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My first Terrarium Build

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by Dave The Scientist, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    I am a recent convert ( about a year) to the world of orchids. I currently have a small array of full size plants but after seeing a few of the terrariums and vivariums elsewhere on this site and the miniatures and micro-miniatures in them, I knew I had to have one. I am building a terrarium out of an exo-terra nano (the tall version, it's 12x8x8inch) http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/natural_terrarium_nano.php with its matching light canopy. Due to its size, I am guessing I should be mostly looking at micro miniatures. I plan to cover the back with hygrolon/epiweb panels and cover the bottom with pebbles and a little water to increase the humidity. I am hoping the hygrolon will wick a good deal of water up and I was also planning on hand misting it once a day. I was planning on growing at room temp or slightly above due to any heat given off by the bulb. I am not sure about bulbs, I was tentatively planning on a CFL but I am having trouble finding any with a 6000k or 6500k color reading. I have found quite a few with 5000k through. Would this be sufficient? If not, where can I find an appropriate bulb. Also do any of you know what lumen I should be shooting for? I could also go LED if that is a better option, it just needs to fit in the canopy which taks up to a 26 watt bulb. If it fits I may use one of Rays vivarium grow lights ( http://firstrays.com/cart/Plant-Lights/LED-Vivarium-Grow-Lamp), but it will certainly be a tight squeeze if it does(the entire canopy is 8 inch and the bulb is 7.75. I was going to use a time for a 14 hour day. I was going to mount most of them to the hygrolon and then have 1 or 2 more mounted on cork, tree fern, a stick etc in the foreground(these in the foreground can probably be full size miniatures due to the extra space) . I was going to grow moss and maybe some mini companion plants on the rest of the back. How does that sound?

    I really know nothing about miniatures (or mini companion plants) so any suggestions on species or hybrids that would be appropriate or the general running and building of the thing would be greatly appreciated. I'll post pictures as I start to build it.
     
  2. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    One option could be a household LED bulb. I use Cree SoftWhite (2700K) for vertically converted 10 gallon tank. I'm not saying that it is the best since I have tested only a few kinds. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cree-60W...ght-Bulb-BA19-08027OMF-12DE26-2U100/204592770
    If you can find the older Cree WarmWhite (also 2700K), which was replaced by SoftWhite this year, it could be slightly better. The packaging looks exactly same, but it says "warm white" instead of "soft white", and I have found some at local HomeDepot (a month or so ago).

    I've measured the plant relevant output (photosynthetic photon flux density, PPFD), and here is the number (higher is better)
    Cree CW (cool white, 5000K, 9W): 39 micromol/m^2/s
    Cree WW (9.5W): 43 micromol/m^2/s
    Cree SoftW (9.5W): 41 micromol/m^2/s
    I measured it at 1', and used a clip on reflector. So with efficiency (per watt) WW>CW>SW, but the difference is small. These are much better than Philips 10.5W, which gave only 29 micro mol/m^2/s.

    You probably don't know how to interpret PPFD numbers (unless you paid attention in your plant physiology class). But here is some way to think about it: full sun gives about 1000 micromol/m^2/s. 100-200 micromol/m^2/s is pretty decent for Phal/Paph, but they grow ok with less light.
     
  3. Alfonso Doucette

    Alfonso Doucette Active Member

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    I like pleurothallids and a lot of them are minis. My favorite places to shop for plants are Andy's Orchids, J&L Orchids, Colombian Orchid Imports, and Ecaugenera. I would recommend Lepanthes calodictyon. It's a really cool species that doesn't get more than a few inches tall and can grow a little warmer than other Lepanthes. Keep us updated on your progress!!
     
  4. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    I wish I would have waited to see Naoki's message to buy bulbs. I ended up buying a Repti-glo 2.0 full spectrum 26 watt CFL bulb and it probably would have been cheaper to go with what you are suggesting. I am little confused as most of the other posts I have looked at say to shoot for a CRI of 6000-6500. Is CRI not important? The Repti-glo has a 6700k CRI and I think it should have plenty of lumens as a standard 23 watt CFL is equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent and this is 26 watts.

    I do really like the looks of Lepanthes calodictyon, although I am trying to get the orchids for this project from other hobbyists as paying retail gets expensive quick so being super choosy isnt an option. I am already in $100 for just the set up without getting any plants yet. If anyone has a Lepanthes calodictyon that they would be willing to sell (or give in which case I would still pay for the shipping) a division of inexpensively, I would be interested in buying it.

    I saw this fogger http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/fogger.php and I was wondering if any of you had any imput on using them? Would this be helpful or just overkill in such a small terrarium? Also, would I need to use distilled or RO water with it? I am currently using my tap water for my plants and so far they seem to like it so I don't think its terribly hard although I do occasional noticable buildup on the outsides of my terra cotta pots but none obvious on the media or plants themselves.The build up might just be a little mold or mildew I am misidentifying as salt build up. I am hoping to start collecting rain water soon.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  5. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    Also does any one have any advise on mounting the hygrolon/epiweb panels to the back wall and the plants to the panels? I was planning on using velcro strips on the back wall to attach the panels ( i think velcro will be able to grab on to the epiweb) and using monofilament fishing wire to attach the plants. I liked the idea of velcro so I can easily take out the panels to work on them if I need to although I am worried about the adhesive failing with all the humidity. I was also planning on collecting some local mosses and making a "moss milkshake" and pasting it on the panels to grow moss. I was just wondering if local mosses would grow ok without freezing in the winter as they would do in the wild (I live in central PA) and possible virus transmission, although with how phylogenetic distant mosses are from orchids, I was doubting they would carry any viruses that could affect orchids. Does anyone know about this?
     
