The company Fascinations provides a handful of ant farm options to choose from that are unique and different. Most of the ant habitats available from this company are filled with a gel that serves as a living environment as well as a source of nourishment and fluids for the ants. This modernistic and visually appealing ant farm gel colony will be a true conversation piece in any home, classroom or even at your office.
These gel ant farms come with instructions and an ant tunnel tool, which you will need once your ants arrive. After sending for the live ants, you use the tool to poke beginning tunnels into the gel to help the ants get started with their own tunneling work and acclimate them to their new environment. You also get a written manual filled with facts about ants. There are virtually no other learning tools in this kit, which reduces its educational value.
The blue gel was developed as part of a joint experiment with high school students and individuals at Syracuse University, and it was used as a medium for ants that zipped off in 2003 into space aboard NASA’s space shuttle Columbia. The gel is created from seaweed and contains water, sugars and amino acids, with an added fungicide to keep it from decomposing in the highly moist environment inside the kit. For the ants, this gel serves as both a source of food and water as well as a place to live. The blue gel is not toxic for humans, but you should never eat it or allow a child to do so. Although Fascinations does not sell refill gel, there are online stores that do. There are no guarantees that any new ants you get will like it, however, so you will have to take your chances if you attempt to reuse this ant habitat.
Additionally, because the habitats are made from the gel, these products do not put kids to work feeding or watering ants, which gives them less involvement in the ant environment. That translates into substantially less play value and educational value than the old-fashioned sand-filled ant farms.
Ants do not come with the price of the kit and are not sold by Fascinations. Instead, its website provides links to ant stores from which you can choose ants, pay for them and get them sent to you by mail. In addition, you can buy ants from other online stores or simply go outdoors and gather your own ants. A note of caution here: be sure to not get ants from different species or colonies because they do not get along.
The guarantees vary from one firm to the next regarding any free replacement ants in case all your ants arrive in the mail with virtually every one of them dead. You will need to read the websites of online ant stores to see if you can get an extra shipment of free ants if that unfortunate event occurs.