new to terrariums.. - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-21-2008, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1
new to terrariums..

ok, so after about 10 years of saltwater fish tanks, ive grown pretty bored of them. ive had it all and its just no fun anymore.

so, i have this spare tank i was using as a sump. its 24" x 12" x 16.5". i wanted to turn it into a terrarium or something neat.

ideally, id want a critter or something in there, like a tree frog, a praying mantis or maybe a small garder(sp?) snake?

anywho, im a bit confused as to what subtrate im supposed to use. ive already got some potting soil (i grow my cats fresh catnip) and tons of lights. t5's, PC (CF), and one metal halide. do i need anything that strong for just plants?

i was reading other threads herer as well, and i saw things like the backgrounds made out of sealant. things like that intrigue me since i really want a custom background. ive been doing some sketching at work and ill post it up tomorrow when i get to work.

water effects seem to hard, so i guess ill keep it to damp/semi-dry?

i like moss and stuff like that, i also like tree branches and things like that. thats why i think a custom background would be best.

anywho i have lots of patience (what with the saltwater n all) so im in no hurry. however, i would like to set up everything and let the tank mature before i add any live animals/bugs.

advice is greatly appreciated!!!
OceansInMotion is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2008, 12:48 AM
Planted Tank Guru
A Hill's Avatar
PTrader: (90/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Tempe, ASU
Posts: 7,228
Send a message via AIM to A Hill
My first advice is to get a spell checker or FireFox. I'm glad someone else gave me this advice a few years ago as well. May sound rude at first but its improved my typing tremendously.

Second thing I would suggest is heading over to We're not the most active Viv people around here.

I think PDFs will suit your needs.

A Hill is offline  
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-24-2008, 02:49 AM
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2
If you are planning on creating a terrarium, overwatering is the main concern because terrariums recycle moisture and there is no way for water to drain out. Occaisional misting is plenty, if neccessary. Terrariums should not be exposed to direct sunlight, the light/heat and will scald your plants. Lighting should be provided for 12 - 14 hours. LifeGlo by Hagen is a favorite, but full spectrum will work. A automatic timer also helps for consistency and keeping the light cycle steady.
To set up the proper planting medium, start with a layer (1"-2") of pea gravel. On top of the drainage layer, put thin layer of activated charcoal, to act as a detoxifier. On top of the charcoal, a thin cover of sphagnum moss to prevent the soil from sifting down into the drainage layer. Most garden centers sell terrarium soil, but you can make your own by adding one part coarse builders sand, and one part leaf mold (or humus) to each two parts of your usual soil. Do not use beach sand! Also, do not add fertilizer, too much will cause the plants to grow out of the container too quickly. To obtain a desert look, add extra sand to the soil layer and more gravel in the drainage layer.
The aforementioned is ideal for plantlife. For an animal-friendly terrarium, instead gravel (which adds weight and has limited drainage) and charcoal (that can release impurities after it has absorbed its maximum capacity) specialty stores sell lightweight expanded clay pellets (1"-2" 1st layer instead of gravel) which do not decompose or alter the pH of the substrate. Substrate dividers are recommended to prevent clogging of the base layer. Ground coconut fiber mixed with tree fern fiber are an option for animal friendly substrate. (1"-2" 2nd Layer) For a desert-like terrarium, sand is an option but should be mixed with planting medium for desired consistency and stability.
Planting the terrarium is next. Choose plants that have similar water/light/humidity needs. Mosses make nice ground cover but some varieties can rot due to too much moisture. There are terrarium mosses that are available. Ferns (maidenhair, button) are good for terrariums, and flourish enclosed, but certain types can grow too quickly and become invasive. Small, slow growing plants are ideal. Baby's Tears do well, as does the Artillery Plant. For something out of the ordinary, Bromeliads are inexpensive, can be found in many different habitats, including jungles and deserts, are low maintenance, and have brilliant, long-lasting blooms. For the arid terrarium, I wouldn't recommend cacti unless the inhabitants of your tank coexisted with them naturally. However, the air plant, or "Tillandsia", is perfect for dry conditions. Needing no more than a gentle misting every great while, Tillandsia are inexpensive, diverse, and stunning. They can be glued, tied, and wired to rocks and wood. Tillandsia need air flow, so they cannot be planted in soil/sand. Grape wood makes a fine base for mounting these plants, but will rot in humid conditions. Ghost wood, cypress wood and cork are best for moist terrariums.
Any creature you plan on keeping in a terrarium should be compatible with the environment you've created. Herbivorous lizards such as iguanas and bearded dragons would likely chow down on your plants.
A tropical terrarium is ideal for geckos, anoles, toads, salamanders, tree frogs, dart frogs, and snakes. Chameleons are tough, because in my experience, not only are they very sensitive and fragile, they need running water, and perfect conditions.
For the desert terrarium, snakes, leopard geckos, golden geckos, and the uromastyx (which is the coolest lizard I think I've ever seen) are the easiest to care for.
I think that about covers it, if you have any more questions, go ahead and message me if you like. I hope I've answered your questions and given you some ideas. Good luck with the terrarium and post pictures, please!

Last edited by wiggles; 01-24-2008 at 04:25 AM. Reason: typos
wiggles is offline  
post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-24-2008, 03:15 AM
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 67
Wiggles, A drain can easily be drilled into a tank, for adequate draining. You can also use LECA or Hydroton clay pellets, for substrate instead of pea gravel. The activated carbon is pointless, since it will eventually dissipate, and become inactive, and just take up space. The proper substrate on top of the LECA would be coco fiber, Peat moss, Potting soil, and coarse sand. The background can be made by using expanding spray foam, called "Good Stuff." It's used for insulation. You can spray it all over your tanks background, and then shape it once it dries. After that, you cover small spots in 100% brown silicone, and while the silicone is wet, apply coco fiber, or peat moss. The substrate you add to the background MUST be dry, or it wont stick. Other plants you can look into are called Bromalaids. If you're going to get into poison dart frogs. Like suggested, I'd say check out, and also

Good luck, and also, post pictures.
nickboudin is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-24-2008, 04:52 AM
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2
Thanks for the info. My response was based on my own ventures into the vast world of terraria. I did mention Bromeliads. Originally I was referring to terrariums housing solely plants, which are put into a variety containers, such as glass cloches and apothecary jars. Personally, I really wouldn't want to drill holes in anything I could potentially use for something else later on.
wiggles is offline  
post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:04 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
tundragirl's Avatar
PTrader: (95/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: wisconsin
Posts: 670
water feature are actually one of the easiesdt thinks to build of the terrarium-way easier and less time consuming than the custom wall.
post on here what you would like and we can help

tundragirl is offline  


Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome