invertabrate menagerie in terrariums

dfourer(z5 Chicago)December 6, 2004

When I set up my terrarium, one of my concerns was that an infestation of white fly, spider mite, scale, aphid etc. would be hard to deal with. I see that some of you are also concerned. A little experience and some reflection has given me a different view. I introduced quite a collection of harmless bugs with bark and moss. All are very tiny and also very interesting--at least to me. I saw some mites today. They may live on mold. Non-biting midges breed in the small water pool. They are really tiny. There is a very small slug that has not visibly attacked any healthy leaves yet. It seemed to be grazing on lichens and might prefer dying leaves to green ones.

. The enclosed environment of the terrarium offers unique opportunities for control of plant eating pests. I think a few small centipedes found under rocks or in a rotting log would be a great way to controll all other insects and mites. They are strictly carnivorous. In warmer weather many indiscriminately carnivorous insects are available. Others writers have mentioned carnivorous plants.

. I'm enjoying the tiny bugs so much that I'm thinking of looking for millipedes, which eat mold, or a small earthworm. This started out as a plant thing and they are still the main thing for me. I'm nothing if not flexible. At some point I will be tempted to get some tiny frogs, when I've learned how to take care of them.

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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

You're experiencing that "if you build it they will come syndrome" lol A rerrarium is an ideal habitat for all kinds of critters,Whether you want them or not.My original plan for my paludarium was to have no animals at all Decided to add a school of fish instead of adding fertilizer for the water plants Within ywo weeks i had snails so i added some clown loaches. Now i have daphnia which the loaches won't eat.Sprtngtails appeared on the land portion so I added a praying mantis from my garden.Got white fly so added a small tree frog. A couple of house geckoes have moved in as well as some very small crickets. Just today noticed a diving spider complete with egg sac lol. have no idea where it came from. Since you cant spray and catching them is next to impossible. an ecosystem seems the only answer.
Sort of like the song "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly"lol Just have to decide how far to go up the food chain.
The gecko ate the mantis so I have springtails again
Maybe one of those 6 inch tropical types?? of couse he would probably eat the frog and the geckoes lol

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 3:04AM
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ladybug_guam(z11 Guam)

"The gecko ate the mantis"...... so, now are you adding bugs for the gecko? they eat a lot of bugs, if you don't he'll starve to death.
You'll soon hae a zoo in your hands LOL!!!!
Ana :)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 10:45AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

That all sounds really cool! I personally hate spiders, so I wouldn't want one in my terrarium, especially one with an egg sac! =) But little midges and things would be cool. I had mosquitoes at first, but they're all dead for some time now.

dfourer: whatever you do, do NOT add an earthworm. I thought of this a while ago as well, but after doing research, it's a very bad idea. They absolutely require cool temps, and must have a very extensive network of tunnels going deep into the ground. Terrariums get far too warm, may have the wrong substrate, don't have a deep enough substrate, etc., so it would just be cruel to the worm. You'd be guaranteeing it's death. Then I thought of the red wigglers, composting worms, but they reproduce too quickly, and must have their substrate completely changed every month to avoid a toxic build-up of their feces (they would produce too much for your plants to use up, and it could burn your plants as well), so they are also a bad idea. I think someone on here did have a centipede once though, and it worked very well. I also find them creepy though, so I wouldn't put one in my tank. =)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 3:52PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I suspect that no matter what you do or how carefully you manage the terrarium,sooner or later you will have insects
Certainly found this true of aquariums.No matter what you do eventually you will have algae and snails lol. Seems best to plan on their control from the beginning. Algae and snail eating fish seem like the only long term answer.
With terriums it will be insects,can see that already Might as well plan on some type of control from the beginning.
Ana i didn't put the geckoes in there they just showed up just like the spider lol. Geckoes and Anoles are all over the place in Florida due to the warm weather just like insects. Two young ones seem to stay permanently in the paludarium probably attracted by the insects??
Maybe like aquariums ,terrariums are impossible to manage without some type of animal?? Since you can't use any type of chemicals natural controls would seem the only answer??

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 6:22AM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

I totally agree with the above and thanks for your comments. I thought ya'all would think I was crazy for having bugs in my Ter.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 9:06AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Nice terr! It's very natural-looking, and I like that. I notice that it's mounted on the wall with only two metal brackets. Is the tank glass or acrylic? I can't imagine that two thin brackets is enough to safely support all that weight. Also, soil is quite heavy. Why not switch to a lighter substrate, like bark chips or vermiculite? (BTW, I'm trying to be helpful, not critical). Also, you could probably use more light, especially since your tank appears to be quite tall, and you should make use of that height. More cork bark panels look would be good, and then you could attach epiphytic plants to them. At the very least, get a background, even if it's just black corroplast. It will help the terrarium to look more finished. What are those flowering plants you have? They're very nice! One looks familiar, but I can't remember the name. It's the one with the hot pink flower(s). Is it a New Guinea impatiens? I tried one in my terr. at first, but it stopped flowering and wouldn't start again so I took it out.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 7:12PM
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joshua1229(Atlanta, GA USA)

I don't understand how geckos just appeared into your terrarium? Do you leave the top open?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2005 at 3:28PM
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>> What are those flowering plants you have?
>> ...It's the one with the hot pink flower(s).

