*notcot in playful , 17:34

Plant Gel vs Ant Gel- 11.03.07

gelhunting.jpgSo continuing from where the last post lead us (from Triops and Sea Monkeys to venus fly traps and praying mantis to ant farms to gel antfarms and gel plant kits)… the gels. So as we began to read into the variations of these gel ant farms and also being able to watch seeds grow roots in this magical mystery gel, we got really curious and wanted to find just the gel (imagine what you could design with it). And along the way we remembered the plant water gel crystals that soak up tons of water that you can grow plants in. The only problem with those was can you crush them up, mix with warm water, and mold it to be smooth like jello? (we don’t know, do you?) Then we also discovered jello pudding cup like 6 packs of root gel… and than i finally tracked down some manufacturers in china that actually sell the magical ant farm gel (and ant farms in hills and boots ~ see pictures below to make sense of that). Also did you know some people are using this same gel for dieting?!?!?! You eat it, then drink a ton of water which it will soak up, and it will make you feel full?

You can find all of these examples on my giant wishlist over at amazon that i made while researching

Here is what the Chinese manufacturers, LanBo… and this pack i found at amazon even says “Put the whole or some of the gel (as much as you need. Don’t add water.) into a clean microwave bowl and to microwave it for 2 to 5 minutes (adult supervision is required for kids below 8). The gel will get melt into liquid. And then wait until the gel is cool but not firm. Pour the gel into your habitats. The gel version ant habitats are made. You put ants in. But the best time to put the ants in is about 2 to 3 days later.”

Here is the Gel2Root info we found in jello like tubs ~ you basically stick the cutting/seed into it, and wait for roots!

Can you really imagine eating this for a diet solution?
This article from wired discusses how this same technology is turning into a stomach filling pill….

And as for those plant gel crystals that can look so tacky unless mixed with soil to help regulate water distribution for infrequent watering or deserts… they are also often used for arts and crafts and candles holders.

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17 Notes

I’ve been using Ant Chow from www.antchow.com for my custom ant farms.
It’s the largest quantity for the price I could find - over one quart of gel. All the others only make 1-1/2 cups or even less.

----- Toni 01.07.10 07:59

Life Studies sells gel ant farm refills as well as harvester ants. Harvester ants are a lot bigger so they are easier to watch. You can see them cutting the gel with their mandibles and carrying it around.

----- Mary Jo 15.05.10 07:45

You can get the ant gel at www.antgel.com. I’ve never used it, but they sell a few different colors.

----- William 11.03.10 00:28

Ant gel…but you have to buy 500 packs minimum!

----- Jayson 21.06.09 20:20

I thought that the gel in the ant farms is AGAR, which is used for microbiological studies and as a food additive. The plant gel appears to be either polyacrylamide or sodium polyacrylate. The polymers absorb water and swell considerably to form a thick gel which looks like chunks of (rounded) ice. I am trying to grow some plant seeds in polyacrylamide and gelatin but so far I do not have any results.
The ant gel agar should be available from food supply places. Good quality agar (many types) for microbiological use is expensive and not necessary.

----- Howard McPherson 16.05.09 20:34

I’m thinking of experimenting with a brew of gelatin,water, food colouring and plant nutrient, to grow plants in. Not sure if it will go rancid. Any tips on what might sterilise gelatin, and not inhibit plant growth?
Also,will the lack of air in the root area rot the roots? Should I aerate the brew? What with? Normal air, CO2, oxygen?
I will find some of these answers myself, however any help would be appreciated…

----- Dale 02.03.09 02:17

If you use carbs (sugars, starch) as nutrients without any preservatives you will eventually have mold or bacterial growth. It won’t do any good to “sterilize” the moldy gel. You will kill the microbes but you will not get rid of the enzymes and some of the other digestive excretions they made and the gel will break down. I have experience with this with agar-based lab media. Perhaps the controlling factor in the ant gel is moisture, usually available moisture has to be at 15% or greater for microbes to grow. Since it was suggested for the polyacrylamide crystals to be gelled by using heat to destructure it for the ant farms that makes sense. For plants, there has to be water added for the roots to absorb. okay, I’ll quit overthinking this now - great thread.

----- honeyjudge 20.01.09 11:54

the gels are sold at antgel.com
they have various colours but i didnt see any prices
they will do special orders and bulk orders if you contact them
they also do international orders

----- morg176 27.12.08 05:26

how do you buy materials from lanbo or are they just in bulk manufacturers?

----- J 24.11.08 20:25

Hey I have been trying to find out what is actually in this gel and how it’s eatable and nutritious. Any one know??

----- Chris 22.11.08 13:16

I have some blue ant far gell that did not come wit directions on how to melt it so that i can replace the gell in one of my ant farms.So i found this site and did what it saide to do. the info was not good. The gell did not melt just lost mass. Are you to put a lid on the bowl or not? I did for the second try at melting it but had it vented so that the thing would not blow up in the microwave.the best thing for me to do is to buy one with the gell already in it for use.

----- kelly barge 28.08.08 09:57

how do you make the ant gel???
i have looked everywhere but nothing thanks

----- ray 25.07.08 10:21

I’ve tried two of the antworks. Our local ants are too small and want to creep through the holes. Decided it’s better to NOT catch them from a battle, but a single mound/hive. That way half of them don’t start out dead!
Tried a big-fat-huge black ant. Wood ant or forest ant someone called it. Didn’t tunnel - boring! Added some small black ones - he was NOT happy, and worked at taking them out. He waited at the top of a tunnel and pounced them if they came out. Ended up with a head on a back leg - deathgrip!

Another round of little-blackies, this time from a single mound, and they managed to take him out. I need to collect some nasty-mean red ants, and see how they fare. They’re bigger at least.

LOVED finding a source here for the gel. Both farms have suffered mold problems. I think the Mrs was right when she said not to put other ‘organics’ in there. I was thinking about trying to remelt the gel in a microwave, sterilizing it - and try starting over. May still try it, but with a source for new gel!
Was considering using Agar-gel and trying a simple mix. I presume they put some sort of sugar source, and maybe some vitamins, metals, salts. Basic growth media. Too bad we can’t get the recipe! (I used to culture yeast for brewing. Basic growth media/gel - like we did in biology labs)

I wonder what kind of resin is used in the ant-sculpture product. Seems like a neat idea. But what washes away the gel? Anyone tried it?

Quite an entertaining product. Has made an interesting conversation piece at work!

----- Cosmo 26.06.08 19:47

I am building a large ant farm and am curious if you ever found a supplier for the ant gel? I have sent LanBo Tec an email but have not heard back. One more question, where did the red and yellow gel come from? I would be curious about manipulating the color of the gel as well.

Great Blog and thanks for the help your post has already provided. If you can help point me a direction I make sure you get some awesome pics of my project. I’m thinking a whole gel eco-system for plants… and ants…

Anthony Loughan

----- anthony loughan 04.05.08 15:43

Really awesome post. I want to get some of those cute little gel plants.
i have some ant gel started right now.

fun stuff!

----- brad 26.04.08 12:01

while you may be correct in that the rooting gel may have plant GH in it, I’m willing to suspect that it’s no more than just some type of nutrient agar with NUTRIENTS, not hormones to support the plant.

----- chris_n 04.11.07 10:02

i think the rooting gel may have plant growth hormones in it…

----- rugenius 04.11.07 01:58

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