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Cool Orchid Terrarium

This is a discussion on Cool Orchid Terrarium within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hmm... I've got some decisions to make. I've sorted out the fogger issues. It was ...

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  1. #41
    Piper's Avatar
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    Hmm... I've got some decisions to make.

    I've sorted out the fogger issues. It was spraying so much water around the terrarium, that the bowl needed frequent refilling, and significant water was collecting in the bottom.

    I considered getting a pump. These frog sites give good descriptions of how to setup water pumps in a terrarium:

    http://www.froggyville.com/habitat.htm

    http://www.amphibiancare.com/frogs/a...waterfall.html

    I considered running the tubing up the back of the terrarium and whenever it needed a periodic pump out, I could place the tubing into a bucket and let her rip.

    Then I thought it would be much easier to have the pump right behind my water bowl and to simply pump the excess back into the bowl for the fogger. That seemed much simpler.

    For the fogger, I cut a clear 2" square pot, removing the sides, but leaving the corners, so that inverted it looked like a table. I set this over the fogger and now it acts like an umbrella, catching all of the upward splash and directing it back down into the bowl. Very little escapes now, and I can get the tank up to 95+% humidity in an hour.

    I was pleased with the solution, and thought that without the splash problem maybe I don't need a pump at all. I was thinking along those lines until I realized...duh...I still need to water the plants!

    I got thinking about fertilizing too. If you simply water into the terrarium, over time you'll get some whomping build up of salts. So now I'm toying with the notion of easily removeable plants for watering in the sink or tub. Each of the three pieces of driftwood could have attached plants and that would be easy. I can probably sort out some sort of hangers for the back wall, where individual plants can be removed and rehung without much fuss.

    It would make it harder to do all that lovely naturalizing that Tindo and Aaron did, but it's still possible.

    I also put in the broad spectrum light, the Exo Terra Repti Glo 2.0. Holy bright sun! It puts out twice the foot candles the regular fluorescent bulb did! So the upper half of the terrarium is now ranging from 2-4,000 foot candles! That's Dend and Catt level light. Upper plants will shade lower ones, but now I have to make sure I don't stress any of the lower light guys.

    For anyone interested, this is an excellent source on lighting terrariums for both creatures as well as plants:

    http://www.hagen.com/pdf/reptiles/S2600.pdf

    I have to go out now and buy a fan for the tank, and some candy for the little beggers who'll be by later...

    McJulie

  2. #42
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    What a project McJ! It's a thousand times more complicated than I ever want to get with orchids, but I can see why you're fascinated with it. You are so much more mechanically/scientifically oriented than I. It's fun to watch you work these things out and I'm sure you know we can't wait to see pictures of how it looks when you "move in". Have fun!

  3. #43
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    Julie is a handy woman!

    I like to be able to move my plants around, that is why I did not build a terrarium, instead a growing case. The mounted ones require daily watering, so I installed dripper over them and pump the water up once a day. For the potted ones, they need water only once a week so I hand water them. These growing cases make my life a lot simpler.

    Qing

  4. #44
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    LOL! Don't sing my mechanical praises yet!

    I got back from the radio parts store with the computer fan and plug I bought. I liked the idea of using a standard AC fan, because I wouldn't have to sort out how to step the voltage down to the much safer 12 volts. I figured I'd lay the fan atop the upper screen (the rest of the screen covered with a sheet of platic to keep the moisture in) and blow into the tank, so the fan would actually be outside of the humid environment, hence no threat of electrocuting myself. I wired up the plug and set it in place.

    For some reason the fogger's not working at the moment, which I can't decipher, but the tank only dropped 2% humidity (down to 95%) from when I turned the fogger off at 1pm.

    Plugged in the fan, turned it over to face into the tank, and voila! As I watched, the internal humidity took a nosedive. I couldn't figure it out until I realized...duh! The fan needs to be blowing air inside the tank around. Not blowing all this really dry air into the tank!

    The fan I have is pretty big and heavy to suspend in the tank. And the AC current in there really isn't exciting me. I think I have to go back to the radio parts store and get one of their small 12-volt fans after all...

    McJulie

  5. #45
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    I solved the mystery of the malcontent fogger. Showing off my technical brilliance here... It wasn't plugged in. It's working fine. Something else was that I thought was the fogger. The really embarassing thing is that I'd done that with the aquarium light earlier in the day. Replaced the bulb, replaced the starter, and then discovered it was unplugged.

    The fan came out well! I got a small 3" x 3" 12 volt fan. It's direct current, so I had to get an AC adapter, but they're common for hobbyist stuff. It carries 800 micro amps and the fan only draws 160, so I have room to add more stuff in the terrarium off of it, if I desire. Was thinking a mini train set would be cool in there! What I love the most is it's switchable between 3-12 volts. That means I can run the fan slower/quieter if I want. Quite nice! First pic shows the switch at the bottom of the plug.

    I wanted the fan high up, away from the water in the bottom, and I wanted the soldered connections outside the tank. So I used fishing line to tie the fan to the top screen. It was tricky to see and thread the line, but it worked wonderfully, and is easily removed should I need to.

    With the fan running on a lower speed, it only took 10 mins to get the tank to 90% humidity! And it holds it for quite some time, once it's there. The thing I need now is a programmable timer so I can automate everything.

    I decided to keep things simple, so I just used bark potting mix in the bottom. I made a sleeve of foil around the water dish, so I easily remove it for cleaning, without all the bark filling in the space. I rinsed the driftwood in the tub and then shower, but it's not really driftwood, so it's not holding salts. (A simple, but gross, test is to lick it - you'll know if it's salty!)

    I haven't officially started moving plants in. I checked light levels again from each mountable location and am sorting out what to put where. I thought my Masd might enjoy an easy night of high humidity, so he's in there now, as is my rootless Catt. In the second pic you can see the fan in the back on the left, the temp/humidity gauge is in the front on the left.

