What Is A Terrarium?

In Aquascapes, Freshwater Aquariums, Terrarium by

What Is A Terrarium? In this article, you will learn what a terrarium is, how to make one, the types of terrariums, how long they last if they are self-sustaining if you can have pets such as animals or insects, the types of plants you can have in a terrarium, and terrarium maintenance. Read More for more information.

A terrarium is a small rainforest that lives in carbon glass. The terrarium is similar to aquascapes, or aquariums in the sense that you can express yourself through an art form.

A terrarium can bring more light or positive energy into your household.

A terrarium is composed of gravel for excess water, a coal layer for filtering the water, and a soil layer for the plants. The open and closed container of glass is made to help keep the terrarium optimal for tropical settings.

Special creatures are added to help keep the terrarium bioactive to help keep the terrarium almost self-sustained for many years to come.

Terrarium For Beginners

Yes, beginners can start making terrariums.

Terrariums are a type of hobby that everyone can participate in no matter the age or experience level. Of course, the terrarium will turn out better and last longer the more you practice but that is with everything in life.

We believe that terrariums are something everyone should do. The world would be a much better place.

How To Make A Terrarium

  1. The Container – You can make a vast amount of terrariums out of many different glass containers. You can make terrariums out of light bulbs, glass milk jugs, light bulbs, or even fish bowls.
  2. False Bottom – You can use gravel, or filter for this layer. The main purpose is to retain excess water.
  3. Charcoal Layer – This layer serves the purpose of filtering the water which is very similar to that of our own planet earth.
  4. Tropical Soil – This layer doesn’t necessarily have to be tropical soil but tropical soil drains well and is optimal for a tropical aquarium.
  5. Hard Scape – This Layer is made of Wood, Stone, Sticks.
  6. Plants – Moss is perfect for this but keep reading this article to find more plants that you can use as well.
  7. Dechlorinated Tap Water
  8. Clean the inside of your terrarium off
  9. Add Springtails

How To Make Tropical Soil

  • 1 Part – Soil Base (Coco Fiber)
  • 1 Part Orchid Bark
  • 2 Parts Sphagnum Moss
  • 1 Part Sand

How To Care For Terrariums

Terrariums are low maintenance when they are well established. When you add too much water the container will have too much water. Terrariums need to have moisture collecting on the container walls to make a sort of raining effect.

When you apply water be sure to add slow water with a water spray bottle. Be sure to add water to your terrarium every 4 months.

If the plants are drooping or looking frail that can be either not enough light or not enough nutrients. You will then want to add more fertilizer to fix this problem. Overtime plants may begin to have a bit of overgrowth. This problem can be fixed with pruning.

The other problem that can occur is some fungal growth. Direct sun can really hurt your plants so having a light on them will be ideal.

How Often Do I Water My Terrarium

We apply water after the plants are established creating natural rainfall every 4 months. If you end up overwatering removing the lid will help evaporate the excess water.

How Do You Keep Moisture In A Terrarium

Humidity can be a bit of a challenge if you have a very large terrarium.

You can add hydro balls to the sides of your terrarium. Adding a fogger, or drippers can help maintain the moisture, temperature emitter can also help maintain moisture control and a way to let you know how much humidity is being emitted.

Adding a heating device can help maintain the temperature but be sure not to add too much light. If you do fans can help cool down your terrarium.

Do You Need Charcoal For A Terrarium

Yes, If you have a closed terrarium it is essential. But if you have an open terrarium with plenty of succulents then you do not.

Charcoal is good for removing bacteria from your terrarium and filtering the water/air as well. Charcoal is essential for the health of your closed terrarium. Small broken-up activated charcoal will be ideal.

Do Terrariums Need Sunlight

The amount of light needed will be determined by the types of plants you are using for your terrarium. Most terrariums will need bright light but not direct light otherwise the terrarium plants will be burned.

Natural filtered sunlight would be ideal for your terrarium. Lights from lamps would be okay as well similar to that you may use on an aquascape or aquarium plant.

