Vivariums - Everything You Need to Know (From the Ground Up) (2023)

A vivarium is a true, naturalistic slice of life.

Yours to cultivate for purely for your own enjoyment and/or that of your tropical animals.

But, just as Uncle Ben once told us: “With great plants and animals comes great responsibility.”

(I’m paraphrasing, of course).

A vivarium setup can be a lot more complex than your average tabletop terrarium, and there’s more at stake than a handful of moss and the odd fern.

So in this guide, I’m going to provide a complete overview of the vivarium hobby. Walking you through every element of vivarium construction, design, and care – to make sure you end up with a thriving environment at the end of it.

Ready to build a habitat you’d be proud to call home?

Let’s go.

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Table Of Contents

  1. What is a Vivarium? (+ Types of Vivarium)
  2. How to Make a Vivarium
  3. Vivarium Plants
  4. Vivarium Animals
  5. Over to You

What is a Vivarium? (+ Types of Vivarium)

Over time, the word vivarium has come to mean a great variety of things.

Each sharing one singular theme.

Looking at the root of its language, we can see a hint as to what that theme is. In Latin viveremeans “to live” and ariummeans “place” or “container”.

So, in a sense, a vivarium is simply a “place of life”.

Which – despite being very romantic – is fantastically vague because it needs context to make sense.

In reality, a vivarium is a container that’s designed and optimizedto cultivate a particular type of life/environment.

This is true of all the “ariums” and their various inhabitants, but these days there’s one such type that most people come to know as a vivarium.

A rainforest terrarium + animals.

(That being said, “vivarium” is still often used to describe terrarium projects that are larger in scale and complexity – animals or not).

(Video) Everything you need to know, and how to build Biotope Terrarium/Vivariums. . . . . . . . .Bioactive!

So, this article is for all you budding horticulturists and herpetoculturists!

Vivarium Systems & Factors (What to Consider)

When it comes to cultivating plants, animals, and complex ecosystems, the tools and systems needed become much more sophisticated.

In practice, it’s the next level of terrarium building.

Rather than observing and gently tweaking to bring about change, in vivariums, we’re actively driving the various environmental factors.

Sometimes with artificial systems, sometimes with good design and care practices (and always with a bit of luck).

Airflow / Ventilation

Unlike your typical sealed terrarium, vivariums need some level of consistent airflow and gas exchange.

In a vivarium where we’re watering at regular intervals and boosting humidity, we need a way to help plants dry off, or we’re quickly going to run into problems with mold and mildew (or worse, rot).

Not to mention, I’m sure your animals will be needing oxygen at some point…

So, you’re going to need either a suitable ventilation solution.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be super technical; a simple hole/gap in the lid or some drilled holes in the container can be enough to do the trick – you can always cover it with a mesh to prevent escapees!

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Some people like to use small fans to take more control of the system, but that’s up to you.

Water & Humidity

Tropical vivariums are going to need consistent high humidity.

How much will depend on the plant and animal species, but it’s likely to be upwards of 70%.

In a simple plant terrarium, a high relative humidity is usually achieved with a complete seal on the container, but if you’re keeping animals, then an airtight seal is not such a good idea…

That being said, without a full seal, you’ll get some moisture loss, so you’ll need a system to replace it.

These come in the form of misting systems.

Essentially a system of pumps and nozzles which can be programmed to periodically spray your vivarium down with a light mist/fog – giving a nice even watering and boost in humidity.

Lighting

Getting enough bright indirect light for a tabletop terrarium is already challenging to do naturally in the home, so as you can imagine, it’s a whole lot harder in a large container… that’s sometimes opaque on several sides.

So, grow lights are pretty much essential here.

If you’re keeping animals, you’re going to need to research their specific needs and build your lighting kit accordingly. Truth be told, it can get fairly complex if you’re using the light to mimic day/night cycles, but if it’s mostly for plants, then it’s a lot more straightforward.

They tend to come in the form of LED strip lights that you can fit to the top of the container to apply the most balanced spread of light.

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A strip light like this one is probably best for beginners, but this rabbit hole runs deep for those really looking to optimize growth and/or conditions.

