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By irdsm
Posts:  5
Joined:  Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:10 am
As a saltwater aquarist I have in my possession a few 15 gallon fishtanks.

I also have an interest in all sorts of little animals (snakes to lizards to bugs to what have you)

My problem is that I live in a basement, and venus flytraps and other neat-o carnivorous plants would be extremely boring to one such as myself who wouldn't see them often.

So, here's the plan

Take the 15 gallon, add substrate (I've read pebble size substrate, then activated carbon on top to keep gas from decaying stuff from being a nuisance, followed by moss, followed by whatever substrate is appropriate for animals and plants in terrarium), add plants, add animals, put part screen/part plastic top on (to allow gas exchange without too much humidity loss), use flourescent gro-type light for plants, add small stream type water area in front (for fish and amphibians).

So there are a few big questions for this setup (the ??? areas are where I would hope you help me)

Q1. What plants will be in there?
--A. Venus flytraps, pitcher plants (???are they compatible with VFT???), Sundews (???compatible with vft???), non-carnivorous bog plants (??? maybe ferns of some type???)

Q2. What animals will be in here?
--A. Animals compatible with VFT. Will most likely include newts and maybe aquatic and/or tree frogs (will appreciate the humidity and the stream area), fish (the stream will likely be heated to some degree). Possible but questionable animals would include (need your opinions on these): Anoles lizards (may be a bit too large/rambunctious for carnivorous plants), maybe large inedible insects (not likely to drop in a pitcher plant) such as praying mantises (not compatible with anoles for obvious reasons), other options???

Q3. What will be the basic setup of the terrarium?
--A. Answered in Paint!
Plant positions are rough, and they will be thicker planted than that. They are in those positions to give you an idea of rough positioning based on needs and aesthetics (???pitcher plants like to be near the water, right???). Ferns or other larger plants would be put in the back. Driftwood offers climbing and hiding spots for residents. The pump will provide constant water movement like a stream, but the little area on the right should offer an area for more sedentary aquatic animals to hang without the rushing water. Pump won't be very strong either way. The water area will be seperated from the substrate somehow, still thinking on that one, but some kind of liner will be used.

Q4. What will you feed the inhabitants?
--A. Likely crickets, with some flake/pellet/frozen (whatever) food for the fish/amphibians in water. Hopefully the newts will eat crickets stupid enough to fall in the water, and climbing spaces for swimmers will be available. Hopefully crickets will crawl into the insectivorous plants, and if not some tweezers may persuade them.

Q5. What will keep the humidity up?
--A. Part of the top will be covered to help keep in the humidity, plus the heated water from the stream. If necessary it can be sprayed.

Q6. How will gas exchange work? (how will fresh air get in)
--A. The lid will be at least part screen, and if necessary it can be fanned once a day in order to keep CO2 from building

Q7. Something you've said is wrong/you're all wrong/this won't work at all/etc.
--A. Not a question, but I could definitely use your help guys! Input and feedback aren't only helpful, but necessary!

User avatar
Posts:  703
Joined:  Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:17 am
Love your idea.. Mini Eco system style :D
one prob is, no such thing as 'inedible' for venus flytrap.. it will catch or partly catch everything that tickles its hairs.. if what ever creature inside KEEPS triggering the traps the traps will just fall off..
By irdsm
Posts:  5
Joined:  Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:10 am
You're right. The two options would be A) Something that doesn't trigger the traps because it doesn't go near them (or it would desensitize the traps or annoy them to death) or encouraging the growth of the traps to be almost vertical through the use of careful trimming so they are higher than the critters. Of course, insects and bugs wouldn't hesitate to crawl all over them anyway, so bugs are out. Anoles would mainly stick to walls and on rocks and stuff, so they may be an option. Can anyone think of anything else?

User avatar
By Matt
Posts:  22524
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
I love all of the planning and thinking you've done about this terrarium Dan. I also love the little drawing you've made. Here's my feedback on what you've outlined.

A1) You can put any of the plants that you've listed into the terrarium. VFTs, sundews and temperate pitcher plants all grow well together. I'm not sure about non-carnivorous plants, but ferns might be a possibility.

A2) Animals are up to you, but as Colin pointed out, anything that's in there will continuously trigger the VFT traps until they won't work anymore.

