out of the box. It comes with a beautiful 16-page learning guide.
Using the scientific guide, kids learn how these fascinating insects with super-duper strength are similar to humans.