Temperature

When you’re growing tropical plants, you’re going to need tropical temperatures.

(Video) Everything You Should Know Before You Get Shrimp! 7 Tips for Keeping Shrimp in an Aquarium

There’s always a little wiggle room, but it’s probably going to be in the range of 21-30 °C ( 70-85 °F).

However, this gets a lot trickier when you’re raising animals, particularly of the cold-blooded variety. If you’re keeping some reptilian or amphibian friends, you’ll need to more carefully control the ambient temperature.

Heating mats and heating lights can both be effective, depending on the species.

A thermometer is pretty important, too if you’re trying to operate within a range.

Regulation (Putting it all Together)

For those who need to manage all these factors within a narrow range, it’s worth considering a system that can work together.

Many pieces of modern vivarium hardware can be fitted to a smart thermostat / universal controller.

For both peace of mind and ease of use, a fully controllable system really is the way to go.

Plus, the more advanced systems can more effectively recreate day/night cycles, weather patterns, and more– so your animals can feel right at home.

Microfauna / Bioactivity

One of the more complex (and rewarding) elements of vivarium building is mastering the art of bioactivity.

Harnessing the awesome power of microbes and beneficial little bugs/critters to regulate and clean your vivarium.

Just like Mother Nature herself!

There’s a wide range of container custodians available, but isopods and springtails tend to be the most popular and effective.

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They’ll eat any mold or decaying organic matter, keeping your vivarium healthy and fresh. Just be sure to give them some leaf litter to get started on.

Getting real scientific now, you can also seed your bioactive substrate mix with all kinds of beneficial bacteria and fungi. These can help with nutrient recycling and distribution and generally just help form the base of the bioactive processes.

> Read more: and What is a Bioactive Terrarium? (+ How to Make One).

How to Make a Vivarium

Container

Unlike your smaller terrariums that can be fashioned from all manner of vases, bottles, and boxes, vivariums tend to follow a much more structured pattern.

They’ll need plenty of volume to house any animals and any of the extra structured elements that might be needed to keep them, e.g., fans, heaters, etc.

Sure, the more DIY-centered people might like to upcycle an old glass cabinet or fish tank into a terrarium (I love seeing transformed Ikea cabinets on Instagram!), but realistically, most are going to buy a manufactured vivarium.

And there’s plenty to choose from.

Whether you prefer a tall cabinet style to show off some larger epiphytes and climbing species or your classic landscape tank to get a wide variety of terrestrial plants and hiding spots – there’s something for you.

Drainage

With smaller terrariums – using perfect watering – you can get away without a drainage layer. But, in larger vivariums, drainage becomes absolutely essential.

After all, in a closed system where you’re regularly adding fresh water, you’re never going to be able to balance that perfectly.

You’re going to need somewhere for that excess water to drain into.

(Video) How To Make A Terrarium | A Beginners Guide

A drainage layer can come in a variety of forms, but they essentially act as a foundation and reservoir for your vivarium.

So, in some ways, they’re a fail-safe, but they also carry additional benefits in boosting ambient humidity and supporting the reproduction of some of our micro custodians.

Leca is a common material choice for its ability to effectively hold both water and the weight of the plants and substrate whilst being pretty lightweight itself.

You can use gravel/stones, but it’s going to get heavy real fast.

Barrier

Now, before we move on to the next layer of our vivarium cake, we need to make sure it can’t fall into our freshly made foundation.

That’s why we put up some sort of mesh/fiber/screen barrier that still allows water through but won’t allow substrate particles to block up the drainage layer.

A fiberglass screen is a common and inexpensive barrier that won’t rust or break down.

Substrate

The substrate layer is the growing medium that you’re going to be planting into.

It’s hard to understate just how important it is to get the right mix here.

It must be able to:

  • Retain moisture
  • Drain well
  • Resist compaction
  • Remain stable and resist breakdown

The most common choice is the classic ABG mix (or a variation of it). It has all the necessary components in an optimized ratio to provide the best possible blend.

In terms of adding and sculpting the substrate, you might want to slope it towards the back or in particular areas. That way, you can create a more dynamic landscape than just a flat surface.

