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Building a Terrarium

This is a discussion on Building a Terrarium within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I posted this on another forum . It's my first terrarium and have been very ...

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  1. #1
    Persistence's Avatar
    Persistence is offline Senior Member
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    Jun 2004
    Washington State

    Default Building a Terrarium

    I posted this on another forum. It's my first terrarium and have been very happy with the results. I plan on building a massive one this winter. it's a great place to put those minis.

    First, it is a 29 gal fish tank. the opening is at the top. I started with the false bottom and the walls. I made the floor of the terrarium a few inches higher than the bottom of the tank.

    For the walls, I used foam and spread a mix of peat and a concrete bonder fortifier available at any hardware store. this mixture is spread on and left to dry. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to dry completely.

    I made roots out of mixing mortar with peat and the concrete bonder. I then painted them with 'Patio Paint' available at local arts and craft stores. it's waterproof and comes in many colors.

    I have a fish pump that pushes water up from the bottom to a small manifold that 5 small irragation hoses are attatched to. The water drips down the walls keeping them wet at all times.

    I made the hood out of some bamboo I had and cutt slits in the top for heat to escape.

    The inside of the hood has foil glued to it for reflection. I have 4 compact flourescent lights. i got all the parts for the lights at the local hardware store.

    The fan is a computer processer fan I got from a local electrinics store.

    The fan is wired to a dimmer switch I also got at the store. I got a plastic box to putit in.

    In Europe you are gonna have different power but I needed to get a converter for the fan. this was also purchased at the local electronics store.

    I have one open side where the water is visible.

    The whole tank.

    Inside the tank.

    Things I noticed or would do different.

    i would make the water reservoir in the tank larger as I add water once a week.

    Make sure to locate the fan inside. I had the fan blowing outside air in and I would have to add water daily. i changed it and only add water about once a week.

    Spray foam works great for making structures as well. Wait till it dries and carve it.

    The next one I build this winter will be huge. I am really looking forward to it as it will be 90% orchids.

  2. #2
    kewpie's Avatar
    kewpie is offline Senior Member
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    May 2004


    mike - you really are a god! its like youve read my mind or something!!!

    ive been reading all of the old threads on the gw terrarium forum because ive wanted to make a tank for orchids that need higher humidity. what are your temps like? i really really really (did i say really?) want to grow some dracs and masdes....and judging from the info on the gw forum, a cool tank is kinda the holy grail in the terrarium world.
    that water wall thing that youve got must cool the tank a bit, yes?

    what plants do you have in your current setup?

    covet, covet, covet....

  3. #3
    Persistence's Avatar
    Persistence is offline Senior Member
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    Jun 2004
    Washington State


    Well, it's in my daughters room. it's hers. I have several Bulb, Sigmostylax, Phal, lepanthes, jewel orchids and a few Pleuros. I don't have a thermometer in there. I suppose it is the temp my house is, maybe a bit warmer with the lights. I would say maybe 75 in the day and 60 to 65 at night.

    One way to keep the light and get rid of the heat is to have a dedicated fan blowing over the lights and out. The light heat is the only source of heat the tank has.

    When I build my bigger tank, it should stay cooler than the little one which is more susceptable to room temp changes. I also think I will keep the dracs low and near the water to keep them cooler. The only thing about having plants in there is that the day/night temp change may not be drastic enough for some.

  4. #4
    Aerides is offline Senior Member
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    Jun 2004
    New York, NY


    Wow, Mike! I don't think I can out-do Kewpie's superlatives, but if I could, I would.

  5. #5
    peteMc's Avatar
    peteMc is offline innocent bystander
    Join Date
    Jul 2004


    nice work, Mike. next time i manage to scrounge some plexi i'll give it a go, and it solves the problem of what to do with all the flor. fixtures that got left here to me.....thanks for posting.


  6. #6
    ischel1's Avatar
    ischel1 is offline Senior Member
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    Cattleya William Farrell
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    Aug 2007
    Gulf Coast
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    Hey there, can't access any of your!

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