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New (to me) terrarium and what to do!

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by borofan, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    I am a very lucky boy and have been given what I think is an Eco Terra vivarium 2'x 18"x 2' high with a mesh top plus a hood with light fittings (no lights) that covers half the top. I am now agonising about setting it up, I have read quite a lot on the internet but still could do with some advice!

    1. If I put clay balls or some such in the base and keep them well watered and have a mesh on top to prevent the orchids getting too wet than does anyone have a problem with mould and how do you change out any stale water and replenish with fresh?

    2. How best to heat it? Some people seem to put a heat mat in a substrate but with the humidity "tray" in the base there will not be any substrate.

    3. I have read of someone who puts an extractor fan in the top to suck out air which will then get replaced by fresh air through a grill near the base of the tank. Is that a good idea?

    4. If I use an extractor as described will I still need one or more circulatory fans in the tank?

    5. I cannot place the tank near a water supply so misting will have to be done manually or utilising a device that gets water from a bottle nearby. Any comments on this stem will be appreciated.

    6. The hood has connectors for three bulbs of screw in type with a maximum wattage of 25W. There seems to be a lot of variety on type of lighting so any recommendations will be appreciated.

    7. The current hood only covers half the top of the tank. Will there be adequate light distribution?

    8. Someone is bound to ask just what I plan to growing the tank and I guess I don't have any real plans but I do have a number of orchids but am not sure how to organise heat and light regimes for them. My orchids are:
    COOL:
    Bletilla Brigante
    Bletilla Striat
    Bletilla Junpaku
    Cypripedium "Michael"
    Dactylorhiza Praetermissa
    Dendrobium Nobile "Spring Dream"
    Lepanthes Tigrina - mounted
    Maxillaria Variablis
    Platystele Misera
    Pleione Tongarino
    Pleione noID
    Stelis Microphylla

    INTERMEDIATE:
    Brascidostele "Gilded Tower"
    Dendrochilum Filiforme
    Maxillaria Meleagris (bought as Camaridium Meleagris)
    Promenaea Citrata x Limelight
    Tolumnia hawkesiana - mounted
    Tolumnia hawkesiana - in moss
    Tolumnia hawkesiana - in orchid compost

    WARM:
    Dendrobium Unicum
    Dendrobium Unicum on cork mount
    Phalaenopsis - several
    Robiquetia Bifidus on bark mount (bought as Megalotus Bifidus)

    I realise this is a big request but I would appreciate any advice.

    Mike
     
  2. xmpraedicta

    xmpraedicta Prairie angraecoid nut Supporting Member

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    1. If I put clay balls or some such in the base and keep them well watered and have a mesh on top to prevent the orchids getting too wet than does anyone have a problem with mould and how do you change out any stale water and replenish with fresh? - This would work to catch water run-off. I imagine you would need to clean maybe every other month or every 3 months just to prevent too much algae overgrowth. A small pump should be able to remove the water (I did it by hand using a scoop and lots of shamwows!). A fan blowing on the balls will help with evaporation, and also raise humidity. Mold/fungus should not happen with adequate internal air movement. An alternative is to build a small elevated platform with egg crate lighting plastic, and then intermittently drain out the water that's collected below, which is what I had with my Ecoterras. It does get kind of get gross with the algae, but I didn't experience any fungus/rot as long as the plants are elevated above. If you want to be extra fancy, you could have a pump with some tubing rigged up to intermittently drain the water out.

    2. How best to heat it? Some people seem to put a heat mat in a substrate but with the humidity "tray" in the base there will not be any substrate. - Just curious, why are you interested in heating it? Dend. unicum can tolerate/might enjoy intermediate conditions in the winter, and phalaenopsis do well with ambient temperatures without ill-effect down to 15C. Furthermore, the lights you use will invariably cause some heating, particularly in the small glass enclosed space.

    3. I have read of someone who puts an extractor fan in the top to suck out air which will then get replaced by fresh air through a grill near the base of the tank. Is that a good idea? - I've relied on passive in-drawing of 'fresh' air, along with my daily opening of the tank to bring in fresh air. Seemed to do ok for the 4 years I kept plants in them.

    4. If I use an extractor as described will I still need one or more circulatory fans in the tank? - My thought is that this is much more important than an extractor fan. I had four of the ecoterras you describe, and had at least 3-4 fans in each tank just to circulate air.

