Return to the Terrariums Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Posted by Tayinnawin_Nell 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 14:14

I have a 20 gallon aquarium to use for an indoor terrarium. This will be open at the top. I would like to use pea gravel at the bottom and a Metro Mix/Perlite mix.

Is activated charcoal an absolute must? I have a bag of cat litter (unused - just sayin') that contains charcoal. Can I use the cat litter instead of buying activated charcoal?

Any other ideas? Any feedback on my intended growing medium? I live and die by Metro Mix for all of my container plants, but maybe it is not right for a terrarium?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Since charcoal has such a limited effective span in a terrarium About all it does is lighten the soil.. I prefer the so called "false bottom" approach. Lifting the media off the bottom allowing very effective drainage . Many ways to do it
. . Of course terrariums range from" desert. to temperate to lowland tropical. Obviously what you grow would dictate the media.. You can "google terrariums for methods as well as media choices Are you going to keep animals?? . Those needs would have priority over plants of course.
Many many choices lol gary

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Unless I can fit the kids and dog in there, no animals.

Thanks Gary!

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

I definitely would steer clear of the kitty litter, TN -- especially as most litters are formulated to be "clumping" for easier clean up. The last thing one needs in a terr is material that clumps up. As Gary mentioned, the usefulness of activated charcoal is limited though it can be a useful amendment for keeping the soil 'airy' and may provide an additional (though not terribly important) carbon supply for plants.

Even the false bottom is hardly necessary. The only time I would say it is truly a very good idea, is when one is going to be having some sort of water feature that will flow through the soil.

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Thanks for your knowledge!

The kitty litter was plain-old fashion kind. My dearly departed Stella, Odin bless her soul (Scandinavian here...), HATED clumping litter and would use the floor - so hence the "vintage litter"

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Personally I would not use kitty litter in a terrarium. It's clay,..and when you add water to clay it becomes.....mud! LOL

I never bothered with charcoal and there hasn't been any problem that I've noticed as a result of that choice so I'd just say go without it.

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

  • Posted by nil13 z21 Mt. Washington L (My Page) on
    Sun, May 19, 13 at 20:48

kitty litter is often a low fired clay. If you put some in a glass and cover with water for 24hrs and it hasn't turned to mud, it is fine to use. Actually, it's a fantastic medium. It holds a lot of water while maintaing air space. I use Turface, which is similar, in my terrariums to great effect.

RE: Activated Charcoal: Is it absolutely necessary?

Well that's different! Fired clay pellets WOULD be kinda cool. Now that you mention it crushed pea gravel comes to mind as well. Wish I had some of that...somehow it never gets remembered when I'm out and about.

So for a ten gallon terrarium maybe two inches of crushed pea and sayyyyyyyyyyy 1/2 an in of water at the bottom,but charcoal?...nah. :)

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Terrariums Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here