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Thread: New Outdoor Terrarium, and Remodled Prop. Chamber. Need advice!

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    SDCPs's Avatar
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    Smile New Outdoor Terrarium, and Remodled Prop. Chamber. Need advice!

    Hello Friends!,

    I have just redone my propagation chamber. The top is for seeds and sensitive CPs, the bottom is dedicated to growing sarracenia 24/7, as Bugweed does.

    They're not really big, and don't use much energy. The top one has a 13 watt bulb, and grows things well (I've used that one before). The bottom one has 2x 15 watt tubes. One is in use right now. I made the fixture myself by combining two broken 15 watt aquarium fixtures.





    Comments/suggestions welcome.

    Now for the exciting part. I built a temperature-regulated outdoor terrarium! I used to use this 55 gallon aquarium to breed paradise fish outdoors, but CPs are much more profitable...if not more beautiful. I still have a 100 gallon or 120 gallon for the paradise fish though

    Anyway, here are the pics, and then for the specs and my questions.






    As you can see, the 250 watt (overkill I know) from my former aquarium is used to keep the water at around 65 degrees. I may adjust this. The temperature may rise in the summer with solar heating, however.

    How does it regulate temperature? The heater keeps the place cozy in winter, and the water keeps it cooler in summer. Simple.

    Those white 1'' pipes are siliconed to the aquarium. The big tube with holes in it is the watering tube...for adding or siphoning water.

    The reflective backing is for reflecting light to make better use of it and hit the backs of the plants (since it is under an overhang.)


    The place gets 3-4 hours of direct sunlight (more in winter) and indirect sunlight for the rest of the day. It was designed to grow bladderworts, genlisia, sundews, and small neps.

    Watering: The water level normally will stay at the top grate. The bottom grate is for terrestrial utrics and genlisia. When I want to water the top grate, I add a little more water.

    Growing under the water will be either u. gibba or u. inflata. If the former, I will need a substrate. The latter, just water. Which wort should I get?

    Top grate 4" high. Bottom 2" high. Tank 4' long. 15" wide, 16" tall...I think.

    What dews will grow well? Should I raise the heater's temp? Which bladderwort should I put beneath the grate? Can I grow South American dews here?

    Please just give me a few suggestions on how to use this thing. NOT FOR NEPS (they get too big)

    THANKS!

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    Kyle's Avatar
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    I really like the idea of the outdoor terrarium. Using the sun's light is always better than paying for the electricity used by bulbs. I was initially thinking it would get pretty roasty in there, being in San Diego and whatnot. But upon some investigation on Weatherbase (invaluable, by the way), San Diego's average high is never over 77 (though highest recorded his 111, yikes). I'd say the setup should probably work wonders. Even when it does get a little warm out, water's high specific heat should moderate it pretty well, as you expect.

    The only (minor) thing I can think of would be cleaning. If I understand correctly, you intend to use the same big reservoir of water (the tank itself) for all the plants, no trays, right? It might be a relative pain to clean it out every now and then since you'll have to yank everything. Also, having standing water in direct sunlight is probably asking for algae, though I have no experience with that with water as pure as we use for carnivores - maybe algae will struggle with so few nutrients. I don't even know if algae in the water has any specific negative effects on CPs, other than the obvious aquatic Utrics. I don't know, maybe it's even a good thing; it'll pull any excess nutrients out of the water, that's for sure. Then just scrub it all away when you clean the tank and it's kind of like emptying the bag on a vacuum, LOL. It sucks up all the stuff you don't want in the water, then you start with a clean slate every now and then. Might actually be really nice.

    Overall, I like it lot. I hope it works out well. I might even give it a shot if so, at least during the spring, summer, and early fall. It'd be a very cheap and painless way to moderate the crazy temperature swings we have in Colorado.

