Ideas for 20 gal long terrarium/vivarium?
I just was gifted what I thought was a 20 long aquarium (and it had been used for aquatic turtles), but when I was cleaning it out I saw a clear, prominent warning that it should NOT be filled with water (photo attached).
So, this changes my plans entirely! I've never done a terrestrial vivarium type of tank, but I figure I should give it a try since one has fallen in my lap. What follows are a few possible ideas, but I'm open to any other suggestions.
Option 1: Moss & fern amphibian jungle
Pros: Many species are attractive, readily available in the pet trade, and this is a good size enclosure for them.
Cons: I'm not sure I want ANY standing water in a tank that says it can't hold water, and I believe most frogs and salamanders would like a "pond" area at the least. I could cut some pond liner and build a little pond within the enclosure, but I'm not sure how well that would really work, or what the water quality would be like.
Option 2: Snake
Pros: Probably easy to set up, since the snake probably wants as much open space as possible, and my kids would probably really get a kick out of having (and feeding) a snake.
Cons: I like the idea of a densely planted vivarium, and there probably isn't enough room in a tank this size for a snake and lots of plants to coexist happily. Also, I feel like most snakes would be happiest in a larger space, at least as they grow up.
Option 3: Tarantula!
Pros: This could be densely planted/jungly without the need for much in the way of standing water.
Cons: I've heard they often just hide in their den all day, so it wouldn't be very entertaining to watch if that's true. Also, apparently they don't like "bright light," so if this is going to have plants in it then I guess it would need to be a thick canopy or provide lots of hiding places that are well-shaded. Alternatively I could do a jungle on one end and a less-illuminated refuge on the other, since 20 gallons is more space than many tarantulas probably need.
While I grouped the above options by the animal type, I really do want to focus on the plants. So, once I settle on a biome, I'll want to do some major 'scaping before I actually get any inhabitants. If there is a particular type of plant that could form a centerpiece, I'd strongly consider starting with the plants and then finding an animal that would like the environment I've made. For example, I have always wanted to do a bald cypress bonsai, so I could probably start with that as the centerpiece and eventually find a toad or spider that would like that habitat. However, even though bald cypress seedlings are slow-growing, it may outgrow the vertical space in a matter of a year or two, even with aggressive pruning/wiring.