    5. I cannot place the tank near a water supply so misting will have to be done manually or utilising a device that gets water from a bottle nearby. Any comments on this stem will be appreciated. I use a pressurized pump sprayer to manually water. Something like this

    6. The hood has connectors for three bulbs of screw in type with a maximum wattage of 25W. There seems to be a lot of variety on type of lighting so any recommendations will be appreciated. LEDs are low profile, long lasting, low-heat, and come in natural colours now. Naoki has an excellent blog on this with meticulously researched comparisons - this would be an entire topic on it's own though! I'm assuming your hood takes standard Edison screw bulbs; while there are some LED bulbs now fitted to screw into these fittings, I can't comment on how well they work. I've grown under CFLs (which would screw into those fittings), which are okay, but 25W of CFL is not really that much light.

    7. The current hood only covers half the top of the tank. Will there be adequate light distribution? I can't help with this one, beyond the comment that placement of the lights will matter more than how big a reflective hood is.

    8. Someone is bound to ask just what I plan to growing the tank and I guess I don't have any real plans but I do have a number of orchids but am not sure how to organise heat and light regimes for them. My orchids are:

    I can't imagine cultivating any of those cool growers in a tank, nor do I think it's really necessary. In my mind, the main benefit of growing in a tank is to support mounted plants that require some humidity augmentation, and also to make frequent watering easier (letting everything dribble down in a contained environment). Terrestrials wouldn't derive much benefit, plus I'd think they would take up too much space.

    Hope that helps!
     
  3. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    Hi xmpraedicta,

    Many thanks for your very full and helpful response. Taking the points in order:

    1. I think I am going to go for a simplistic compromise and put some capillary matting on the floor with the egg crate plastic on top with a bit of clearance. I that way the plants should be clear of surplus water and if too much gathers up I can drain it out by a pump or a healthy suck on a tube (yuck!). Having a fan at low level might also help.

    2. The question about heating was more an academic one as I do not see any immediate need but thought that maybe it would be a good idea to plan in advance.

    3. Point taken about opening the doors being adequate.

    4. I will use some small fans. I believe those use in PC towers should be adequate but I am not too sure how to power several without using a few power outlets.

    5. That pump sprayer looks like it will solve the problem, thanks.

    6. I have ordered three standard Exo Terra CFL bulbs so I will see how they work.

    7. Trial and error will be needed!

    8. The list of orchids is just as it exists at the moment and certainly the cool growers won't be put into the tank. I believe I will be moving more towards mounted and miniatures in the future. However, as a beginner I will probably try several options.

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply, it is really appreciated.

    Mike
     
  4. ezluckyfreee

    ezluckyfreee Member

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    You can buy little adapters that convert edison sockets to regular three prong plugs, and 25W of good-quality LED is quite a bit, especially x3. So maybe that could be an option for OP?

    Also, if you don't mind me asking, you say that you don't grow in exoterras anymore, what do you grow in now?
     
  5. xmpraedicta

    xmpraedicta Prairie angraecoid nut Supporting Member

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    Hi Mike - no problem! It's a fun and exciting adventure to grow in an enclosure, and I'm certain you will enjoy expanding the type of things you can grow successfully. In terms of the PC fans, multiples can be spliced into a 12 volt DC adaptor. You will need to make sure the current is sufficient to run multiple fans (most are 0.1-0.4A, so a 1.2A could run a few fans) and there is some electrical connection required (handy if you have a soldering iron). This is a good tutorial to start off on.

    I don't have much experience to offer with commercially available LEDs. I've built all my LED arrays from parts. But it sounds like there are more options available now. To answer your other question, I now grow in a 6x4x5ft custom built tank. You can see some pictures of the setup here!
     
  6. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    Thanks for the responses.

    ezluckyfreee -

    In UK terms I guess these are the adapters you mean to give a conversion to LED
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wanway-Edison-Lampholder-Converter-Adaptor/dp/B0076MEOEI

    I am not sure what you meant when you said "option for OP", can you explain?

    xmpraedicta -

    Good video on connecting fans, thanks.

    That is quite some tank! Impressive how many orchids you have in there.

    Mike
     
  7. ezluckyfreee

    ezluckyfreee Member

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    That's awesome! Currently I grow in a fish tank, which was a poor choice, albeit a cheap one. I wish I had spent more money and gotten an exoterra. I am also Canadian, do you have a source for where I could make myself something like that?