  6. Alfonso Doucette

    Alfonso Doucette Active Member

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    The first orchid tank I set up had a fogger, but it kept the plants too wet. I used an ultrasonic humidifier from walgreens, and eventually modified it with an expensive humidity controller that shut off/on the humidifier once a certain limit was reached. If you have plants in a glass tank and keep them watered well enough the humidity should be fine. I grow without the use of a humidifier and I find that my orchids do just fine.
     
  7. Alfonso Doucette

    Alfonso Doucette Active Member

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    I think your biggest problem with using moss from the wild is the introduction of fungi and bacteria. Fungi and bacteria will be a problem anyway but it is hard to sterilize what you gather outside without killing the moss in the process. You might be able to use some of the mosses that are popularly used for aquascaping like Java Moss or Christmas Moss. Those species are from tropical asia, don't require any seasonal climate changes, and they will be freer of bacteria and fungi than something you gather outside.

    There is a discussion on epiweb on the orchidboard that you might find useful: http://www.orchidboard.com/community/growing-mounts/62558-mounting-ecoweb-epiweb-2.html
     
  8. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    Would the Christmas moss or Java moss grow out of water?
     
  9. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    1) the 6500°K is the corrected color temperature, not the color rendering index. The former is a way of expressing the spectrum. The second is how well colors match the appearance of that color under sunlight.

    2) Look up either folius.com for tropical moss mix - it'll be the stuff as shown on Mika's log - but do keep in mind that the log had be "up and running" 10 months. Another alrternative is mossacres.com, for their live terrarium moss.
     
  10. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    I bit the bullet and bought moss mix from Folius, so that's taken care off. I just wish it wasn't so expensive. I guess it's better to pay upfront now and not have fungal/bacterial problems later
     
  11. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    What do you guys and gals suggest for covering the bottom of the terrarium? I was thinking pebbles or maybe hydroton to make a humidity tray but I am seeing a lot of vivariums and terrariums with plants growing on the bottom and I was wondering what they use for a substrate. I should have everything except the plants by next saturday so I'll post pictures then.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    The choice of substrate depends a lot on what, if anything you want to grow there.

    First, however, you'll want a false bottom of some sort to allow drainage of excess water. My family room terrarium has a 1/2" standpipe and a 3" layer of LECA. On top of that I have 3"-4" of sphagnum, which is wetted by the wicking from the LECA below. I have paphs and phals, among other terrestrial plants, growing in the moss.

    My basement "seedling nursery", on the other hand, has as double layer of EcoWeb as the floor, serving to support potted plants and shelving, while still providing drainage space.
     
  13. wpinnix

    wpinnix William Pinnix

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    Dave, another orchid that is very easy to grow is Trichosalpinx chamaelepanthes. It forms a mat in quick order, has nice leaves....and I have a division ;)
     
  14. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    Ray,thanks for your post, it was very informative, however what do you mean by a 1/2'' standpipe? I don't know what you mean. I think I may go with the LECA and sphagnum setup you described and grow some more epiphytic orchids. I hadn't originally planned to grow anything there, but now I may plant something
    I think
    Also, Is a 26 watt CFL( http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/compact_fluorescent_bulbs.php) going to be too much light? I saw somewhere recommended at 13 watt bulb for such a small terrarium.

    Does anyone know of any good interesting looking compact companion plant that will work well in a terrarium such as mine?
     
  15. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    I went will a LECA, a mesh separator and sphagnum for the substrate and bought some cork flatsa and a round for decoration and to mount plants to.
     
  16. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    I have been doing a bunch of reading on the New England Herptoculture website (http://www.neherpetoculture.com) which has a lot of great info on vivariums and inexpensive supplies, although it is more focused towards frog and reptile vivarium. One of the articles advised introducing springtails and isopods (which they sell) as beneficial inhabitants of the vivarium to prevent fungus build up and harmful insects. Does anyone know if this is a good idea in orchid vivariums or is it just advisable for reptile and frog vivariums?
     
  17. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    Like Christmas morning image.jpg
     
  18. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    image.jpg The supplies
     
  19. Dave The Scientist

    Dave The Scientist Active Member

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    image.jpg The mock up of the build. (Should be viewed 90 degrees to the left, sorry). I'll post more pictures as I go along
     
  20. Defica

    Defica New Member

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    One note on the microfauna. I know that they are beneficial to frog tanks because they help keep things clean. They also help create beneficial bacteria for terrestrial plants. So if you are going to be mounting most of your plants you probably won't need springs. I've also heard that isos will actually start eating your orchids if they do not have another food source. I don't think you will have much mold with your cork mounts. The stuff holds up really well.

    It's really your call, but I'd say they are unnecessary in an orchid tank.