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Thread: Newbie terrarium questions

  1. #1

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    Hello All,

    I'm new here and new to CP's. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif[/img] I had vft's as a kid and killed them all. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif[/img] I've played around with phal. orchids alot and finally figured out how to grow them for my windowsill conditions. I also keep and breed freshwater tropical fish. Right now I have over 20 tanks focused on various species of swordtails -- montezumae, nezahualcoyotl (spotted and unspotted), signum, clemencae and a black hi fin lyretail breeding program. I also have 2 species of killifish -- blue gularis and Fun. arnoldi; a West African dwarf cichlid Pelviachromis taeniatus Moliwe; veiltail mollies crossing with wild sailfin mollies and a neat little livebearer (the size of guppies) from Brazil called Phalloceros caudimaculatus reticulatus. Killifish have always been my first love and I have raised many many species -- especially the peat moss spawning South American annual ones. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]
    Anyway, I started getting interested in CP's this year. I stumbled on the pft site and thought it was great. I checked out these forums and everyone seemed especially friendly, helpful and knowledgable. Then a guy I work with showed me his 125 gallon CP tank. That did it. I have a bunch of old tanks in my garage and one real old metal framed (stainless steel style from the 1960's) 55 gallon slate bottom tank just called out to be a terrarium.
    So, I brought it into the living room. I put a single 40 watt 48" aquarium light on it along with one of the new triple bulb 40 watts each 48" aquarium lights. The triple bulb fixtures are neat. They look good, don't take up alot of room and have electronic ballists so they are light weight.
    So, that is where I am at. What else should I get? A max/min thermometer? A humidity tester?
    I am planning on keeping the plants in pots in trays for those who need the tray method. I mainly want different types of VFT's, lowland Nepenthes and a sundew or two.
    For air cirrulation, I noticed someone had a jar of water and an airstone in it bubbling. Would that be good for humidity and air cirrulation? I have an inch opening all along the back of the sheet of glass on top. I could add a strip of plastic like on an aquarium glasscover but I thought the open part might be good for cirrulation. I would like to avoid a fan. My house stays at around 50% humidity, sometimes more, rarely lower.
    My bulbs will be a Coralife 10,000K and 3 GE Aqua Ray aquarium/plant bulbs. OK?
    Should I cover the sides of the tank with white reflection material or could I put the cork slabs on them for hanging plants and to look cool?
    VFT's need the water trays but I take it Nepenthes do not?
    Also would VFT's do ok in a south window with bright sun without a terrarium or even outdoors in a small bog? I live in Houston. What about standard American pitcher plants -- also ok outside in Houston?
    Sorry for all the questions. I am reading SAVAGE GARDEN and I have been lurking here all week so I had a chance to really think about what I wanted to ask. Thanks ahead of time for your help and ideas. (I can answer fish questions [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif[/img].)

    Bobby Ellermann

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums. Quite the neat set up you have there between the fish and the plants!

    4-40watt bulbs sound good. You could probably just use 3 coolwhite 1 warmwhite or the daylight bulbs available at some do it yourself stores (lowes/homedepot). The other bulbs you mention will work but cost more and you probably won't see a huge difference. If you can get the terrarium some natural light that would be great. Particularly with VFT which really do best in high light. Careful though that it doesn't get so warm as to cook the plants inside. A small muffin fan inside would be a good idea for air circulation. The air bubbler in the jar idea is more for humidity although I personally would skip this and the hydrometer. An enclosed or nearly so terrarium should not have humidity issues.

    My big question for Nepenthes would be.. how cool will it get inside the terrarium at night? It will most likely cool down to room temperature or nearly so. What temperature will the room hit between the Summer and Winter?
    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the helpful reply. From the look of your webpage it looks like you have a nice set-up too.
    A couple of questions.
    What is a muffin fan? I followed the recent discussion of fans in a terrarium and was hoping to avoid one as it seemed there was a question about their safety. I wonder if someone has invented a special little fan for terrarium use. I would think someone would have by now. The room the tank is in has a window unit AC so I was hoping with the AC air movement, the long thin opening along the back side of the glass top and the air stone bubbling inside the tank in a jar of water that I might create enough cirrulation without a fan and still have good humidity. Is there any logic in my thought process here? BTW, where does one get a muffin fan.
    My house temperatures get to the mid 70's in the day during summer and the low 70's in the winter. Night time temps would be the low 70's in the summer and high 60's in the winter. I was hoping there were lowland Nepenthes that might do ok or I could do the frozen water bottle people talk about. Do VFT's not like the cooling effect at night that Nepenthes need?
    The tank won't be near a window. Is that a major mistake?
    Thanks again [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

    Bobby

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Muffin fan would be those little 4" 12volt computer fans. They are pretty safe since they are low voltage. Radio shack has them or you can get them from any computer parts supply place.

    With an AC unit in the room your correct about possible humidity issues if the top of the terrarium is open too wide. You could try the bubbler in the jar and see what happens. Always fun to tinker around and try new things.

    I ask about the temperature range because there are many different Nepenthes. Some have very strict temperature requirements while others are much more flexible. It is easier to find one that will be happy with your conditions, than greatly alter the growing conditions to match the plant. You shouldn't need any ice to cool it down as long as you stick to the warmer growing type. The VFT probably wouldn't like the cool nights either.

    No it's not a mistake to not have it by a window. Natural lighting is beneficial and free (and comes with it's own set of problems on how to keep heat down). Sufficient artificial lighting is very good too.
    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the additional information. I plan to set things up this weekend and give everything a dry run to see how it goes. If it works then I get to order plants! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif[/img]

    Bobby

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    I think the muffin fan (wherever did it get that name?) is the way to go because it eliminates the electricity hazard. The question is, what does one use for a power source? An old AT power supply?
    There's no 'a' in perlite.

    My Growlist
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    Hi D muscipula,

    So muffin fans use another power source besides a standard electrical outlet? I ask, because a friend built me an incubator for some of my fish eggs and he mounted a little computer fan on it and wired it so that it plugs into a power strip. Is there a danger there? It has been running for a couple of years without a problem but is there a risk?

    Bobby

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    They do make muffin fans that work on standard ac voltage. Personally I would use a 12volt kind if it is going to be near stuff where you might be working with wet hands etc, or the fan itself might be getting splashed with water. Places like radioshack should have a simple 12volt transformer. Yes an old computer powersupply would work as well if you happen to have one.

    So be sure to check the fan specifications and match the fan to the powersource so you don't risk a fire.
    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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