> Read more: ABG Mix – The Classic Terrarium Substrate Recipe

Hardscape

Honestly, hardscape is the unsung hero of a vivarium.

The gnarling branches and textured rocks are what create structure and dynamic shapes, not to mention lots of great 3D planting spots.

There’s a huge variety of hardwoods and aquascaping rocks to choose from.

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👉 Check out the huge range of hardscape over at Buceplant.

Even the back and sides of your container are opportunities for interesting designs and builds!

It’s common to add a premade or custom background (or make your own using foam and silicone if you’re DIY-inclined) in order to create some natural shapes.

For aesthetics, hardscape is an incredible tool, but it’s also important for your inhabitants. Whether it’s something to climb, hide under, or just generally make them feel more at home – try to choose accordingly with your species of choice.

> Read more: 10 Dynamic Types of Wood for Terrariums (+ Photos) and 3 Visually Stunning Terrarium Rocks for Creative Planting.

Ground Cover

Ground cover is important for a true naturalistic look, but it’s also an essential part of a bioactive vivarium.

When I say ground cover, I’m mostly talking about leaf litter and similar organic materials.

It’s going to cover any areas of the exposed substrate, but perhaps most importantly, it’s going to slowly break down over time.

(Video) Differences between terrarium, riparium, vivarium... etc.

In a bioactive setup, as leaf litter breaks down, it provides nutrients for the plants but also food for the various microfauna in the vivarium.

Vivarium Plants

Now, the exciting part!

Vivarium plants are as varied as they are beautiful. With all the extra controls a vivarium provides, it opens up a lot of new doors in terms of plant choice.

Not just in size (though in some cases, bigger is better) but also in diversity and type.

The real challenge – and fun – lies in using such vivarium space to its fullest extent. Really bringing that naturalistic environment to life with a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.

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To achieve this, you’ll want a nice balance of:

  • Ferns – These are full of texture, and they love the warmth and humidity of a tropical terrarium. A nice mix of broad-leafed and feathery ferns can really bring some dynamic foliage to a vivarium.
  • Vines – Both big and small, vines are the wild element of growth that looks natural and can link areas of a vivarium together. Plus, as natural climbers, they’re a good way of adding some verticality to your foliage mix. For larger vivariums, you can even experiment with some of the larger and more exotic aroids.
  • Foliage – The stars of the show. Foliage plants are simply those with eye-catching leaves, and they’re typically placed in the foreground of a vivarium as a focal point. You don’t need many of these, just a few to make the view pop!
  • Moss – In my opinion, moss should be used liberally in a vivarium. It’s what ties everything together visually and really brings a space to life. A reliable tropical sheet moss (e.g., Thuidium delicatulum) can be trained to grow on top of both the substrate and the hardscape to achieve a natural lush effect.
  • Epiphytes – These are plants that grow on other plants and objects. Which makes them perfect for 3-dimensional planting around the container. Without these, you’ll have all the fun stuff at the bottom and an empty tank everywhere else – so be sure to make use of them.

To create a true sense of scale, you’ll want to plant the largest species at the back and the smallest species near the front. Beyond that, the (miniature) world in front of you is your oyster!

> Read more: The 10 Best Terrarium Plants for Beginners (Easy Care Picks).

Vivarium Animals

With the loose definition of a vivarium being a container that’s designed and optimized to cultivate a particular type of life/environment – it follows that you should really stick to one.

In fact, the general rule of thumb in the industry is that you should build your vivarium around a single animal species.

Honestly, there’s just so much to consider in terms of optimizing an environment. Even just balancing a plant-only ecosystem has its challenges, and a habitat for a single animal can bring a whole new level of complexity… let alone multiple species.

Whichever species you choose, you must research their specific wants and needs.

But, I’m sure you know that! After all, designing an environment that’s a good fit for both you and your animals is half the fun.