    Yep those are what I mean. So if you want to use the edison socket, then you're probably looking at something like this:

    https://www.amazon.ca/Niello-Ultra-...536265495&sr=8-3&keywords=led+grow+light+bulb

    However, I believe xmpraedicta and others around here build their own similar to this:

    Easy DIY LED: Philips XF-3535L

    Each strip uses 22.8 watts, and I guess you could plug them into the roof of your exoterra? Although I'm not sure if this really makes sense.
     
  8. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    ezluckyfreee -

    Thanks for the link to the DIY LED. IT looks interesting and I may try it in the future. For the moment I have the "proper" lights for the hood. It looks as though the LED strip would connect to the hood as mains electricity is in the hood.

    Can I ask again? In any earlier reply you said "You can buy little adapters that convert edison sockets to regular three prong plugs, and 25W of good-quality LED is quite a bit, especially x3. So maybe that could be an option for OP?"

    I do not understand "OP".

    Mike
     
  9. xmpraedicta

    xmpraedicta Prairie angraecoid nut Supporting Member

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    Mike - OP is internet lingo for 'original poster' (aka you in this thread). It was a comment that his suggestion might be an option for you.

    Where are you located? I would consider doing it differently if I were to do it again. I designed the tank in sketchup and then got aluminum extrusion custom cut from 8020 which I fitted with twin-wall polycarbonate. I built wooden/glass frames to sit on the top of the tank for purposes of supporting lights.

    The aluminum is heavy, expensive, and difficult to cut or modify. If I were to do it again, I would just build a frame out of wood, and use heavy plastic to surround the enclosure. I shied away from wood initially because I was worried the humidity and moisture would damage soft woods like pine (and I wouldn't be able to afford a full teak frame!), but I've only had minimal issues over 4 years of growing in this tank, so I would consider it.

    Th exoterra was nice but a bit small once the collection grew. Also, I found fluctuations in temperature extremes and humidity more dramatic in a smaller space. I suspect a larger grow space provides more buffer room and stable air temperatures, which the plants seem to enjoy.
     
  10. ezluckyfreee

    ezluckyfreee Member

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    Yep, OP is original poster.

    I am just north of Toronto. I actually bought two angraecoid seedlings from you I think, you're saskatoongecko on reddit? They're all doing pretty well. The N. Filicornu didn't start going till I put it in my cloud forest chamber (a fridge with lights in it).

    Wow, that's very impressive. I figured aluminum would be cheap. I think that wood might be very difficult to seal to prevent the floor from being covered in water periodically, and I really like the clean look of the aluminum.

    I don't really have a large collection so an Exoterra is probably a better choice then.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  11. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    Well OP is a new one for me, thanks. I am 74 and language seems to get stranger with each passing year. Anyway I thought I would add some pictures showing all the component parts so, assembled and then some plants added to see how things go and how high the humidity might get yo with plants in there. The fan hasn't arrived yet so I will need to open doors soon I guess. I am also awaiting capillary matting and egg crate sheets so there is still plenty to do but I am impatient and wanted to see what it might look like!

    Thanks for all your advice, I might not be finished asking!

    Mike

    Terrarium Setup-1.jpg
    Terrarium Setup-2.jpg


    Terrarium Setup-3.jpg

    Terrarium Setup-4.jpg
     
  12. xmpraedicta

    xmpraedicta Prairie angraecoid nut Supporting Member

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    Mike,
    That looks great! Love that you're passionate and curious about growing in tanks at your young age of 74. Feel free to ask away - many people here grow successfully in tanks and enjoy helping.

    Ez - glad to hear the plants are doing well. My neobathiea have stalled somewhat so you may have better luck than me. I had 4 ecoterras that I used for 6 years and they served me well, so I'm sure yours will enjoy it.
     
  13. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    Thank you, Calvin. I never thought I would get to 74 having had to give up work at 51 with serious heart problems so every day is a bonus and I am determined not just to sit around and watch TV! An active mind helps enormously.

    I have just looked at your Flickr page and you have some lovely pictures. I will browse further and find some that I really like.

    Mike
     
  14. borofan

    borofan New Member

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    Just got the egg crate installed and a few orchids in there. By raising the floor I couldn't house the Phalaenopsis but that was never really my intention.

    Mike


    Terrarium crated.jpg