How to Keep Crickets Alive for Fishing

A bush cricket on a wall

If you are a reptile owner you must have used crickets as a food source for your animals. Crickets are rich in proteins and calcium which is why they are the best thing you can feed your reptiles.

Besides being the best reptile food, crickets make for great bait when you go fishing.

As it is, getting crickets is easy; keeping them alive is a whole another thing. Most of the time, a good number of them will be dead upon arrival or very soon after.

The result? You will have to throw away dollars-worth of crickets and go back to the drawing board.

Therefore, if you don’t breed your own crickets, you will have to know how to take care of them as soon as they arrive at your door up until you are ready to go fishing.

When it comes to keeping crickets alive for fishing, there are three things that you need to consider;

  • The container
  • The environment you are keeping them
  • Food and nutrition

What to Do When You Get the Crickets

How you handle the crickets after they have arrived will determine how long they will stay alive.

After the cricket shipment has arrived, the first thing you need to do is to take them out of the box that they arrived in.

This is a tricky step and you will need to decide on how you are going to do it. Without proper planning, you might end up with hundreds of crickets running freely inside the house.

Therefore, before you bring in the crickets, you need to figure out where they will be staying. A tall container will suffice since they won’t be in a position to jump out of it.

The container also needs to have a smooth interior that is hard to climb over. Ideally, you need to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation to keep them alive so, consider cutting holes on the container.

If it’s possible, avoid using any cover on the container. Having fresh air circulating inside the container is one of the best ways of increasing the lifespan of the crickets.

If this is not possible, consider covering the container with some form of screen. One thing you need to keep in mind is that crickets prefer dark spaces, so don’t throw away the egg crates that you find in the shipping boxes.

How Do You Keep the Crickets Alive?

Crickets make up for the best fish bait for both seasoned and amateur anglers. However, for most people including experienced anglers, keeping the crickets alive to use as bait whenever you go fishing is always a challenge.

Keep Them in a Large Enough Container

When it comes to keeping crickets alive, one of the most important aspects that you can’t afford to overlook is the container the crickets will be living in.

Crickets are not tribal and they live in isolation meeting only when mating. Keeping the crickets in a container means disrupting this cycle.

Therefore, the size of the container makes all the difference. If you are not sure about what size is ideal, always go for the biggest container you can find so that they can have as much space to roam around as possible rather than squeezing them in a small space.

At the end of the day, however, the container size will depend on how many crickets you are getting.

For instance, if you have 50 crickets an 8” x 13” x 9” container will do. On the other hand, 250 crickets will need a 13” x 14” x 12” container, and 1000 crickets can fit comfortably inside a 22” x 15” x 16” container.

You want the crickets to have as much room to move around as possible. This is the only way to ensure that they stay alive for longer.

The material the container is made of also matters. For one, you don’t want a container that is easy for the crickets to climb over the sides and jump out. Therefore, a smooth-surfaced container is more ideal.

Sometimes you may need to manipulate the container to ensure that the crickets are as comfortable as possible.

When it comes to the living area and the size of the container, you also need to consider the space for egg trays.

Ideally, crickets love dark areas and that’s where egg trays come in. Egg trays help to maximize the volume of the container while increasing the surface area.

Egg trays also act as a hiding spot for the crickets. While at it, ensure that you use only paper trays.

Why? Crickets will nibble on anything plastic therefore plastic egg trays will not work. While crickets will still eat paper egg trays, the paper will not cause any harm to their guts.

Again, the number of crickets you have will determine how many egg trays you can add to the container. If you only have less than 100 crickets, a few paper egg trays and toilet paper rolls will do.

Maintain Proper Ventilation

The crickets you get are alive and you need to treat them as living things. Therefore, sufficient ventilation is just as important to them as it is to you.

To keep your crickets alive, you need to make sure that there is sufficient airflow inside the container.

Rather than using a plastic lid, use a mesh lid instead to maximize airflow. If you are using a plastic lid, cut holes on the lid.

To ensure that the crickets don’t jump out, cover the holes with a mesh fabric. If you don’t have a lid or a mesh fabric, then you are better off using a high container without a lid.

A container lid only helps to prevent the crickets from jumping out. A high container will do the job just fine eliminating the need for a lid.

Keep the Container Clean

Besides getting a container of the right size and ensuring that there is sufficient air circulating inside, you don’t want the crickets to live in filthy conditions.

A dirty container will only affect the life span of your crickets in which case they are likely to die by the numbers soon enough.

To minimize the risk of the crickets dying, it’s always advisable that you clean the container at least once or twice times in a month.

If you have kept crickets before especially in large numbers, you know just how much of a mess they are capable of making.

When it comes to keeping the container clean, there are three things you need to concern yourself with.

