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Thread: living terrarium??

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Northern California
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts


    I will have to find that post again and double check

    EDIT: Yeah, I was mistaken :/ This is the post I was thinking about; I must have confused things in my brain. Oops!
    Last edited by imyourscar; 01-01-2012 at 01:57 PM. Reason: added corrected info

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Thanked 78 Times in 75 Posts


    How do you keep your springtails and isopods inside the tank? Do you ever have problems with them climbing out of your tanks?
    1.0 Dog; 1.0 Leopard Gecko;10.5 Crested Geckos; 1.1Gargoyle Geckos; 1.3 Sarasinorum; 5.3.7PI Chahoua; 2.2 E. Agricolae; 1.1 Nuu Ana, 0.1 Isle E, 0.2 G. Marginata, 1.0 L. Williamsi And interested in a few others

  3. #23
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts


    Springtails and isopods do not wish to leave the dirt, so no.
    Beth in Alaska
    1.0.0 Corgi (Pirate)
    1.0.0 Keeshond (Toklat)
    0.2.0 Guinea pigs (Chocolate and Lightning)
    1.0.0 Human (Ben aka The Monk)
    0.0.2 R. Auriculatus (Horrorcow & Ziggerastica)

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post


    Quote Originally Posted by insane1818 View Post
    How do you keep your springtails and isopods inside the tank? Do you ever have problems with them climbing out of your tanks?
    Springtails won't ever leave the dirt. Isopods on the other hand will climb anywhere it can get to. But normally you won't have any gaps or openings in your tanks that are big enough and they can't really climb up glass or any smooth surfaces.

    I've had a 40 gallon tank that has been untouched (reptile-less) for about 2-3 months with springtail and isopod starter cultures. It has now exploded with springtails and isopods to be completely over populated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmox View Post

    Well i've used the search function but i don't really know what to type in to find the info i need. I'm sure there are topics about them and if you just give a link i would be really happy, and you don't need to type way to much.

    So i've been reading a book and it has a section about decorating your terrarium/paludarium/what-ever-they-call-it-arium. I've always liked the look of living terrariums but i can't let natural light in the room where i keep my vivs. The reason is that the sun heats up the vivs way too much.
    So i was reading and i always assumed living terrariums need uv light, which is expensive and should be replaced every 6 months (i think). The book says the plants can grow under TL lighting, which is in my budget range. Is this true?(1) The book also says that some of them work better than others.

    So if that is true, what plants could i use(2)? And what sort of background and substrate(3)?
    What maintenance does it need(4)? And are special organisms needed to clean up the poop for you or something like that(5)?
    Also i was thinking of using a exo terra terrarium, the glass ones with the screen top, is this a good choice(6)?
    Does a living terrarium need a water part or is the drainage layer under the substrate enough(7)?

    *I have put numbers in red after each of my questions so it's easier to respond.

    I have wrote a way too in depth guide on vivarium lighting here:

    But in short, you should go to a warehouse store like Home Depot or Lowes or even Walmart/Target and buy normal household CFL bulbs that are 5000K-6500K color temperature. Try to get enough bulbs to get around 2000-3000 lumens of light intensity and you should be able to sustain most plants. Bromeliads u probably need at least 3000 lumens. CFL bulbs are the cheapest vivarium light sources you can get and output the most lumens per $$$.

    Another important note is that vivariums DO NOT need UV lighting. UVA and UVB light is only necessary for day time reptiles to bask. Nocturnal reptiles like crested geckos etc. do not need UVA or UVB light. Secondly, UVB and UVC actually harm plant life.... Plants only need photons to do photosynthesis so any light will do. The cheapest way is using fluorescent light bulbs like CFLs.

    If you put a UVB light bulb on top of plants, you will see them slowly wither away. People who have diurnal reptiles/geckos or diurnal frogs use those Exo Terra/ Zoo Med / etc. brand UVB 2.0, 5.0 or 10.0 bulbs which do produce a lil bit UVB but won't be enough to kill off plants. Most UV rays are harmful radiation to all life.

    You can go to these websites to take a look at their selection to give you what plants you can put. Most importantly is to get these plants from reptile stores rather than gardens or warehouse stores to avoid pesticides and other harmful extras in the soil and plants.
    New England Herpetoculture:
    Black Jungle:

    You can use the spray on foam and paint from warehouse store to get creative or you can just get a simple cork bark wall from online petstores or

    Some people soak their stuff in a light bleach solution every several months, but I would say a true live vivarium needs no maintenance as it will clean itself. That's the idea right?!

    As answered before: Springtails and isopods.. probably tropical kind or whatever meets the humidity/temperature you want

    Some swear by the glass Exo Terra tanks. If you prefer the double doors for easy access. however, if you don't, get the Zoo Med glass terrariums for a single door. Zoo Meds look better since it is a single door, but their bottom breather grill/hole section is ~0.5 inches lower than the Exo Terra tanks. Exo Terra tanks are deeper with the doors higher up so you can have a deeper substrate layer than the Zoo Med tanks.

    You do not need a water portion. Also adding "waterfalls" will only induce bacteria growth etc. The only times you will have water portions are probably for frog vivariums or skinks, etc. Make sure to choose the appropriate substrate for your reptile. I prefer to use New England Herpetoculture mix or ABG mix.

    Make sure to control humidity and temperature appropriate for your reptile. Reference the specific caresheets. Get a nice and cheap humidity-temperature monitor from the warehouse store. Avoid the ones you find a petshops like Exo Terra, etc. as their humidity sensors are +/-20%RH... You also might want to look into an automatic mister if u sick of hand watering.

    Here is an example of cork bark wall and clayball drainage bottom with mesh separating the top substrate layer:

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