Are Terrariums Self Sustaining

Everything living and breathing are comprised of both carbon and water. So in essence nothing is truly self-sustained.

Yes, the terrarium needs maintenance like everything else but yes it is much less labor induced as you can go months without pruning or adding water.

Types Of Terrariums

There are two main types of terrariums used in the terrarium hobby and they are Open and Closed Terrariums.

Open Terrariums

An open terrarium is an open terrarium comprised of a circular container that is open to allow air into the terrarium. The main difference from a closed container is yes the lid factor but also that the open terrarium allows more water to evaporate than a closed terrarium.

How Long Do Open Terrariums Last

Open terrariums will last anywhere from a year to 10 years depending on how well maintained the terrarium is.

An overwatered environment would develop more fungal issues than that of an overly dry terrarium. A dry terrarium would put stress on the plants perhaps causing them to not live as long.

Closed Terrariums

Closed Terrariums are terrariums that can be closed and intended to be closed to retain moisture and heat. Closed Terrariums are low maintenance as long as they are well established and aren’t over watered.

How Long Do Closed Terrariums Last

Closed Terrariums can last anywhere from 2 years to 10+ years depending on how well taken care of and maintained the terrarium is.

Types Of Plants That Can Live In A Terrarium

There are many types of plants that can live in a terrarium but we will be covering the easiest to manage plants.

What makes a plant terrarium plant? It depends on the type of terrarium you are using. Is the terrarium open or closed? If the terrarium is an open terrarium then you can look at getting larger plants that would be okay with room temperate climates whereas if you have a closed terrarium then you will want to have a more tropical setting.

Ficus Pumila

When you hear ficus you think large? no these types of plants are a crawler which means they can climb up on sticks or they can crawl on the ground.

They like indirect light with moderate to high heat. In a terrarium setting, they are easy to propagate and are very versatile.

Ficus Pumila loves moist soil and is a very virtuous plant. The lush appearance from them is highly worth the effort.

Pilea Glauca

This plant is a foliage type of plant. Bright and indirect light, moist soil, and good quality nutrients and you will have them grow very good for you.

The Pilea will give very silver foliage which is great for terrariums for appearance because they really highlight plants behind them.

Small Philodendrons

These plants are a small plant with a very deep green foliage.

These plants are a very good crowd control plant for other plants especially good for corners of your terrarium.

Small Philodendrom Seedoms would do very well in a terrarium setting.

Syngonium Podophyllum

These plants are a very popular terrarium plant. These plants come in a variety of beautiful colors ranging from a bright green to a beautiful rich red.

The Syngonium can grow very large but can grow very well with other plants as long as you maintain the pruning.

Birdsnest Fern

Ferns are a very riply leaf plant. They will do well as long as you get a fern small enough.


Fittonias have very beautiful color variations to their foliage. The Fittonias also have a very cool distinct rufflage to their leaves and their colors are a beautiful reddish-purple color.

Fittonias tend to stay very small which makes them ideal for terrariums. The less light they get the more they will reach for the light. Fittonias will shrink down on light and spread out.

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Can Succulents Live In A Terrarium

Yes, succulents take a long time to grow, they do not need much space to spread their roots, and they are very comfortable with not receiving much water making them perfect for terrariums.

Succulent plants are very thick, with bulky leaves to store massive amounts of their water intake. Having them in your terrarium would be very ideal.

Types Of Succulents That Can Live In Terrariums

The succulent types can range from fast-growing to slow-growing. The succulent plants can range from flowers to no flowers and they can reach from large plants to small plants. It’s ultimately your decision on the size of the terrarium to determine the types of suitable plants.

Flamming Katy

The Flamming Katy is a very popular succulent plant among the terrarium hobby. The Flamming Katy loves home set temperatures anywhere between a flexible 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

This type of plant would much better in a home setting rather than a wild setting due to the plant withering in the cold.

