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Thinking of starting 2 terrariums...

Posted by LaLaLaughing Sydney, NSW (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 0:59

Hey all,
I'm a TOTAL beginner when it comes to gardening, and I've got 2 small aquariums lying around, which I was thinking of maybe turning into terrariums... I haven't positively settled on the idea yet, but I figure if I start asking question, I can start doing some research to see if the idea is actually a good idea :)

I'm sort of thinking having one as a plant only terrarium, and maybe letting the other one have plants and some pillbugs (a.k.a "rolly-pollys"... they aren't technically bugs, but tiny land crustaceans) as pets in it... what do you think? (The research I've done says that they only eat rotting plant matter, so I don't think they'd be much trouble to the plants.)
And if pillbugs aren't a good idea to have with plants, I'll either have plants, or turn the smaller tank into a home for the pillbugs.

Also as far as plants go, I only want plants that are beginner friendly (for obvious reasons, haha) and that don't really need fertilizer or anything like that. -The simpler the setup, the better! :)
I don't mind watering the plants everyday, so they don't have to be succulents if that makes things easier.
Oh, and I don't know if this helps at all, but the usual temperature range for my bedroom year-round is 11-35C more or less.

Anyway, the tanks are slightly different sizes, but here are their dimensions:

Smaller tank:
L: 36cm
W: 23cm
H: 24cm

Larger tank:
L: 40m
W: 25cm
H: 26cm

The smaller one has a light, but I don't think it's UV. Neither of the tanks would be next to windows, so I'd need a suitable lighting setup.

So my questions are:

1. What plants would be suitable in these tanks? -I don't want to have to replant anything, because it outgrows the tank.

2. Are there any carnivorous plants that would suit? (Obviously this wouldn't be in with the pillbugs!)

2. Is peat moss easy to grow? -My research on the pillbugs said that this is useful in keeping moisture in the soil for them.

3. Could I grow strawberries in one tank? That would be so awesome if I could do that! XD

4. Lastly, do you think I could fit more than one plant each tank, or is there really only enough room for one?

Thanks in advance for the help! :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Thinking of starting 2 terrariums...

Posted by LaLaLaughing Sydney
Larger tank:
L: 40m
W: 25cm
H: 26cm

The larger tank is 4 METERS long? LOL That is one heck of a tank!

Aquariums can make very nice terrs. Just make sure you not only research the type(s) of plants you want to use, but also carefully plan the layout. This is especially important if you decide you wish to incorporate a water feature (waterfall, river, etc).

UV lighting should be unnecessary. Cfls (100-200W equivalent) or some of the better quality LEDs should work. Check out aquarium or orchid forums for the low down on LEDs -- not all brands or types are created equal.

Plan on installing fans for air circulation. Pc fans work well and are simply to hook up. The tanks do not need to be "sealed" shut. Being sealed often leads to problems.

The tanks you are planning on using are small. I would recommend keeping your plantings very simple. Doesn't mean you can't landscape or come up with some neat design.

Plants:
First you will have to decide what look or type(s) of plants you really want to do.

Next determine what temperature ranges you will be dealing with. Don't forget that the lights themselves will be a factor. Even cfls produce a fair amount of heat.

Most plants, at least the common and cheap ones will require pruning or dividing at some point. It is largely unavoidable. However, there are plants that will take longer to get to that point. And there are true minis or micro minis that will probably never outgrow those tanks -- but they will not be cheap nor likely easy to find.

Ferns tend to grow rampantly in terrs. Use with caution and realize they will try to conquer the entire tank sooner or later. Planting them in a pot and the pot in the terr will restrain them for a time but sooner or later they will make a break for it.

There are numerous mini and micro mini orchids that only get a couple inches tall if even that. But again, they won't be cheap nor as easy to find.

Some begonias will remain fairly small.

African violets grow and bloom well, IME. Try to stick with miniatures. Standards can easily grow to 30cm or more in diameter when grown in a terr.

If you use peat moss or sphagnum moss, you will almost inevitably discover vagabond ferns and other plants popping in the tanks. Both types of moss tend to come with a miscellaneous supply of spores and seeds. Particularly with sphagnum moss, if conditions are right it is common for mosses to appear on it. Only downside for me is that the mosses tend to be slower growers than I would like.

Water quality is a big issue. Most tap or well water supplies are high in dissolved solids and -- especially with municipal water supplies -- may contain fluorides or chlorides. These are not good for the plants and over time can kill off the plants. (And the mineral buildup quickly makes the media "crunchy" and the tank look awful.) Use only rainwater, distilled water, or RO water to maximize the longevity of your setup.


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