If you are keeping crickets regardless of the number, you will want to feed them, otherwise, they will die. Instead of rotting, watery foods especially will become moldy which could end up killing the crickets.

Cricket droppings also need to be cleaned out every once in a while, to ensure that the environment is as hygienic as possible. If the droppings mix with mold from left-over food particles, the result is not very pleasant.

Ideally, no matter how much care you put in, some of the crickets will die in the process. It’s no cause for alarm. However, so many crickets dying all at once should be enough reason to worry.

If you have a few dead crickets, remove them from the container as soon as possible. Sometimes crickets will catch bad microbes and die so removing them will reduce the risks of the surviving ones catching the same thing.

Watering and Feeding the Crickets

Crickets are very easy to keep. All they need is water and basic food to stay alive. As such, ensure that you have a separate water source as well as a dry food source to keep them alive.

Ideally, there are so many options in terms of cricket food. For one, you can purchase dry cricket food at a pet store or any live cricket dealer. You could also feed them cornmeal and oatmeal if you have any.

When it comes to the kind of food for your crickets, you need to make sure that any food you provide has enough nutrients to keep them alive.

Therefore, ensure that you mix their diet to include enough nutrients. Crickets eat anything so you never have to worry about mixing fruits, grains, and vegetables for them.

Bananas, carrots, watermelons, oranges, bread, and cereals are all ideal food sources. There is also special cricket food that is sold at pet stores that you can buy.

While at it, feeding them doesn’t stop when you provide enough food. Your crickets still need water. The kind of food you provide will determine whether or not you need to add extra water.

Watery foods like watermelons, carrots, and oranges have enough water so, you won’t need to add any more water.

While such foods are great, they tend to rot fast which means that you will constantly be dealing with mold buildup now and then which could end up killing your crickets.

As such, dry foods like cereals and grain are much more recommended. With dry food, however, you need to add a water source.

Speaking of water sources, you don’t need to put an open pool in the container because they will drown. A simple watering device like a damp sponge will work. You only need to keep checking that the sponge is still wet after a day or two.

You could also use water crystals. Water crystals work by absorbing water and resemble gel. All you need are a few crystals on a plate that you need to check on every two days.

Some people also use chicken drainers. The good thing about chicken drainers is that you don’t need to worry about refilling every few days since the water can last for up to a week.

The only problem with chicken drainers is that water remains standing for days and crickets can poop inside making it stink.

You might also want to consider buying Water Bites or Total Bites. These are cubes that you can use to keep your crickets hydrated.

Total Bites are usually cubes that combine nutrients and water ensuring that your crickets not only remain hydrated but are receiving the right nutrients to keep thriving.

Most of the time your cricket shipment will come with either Total Bites or Water Bites and a potato chunk.

How to Deal with Cricket Cannibalism

I know this comes as a surprise. Truth is, crickets are bound to become cannibals especially when so many of them are put together.

By understanding why crickets might start eating each other, it can help prevent that when your shipment arrives.

Crickets will turn cannibalistic if there isn’t enough room for them to thrive. If you buy 1000 crickets and enclose them in a tight container, naturally, they will start eating each other. So, what can you do?

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you can increase the surface area of the container by adding paper egg trays. Ideally, using a larger container can also help free up some space so that the crickets are free to roam about.

Another issue that can lead to cannibalism is when your crickets are not getting enough nutrients from the food you are giving them.

If everything is perfect in the container including the right temperature conditions, this will have an impact on the metabolism of the crickets in which case it will become fast.

If the food you are giving them is not nutritious enough, the crickets will find a way of getting the nutrients. And where better to get them than from each other?

Whenever you buy cricket food, ensure that it contains the right nutrients. If you are not buying special cricket food, try mixing vegetables, fruits, and dry food.

Another cause of cannibalism is when crickets of different sizes are kept together. Just like in the wild, it becomes a survival for the fittest or in this case the strongest.

If you have large mature crickets in the same box with the small baby ones in the same container, you can bet that the big ones will eat the small ones.

When you get your cricket shipment, therefore, the first thing you need to do is to separate the crickets. Keep the baby crickets in a different container so that they can have an equal chance of surviving and growing to full maturity like the big ones.

Conclusion

Whether you are an experienced angler or are just getting started, one thing you can’t overlook is the importance of quality fish bait. Live crickets happen to fall in that category.

There are so many live cricket dealers where you can get crickets that you will be using as bait. The only issue that most anglers face is keeping the crickets alive. Space, food as well as how clean the environment is, all determine how long your crickets will remain alive.

Therefore, keep your crickets well fed and watered and ensure that the container they are living in is well ventilated and clean to reduce the risk of them dying. When you do that you never have to worry about bait again whenever you go fishing.

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