Pet Acanthurus Monitor Care Sheet
by Robyn Markland- Pro Exotics Reptiles (reprinted with permission of the author)
This caresheet addresses Acanthurus Monitor (Ackie monitor) availability, morphs, seasonality, sexing, pricing, shipping, and most importantly, setup and care.
Red and Yellow Ackies breed and hatch year round, but at the same time, they are still fairly rare in the trade, and are in steady high
demand. Babies often sell out before hatching, so it is best to pre-purchase babies that are due to hatch in the coming weeks. This period may be anywhere from one week to twelve weeks, and it is best to get your order in early, for quickest availability. At Pro Exotics, we only presell babies that we have eggs for, not for eggs we are expecting, so there is a solid date available for all purchases, and aside from that, we just don't believe in selling what we do not yet have.
All of our monitors at Pro Exotics are approached with a similar
strategy, varying here and there to account for feeding and humidity needs, but it basically breaks down to "keep `em hot and feed `em a lot!"
Acanthurus hatchlings are kept right out of the egg on a shallow soil substrate in 10 and 20 gallon tanks. It is important during this time to monitor the success of each hatchling. We want to be sure that
each baby is getting a full share of food, and they have the easiest time learning to hunt and eat crickets. A simple setup helps accomplish this goal.
The soil also helps to insure complete sheds, and it is easier to keep visual track of each animal's toes and tail with a simple setup and substrate. This is important because any poorly shed toes and tails can
be easily lost to circulation and scabbing problems. Be sure to keep your soil at a good moisture level. You will learn to balance out the moisture content by adding water regularly. This varies from
cage to cage, but you should get a good feel for it within a week or two.
Our substrate preferences for monitors in our collection have changed with time, and while we used to use cypress mulch almost exclusively, we have now largely switched over to soil. After trying a few
different soil mixes, we not only found a "store bought" mix that works well, but a locally purchased decomposed granite that works extremely well. It
holds moisture and burrows beautifully. This decomposed granite is now our preferred substrate, and while we have had success with cypress and paper towels for hatchlings in the past, consider a soil mix for your permanent setup, your monitors will be much happier for it.
The other features in the baby setup include a nice sized water bowl, and multiple hide spots are created using the Wood Stacks. These stacks also provide an elevated basking spot on one side.
The cages and water bowls are cleaned daily and we also have a weekly soaking program for all of our monitors (including breeders).
Soaking your monitors weekly is not only recommended, but an important aspect of PE husbandry.
Soaking in room temp water for 1 to 2 hours allows the animal to
hydrate completely, as well as helps with any stuck sheds on the delicate toes and tails. You should use water that comes up to the shoulder (or body thickness) of your monitor, so they can easily keep their heads above water. We have used this technique for a few years now, and have had tremendous success. Keep in mind that when soaking baby monitors (or snakes), they often float on the water, not having enough mass to sink to the bottom and walk around in water up to their tiny shoulders. If they literally have to swim in the water for the entire 2 hours, they may die of exhaustion.
This is remedied by "soaking" your tiny animals on wet paper towels.
Line your container with three of four layers of paper towels, then wet these down liberally. Add the animals to the container, and use a secure lid. They will walk on the paper towels, drink from the small pools of water, and get all the positive benefits of a good soak, without the added worry of drowning.
Temperatures are another crucial factor (along with hydration and nutrition) to a healthy monitor. While it is generally true that Ackies
are a hardy and "bulletproof" monitor, temperatures are still important to their success and well being.
We use basking spot temperatures of 120-130 F for the Ackie babies, with ambient cage temperatures of 85 F. At night, it is important the temperatures do not drop below 80 F. If you insist on allowing the
temps to drop below 80ø, you may start to court respiratory infections, so it is important to use red bulbs, ceramic bulbs, heat panels, or whatever it takes to keep those temps up and your monitor healthy. Many large monitor breeders, including Pro Exotics, often run daylight cycles and temps 24 hours a day. This keeps temps up, metabolism high, and our monitors stay in the best of health. You don't have to run a 24/7 day cycle, but look at your night drop closely when brainstorming about your lethargic (or mouth bubbling, or non eating) monitor.