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Thread: Would like opinions of terrariums with water features over long periods of use.

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    Question Would like opinions of terrariums with water features over long periods of use.

    I've been thinking of making more custom terrariums eventually and I was wondering about water features, specifically long term usage. I'm wondering about how well they hold up/last. What kinds of cleaning problems do they have? How do you maintain sanitation over the long term? I'd expect with them in a lighted planted terrarium that they will develop algae eventually on the wet surfaces. I'm also thinking that the organic matter that gets into the water will be broken down by bacteria, and that might create health problems for the animals or plants in the cage. I only know of one that's been set up for a very long time, but the store that has it is constantly trimming plants and adding/removing things so I don't know what kind of care it takes, I also don't remember seeing any animals in it at all. (They are also super busy and kinda uppity about their stuff). All of the other ones I've seen have been set up within a year. They look fantastic, but I'm wondering about maintenance long term.

    I know it is done both for looks and to keep the humidity high, which is an awesome double purpose. But what are they like say 5 years later? Even longer?

    Would greatly appreciate feedback. Thank you!

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    You'd need a small filter of sorts to clean the water. beneficial bacteria grow, eat the nasties, and clean the water within the filter media so that's an important step I'd imagine. I've never set one up myself, but I'd imagine with my understanding of both bioactive tanks AND aquariums, that I'd be able to piece 2 and 2 together. No doubt the water feature would need some maintenance once in awhile. Be it scooping out poop, dirt, etc. or mechanical failures. You will need to be able to access the mechanical bits, which is the hardest part I think for most water features in tanks. The water, I'm sure, will have to be drained once in awhile (every couple months? maybe?) so you'd need to be able to drill a hole through the glass, or have some means of removing water and adding in fresh water. That's probably the most difficult part for these setups.

    As cool as one would be, I feel like I'd just find a natural looking water fountain to pop in the tank, clean it once a week (those fountains can get icky) and yeah, but just like a water feature, of course fountains have their own issues.

    Hopefully someone who's actually done this chimes in, but I'm not aware of anyone on the forums that has @_@
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    It would have to be big. I would think for this to really work, it would require an external sump-style filter. It can be a challenge to get less than 10 gallons of water to "establish" like an aquarium. A sump would give you that extra volume required to maintain stability. As long as you keep it natural, I can't imagine it being harmful to reptiles.
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    GlowingGecko (08-12-2017)

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    I've had at least one freshwater aquarium running for most of my life (over 30 years). What I've noticed, is that the beneficial bacteria builds up in my filter, globs onto the insides, and onto the spill way. I'm thinking that would happen on a water feature in a cage too, plus algae from the surfaces being wet and having access to lots of light. Also, I've cleaned fountains that got gunked up on them with bacteria, and several times they had something in it that caused me a massive itchy reaction that I had to get a prescription lotion to clear up. And if it's a good habitat for good bacteria, bad bacteria can probably grow there easily too. Hence the reason I'm wondering about long term usage.

    And as you pointed out, Mechanical8Dragon, getting it set up where the mechanical parts can be easily accessed, would require some serious advance planning, but that can be done. I advance planned my planted terrariums with emergency drains, just in case they get waterlogged. I can snake a suction hose down the drain and suck the water up, just like when cleaning a fish tank. (When my big cage is done, the e-drain will be inside a cork tube, with a plant in a planter stuck in the top. The e-drain also has a cap slipped on it to keep stuff (and babies) out.)

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