Choosing a Vivarium Animal

When it comes to choosing a species for your rainforest terrarium, it’s best to consider what I call “The Three S’

  • Small – So they won’t trample your plants, and they’ll typically feel much more at home in average-sized containers. Here’s a list of great small terrarium animals.
  • Stable – Species that don’t need crazy seasonal fluctuations or any extremes of temperature/humidity are going to be the easiest to keep.
  • Sedentary – The more naturally sedentary a species is, the happier it’s going to be chilling in an enclosed environment (and probably more visibly too).
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With that out the way, lets consider the (many) great options for a tropical vivarium.

  • Frogs – With all manner of tree frogs and poison dart frogs, there’s a huge variety of vibrant colourful species to choose from.
  • Lizards – Arboreal lizards like geckos are excellent candidates for taller vivariums with plenty of branches to climb. Crested geckos are regarded as being great for beginners, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Check out my full guide to terrarium lizards for more inspiration!
  • Snakes – In a similar vein, climbing snakes like tree boas and tree pythons are natural choices for vivariums. Their laidback temperament means they’re happy to hang out on your hardscape.
  • Insects – For smaller vivariums, something like a mantis can be a really exciting addition.

Over to You

If you’ve made it this far, well done!

Hopefully, you have a good idea of what it takes to make and maintain a true vivarium.

That being said, I get it – there’s a lot to take in initially (and I could have easily made this article twice as long).

With all this in mind, it can be a daunting project to take on.

It definitely requires a lot more patience, understanding, and technical know-how than your average bottle terrarium – but the results really are worth it.

Like any other project, take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

(Video) The complete Reptile Fogger DIY guide – what you need to know!

There are no mistakes in horticulture, only experiments!

FAQs

What is needed for a vivarium? ›

Construction Basics. Every live vivarium starts with a few basic layers, which will provide a base for live plants & microfauna to thrive within the enclosure. From the bottom up, the elements include the drainage layer, a screen separator, the substrate layer, and leaf litter.

What are the 6 elements for a successful bioactive enclosure? ›

The Bioactive 6
  • Substrate. Start from the ground up. ...
  • Fungi. When discussing bioactive enclosures, there's always a fungus among us! ...
  • Bacteria. Bacteria will grow in a bioactive tank. ...
  • Tank Janitors. Creepy crawlies seldom save the day, but they're the heros of your bioactive enclosure. ...
  • Natural Decor. ...
  • Live Plants.
Jul 17, 2019

What is important for a bioactive Vivarium? ›

Live plants, fungi, and microfauna are all key inhabitants in a bioactive enclosure. Microfauna, like the springtails and isopods I used in Mary Kay's enclosure, help clean up waste and serve as occasional food sources. The fungi also help clean up waste by aiding in decomposition and turning the waste into nutrients.

What do you put under substrate in vivarium? ›

Just like any tropical terrarium substrate, you'll need to supplement your base to improve its drainage and aeration. Materials like orchid bark, lava rock, charcoal, and pumice all help a mix to resist compaction and help water run through it.

How often do you change sand in vivarium? ›

Changing the substrates in your Vivarium will keep unhealthy bacteria at bay, and prevent the build up of any unwanted waste. Again, this depends on the type of exotic pet you own with many specialists recommending you completely change the substrate at least once per week.

Can you use regular soil for vivarium? ›

Regular packaged potting soil is a universally available option. It's affordable and it will work for some plants, but it's just not ideal for terrarium longevity. The real weakness in potting soil is its poor drainage and tendency to compact too much.

How long should I cycle my bioactive vivarium? ›

I typically suggest allowing your vivarium to “cycle” for at least 1 month.

Do you need bugs in a bioactive terrarium? ›

The answer is no, they're not a strict necessity, and I've happily grown many a terrarium with bugs and without them. That said, these beneficial terrarium insects really can make the whole care process much easier.

How often do you water a bioactive vivarium? ›

For species that need a humid hide, such as Leopard Geckos, replace the sphagnum moss in the hide once every two months. This helps ensure cleanliness and encourages bioactivity. Plants should be lightly watered once a week or so, depending on the plants' needs and the moisture content of the substrate.

Do bioactive tanks smell? ›

Odors in a bioactive terrarium are typically caused by anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria are microbes that do not require oxygen in order to grow. They often have a bad smell, and are generally the primary culprit when it comes to odor buildup.

