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Thread: Keeping water in the bottom of a terrarium

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    I have a 5 gallon terrarium where I keep all my plants. I keep about two inches of distilled water in the bottom at all times. The water is getting to be pretty dirty looking, and I want to know if it's bad that the water just sits there all the time. Will this encourage fungus and mold that will harm my plants? Should I let it dry up every do often to kill of anything living in there, and then fill it back up again? Thanks for all your answers in advance.

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    I haven't had much experience, but if I were you, I'd dump it out every week, or maybe less, and let it dry up a bit. Then I'd add new water. I hear that standing water is a breeding-pool for germs and other pathogens. The pros of this method is that it keeps the humidity up, and it gives your terrarium an impenetrable moat that keeps pests out.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I let some water sit in the bottom of my terrarium for humidity, but I don't let my plants sit in it. I empty it out when I clean the tank or prune the plants, and then let it fill from condensation and misting. When it gets close to the plants, I empty it out, but usually I empty it for the former reasons before the water level is greater than 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch. I keep some aquatic Utrics in the bottom and a little live sphagnum to keep the algae and bugs in check, but I let it go for weeks at a time. It only starts to look dirty after about three or four weeks.
    ~Joe
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    So is there an actual risk that my plants will get sick if I let them sit in that water? I'd rather not dump it out every week, simply because it would be difficult to get all the plants out of there, and I'm sure that would stress them to some degree. Do you guys think letting it dry up would be sufficient?

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    There's a risk that things like fungus will be passed between your plants, a fairly high one. If your enclosure is free of pathogens to begin with, it won't be a problem, but if there is something there, the water will help a lot to transmit it. Also, certain plants like Nepenthes generally don't like to be in standing water - their pots can be in water, but the roots generally shouldn't be submerged. I think some other CPs are finicky about standing water, but none come to mind. I don't think you'll run into many problems, as long as you have good ventilation and your plants are healthy (and appropriate for growing in standing water.)
    Changing it every week may not be necessary. One option is to add an aquarium air pump and an airstone to the water - this will keep the water aerated and circulating, which cuts down on the growth of algae and other nasty stuff, and the bubbles will also raise the humidity in your tank.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Would an air pump be able to be used in two inches of standing water?

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Yeah, just lay the airstone flat so it's covered by water. You can get little suction cup tube holders at an aquarium store to hold it down.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Does anyone know of a product or something you could add to the water to keep anything from growing or living in it?

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