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Thread: Are  classic terariums very hard?

  1. #1

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    Unhappy

    ok to start off im 15 and i say that beacuse ive been flamed on other boards for my age for asking questions about my cat and lizard before i got them. anyway my question is i have a 20 galon aquarium lights basicaly a whole setup for a bearded dragon which ill probobly sell just the lizzard if i can beacuse i could use the money (car) but if ican would it be hard to grow carnivorous palnts or should i sell my whole setup and buy a larger/smaller one. and of course are they hard from past expierces with venus fly traps offline and home depot my parents would say no but i think i can handle it

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    Welcome to the boards! Let me start by saying you are already more mature than many your age because you did stop to ask questions before jumping in! No flames here!

    On to your question. I don't think they are that hard to set up, but not cheap either. Already having most of the setup, you're ahead of the game. What you will need for CPs:

    Light: I'm not sure of the light requirements of reptiles, but as far as that goes, for CPs a general setup would be taking off the lid, and try to get 4 bulbs over your tank, side by side. CPs need a lot of light. There are many threads here about the best type of bulbs, but generally as long as you are using fluorescents of some kind you will probably be ok. I use a mix of daylight and aquarium bulbs. Others use different bulbs. Putting them on a timer is a good thing as well, they should get 12-16 hours of light a day, depending on time of year and the plants grown.

    Ventilation: Making sure you have air flow through the tank is important, perhaps with an old CPU fan. You need the ventilation to get rid of heat. Most CPs prefer temps ~70-80F during the day. A little temperature drop at night is a good thing. 4 bulbs will likely cook the plants unless you leave a lid off entirely. I can forgo the fan because my terrarium is lidless so there is plenty of airspace.

    Humidity: Most plants are tougher than folks think. I give them plenty of humidity simply by leaving an inch or so of water (with an old aerator running in it) in the bottom of the terrarium. The plants sit in trays above this water. I use the 'cubes' they came in from the store as platforms and put the pots on them. This allows me to keep the tank cleaner and to separate out the plants that need winter dormancy easily. If you have reptiles you should have an RH meter in the tank already, if its above 50% you are probably ok.

    Water: RO (reverse osmosis), distilled, or rainwater ONLY! Brita/bottled water is not good enough. CPs require extremely mineral-poor conditions to thrive. Tap water should be assumed to be too mineral-rich unless you can have it tested to determine otherwise. Most tap water and all bottled drinking water has minerals added to make it palatable to taste. If you use water *under* the water trays just for humidity, it can be regular water, but I use RO for everything just to avoid the mineral-ring buildup on the tank that I find unsightly, plus I don't need to worry about making a mistake that way.

    Soil: Long-Fibered Sphagnum (LFS), Sphagnum Peat, clean silica sand are musts. Other things like vermiculite, perlite, are extras some people use as additives, but many of us find it isn't strictly necessary. Some of us use nothing but the LFS and do fine. If you really want to avoid algae (nigh-impossible) you can microwave or bake the soil before potting plants in it, this will kill any spores in the soil.

    Other/Misc: NO FERTILIZERS!!!! I can't stress this enough. Avoid everything with the name Miracle-Gro, because they add fertilizers to everything. Remember CPs thrive in poor soil. Fertilizer will kill them. As for other additives, a fungicide of some type may or may not become necessary at some point. Wait and ask if it becomes an issue later. Accept the fact that despite all your efforts, algae will grow; mostly it is harmless, ignore it (a hard lesson for me). Pick up a copy of the book 'A Savage Garden' by D'Amato, it is practically the 'bible of CP growing'. Its an invaluable book.

  3. #3

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    A CP bible to some, but not all of us. I find other books equally as informative. Anything by Adrian Slack is a number 1 priority as well. 2 books off the top of my head by him are "Carnivorous Plants" and "Insect eating Plants and How to Grow Them." Same text pretty much, and the pictures are much better than Pete's book, but they are all three general growing books designed to get you started. Fine tuning in raising and understanding what your plants need, come with time.
    Also, if you can, find the more science based book by Donald Schnell titled, "Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada." Most excellent reading. Very informative on the pests and diseases chapters as well. They are only North American plants in this book, but a must for every personal library. Besides, we have a good number of CP in this country alone.
    45 yrs. growin\'
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    yeah Peter did get some things wrong but as far as general guidelines The Savage Garden is a very good book. Slacks books are excellent also. i dont grow any CPs in a classic style terrarium other than the Utrics and Genlisea that i have growing im my dart frog and Mantella tanks. i like using tanks such as yours for a "greenhouse style" terrarium. each plant in its own pot, 1/2-1 inch of water in the bottom. i find its much easier to work with the plants that way. as a warning most sundew species do not need nor do they want high humidity. i grow most of mine in humidity as low as 20% during the winter with no negative affects. Nepenthes, Helis, some Utrics and a few others do benifit from higher humidity but most of the Drosera dont mind low humidity as long as their roots are wet and they have good light.

    good luck with this addicting hobby. you are in good company on this set of forums
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    chloroplast's Avatar
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    Anoxos covered all the important basics and bugweed/rattler the great books.

    Just a few more pieces of advice:

    1. Plants: Start with easy plants and make sure they have the same growing requirements--preferably plants that can grow year-round so you don't have to worry about dormancy. Plants like venus fly traps need months of colder weather with less light; they can weaken and die if not given dormancy which is probably why you had "bad luck" with them in the past. Some people don't like the idea of having to put their plants in the fridge for months, so if you're one of those, stick with plants that can grow year-round. I suggest some tropical drosera (sundews) and hybrid Nepenthes (pitcher plants).

    2. Terrarium: There are two kinds of terraria...classic and potted. Classic involves planting the plants together in soil, and potted involves keeping plants in their own separate pots.
    Potted terraria are MUCH easier for several reasons: 1) different plants have different requirements (soil, watering, dormancy, light level, etc.)....keeping them in their individual pots makes it easier for you to make sure each plant gets the best conditions possible. Also, if disease strikes, you can easily remove the affected plant and there is less chance it will spread to the rest of your collection. If setup properly, a potted terrarium can look just as nice as a classic terrarium.

    There's a lot more to be said, but I think I'll let you digest these replies first, and if you have any more questions, you can always write more!
    Secretary, New England Carnivorous Plant Society (NECPS) http://www.necps.org/
    Member, International Carnivorous Plant Society (ICPS)
    Member, North American Sarracenia Conservancy (NASC)
    Member, The Carnivorous Plant Society (CPS)

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    I keep a few classic terrariums and they're very cool ways to grow CPs. However, they do take a bit more work in terms of watering and watching for disease. I like them because it's always fun seeing the "spreader" plants (Lance Leaf Sundews, Bladderworts, etc.) become weeds and fill out the space of the tank [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]

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