How often do you mist a bioactive terrarium? ›

Depending on the amount of ventilation your vivarium has, you may need to mist 1-2 times a day or as little as 1-2 times a week. Pay attention to your humidity levels, and make sure you mist whenever humidity threatens to fall below 75%.

How deep should bioactive substrate be? ›

Substrate depth in a bioactive setup is about three to four inches, but you can go deeper to support a large microorganism population by providing plenty of surface area for beneficial bacteria and fungi to grow. The drainage layer is the first layer and a significant part of the substrate.

How deep should vivarium substrate be? ›

The substrate layer is the very top layer of your vivarium floor. This layer is the one that will be used for your pets and plants. The recommended depth of this layer is anywhere from 2” up to, or over 12” depending on the size of the enclosure and the types of plants you use.

How do you prevent root rot in a vivarium? ›

Overwatered soil cuts off oxygen to the root system, causing the roots to become brown and mushy, dying away until the plant wilts. Fortunately, root rot can be prevented by watering correctly and adding a drainage layer when setting up your terrarium.

What is the best drainage layer for vivarium? ›

Gravel: Gravel is a popular choice for the drainage layer because it is inexpensive and easy to find. It is also effective at draining excess water away from plant roots.

Should I rinse sand before putting in tank? ›

Note that new live sand should not be rinsed with fresh water before putting it into an aquarium for the first time, this will kill off the beneficial bacteria. Some cloudiness is to be expected when using live sand but this will clear within 24-48 hours after turning on your pump and filtration.

Do you need to rinse sand substrate? ›

Aquarium sand provides a natural and attractive substrate for your fish. But before you add it to your aquarium, you'll need to give it a good cleaning. Usually, the sand substrate can become dusty and dirty during shipping and storage, so it's important to rinse it before use.

Do you need charcoal in a vivarium? ›

Charcoal is an optional, but potentially beneficial addition if you want to remove toxins and odor from your terrarium. However there's no data showing that it's required for a thriving terrarium. There are other ways to remove toxins and orders from your terrarium if you can't or don't want to use charcoal.

Do you need a drainage layer in a bioactive vivarium? ›

Overall, a drainage layer will help any keeper keep their bioactive terrarium healthy and functioning. The most important aspect is to never let your ground water (drainage water) go above the drainage layer into the substrate.

Can I use sand in vivarium? ›

Sand is one of the most versatile substrate components one can use inside a terrarium. It serves both form and function. Sand can be used to promote drainage and aeration.

Is mold normal in a bioactive terrarium? ›

Visible mold is a common occurrence in bioactive vivariums, and often creates fear and worry in pet and plant owners. However, mold is essential for a healthy, naturally-cycling environment. So, if you spot a white fuzzy mold that resembles cotton candy, do not fear because it is completely normal.

Do bioactive vivariums need UVB? ›

Generally, you want the lighting in a vivarium to cater to the animals first. And that means considering both the necessary UV lighting and appropriate heat. Although heating requirements vary by species, most reptiles and amphibians are going to need a UVB lamp. The simple solution: fluorescent light bulbs.

How do you prevent mold in a bioactive enclosure? ›

Terrarium mold can be prevented in several ways:
  1. Add springtails to your terrarium.
  2. Avoid overwatering your terrarium.
  3. Apply fungicide to your substrate.
  4. Remove dead or decaying plant matter promptly from your terrarium.
  5. Sterilize your substrate before adding it to your terrarium.
  6. Give your terrarium more light.

What eats mold in bioactive terrarium? ›

#1 Add some springtails – These beneficial terrarium insects love to eat mold (and not your plants) so introducing a colony will do wonders in keeping your terrarium healthy and happy.

Do I need both isopods and springtails? ›

Isopods and springtails make a good combo because they work both independently and synergistically. Sure, either is a good choice on their own – but together they're stronger.

Are earthworms good for vivariums? ›

Earthworms tend to be effective bioactive cleaners. They'll make short work of any decaying organic matter.