    Don't really have an opinion on the indoor chamber other than shininess is typically a good thing. XD


    EDIT: Just realized something. I don't know what the storms are like there in San Diego, but if they're anything like those here, they can dump a disgusting amount of precipitation in a surprisingly short amount of time. You said it's under an overhang, is it enough so to prevent severe flooding? If not, that might be something to consider. I remember I had a 20 gallon tank sitting on our balcony a couple years ago (to dry/air out, ironically enough; Colorado's weather is insanely unpredictable), and within 10 minutes of a storm starting, it was overflowing. *sigh*

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    SDCPs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _ReApEr View Post
    I really like the idea of the outdoor terrarium. Using the sun's light is always better than paying for the electricity used by bulbs. I was initially thinking it would get pretty roasty in there, being in San Diego and whatnot. But upon some investigation on Weatherbase (invaluable, by the way), San Diego's average high is never over 77 (though highest recorded his 111, yikes). I'd say the setup should probably work wonders. Even when it does get a little warm out, water's high specific heat should moderate it pretty well, as you expect.

    The only (minor) thing I can think of would be cleaning. If I understand correctly, you intend to use the same big reservoir of water (the tank itself) for all the plants, no trays, right? It might be a relative pain to clean it out every now and then since you'll have to yank everything. Also, having standing water in direct sunlight is probably asking for algae, though I have no experience with that with water as pure as we use for carnivores - maybe algae will struggle with so few nutrients. I don't even know if algae in the water has any specific negative effects on CPs, other than the obvious aquatic Utrics. I don't know, maybe it's even a good thing; it'll pull any excess nutrients out of the water, that's for sure. Then just scrub it all away when you clean the tank and it's kind of like emptying the bag on a vacuum, LOL. It sucks up all the stuff you don't want in the water, then you start with a clean slate every now and then. Might actually be really nice.

    Overall, I like it lot. I hope it works out well. I might even give it a shot if so, at least during the spring, summer, and early fall. It'd be a very cheap and painless way to moderate the crazy temperature swings we have in Colorado.

    Don't really have an opinion on the indoor chamber other than shininess is typically a good thing. XD


    EDIT: Just realized something. I don't know what the storms are like there in San Diego, but if they're anything like those here, they can dump a disgusting amount of precipitation in a surprisingly short amount of time. You said it's under an overhang, is it enough so to prevent severe flooding? If not, that might be something to consider. I remember I had a 20 gallon tank sitting on our balcony a couple years ago (to dry/air out, ironically enough; Colorado's weather is insanely unpredictable), and within 10 minutes of a storm starting, it was overflowing. *sigh*
    Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful response, friend.

    We also seem to forget (I do) that the bulbs themselves and the fixtures cost money also. Yes, I agree. It is better to use natural light. Also, outdoors, a terrarium has access to live food. True, pests can invade, but natural predators will be lurking also. Since this is not a planted terrarium, everything can be taken out with ease...pests eliminated...whatnot.

    However, the heater requires energy too...so that is one drawback.

    Correct. Water's high specific heat (I learned about that once. Wasn't it 4.18 somethings?) will give things a nice environment. Also, it only gets morning sun, so the hottest part of the day won't disturb it. Thanks for sharing the link!

    Cleaning. This could be a problem, but I plan to grow u. gibba and companion plants on the bottom. Also, I have a culture of water fleas that could help clean things up. I'm hoping that the algae can be kept under check...but the plants and bugs. It will be an experiment. When I tried growing bladderworts in full sun before, I didn't get too much algae...but the wort died. This is much less light, and hopefully the other plants will out-compete the algae.

    As to storms, it is under an overhang, but this overhang is a slanted roof. That means, that all the water the roof collects will pour right into the terrarium. Not so good. However, the good news is that only a very small part of the terrarium (tippy front) is exposed to this downpour, so it is easy to place a plexiglass "shield" to deflect the water.

    I hope it works well, and will update thread accordingly.

    Again thanks for responding!

    My question to the rest of you: What should I do with this thing?
    Last edited by SDCPs; 11-29-2010 at 02:19 PM.

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    Kyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDCPs View Post
    Also, outdoors, a terrarium has access to live food.
    Oooo, yes, that is a huge benefit I hadn't thought of. And it's a free, unlimited, effortless source!

