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Thread: how to make an easy naturalistic terrarium

  1. #1
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    Default how to make an easy naturalistic terrarium

    so i thought that i would go ahead and make this. i have pictures and instructions of almost every step except for where to plant everything because that is all personal preference. keep in mind that this was written in a format for a paper so that is why there are bullets and an intro and such. it is also up on my website now.

    Naturalistic terrariums are fun and easy to make. They take a bit more time than laying down a few paper towels, but it is definitely worth the time and money spent. They can be very beautiful and fun to look at. They also seem to be very much appreciated by my crested geckos. Even though they may not be able to tell the difference between living and non living plants, they do seem to generally enjoy how cool the leaves of the real plants are. Real plants also play a very important role in the naturalistic enclosure. The ultimate goal of creating a natural environment is to make that environment biologically active. This means that the soil and the plants will recycle the waste that your pet leaves in the tank using it to fertilize themselves and breaking it down leaving a tank that can go on for years with minimal maintenance!



    WARNING: Although the plants listed in these instructions are safe to put into the terrarium, not every plant is. Before you buy a plant to put into any cage, make sure that you ask about the toxicity level of each plant, and that the person who is answering you knows what they are talking about. Because crested geckos are omnivores, they may occasionally munch on the plants within the terrarium (I know that mine do). A few plants that may be extremely harmful to your Crested Gecko are Dieffenbachia (dumb cane) and Philodendron. Also, most plants that are grown in a nursery have some form of growth chemical added to the soil, so it is VERY important to rid the plant of any soil that is currently on the roots, and wash the whole plant to prevent any other chemicals that could be toxic from being ingested by your pet.

    This is a ten gallon tank that is now holding three four gram Crested Gecko hatchlings, and let me tell you, they really seem to love all the new plants!

    The first thing that you need to know is what to get! Here is a list of all the supplies you will need to buy for this type of set up.

    * Terrarium – (A ten gallon is used in this example.)
    * Terrarium Topper (lid)
    * Aquarium gravel
    * Large river rocks
    * Netting – (Preferably nylon because using something made out of metal will rust and contaminate the water supply to the plants.)
    * Substrate – (Substrate used in this example: mixture of peat moss and Echo Earth)
    * Moss – (optional)
    * Plants – (Plants used in the example: Sansevieria (snake plant), Peace Lilly, Caladinn (dwarf elephant ear), and Dwarf Mondo Grass.)
    * Repti-light and bulb – (This will provide synthetic sun light which will be beneficial for the plants and animals inside the cage. )



    # How to create a drainage layer.

    * This step insures that when you water your plants the water does not sit around the roots making them rot and eventually smell bad. It is also a simple thing to set up when first starting.

    * Rinse the aquarium gravel so that all small and dirty particles are washed away.

    * Cut the netting to the appropriate size so that it will fit snugly in the bottom of the cage.

    * Put a one - two inch layer of the rinsed aquarium gravel in the bottom of the terrarium.

    * Cover the gravel with the netting that has been cut to the appropriate size.

    # Mix and add the substrate

    * I mixed one part Echo Earth to two parts all natural peat moss for this particular cage. Peat moss is already a substrate that easily becomes biologically active and it holds moisture very well! You can use other mixtures as well, or even commercial substrates.

    * Put a two to three inch layer of mixed substrate on top of the drainage layer.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    Add your plants, river rocks, and moss

    * Rid the roots of as much soil as possible.

    * Thoroughly rinse the plant leaves and roots in luke warm water so that you do not send to roots into shock while cleaning them!

    * Give the roots plenty of room to grow, and place the plants a few inches from each other to ensure that over crowding of roots does not occur.

    * Keep in mind that some plants have larger root systems than others. You do not need to have six inches of substrate throughout your cage because one plant requires that much soil. It is perfectly fine to have little mounds around certain plants to compensate for the different sizes of root mass.
    *
    o
    + Placing river rocks around the base of each plant will help stabilize the plant when your crested gecko decides to jump on and off of them.

    o It is also very helpful when you have a gravid female. The river rocks will prevent her from laying her eggs in the roots of the plants. You can also section off the tank this way if you want to designate a lay area, you can. Cover the portions of the cage bottom where you do not want her to lay her eggs with river rocks and leave the area that you want her to lay open. Make sure that the area is big enough for her to move around in though, and then the lay area is designated.