Is bioactive worth it? ›

Bioactive can seem daunting at first but it is definitely worth it! When functioning correctly, this does not need to be fully cleaned out! It provides a natural and enriching environment for the animal to thrive in and explore. They are also much nicer to look at in your house!

Do you need charcoal for bioactive terrarium? ›

A terrarium can and will function without a charcoal layer.

How do you heat a bioactive vivarium? ›

To slightly raise the temperature within an enclosure, we recommend using a Zoo Med Under Tank Heater mounted to the side or rear of an enclosure. Zoo Med Repti Heat Cables can alternatively be used in either of those locations. We try to mount these types of heaters as low as possible, and out of sight.

How often do you need to clean a vivarium? ›

A more thorough cleaning once a week is sufficient for most reptile habitats. At this time, all the habitat surfaces should be wiped carefully with an appropriate disinfectant, and any rocks or wood should also be wiped down.

How do I get rid of mites in my bioactive tank? ›

Putting the isopods themselves is ineffective, as the mites are attached to them, so instead the best course of action is to wet down the tub to release the mites from the isopods. The mites can then be baited out with moist vegetables, such as cucumber or squash, or even a grain based food source.

How often should I vent my terrarium? ›

Every two or three weeks, it's wise to ventilate a closed terrarium for a few hours. After you've aired it out, close the lid again and wait to see if condensation builds up on the glass. If so, then it's good to go for a while. If not, then open it and give it a small drink of water.

Is drainage layer necessary? ›

Drainage layers are an essential part of a high humidity environment allowing the soil to drain effectively, letting the clean up crews properly aerate the soil for plant root growth and nutrient dispersion. You never want to drain this layer completely, but you don't want to have it over filled either.

How wet should terrarium soil be? ›

As a guideline, we recommend ¼ cup of water for a quart-sized terrarium, ½ cup for a half-gallon sized container, and 1 cup of water for a gallon size or larger. After watering, the soil should ideally be moist to the touch, but not waterlogged and swampy.

What kind of soil do you use for a bioactive terrarium? ›

Ideally, you'll want something with a combination of smaller soil, clay, or sand particles and larger mulch particles to keep the soil from falling through into the drainage layer.

Should you put rocks at the bottom of a terrarium? ›

As terrariums have no drainage hole, pebbles or rocks down the bottom help to prevent the system from building up stagnant moisture in the soil. For this guide, we used red lava rocks from Bunnings but if you have some small rocks or pebbles lying around the house, give them a rinse and use these instead.

Do you need rocks at the bottom of a terrarium? ›

Terrarium containers do not have drainage holes, so it is important to create drainage layers to prevent plant roots from rotting. Start by putting a 2-inch layer of coarse gravel, sea glass, or beach stones on the bottom of your container.

Is 2 inches of substrate enough? ›

How much substrate do you need? The general recommendation is at least 3 inches. Not only will this amount be pleasing to look at, but it is also deep enough to allow plants to root without floating away.

Does hydrogen peroxide prevent root rot? ›

Hydrogen peroxide kills root rot-causing bacteria and fungi and restores the oxygen balance in the soil which boosts your plants' growth and health. Due to its chemical similarity to water, hydrogen peroxide is one of the safest chemicals you can use in the garden to combat root rot.

Can root rot reverse itself? ›

It is not possible to reverse root rot. The treatment of this disease involves removing the affected portions of the plant. Once the rotting or dying parts have been removed, they can then be repotted in fresh soil to give the remaining healthy roots a fresh start.

How does hydrogen peroxide prevent root rot? ›

TWO Simple Ways to Cure Root Rot:
  1. Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) Mix 2 parts water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, soak your soil with this mixture.
  2. Bleach. Mix 6-10 drops bleach per 1 quart of water, then soil drench with this solution! The video below shows both methods in action! Pretty in Green. 7.14K subscribers.
Nov 5, 2020

How do you circulate air in a vivarium? ›

Using Fans in Rainforest Vivaria

In an effort to provide plenty of air exchange, some keepers like to incorporate small fans into the habitat design. Many keepers use computer fans when doing so, as they're small, easy to wire up and affordable. However, any low-powered fan will work.