I don't see any hot pink, but every monitor is different...

The one with lots of reddish flowers is a Begonia 'Dragon Wing Red', it gets deeper red in sunlight- and the single wine-red/purplish flower is a Streptocarpus hybrid, coming from those big leaves to the far left.


Here is a link that might be useful: Streptocarpus example

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 10:56PM
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angelo_s(z6 NY)

I have a paludarium with geckos, basilisks, toads, frogs newts, salamanders, a turtle, and fish. I also have a problem with bugs none of my pets seem to be eating any of them. Some bugs look like gnats and the other ones look like tiny grey dots that crawl. Does any one know what these are? I know the gnats infestation is from buying crickets at all the pet stores. The gnats started flying around my house and tank untill I bought fly paper and laid it over my screen top. there almost all gone but the grey dot creatures are still there.

Gary do you have any pictures of your paludarium?
I'll post some of mine soon.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 1:48PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

angelo s

Your paludarium sounds great. I hope you can post a photo. I've given some thought to getting a gecko, frog, or newt.

As for the bugs, I have a small 10x lens of the type used by botanists and geologists, which affords me a great view of small creatures. With this I cas see clearly what they are. Even if I don't recognise them, they are very interesting. When they land or crawl on the front glass, I have a chance to view them. In the realm of the very, very small, one or two millimeters, I have wasps, flies, mites, termite-like things, spiders, and worms. The worms are transparent and I can see their insides. All of this is quite impossible to see without a lense. Quality lenses are hard to find so I'm reccomending my source:

Loupe, doublet, 22mm, 10X $18.54 (USD)
Indigo Instruments Waterloo, ON N2J 4R9 Canada

Plants grow and decay, insects and worms live, breed, and dye, and the whole is a pretty picture to the casual viewer. There are not enough bugs to spoil things, as they are so tiny you don't at first notice. Since It's winter I enjoy it more. The plants are really filling in the terrarium now and it's very pretty.

I mentioned earlier that I had some slugs. They got larger, eating lichen on a piece of bark. I had to remove them.

-----David Fourer

Here is a link that might be useful: terrarium

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 7:16PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Nice pics, David! That 'Bromilliad' is actually a Tillandsia, BTW, and a very pretty one at that! I have one that looks similar, though it has not flowered yet. I hope it's the same as yours!

Angelo: the little crawling grey dots could be springtails if they are more like commas than dots. Otherwise, they could be mites. I'm not sure, but most bugs aren't too worrisome. How big is your tank? If you have all those animals in one tank, then it is probably overstocked, and that could be causing your bug infestation. I'm surprised that the frogs don't eat the gnats. Do you know what exact species you have? And isn't the turtle trying to eat everything else?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 8:48PM
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angelo_s(z6 NY)

My tank is 120 gal extra high (5'x18"x2') there is a lot of room. plus the tank has clifs vines branches and grapewood for the reptiles to hang out. I have a bayby southern painted turtle the adults maximum lenth is only 4" so there is no way they could eat the fish. as for the frogs I have 2 Whites tree frogs and 1 red eye tree frog and fire belly toads. I know that people say do not mix the fire bellys because of the toxins they produce. But nothing ever happened I had my tank for about 1 year and almost no deaths just about 3 fish(from petco) and 2 tadpoles. the water cirulates about 650 gallons an hour and I probobly have about 50 gallons of water in my tank also a biologial filter.

I would love to post some pics I just bought a digital camera yesterday so I am exited
The only problem is that I do not know how to post them
can anyone tell me how???

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 6:18PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

You can either post them in the gallery of this forum, if you have the right software to resize them (they can't be very big), or you can get a photobucket account (free), download all your pictures there (they will be automatically resized if they are too big), and then either give us the links, or direct-link right in your message, which will cause the pictures to appear in the body of your message, and you can post more than one pic at at time that way as well. We can give more specific instructions once you've taken your pics and chosen what you want to do.

