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Thread: Choosing a terrarium (aquarium) size

  1. #1

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    Arrow

    I want a "greenhouse aquarium" as described in The Savage Garden. It has to be a size that fits my 48" table.

    I have 3 choices according to the local pet store:

    55 gallon 48" long x 12" depth x 20" tall $98 118 cubic inches of growing space per dollar spent

    40 gallon 48" long x 13" depth x 12" tall $80 94 cubic inches of growing space per dollar spent

    20 gallon long 30" long x 12" depth x 12" tall $30 144 cubic inches of growing space per dollar spent

    The most cost effective size would be the 20 gallon long and this would allow me to add additional smaller aquariums to hold specialty plants like Mexican pings.

    I'll be keeping each plant (or group if appropriate) in its own pot/pots and watering tray.

    My lights consist of two fixtures using compact flourescent bulbs that are equivalent to 100 watts of daylight with 1 fixture mounted on each end of the terrarium. This is approximately 1.8 watts of light per square inch of surface area. At least 3 sides of the aquariums will be surrounded by aluminum foil to reflect light. In addition, the terrarium will receive afternoon sun from a large picture window facing west. The terrarium will be about 6" away from the window.

    An acrylic cover will keep the humidity in and can be raised slightly for air circulation as necessary depending on Michigan seasons. (Our humidity is extremely low when the furnaces are running and can be extremely high during the summer even with air conditioners running.)

    I am focusing on these plants: venus flytraps, terrestrial utricularias, Mexican pings, and some tropical drosera. I have 1 Nepenthes "Judith Finn" which will be raised so the pitchers can hang appropriately.

    I will also be using 10 gallon aquariums to start Sarrencias species from seed.

    Questions:

    1. Does my plan for lighting seem adequate if I choose the 20 gallon long?

    2. Is 12" of height adequate for the type plants I want to grow?

    3. How can I prevent unsightly algae from growing in the tank due to humidity levels?

    4. Am I leaving out any other important consideration before I spend the money to purchase this tank?
    Diana Pederson
    Michigan
    obsessivegardening.com
    christianreviewer.com
    livingwithcockatiels.com

  2. #2
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    well.. since you have 48inches you can get a 75 or 90 gallon. i REALLY suggest the 90 as even my 75 gallon is too small.

    keep the vft's outside

    1. it sounds ok for a 20 to me, but if i was doing it i'd double that.

    2. with the exception of the nepenthes, it's way more than what you need. raise them for better color

    3. water with distilled water/rainwater only. no nutrients=no algae

    4. first, get the big tank if you can. usually you can find big 90 callon tanks (and bigger but your space is limited) in the paper REALLY cheap. if it's an acrylic one you can buy a badly scratched one then remove the scratches with a kit. i'd reccomend leaving a gap in the lid for airflow or a small cpu fan. if you go with a bigger tank you'll need bigger lighting but you won't regret it and the options are very wide. you may need a humidifier too which can be piped through a bulkhead in the back. it sounds like alot of work but it's not and you won't regret it. esp. if you want to grow nepenthes. but if your only interested in small things, a bunch of small aquariums is better because of the distance from the light. you can easily put 2 20gals under a 48inch shoplight.

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    I am interested only in small plants. I simply don't have the space for a large, heavy aquarium.

    It almost sounds like a group of 10 gallon aquariums might serve my purposes better at this time.
    Diana Pederson
    Michigan
    obsessivegardening.com
    christianreviewer.com
    livingwithcockatiels.com

  4. #4
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    in that case, sounds absolutely perfect to me [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img] go ahead with your plans unless anyone else had something to add i didn't think of.

    you can still grow very very small nepenthes like N. campanulata or N. gracilis, maybe even N. adnata if you want.

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    chloroplast's Avatar
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    Hi,

    1. I have a 20gal long with total of 80W cool white fluorescent lighting. I'm growing nepenthes, heliamphora, drosera, cephalotus, VFT, ping, s.purpurea, small epiphytic orchids, spike moss and a dischidia. They are all doing very well and some have bloomed. IMHO, 100W would be perfect, and a 20gal is a nice size terrarium to start with.

    2. Yes, all of the plants you want will fit nicely in it.

    3. Dido to what JLAP said. You can also topdress with LFS to enhance aesthetics and prevent algae.

    4. Get a small AC CPU fan and place it in a corner for good air circulation in the tank when the cover is closed. Otherwise, fungal infections are probable.

    Good luck with your terrarium. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img]
    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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    Hey Chloro: You say you can dress the top with live sphagnum moss. I have all my plants sitting in my terrariums in water that is circulated and aereated by an air pump with air stones. I still get algae, but can I order some sphagnum and just set it in the water all around the tank to keep the algae at bay?

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    StifflerMichael's Avatar
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    Do you have a place for those Sarrs after they are no longer seedlings? I would highly recommend an outdoor stand for your temperate plants: VFTs, Sarrs, etc. I bought one of those 'mini-greenhouse' stands (less than $50)--the plants look gorgeous and grow great in the sun. BTW, aluminum foil is not a great reflector of light, mylar is much better (more expensive but worth it).

  8. #8

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    The sars and vfts will spend their summers outside in a flowerbox based mini bog (full sun). I also have a self watering rectangular shaped planter that will be adapted for a bog garden next year--it's growing miniature carrots for me this year. The cps will be overwintered in my refrigerator (which should get interesting space wise!).

    I live in a one bedroom, one floor townehouse. 498 ft living space including closets, etc. I had to give up my plant growing room with two greenhouse units and one large plant stand. At least this size unit forces me to focus my attention on special plants.

    I will have to protect the plants even in the terrarium with a screen or acrylic cover so my cockatiels don't go plant tasting. Jubilee would have a nervous breakdown if she got sticky leaves on her feathers.

    I may just pass on the pitcher plants to others after I get them up to a size that they really need to be outside. I enjoy growing things from seed. I think it was The Savage Garden that said these plants could grow up to two years indoors in terrariums. He suggested passing them on to others if no room outside.

    I want my neighbors to be coming to my door asking what those "strange looking things" are in my flower box next year!!!!!!!!!!!! I've got permission to have a mini fountain that fits in the flower box. Maybe I can create an artificial stream that recirculates to add some interest to this "bog".

    We aren't allowed to have standing water but a bog should work fine because management won't see the water!

    I plan on having a lot of fun with these plants just because so few people have even seen them before.
    Diana Pederson
    Michigan
    obsessivegardening.com
    christianreviewer.com
    livingwithcockatiels.com

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