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Beginner setup?

Posted by fgilles02420 z6 MA (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 18, 08 at 19:52

I have a ten gallon aquarium I'd like to use to set up my first terrarium. I want to keep things very simple - I will probably be using houseplant/tropical type plants, no critters, no orchids, no water features. Plants would be living at normal room temperatures.

The lid to the aquarium has a fluorescent light fixture - are there plants which will grow in a 10 gallon tank with a standard 15W light? At the pet store there are several different types (Sun-Glo, Power-Glo, etc) to choose from, all are 15W.

Alternatively can you put a terrarium in a north window and use ambient light?

The lid will not be tight fitting - as an aquarium lid it has several "holes" punched out (where the filter, heater, etc fed into the tank). So the environment would be humid but not closed. I'm hoping not to need supplemental circulation.

What would be the best substrate? Potting soil, coir, peat, sphagnum - mix of these? I've searched this forum and I'm not finding much on specifics.

Can you suggest plants, and where to find them? There were pretty dismal reviews of Black Jungle on gardenwatchdog. Logee's seems to have a nice selection of terrarium plants, I don't know if they are suitable (http://www.logees.com/products.asp?dept=365)

I realize this is a lot of questions. I've been poking around this forum for the last two hours trying to find a section/post with specifics for beginners (also the FAQ's) with very little success. Most of the terrarium books at the local library seem to date from 25 years ago. I hope people can share their personal results with me, I'd really appreciate it!


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RE: Beginner setup?

Welcome to "terrariuming"! A 10-gal tank should be fine; I have 2 of them. "The lid to the aquarium has a fluorescent light fixture ... it has several "holes" punched out..." Is it a regular aquarium hood? If so, I think any light you find for it should work. I have a plant/aquarium light in one terr., and had a cool white bulb in the other. The cool white was brighter, and I think the plants under it grew better than the ones under the plant light. The cool or warm bulbs are cheaper to buy, also.

You might be able to put the terr. in a north window and use natural light, as long as the plants don't have a high light requirement. I have not heard of doing this or done this before, so I really don't know much about it.

If you get demanding plants, you might need more air circulation; otherwise, it should be fine without it. Neither of my 10-gals have a fan of any kind.

The best substrate? Now that would be a loaded question. the more exotic you get (water features, animals of any kind, orchids, etc.), the more specific kind of soil you'll need. With just plants, you shouldn't have to be nearly as specific. I have regular potting soil in both of mine, but it is not ideal. If you want a very easy substrate that is fairly cheap, coir (coconut husk fiber) will probably work just fine. Many people have their special soil mix that they always use, and maybe someone else will pipe up with theirs. I probably have less experience than most of the other people on here; from my experience I would recommend coco husk fiber. One brick of it will probably be enough for a 10-gal, though I don't know for sure.

For plants, there are many, many options. I personally like English ivy a lot. It has worked well in both of my terr.s, and it isn't one of those ones that will die if you take your eyes off of it. It does grow fairly quickly, so you will likely have to trim it some. Trimming is not very difficult, though. Some other good ones are Polka-dot plants (Fittonia), ferns, mosses, bromeliads, and Pothos (devil's ivy, will also probably need trimming). There are a lot of others, but they're not coming to mind right now. Most of the plants you are likely to want can probably be gotten at a local nursery. For moss, and maybe ferns, you can collect samples from your yard, or anywhere where you have permission to. I believe that the reviews you've heard for Black Jungle are correct. I have not had any first-hand experience with them, and I don't plan to (at least on plants). I have heard various people here give their much-less-than-favorable accounts of plants from Black Jungle. I think Black Jungle would be a fine place to buy supplies from, but not plants that you want to receive alive.

I hope this helps!
-Jmcat


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