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Thread: Design your dream terrarium

  1. #1

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    A neighbors' 55 gal fish tank sprung a leak , and I kindly offered to take it off his hands and he agreed . Now the challange is setting it up, love these kinds of problems . It measures 47 inches long, 20 inches high, and roughly 12 inches deep (sorry, don't know metric conversion and too old to learn ). It will go in my living room, in front of a west facing picture window which gets difused sunlight because of the window blinds. Electricty has to be kept to a minimum because of old wiring in my house; I plan on lights, would love a waterfall but don't think I can do both. Since it is the living room, shop lights are out (that is the hubby speaking, not me; I see the beauty in the plants, he sees the beauty in the set up). I'm thinking the kitchen undercounter floresecnt lights they sell at walmart may work, I've not been there yet to measure them but I remember seeing a double tube set up that may fit on top if I get two of them. I suppose another option is a true acquirium hood and light for reptiles; although from what I've read I'm not sure I like this idea (cost and heat factor).

    Ok, now for the contents. I would like to create a natural setting, but leave plants in their own pots (I want the best of all worlds ). The plants I have so far are: 2 unknown Neps, 1 D. Spath, 1 D. Capasis, and some Ultric tricolor. I also have a few none carnivores that will like the environment (I think): a coffee plant, a fern, and a star plant. I'm thinking a layer of charcol, orchid bark and lava rock on the bottom to keep a couple of inches of water. The pots I expect can be covered with moss somehow to hide them. I've read about people using egg crates between the water level and the plants, any idea on where I can get these? Or other ideas for what to use. I was thinking those green baskets that fruit is in at the grocery store might work, they can be cut down to size then covered in moss. I want to use a tree branch for the Nepth to climb on.

    So now, take it from here-----what other plants? what other ideas? Cost is a factor, but feel free to lay out your desire and I'll deceide if I can handle it. Have fun, be creative!!!!!
    Linda in PA

  2. #2
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    As much as I love to design "natural-mimic" terrariums (you should see the set-up I've got for my reptiles) my first thought in all this is that this is your terrarium and you should design it your way so that it is special to you.

    Okay, now that I have said that to ease my conscience I have a ton running through my mind.

    First question, this leak you talk about, how big and where? I'd be concerned about water draining out through the leak and ruining your carpet and such (has happened to me more times than I can count.) My recommendation for this; silicon based aquarium sealer.

    The lava rock, orchid bark mix on the bottom is probably a good idea but I would hesitate on the charcoal. Yes it'll absorb toxins and such but this is will be a closed system so eventually two things will happen, the charcoal will absorb all it can and then be worthless and the charcoal will start to breakdown over time releasing all the nasty stuff back into the set up. I realized that with out the charcoal there will still be toxin build up but you will always have that in mind so you won't be inclined to say to yourself "Hmm I should probably change out the media soon but since I have the charcoal I can wait till I get a better chance" and then forget to do it till your plants are all sick.

    On top of the lava rock : orchid bark I would place a layer of LF sphag to act as both a wick for moisture and a barrier for the next layer of media.

    If you are going to leave all your plants in their pots then you could probably just fill in the rest of the space with sphag and use that to hide the pots.

    Do note that your Drosera and the Utrics will more than likely decide to spread out of their pots and into the terrarium media.

    For decoration I would just go woth what you can find. Rocks and stones add a lot of character, boil them before putting them in the terrarium to eliminate any unwanted hitch-hikers. Grapevine make great branches, as do dense hardwoods like willow, cottonwood and the like. Avoid softwoods like pine ans they tend to rot fast. Obviously, do not use treated wood or unwashed driftwood.

    For companion plant I have always liked philodendron vine because it has good colour, grows well to cover "bald spots" and is easily trimmed. I also recommend spider plants because they actually help to de-toxify the soil. With the branches and stuff you could go for spanish moss and other "air plants."

    I'm going to stop here before I get the overwhelming urge to jump in my car and drive the 35 hours back to Colordo just to pick up my 55 gallon tank that I had to leave behind.

    Pyro
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

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    Great start Pyro, just what I'm looking for. I agree about the leak and trying to fix some. I plan to use some silcon around the edge which is where the owner said he thought it was. I also appreciate your comments about it is my tank and what makes me happy; but I'm a firm believer in the more thoughts the better then take it from there. Since this is in my living room, I'd really like it to be the focal point where people say "OH, how COOL", not "oh, cool---cough cough cough to hide the giggles".

    Thanks for the non carnivore ideas, and I hadn't thought of stone which I should have cause that is my outside yard passion right now. Building a flat rock patio for under the shade tent and going looking for stones this weekend, will keep an eye for good ones for here too.

    Keep the ideas coming please.
    Linda in PA

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    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Something I just thought of concerning stones. You should (obviously) avoid limestone and any other calcium based stone. I also tend to shy away from sandstones (unless I am making a desert vivarium ) because they have an annoying tendancy to absorb and concentrate salts. Quartz and granite tend to work best.

    Pyro
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat
    Hagerstown, Maryland

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    Linda, I have a shop light over my tank. And to make it look good I painted it dark brown. I found contact paper that matched the wood grain of my tank, stuck it carefully to the light. Know I have a very nice looking hood that cost me about $15.00. Be creative Hope this helps, Jack.
    Also, if you take peat moss and make it part of of your topping, little seeds will sprout and you can grow not only live spagnum, but also small ferns (at least thats what happen in my terrarium).
    'Celebrate the birth of our nation by blowing a little piece of it up'.The Simpsons.
    My grow list ~http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=107403

  6. #6
    It's been one of dem days BigCarnivourKid's Avatar
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    Don't know a thing about aquariums and very little about terrariums, but couldn't you use a small aquarium water pump to pump water from the bottom of your terrarium up over some rocks for a waterfall or possibly through an activated charcoal filter then over the rocks?
    ---Steve Allinger---

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    Pyro, I'd like to see your reptiles setup..., but you should see my leopard gecko's 20 gal. desert terrarium!! Anyway... I love this stuff. First of all, if you want to cover your plant's pot's, you should add something around them that moss would thrive in. As for a waterfall, buy a small reptile pump from petsmart.com.
    Just my $0.02
    I am back..

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    Arrow

    Gosh you guys are going to make me want to drive to the pet store to start buying up the store! Is it possible to see some pics of your creations?

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