Your filter is probably taking care of the FBT toxins. What kind of fish do you have? I still think that a 4" turtle (when it gets that big) would eat small fish like tetras and such. They are notorious for eating fish in people's ponds. It sounds like a really sweet tank though! I'm glad it's so big. So many people squish too many animals into tiny tanks, because the pet store says each frog only needs 2 gallons. Bull plop! I have never met a pet store employee who had the best interests of the animals in mind. They must exsist, but I haven't met any. Excited to see your pics!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 5:12PM
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angelo_s(z6 NY)

thanks for the info on the pics I posted them on webshots veiw the slideshow here is the link:

for the fish I have dianos (giant and zebra). silver sharks
clown loach, pleco

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 4:57PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Very cool! I gather that your basilisks are your favourite, since most of the pics were of them. =) That turtle is so cute!!!! And I really love how you've made that tiered riverbed. What kind of lighting do you have on there for your aquatic plants to do so well? Why no pics of the WTF or geckos or newts? And isn't that salamander a tiger salamander, native to North America? If so, won't it require a cool dormancy? Pretty good fish choices. The turtle may eventually eat the zebra danios, but maybe not. The 'Silver sharks' are also known as Bala sharks, and will get WAY too big for your tank. Try a foot or more in length. They would eat your newts and frogs (except that the frogs would taste bad) when large enough. You'll have to get rid of them sooner or later. Plecos require driftwood to munch on, BTW, so you might want to put some in the water for it. That little bit of that one branch won't be enough, and you probably don't want that part getting thinner over time anyways. Though again, depending on the species of pleco, it may also rapidly outgrow your tank. I'm also pretty sure that clown loaches need to be kept in schools. And all of the fish would really do better in the deeper water part. Or can they get from one area to another, and always end up in the bottom part? Gary found that his fish were very nervous if the water depth was 6" or less.

Oh yeah, and I bet you could put more plants in there. You seem to have stuck to those that can survive in the lowest of light levels, and yet your aquatic plants are doing well, which suggests that you could venture into more light-demanding terrestrial (or epiphytic) plants as well. Of course you'd have to choose sturdy ones, with all those animals climbing on them. Try pothos (a vine) or Ficus pumila (also a vine, but with smaller leaves). Bromeliads would also do well, as long as they don't have sharp spines on the leaves.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 6:54PM
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angelo_s(z6 NY)

Thank you. For the lighting I used different combonations of floresent lights 2 reptile glo 8.0 (for animals), 2 life glow(for plants), and 1 power glow(aquatic plants & fish). I also used 2 day glow and 1 night glow bulbs for temperature and basking.
I want to put more plants in my tank. The only problem is that I work late and all the nursarys are closed. I tried to go to home depot but there garden section is closed due to store renovation. I still need more education on plants.
Thanks for the info on the sharks the pet stores care sheet said that they grow only 7". The fish all swim from 1 pool to another. even though they tend to stay in the lower pool probobly more food down there.
I never see my WTF's but I hear them at 4 A.M lol There are too many hiding places in the tank so sometimes I dont see them.the newts always hide in the back of the tank. Some of my pets disapeare for months and then when they apear there bigger and fatter.
The salamander is yellow spotted salamander and they bury themselves in the dirt.
I have about 4-6 clowns they usually drift apart from each other sometimes I see them together.
If you have any more ideas for plants let me know
I never liked pothos. Did youu see the ivy plant at the top of my tank thats my favorite.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 12:32AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I never liked pothos, either. =) And yes, ivies are very good. They might grow a little fast, but are easy to trim back.

I can't believe that a White's can actually hide! They get so big! And even if your sharks did grow to 'only' 7", that would still be too big for your tank. The '1" of fish per gallon of water' rule only applies to fish with a very small body mass, like tetras and danios. Other fish get much fatter as they get bigger (like cichlids and goldfish), so they need a lot more water to compensate for the amount of waste they produce.

Your lighting sounds good. I am familiar with those bulbs. However, when it comes time to change them (every 6-12 months), just buy cheapo cool whites or daylight fluo's at your HD. The ones you have are vastly overpriced, and are mainly to prey on unsuspecting hobbyists who don't know better. Of course I'd replace the basking bulbs and the night glo with the same kinds. You can't get those at hardware stores. =)

If your newts are always hiding, they may not like being in a tank with so many different inhabitants. They may be afraid of the fish. Newts are quite secretive and shy, but if you never see them, I'd put them in their own tank.

If you want more plant ideas, just enter 'plants' into the search on this forum. You'll get tons of ideas! One particularly good post is by DianaMay, so you could also type that name into a search. Home Depot is a very good place to buy plants (depending on your local manager, of course), so I'd wait until they're done renovations. You can pay way more at special nurseries, and the plants aren't neccessarily better. Sometimes they are, but you'll find out as you shop around. And while I don't recommend buying from Black Jungle, you should check out their website for more plant ideas.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 6:33PM
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