The Flamming Katy adores sunlight so much that it needs 8 to 10 hours of sunlight. The more sunlight you provide equals more buds that will flower for you.

Aloe Vera

Almost everyone knows what an Aloe Vera plant is and if you do not then you must not go outside often (sunburns).

Aloe Vera is perfect for many different things from burns and irritation, to even eating if procured the right way.

Panda Plant

Who doesn’t love pandas? These plants are named after pandas due to their distinct markings on the ends of their leaves.

The plant is also covered in fur. This plant is an extremely versatile plant that can fit in almost any size terrarium big or small.

Can Animals Live In Terrariums

Yes, animals can live in terrariums.

Although the animal is determined by the size of your terrarium, whether or not it is a dry or wet terrarium, and determined by the chemical fertilizer you use for your plants.

Types Of Animals That Live In Terrariums

There are quite a few different animals for each aquarium type. We will discuss a few different animals for each dry, and wet terrarium.

Dry Terrarium

There are quite a few different variations of animals you can have for animals in a dry terrarium. Here are a few different animals that are perfect for a dry setting.

Crickets, Tarantulas, Chameleons, Toads, Hermit Crabs, Land Snails, Salamanders, or Geckos.

Wet Terrarium

The wet terrarium also has a good variety of animals ideal for the wet environment of the terrarium.

Frogs, Toads, Tadpoles, Newts, or Crayfish.

Can Insects Live In A Terrarium

Yes, insects can live inside a terrarium.

The terrariums are just like our own earth and due to that just about any sort of insect that could live in a tempered tropical environment and be found in small parameters would be ideal candidates for terrariums.

Types Of Insects That Live In Terrariums


Nematodes are a form of highly incredibly beneficial worms. Nematodes are so small that they are microscopic. Nematodes can lay more than 100,000 eggs in one day without the need for males, or females.

Nematodes can be adapted to live everywhere in the entire world. The Nematodes can live in every environment including the terrarium, aquascape, aquarium, and even inside you.

Nematodes have very small bodies and decay very very quickly. The Nematodes have been speculated to have been on the earth for 400 Million Years.

Some Nematoads can have hair, no hair, and can live in many organisms. Nematodes do not urinate normally like we do they actually urinate through their skin…

Thanks to Nematodes we are able to learn more about cancer, and disease treatments. Nematodes also can teach us more about our environment.


Springtails are small microbial organisms that love living in moist environments like soil, leaves, grass, organic debris, or decaying plants.

Their name Springtail is derived from their ability to jump high like springs. Springtails are very common in the terrarium. The Springtails can eat many problematic issues such as algae and provide a source of food for other organisms.

Springtails clean the terrarium and also provide nutrients for your bioactive ecosystem.

Common Rough Woodlouse

The Woodlouse is a type of isopod that is very small and referred to rolley pulleys. The Woodlouse isn’t like the rolley polleys because they do not roll into a ball when they are threatened.

The Woodlouse is a very fun and interesting insect to add to your terrarium. They are very easy to raise colonies and a good animal/insect to add to your terrarium.

The Woodlouse is also encrustations with gills. The Woodlouse is always having issues with hydration constantly sweating. You will often see them in groups in nature since the group will allow them to lose less water.

Brown Centipede

Brown Centipede has been around the world for more than 400 million years. The Brown Centipede is a very prominent predator.

Centipedes are not millipedes. Centipedes have 1 leg for every segment of their body whereas the millipede has 2 for every segment.

The Centipedes have a toxic venom to their pray.

The Centipede is a nocturnal hunter that is a fairly peaceful species. Centipedes are a very good parents. Unfortunately most species of Centipede feed on their mother… OWCH!

Despite these crazy facts, the centipede is a perfect predator for your terrarium.

Why Is Our Earth Like A Terrarium

The terrarium is made up of many different layers like our earth with a crust layer of soil where all land life lives.

A terrarium also experiences different biomes like that of our earth although they are typically tropical biomes you can make a biome of different temperatures.

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