Carnivorous plant/ant terrarium

Autumn1598April 17, 2013

So when I was younger, at the science center, they had a kit for a three tiered "closed" system. I always thought it was really awesome. I have always been fascinated with carnivorous plants. My grandmother had a venus flytrap when I was growing up and I just thought they were spectacular. I still do actually. ANYWAY. I looked up the kit and it turns out that the three different tiers are to support 3 different biomes. I am putting a link to a video at the bottom in case I am not making any sense. The Wild! Science kits can be interconnected with other kits. The one I am most interested in is the ant farm.

What I am contemplating doing is building a terrarium containing a mix of carnivorous plants. I am thinking right now maybe Flytraps and Sundew. Connected to, but separate I would like to make a formicarium, or a big pot of dirt. I don't really care about being able to see the ants tunnels. Sorry I tend to ramble but I am wondering if anyone has tried a closed (or mostly) with carnivorous plants and ants as their food source. I would like to be able to make it a closed source, which I could possibly do with the ant gel because they would not need food, but I am a naturalist and would prefer dirt of some sort. My biggest question right now would be what I would be able to use as a food source if I was going to be able to make if completely self sufficient.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Wild! Science Eco Dome video:

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Carnivorous plants should never be part of a sealed terrarium no matter what u hear. The ants although very thoughtful will be too much for the plants and destroy the very delicilte root systems. As a food source it takes a decent amount of time for the plan to digest it, really long. I love carnivs but the all go on east or west windowsill in a dish with distilled water at a constent level below the crowns . remember they are bog plants and do love moisture but a sealed or even semi sealed terrarium is to stagnint with minimal air exchange or circulation. been in this exact place and failed consistently . terrariums are very simple one you Lear the few very easy but important rules. I've had one know going on its 6 the year! Keep it simple , ferns, ivy , etc even croton for wicked color. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:37AM
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That breaks my heart :( I talked to my biology teacher and he said it would work. Oh well this is why I was researching ^.^ Thanks so much for your answer!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 2:20AM
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I wonder if air circulation could be achieved with a fan?

Heard of people setting up tiny electric fans in their terraria somewhere before.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 11:29AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Speaking as a Biology teacher, your teacher is unfortunately incorrect. As has been pointed out, sealed terrs are typically very problematic in large part because of the issue of stagnant air. Few plants (or animals for that matter) do well under such conditions and fungi -- including pathogenic ones -- thrive.

Furthermore, vfts are EXTREMELY poor terr candidates for a number of reasons:
1) They are very high light plants ... even up to full sun. In a terr it is difficult to provide that kind of light intensity without raising the temperature to lethal levels.
2) Vft's like to send their roots quite deep. This would require a fairly large terr.
3) Most significantly, vfts REQUIRE a chilly/cold winter's dormancy to maintain health/vigor. Without it, they weaken and die -- though they may survive for two or three (maybe four if you are very lucky) years before finally kicking the bucket. Unless you plan on giving the entire tank a cold dormancy or digging the vfts up to do so, they are better off not setting a root tip in a terr.

Now having said this, some cps can be done in a "sealed" terr BUT it will require the inclusion of fans for air circulation and a rather large tank too. I say "sealed" in quotes because while the terrs in question are left closed for periods of time they are by no means left closed permanently. People I know growing Nepenthes, for example, this way, do open up the tank every day or two as they check on the plants and allow an exchange of fresh air.

It is far easier to go for a partly sealed tank setup (still using fans) as one can keep humidity levels up while allowing for some air exchange. With such a setup, there are a number of cps -- pinguicula, utricularia, and drosera -- that could be used.

With regards to the ant idea ... The concern regarding ants harming the plants is not terribly likely unless you were to obtain species that -- like the leaf cutter ants -- actually use vegetation as a food source. However, the issue of wet, stagnant conditions would prove detrimental to most ant species. Also most ant species are carnivorous or scavengers. So you would have to have present a renewable prey/food source for them. And unless you did have a very well sealed setup, you would in all likelihood have ants touring your room and/or home. (And I suspect your parents might object to that. )

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:51PM
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