    In the third shot you can just make out my clear plastic "table" that sits over the fogger. It still spits a little, but the potting mixture will absorb it and it'll add to the humidity.

    The plan is to keep it at 70% humidity during the day, and 90% at night, with the fan going intermittently round the clock. The light will follow the sun. On when I wake up, off at sunset. This is where a programmable timer will be helpful.

    I have a few new minis coming on Friday, I'm off for the next day and a half, and will probably start moving plants in for real on Saturday.


    Oh yeah, the last photo is after running the fogger for a few minutes. The fan makes all the difference and the place gets all...well, foggy...in a hurry!

    McJulie
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  6. #46
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    Piper, If you find the front glass fogs up, position the fan so it blows across it and the problem should be solved.

  7. #47
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    That is awesome, McJulie! Come to my house and build one for me!!!!

    Cheers!
    BD

  8. #48
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    My gf bought some Ikea shelves for me to put plants on. So Im thinking about getting some panes of 1/8th plexi glass for it. Maybe like 76" in vertical heighth, mybe longer for those pendulous Aerangis species. Add a reservoir on the bottom shelves, then a misting system at the top. A couple of computer fans. I think it should work! Now I need to save some dollars! Hopefully by Dec Ill have it done!

  9. #49
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    Default It's Done...for now

    Wahoot!

    I spent more time on the orchidarium project this afternoon, after I got back in town. Some little minis came in the mail and I wanted to get them moved in and settled. After that I just kept plugging away, and the tank is looking pretty good! ...for now...

    I first separated the plants by their light tolerance. The Repti Glo 2.0 puts out a lot of foot candles up close high up in the tank, so I was comfortable sticking some Dend minis and seedlings and a mini Catt a Sphronitis up there. The light is above the tank over the back half, so the front half is much more shaded at all heights.

    I broke down my plants into high light, medium, med-low, and total shade, and then chose their mount locations appropriately.

    The first pic is a side view and gives a good idea of the mount opportunities I have. Keep in mind that I want driftwood to be removeable, so I can water anything tied to it outside the tank. Everything else is in pots, or separate mounts that are easily removeable/replaceable. Nothing gets watered in the tank - it will all be in the sink.

    I have three pieces of driftwood. One upright piece in the front left of the tank (that will be on the left in the side view.) One that starts in the back left of the tank and comes upward, diagonally across the tank to the upper right middle. The third lies on the bottom of the tank. The side view also gives a good shot of the mister.

    The second pic shows the upright driftwood on the left front of the tank. This is medium low light all the way up, so farthest down is a Masd. discoidea (use IOSPE if you want to see what the flowers look like:
    http://www.orchidspecies.com/)

    In the middle is a Mediocalcar decoratum, just like the candy corn orchid Mehera won and bequeathed to the Minister of Silly Flasking. Way up top is a mini Cattleya relative, a Meiracyllium wendlandii with a lovely, but tiny, magenta flower!

    Third shot shows the floor of the terrarium. On the upper right is a Dracula inaequalis hanging from the cross piece of driftwood. I really wanted to try out a Dracula, which are very moisture loving, and this one is relatively small for the genus. It's also in bud! I think. Just below it is a Haraella odorata, with a bud showing beneath it's center leaves. This is Tindo's most favoritist of all. And it has a great scent and is free flowering, so I had to give it a try!

    Left of it are three small pots of Phal. fasciata seedlings that I compotted out of flask on Wed. They need to harden off to normal conditions, so I'm using the orchidarium to wean them away from the moist environment of the flask. They'll spend a little more time each day outside the orchidarium over the period of a week or so. Then they should be ok for a partially shaded window sill.

    Just behind the leftmost Phal is a Pleuro ornata. I know this is one of Aaron Tester's favorites and probably also gets Tindo excited. It's weird, even as weird orchids go!

    Finally on the upper left you can see the Masd. discoidea and the Mediocalcar just above it, that are tied to the upright driftwood.

    I'll describe the stuff in the back in my next post. Stay tuned...

    McJulie
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  10. #50
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    In the back on and near the floor, you can see a good-sized Masd. coccinea tied to the base of the cross piece driftwood on the left. It actually prefers slightly higher levels of light than many Masds, and the spot it's in is brigher, because it's slightly higher than the floor and closer to the light, and the plants tied to the cross piece above aren't shading it, as they are the two to the right. I used a light meter several times to identify the diferrences in light levels. I may not have it quite right, and I may need to move stuff, but I think it's close.

    The little pot in the middle is sitting on the ground driftwood. It's a small Masd. infracta seedling(s) Aaron Tester potted up from a compot a couple of months ago. Beside it to the right is a Masd. Peach Fuzz, which is a primary hybrid of Masd. (veitchiana x constricta.) I've posted its photo in another thread.

    The second photo is of the cross piece of driftwood. From left to right I've mounted my three pink Neofinetia falcata's to it. The shrine wasn't getting much use anyway, because they want more light, and they'll enjoy the extra humidity in here. These spots are getting 2,500-3,000 FC.

    To the right, nestled in the crook, is a Dend. alexandrae seedling, mounted on cork. It's likely to grow into the Sophronitis coccinea var. lobbii just above it a pure yellow Soph over time, so I decided to leave it on its cork. It may need to be moved. And moved out, eventually.

    Below to the right you can see the top of the Drac. mount, and in the back, high along the wall is a tiny mini Dend. limpidum, a species that represents a fat-bulb version of Dend. dichaeoides. You'll have to search the IOSPE on Dend. dichaeoides to see the photo.

    So that's the walking tour. And now...for the...
    FULL MONTY! Less the fog.

    McJulie
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