Lava Isopods (Porcellio Scaber ‘Lava’)

I really can’t think of a better idea for Lava Isopods, a.k.a Porcellio scaber ‘Lava”, than a volcanic terrarium. Using our Pompeii Ruins Decor Set will just add the “icing to the cake.”

Before considering something as unique as that, we must first have a proper understanding of how to maintain these types of isopods.

Lava Isopods are fascinating creatures that are not only easy to care for but also offer a wealth of benefits.

In this care guide, we will walk you through the steps of setting up, feeding, and maintaining an environment suitable for your lava-flavored sow bugs.

Common Name Lava Isopod
Family Name Porcellionidae
Scientific Name Porcellio Scaber 'Lava'
Use Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Feeders
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan 2-3 Years
Diet Detritivore
Adult Size 20mm
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Easy
Minimum Tank Size 2-5 Gallons
pH 7.0-8.5
Hardness Soft-Medium
Temperature 71- 80°F

What Are Lava Isopods?

Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ is a family of terrestrial crustaceans belonging to the order Isopoda.

The name ‘Lava Isopod’ is derived from the black and grey rock-like pattern found on their exoskeletons, which resembles volcanic rock.

Lava Isopods have been gaining popularity among hobbyists, who appreciate their fascinating behavior and ability to clear up waste matter.

What Do Lava Isopods Look Like?

Lava Isopods are a species of terrestrial isopods that are known for their vibrant coloration.

They have an oblong-shaped body that measures around 20 millimeters in size and have a robust exterior made up of several hard and rigid body parts.

They typically have a black or dark brown colored exoskeleton with shades of reddish-orange striations, creating their unique “lava-like” stripes.

The Isopod’s exoskeleton consists of several body parts which include several segments, seven sets of legs, and two antennae located on the head.

Each leg of the Isopod has two to four claws which aid them in crawling, digging, capturing prey, and grooming.

Benefits Of Using Lava Isopods

Lava isopods are an excellent choice for use in vivarium ecosystems due to their many benefits.

They serve as janitorial cleaners in bioactive terrarium habitats by scavenging for food, controlling populations of pests, and aerating the substrate.

Lava isopods are also relatively easy to care for and can provide aesthetic beauty to the miniature landscape.

Their small size makes them ideal for a range of tank sizes, as they require little space.

These isopods also help to speed up the decomposition process in habitats. Their burrowing habits break up and aerate the substrate, while also aiding in water circulation.

The  Complete Porcellio scaber "Lava Isopods" Care Guide!

Lava Isopods Facts

Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ is a species of terrestrial isopods, meaning they live mostly on land.

They feed on mushrooms, decaying wood, and vegetation, and are generally peaceful creatures with a lifespan of 2-3 years.

Lava Isopods also play an important part in the food chain, providing certain animals with a main source of food.

With the right environmental conditions and diet, Lava isopods can be bred relatively easily and can live up to their full potential.


Lava Isopods prefer moist and humid environments, with temperatures ranging from 70–80°F. 

These isopods can typically be found living under rocks, twigs, and logs in hillsides, grasslands, and mountainous regions.

They feed on both decaying plant matter and insects. 

As a result, these isopods are an important component of the ecosystem, helping to regulate the populations of microorganisms and ensure that their habitats remain healthy.


Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ are detritivorous creatures that naturally feed on a wide variety of organic matter such as decaying plant and animal matter, and even their own excrement.

In their natural habitat, they can be seen scavenging decaying leaves, fruit, mushrooms, and bark. They also feed on a variety of microorganisms in the soils including bacteria, fungi, and algae.

A wide variety of other microorganisms, such as nematodes, small earthworms, and the occasional insect larva, can also be found in their natural ecosystem which provides an excellent source of nutrition for lava isopods.


Lava Isopods are generally docile and timid creatures that will hide when they feel threatened or when there is a lot of activity or loud noise around them.

They don’t like to be touched and are not fans of being held, so it’s best to respect their boundaries when interacting with them.

Despite their small size, Lava Isopods can become irritable and bite when provoked, so it’s important to handle them with care. It’s also important to take caution around other animals.

Lava Isopods are best kept as solitary creatures, as housing them with other species can be stressful for them and may lead to territorial behavior or injury.


Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe but can be found all around the world.

Mostly active at night, these isopods have an average lifespan of around two to three years in captivity, during which they pass through multiple molt cycles. 

The life cycle of Lava Isopods starts with a female isopod laying her eggs in the soil.

After the eggs hatch, the young isopods will molt multiple times throughout their lifespan, growing larger with each molt cycle.

The last molt of the isopod is the adult stage, wherein it will reach its full size and will be able to reproduce.

They reach sexual maturity when they reach their adult stage, usually a few months after the last molt.


Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ are unique creatures capable of mating and reproducing in an impressive array of conditions.

By exhibiting both sexual and asexual reproductive strategies, these isopods can ensure that their species will thrive in any habitat. 

When it comes to mating, Lava Isopods have an interesting strategy.

Males have four pleopods located on their third segment, just behind their heads, and these act as external sexual organs.

They use these organs to transfer sperm from their bodies to that of the female; afterward, the female lays her eggs in a moist substratum.

The eggs then take anywhere from eight to twenty days to hatch, depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment.

Once the hatchlings emerge, they are more vulnerable than an adult isopod due to their size.

To help them thrive, they must find food sources in their habitat as soon as possible.

Fortunately, this process is made easier with the help of their parents; both the male and female isopods will look after the young, often offering food and protection until they reach adulthood.

Where To Find Lava Isopods

Finding lava isopods in the wild generally requires an experienced eye, as these isopods tend to stay hidden in many places.

They are commonly found under rocks, logs, and in mulch and leaf litter. The best time for collection is after rain when the isopods are more active and visible.

Lava isopods can also be purchased from pet and aquarium stores, exotic pet shops, or online retailers.

When shopping for these isopods, it is important to ensure that the supplier is reputable and of high quality, as this is the best way to ensure the health of the isopods.

Lava Isopods Care

Lava isopods require ideal housing, temperature, and humidity conditions, as well as an appropriate diet rich in plant matter and calcium supplementation.

They should also be kept with compatible species and away from any stressors.

With proper care, lava isopods can live healthy and happy life.

Tank Requirements

The ideal tank for lava isopods should be a paludarium or terrarium with a tight lid to contain heat and humidity levels.

The best vivarium type for these creatures is a sub-moist, well-drained enclosure since it offers an ideal temperature range and humidity levels.

The tank’s water should have a pH of between 6.0 and 8.0, with a hardness of less than 15 GH.

Temperature-wise, Porcellio scaber ‘Lava’ prefer to be kept in a range between 68 and 86°F.

Substrate-wise, lava isopods need a mix of peat moss and coco coir to keep them comfortable, while they will require proper terrarium lighting as they have short life cycles and do not need as much light as other isopods.

What Do Lava Isopods Eat?

Feeding your Lava Isopods is an important part of their care. Proper nutrition will keep your Isopods healthy, active, and happy.

Feed your Isopods with a variety of items. Here is a list of things you can feed them:

• Fruits, such as apples and pears
• Vegetables, such as carrots and spinach
• Mushrooms
• Fish and shrimp
• Dry dog and cat food
• Decaying insects

If you’re more of an avid hobbyist like myself, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY Isopod food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my personal favorite recipe.

What Do Isopods Eat? + A Fun DIY Isopod Food Recipe!

Best Tankmates For Lava Isopods

Lava isopods are a solitary species and they’re not usually comfortable living with other isopods.  

However, there are a few animals that come with similar beneficial qualities and can be safely kept with lava isopods.

Compatible tankmates include snails, springtails, and millipedes.

All are peaceful social invertebrates, and they help improve water quality and clean the tank, like lava isopods.

If you decide to add any tankmates to your lava isopod tank, it’s important to do your research and monitor the individual behavior of the new arrivals.

Some animals may not be suitable and could disrupt the tank’s delicate ecosystem.


The proper care of Lava Isopods is essential for their health and longevity!

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can create a comfortable and stimulating environment for your lavish lava pods.

Remember to keep an eye out for mistakes, feed them a healthy diet, and choose compatible species for maximum success!

Frequently Asked Questions

Lava Isopods (Porcellio Scaber ‘Lava) are native to the forests of Northern Europe.

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