    Quote Originally Posted by SDCPs View Post
    Cleaning. This could be a problem, but I plan to grow u. gibba and companion plants on the bottom. Also, I have a culture of water fleas that could help clean things up. I'm hoping that the algae can be kept under check...but the plants and bugs. It will be an experiment. When I tried growing bladderworts in full sun before, I didn't get too much algae...but the wort died. This is much less light, and hopefully the other plants will out-compete the algae.
    A couple thoughts on this. You might try some fish that are both cold-tolerant and plant-friendly. Or snails, even. I know Otocinclus have done incredibly well in my planted tank, totally ignoring the plants and feasting only on algae. Technically, they shouldn't be in waters under 70 degrees, but you could always give a couple a shot and see how they do. Malaysian Trumpet Snails have also done really well in my tank, also ignoring the plants entirely. Their theoretical low is around 65 degrees, so they may work out better for you. These are both ideas to try, though, in case you do end up having an issue with algae, which you may well not. The fleas should also help, for sure, but I doubt they'd last too long in a tank with aquatic Utrics! To quote Peter in The Savage Garden: "Ferdinand Cohn found prey in the traps of dried herbarium specimens. In 1875, he put water fleas (daphnia) into an aquarium of live plants, and by the following day, all of the daphnia were inside the bladders."

    Like you said, it'll probably be very experimental and full of trial and error, but overall I suspect it'll be pretty successful! Good luck, and definitely keep us posted!

    EDIT: Typo in the quote! Agh!

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    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    That looks like an incredible setup! So glad you put that mylar to (VERY) good use. I couldn't begin to recommend something to put in it, but would love to hear about whatever ends up calling that space home!

    What is that grating and where did you get it? I was looking high and low for something like that to raise the pots up off the bottom of my watering tray, but to no avail!

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    Kyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFury View Post
    What is that grating and where did you get it?
    While I can't tell you where SDCPs got it, I -can- tell you what it is and where to get it! It's egg crate, and can typically be found in the lighting section of any hardware store, like Home Depot.

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    SDCPs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _ReApEr View Post
    Oooo, yes, that is a huge benefit I hadn't thought of. And it's a free, unlimited, effortless source!


    A couple thoughts on this. You might try some fish that are both cold-tolerant and plant-friendly. Or snails, even. I know Otocinclus have done incredibly well in my planted tank, totally ignoring the plants and feasting only on algae. Technically, they shouldn't be in waters under 70 degrees, but you could always give a couple a shot and see how they do. Malaysian Trumpet Snails have also done really well in my tank, also ignoring the plants entirely. Their theoretical low is around 65 degrees, so they may work out better for you. These are both ideas to try, though, in case you do end up having an issue with algae, which you may well not. The fleas should also help, for sure, but I doubt they'd last too long in a tank with aquatic Utrics! To quote Peter in The Savage Garden: "Ferdinand Cohn found prey in the traps of dried herbarium specimens. In 1875, he put water fleas (daphnia) into an aquarium of live plants, and by the following day, all of the daphnia were inside the bladders."

    Like you said, it'll probably be very experimental and full of trial and error, but overall I suspect it'll be pretty successful! Good luck, and definitely keep us posted!

    EDIT: Typo in the quote! Agh!
    Ahh, thank you again for the relevant comments. I'm not going to introduce snails lest they take over, LOL!

    I put some anarhcis (whatever it's called) in the tank today, along with media and the fleas. I hope to get some gibba soon!

    I'll keep you posted, but it may be a couple months, even years before I've finished exploring

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFury View Post
    That looks like an incredible setup! So glad you put that mylar to (VERY) good use. I couldn't begin to recommend something to put in it, but would love to hear about whatever ends up calling that space home!

    What is that grating and where did you get it? I was looking high and low for something like that to raise the pots up off the bottom of my watering tray, but to no avail!
    Hey, thanks for making it possible!

    Quote Originally Posted by _ReApEr View Post
    While I can't tell you where SDCPs got it, I -can- tell you what it is and where to get it! It's egg crate, and can typically be found in the lighting section of any hardware store, like Home Depot.
    You are exactly right. My father calls it a light diffuser though. I did get it at Home Depot! But my HD sells it for a ridiculous price.

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    Kyle's Avatar
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    Yeah, my local HD sells it for a pretty outrageous price. I'm sure you could find it elsewhere for much cheaper. In fact, I'll look around real quick.

    EDIT: Yikes, maybe it's not so ridiculous. The few places I've found online that sell it are very comparable. o.O Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

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