A3) I love the layout and all CPs love to be near water, not just pitcher plants. In fact, most CPs do well with the bottom of their pots sitting in water.

A4) Crickets make an excellent food source in a terrarium.

A5) Most plants adapt well to low humidity, so this shouldn't be a concern. In fact, I'd recommend not using a top on the terrarium and using some sort of small fan to move air to help prevent mold and fungal growth. Mold and fungal will be a far more serious problem than keeping the humidity high.

A6) I would make it all screen and put a small fan blowing in from the top to move the air.

A7) I'm not going to say it won't work, but from what I've read and the few plants I've grown in terrariums, keeping plants healthy long term in terrariums is very difficult. Most carnivorous plants just don't do well in terrarium. It's likely that you'll have to purchase new plants frequently to replace the ones that get sick and die. You'd actually be better off building a bog garden outside in your yard somewhere and then covering it with mulch in the winter to protect the plants from freezing.

Nice first post by the way! I'm looking forward to reading many more great posts with good questions from you.
By irdsm
Posts:  5
Joined:  Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:10 am
Oh pshaw. It's not impossible, just hard ;) In theory this tank could have everything VFT or other carnivorous plant would need for a lifetime of growth. Fungus is rather like algae in my experience. It grows in places of high nutrients and low circulation. Predation also is a major factor, but finding something that will eat fungus and not starve to death and would be suitable in this tank would be rather hard, so predation isn't much of a concern. And although perlite and all that isn't very high in nutrients, there are plants for it to grow on and kill. The land animals in the terrarium will help provide some circulation by running around. Other than that I would need to find a way to circulate the air.

My goal with keeping the humidity high is two fold. 1. It will water the plants itself, and evaporation from the stream would be almost mineral free, thus providing an easy way to water the plants without having to worry about TDS. 2. Because of the constant evaporation I will have greater control over the heat in the terrarium because of the heater in the stream. Moist air will more easily transfer the heat from the water on top of warm water constantly evaporating.

Making it an all screen top and using a fan would obviously null these effects. I'd like to look into other options before I abandon the humidity in favor of circulation. Of course, if I can't find another option fan it is. Any ideas on this? In tank fans may be an option...

Also thinking about using CFL instead of FL lights because although CFL's are hotter than FL they do offer more light at little extra cost and not too much heat.

This biggest problem in this equation will almost certainly be dormancy. It does get fairly cold down here, and I will be able to provide alternate heat sources for whatever reptilian buddies in the tank there are (heat lamp in the upper left corner on the rocks) and the water will continue to be heated. during the winter it will almost certainly take the screen top/fan approach. Worst case scenario has me transplanting the carnivorous plants for fridge dormancy.

Oh well, more more more more research!

By irdsm
Posts:  5
Joined:  Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:10 am
#3396 ... atid=17882 ... atid=17884

found these couple of options. They look like they could easily be used in the tank to offer circulation without losing humidity.

Thinking about my experience with aquariums, in almost all environments there are a number of little critters (copepods, bristleworms, peanut worms, etc in saltwater tanks) that help the entire system become stable and somewhat self sustaining. If I could figure out what small critters like these exist in bog type environments that eat decaying matter, help clean up, circulate and keep things fresh, and don't eat plants it could make the difference between utter failure and resounding success. Worms come to mind immediately.

Also, another cool land creature: Grass snakes. They would probably leave the anoles alone and others alone, eat crickets, and help turn the surface of the substrate (circulation).

Any thoughts/ideas?

User avatar
By Steve_D
Posts:  3913
Joined:  Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:06 pm
I'm willing to bet that a large Venus Flytrap could catch and kill a small lizard. So, just be aware of that possibility when planning a terrarium ecosystem. :)
By Anrich
yeah, my green dragon has caught gecko's about 4 times. (without my help of coarse)
It's quite sad and cruel but the gecko's lost the fight on all 4 events.
quite a waste of cute reptile because the trap could only grab its head.
To all the animal lovers( including me of coarse) The gecko made it's way to the fly trap unassisted by human hands, and I now keep my trap in a shallow saucer of water to keep innocent gecko's away form a horrible death. (it keeps the ants away aswell)

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