    * Add moss to the base of plants that do not require river rocks. The moss will help keep the moisture around the plants roots.



    * You can also add river rocks and moss for decoration to any part of the terrarium. Have fun with it! You can arrange it any way you want!





    And last but not least!

    * Add your Crested Gecko to it's new enclosure!





    hope this was somewhat helpful!!!!

  2. #2
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    Great explanation and rundown! That should surely be helpful to a lot of people.

    Question though...have you ever tried window screen for the mesh separator? It seems as though that plastic mesh is a bit too large and the gravel and peat moss will mix anyway.
    Kyle J. Salzmann
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    A great post and help I've been wanting to make a naturalistic terrarium for some time, just never got around to it because the directions were never layed out directly of what to do. will definatly set one up now.
    The Wanted Reptile

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    yeah, that is what i am going to do next time. lol that was something that i forgot to mention! i was using some netting that my boyfriends mom gave me, and it is definitely way too big! (it was actually my first time to put netting between the gravel and the substrate as well) and since most of my substrate was peat moss... DRY peat moss, it pretty much went directly through. i am sure that if it were damp and had more fibers rather than dusty particles it probably wouldn't have ended up the same way, but i kind of rushed it because i had to turn it in to my technical writing class (pictures and all) if i had taken my time though i would have done a few things differently and gotten a few more things to add to it as well! so i will probably be re-vamping with new netting and maybe some living moss (if i can find/afford it!) in the next month or so!

    i'm glad you guys like it and that it was helpful!!!!

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    Do you know if Yucca is safe? I know bamboo is as well.

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    i', not sure i will look it up and if i don't find anything i will ask the very helpful woman that i met at the nursery by my house.

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    Great write up! I vote sticky!
    That's the thing about being taken under the wing of a dragon. It's warmer than you'd think.
    1.1.0 Felis catus
    1.1.0 Tupinambis merianae

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    ok so from what i gather it is not toxic (you can actually eat the flowers and fruit) but because of the nature of the leaves, and the type of planting that it needs it would not be the best choice to put into the viv.

    the leaves are very hard and sharp, so there is a possibility that it could physically harm your creastie if it were climbing on the glass, and fell off onto one of the points of the leaves. it also requires very dry conditions so a terrarium that requires alot of humidity and moisture would not be the best terrarium to put it in.

    i think that it would be fine for desert type lizards (like beardies, or leopard geckos) because they don't climb the sides of the cage or jump around alot, so it would be less likely to physically harm them. but don't take my word on that, there is still the chance that they could get harmed. but you could also cut the points off of the leaves and then they wouldn't get hurt.

    but yes baboo is safe, as well as most palms that i am aware of. any type of ficus, pothos...

    i think there is a thread about this on here somewhere. i will try to find it

    EDIT: Thank you Puff
    Last edited by flower; 05-06-2008 at 06:51 PM. Reason: didn't see the other post

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    just a quick question: can one grow lucky bamboo directly in soil or does it have to be in water constantly??? let me know everyone. thanks

  10. #10
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    you can grow it in the soil if it has a good root system, just make sure you water it more often than the other plants because they seem to need more water. and if it turnes yellow, then it is not doing too well and needs to be taken out. i have had good and bad luck with directly planting it, so i guess it is just a trial and error type of thing. but peat moss holds moisture really well, and that is what i have had the best luck with the lucky bamboo.

    it also tends to fall over more the larger the cresty is, but if you put like three of them together and tie them together with twine and add river rocks to the base, they are more stable.

    also the roots rot really easily, so if you smell something like rotton eggs, that means that the roots are rotting and you need to get it out of there and try to re root it. so make sure that you smell the roots before you buy them! ugh! i hate it when i forget to do that and i take it out of the container to put it in the cage and the roots are already rotton! it is the most disgusting smell!

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