How do you keep the humidity high in a vivarium? ›

How to Raise Humidity in Your Vivarium
  1. Make sure you are using a substrate that holds moisture. ...
  2. Mist more frequently, and for longer. ...
  3. Use a larger water bowl in the warm end. ...
  4. In a mesh topped enclosure, block off some or all of the mesh without completely blocking ventilation.
Jun 30, 2021

Can you stack vivariums on top of each other? ›

By using these feet correctly and raising your vivarium from the floor, you can stack Vivexotic vivariums on top of each other and up to four high. This saves a lot of space within your home and allows for easy maintenance of your pets.

What is the difference between a vivarium and a terrarium? ›

So, what is the difference between a terrarium and a vivarium? Though both environments and can look very similar in terms of plants and earth; terrariums are designed to raise plants, and vivariums are designed primarily to be a habitat for an animal.

Do you need isopods for a vivarium? ›

The burrowing nature of isopods also helps to aerate any substrate that they end up tunneling through. So as you might imagine, having a healthy colony of isopods in a terrarium can really keep that soil soft and tilled. What is this? Finally, in a reptile vivarium, they can serve as a healthy snack!

Do vivariums need ventilation? ›

About Vivarium Ventilation

In an enclosure, the hottest air will rise to the top, and the coolest air will sit at the bottom. The coolest air will be about the same temperature as the room where the vivarium is located. So logically, there should be ventilation near the top of the enclosure, and near the bottom.

How often do you water a vivarium? ›

In general, for terrariums with a normal, loose-fitting glass lid, it most likely will need to be watered a small amount every 3 months. For a terrarium with a cork, rubber, or tight glass enclosure, it can stay closed without needing any water at all.

How deep should substrate be vivarium? ›

The substrate layer is the very top layer of your vivarium floor. This layer is the one that will be used for your pets and plants. The recommended depth of this layer is anywhere from 2” up to, or over 12” depending on the size of the enclosure and the types of plants you use.

Do you need bugs for a vivarium? ›

The answer is no, they're not a strict necessity, and I've happily grown many a terrarium with bugs and without them. That said, these beneficial terrarium insects really can make the whole care process much easier.

Do you keep snakes in a vivarium? ›

Snakes should be kept in a vivarium, a special enclosed cage with glass doors. Snakes require a very specific environment in their vivarium, so make sure to always do your research to provide them with their ideal home. Snakes that are more active need a larger vivarium so that they have more space to roam around.

What are the 4 levels of a terrarium? ›

A terrarium basically has 4 main layers. They are, in order from the ground up, the gravel, moss, soil and decorative layer.

Can you have too many isopods in a tank? ›

Consequences of too many isopods in the terrarium

How can this lead to problems? The problem is called overstocking. Sometimes breeding not only grows over your head, but it can also collapse completely due to overpopulation.

What do springtails do in a vivarium? ›

Springtails aid the transfer of the male mosses sperm to the female egg. This is a very important factor in a terrarium as a terrarium has no means of sperm transfer and spore spread with no flowing water or air.

Do isopods prefer hot or cold? ›

To reiterate, isopods such as pill bugs generally prefer humid weather conditions and thrive at moderate temperatures, with peak survival at temperatures between 10-25°C, which sees a 50% drop in both extreme ranges of 5°C and 35°C respectively.

Are Worms good for vivariums? ›

They are not harmful, but may be too large for many peoples tastes. Worms: Although worms are beneficial helping to break down decaying matter and aerate the soil, most species will be too large for a decorative terrarium.

Do you put a heat mat inside or underneath a vivarium? ›

Heat mats and strips can be used on the bottom, side or top of a vivarium or terrarium. If used with a glass enclosure then they can be mounted on the inside or outside of the terrarium. If used with a wooden vivarium then they must only be used inside the vivarium.

How do I keep my vivarium from fogging up? ›

Terrarium fog can be prevented by lowering the water levels, cleaning the container with soap, or using an anti-fog spray.
  1. Lower the water levels in your terrarium.
  2. Clean the inside with soap water.
  3. Spray some Anti-fog cleaner on the inside of your terrarium.

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