Miniature Gardening forum: Questions about setting up my 1st terrarium

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Name: Dave
Winston Salem, NC
DaveNWinston
Nov 16, 2013 7:34 AM CST
Hi everybody Smiling I'm Dave and this is my first post. I hope I'm posting in the correct place.

I currently have a 90 gal. FW fish tank that I want to drain and convert to a terrarium. I've done some research and it seems rather simple but I do have 1 question.

The tank currently has Eco Complete as a substrate with a few inches of gravel on top of it. The substrate and the gravel eventually get mixed somewhat. When I drain this tank, am I going to get a bad smell from the poo-laden substrate and if so how should I combat it?

I've included an image of the tank when it was thriving but now I've taken out all the plants and fish.

Thx,

Dave
Thumb of 2013-11-16/DaveNWinston/5528da

Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
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goldfinch4
Jan 16, 2014 11:03 AM CST
Hi Dave,

First of all, I'm so sorry no one has responded to your post yet. Crying I've never made a terrarium or owned a fish tank, so I'm not able to answer this question. However, I'm going to ask @Dave if he can move your thread to the "Ask A Question" Forum and hopefully someone there will be able to help you.

By the way, what a beautiful, healthy looking fish tank! Thumbs up
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jan 16, 2014 11:47 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

It doesn't look like there's enough ongoing interest to sustain this particular forum. I'm thinking I'll move all the threads into the general gardening forum and disable this one.
Name: David Paul
(Zone 9b)
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DavidofDeLand
Jan 16, 2014 12:43 PM CST
I agree It would have been more clear and easier to share ideas if the images of the tank were empty and included a few beginnings of plants terrestrial.

All the best your way (should you still see this message)truly with your terrarium endeavors! Smiling
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Jan 16, 2014 1:59 PM CST
Thanks Dave!
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jan 17, 2014 10:21 AM CST
I like to think things will pick up on this forum when spring hits. Forums are universally slow this time of year. This is the only mini gardening forum that has any life at all, anywhere. Please keep it! The threads are timeless, even if moving at a slow pace.
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jan 17, 2014 11:11 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Alright, we'll keep it up. Smiling
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jan 17, 2014 1:49 PM CST
TYVM!! If that's not motivation to get in gear to do stuff to post pics of, I don't know what would be.

And hopefully more terr advice will trickle into this discussion as well. I'd love to have the fish poo for fertilizer, but have no idea if it's too 'strong' as is. I'd probably 'marinate' it in water for a few days, dilute & use to water plants. I don't know if that's anywhere in the realm of what you were asking or not, DaveN.

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Name: mj
Central Florida
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mjsponies
Feb 11, 2014 12:23 PM CST
I clicked on this to see what info I might glen also. I have two fish tanks sitting out in the barn with nothing to do. They need a job !
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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
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webesemps
Feb 11, 2014 5:14 PM CST
DaveNWinston said:Hi everybody Smiling I'm Dave and this is my first post. I hope I'm posting in the correct place.

The tank currently has Eco Complete as a substrate with a few inches of gravel on top of it. The substrate and the gravel eventually get mixed somewhat. When I drain this tank, am I going to get a bad smell from the poo-laden substrate and if so how should I combat it?


I would think that with any container that one is going to use for another purpose, one would just want to clean it as well as one can. And if there is organic stuff to clean out of the substrate, I agree with Tiffany that a few rinses should help in filtering out the organic stuff and clean the substrate a little. It would be up to you how clean you would want it and up to you if the smell is bearable (if there is a smell). Worse comes to worse, you can replace the substrate but I think a little organic matter would help with whatever you would want to grow.

Thanks for posting @DaveNWinston as I am also contemplating getting into making a terrarium but not going to be as ambitious to start with a big one (no place to put it)!
Name: David Paul
(Zone 9b)
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DavidofDeLand
Feb 11, 2014 5:27 PM CST
The only reason I don't do terrariums these days is because even a half acre property with surround sound shade, sun, veggie, and ornamental gardens, plus the outdoor miniature gardens, and container plants woops me plus working with others in theirs!

I think terrariums are genious for apartment dwellers and those who don't have such extensive outside work going on though. I also think I will probably get back into terrariums and keep with a miniature garden or two or maybe a succulent box someday. This would be the case should the day come I am older then now and the size of my gardens here have outgrown my abililities, and have to downsize and sell the beauty to an appropriate younger set of Garden of Eden lovers. That is the only type that would be interested in my home now, as the property is far beyond mow, blow, and edge. Smiling ...........and then some! Hilarious!
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
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webesemps
Feb 11, 2014 7:13 PM CST
I've been collecting glassware for a first terrarium. Haven't gotten to step Two yet. Let's just say I am practicing step One over and over in case I need to downsize and don't have the room for anything bigger for succulents and shade plants in troughs and such.

In the past, I've experienced a 4000sq ft home on 10 acres and downsized at first to a 900 sq ft apt. Couldn't figure out where to do any gardening until I discovered that the apt balcony might work... Of course, the middle of two extremes is always best and so that's where I am now with my empty mason jars, apothecary jars, and a glass cotton ball container, still practicing step one where one has to have a container to start...
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Feb 12, 2014 8:41 AM CST
LOL Bev! In that case, I'm practicing step 1 of mini gardening too, 2 empty containers here, waiting for this cold weather to go AWAY! I'm waaaay to messy to try to do anything with 'dirt' inside. Terrarium is definitely not for me, but I've always been intrigued by them.
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Name: Mother Raphaela
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 11, 2014 5:03 PM CST
Serendipitous snooping lands me here -- with summer winding down here in the Northeast, I'm getting nervous about a long winter. I've learned that the sempervivum seedlings that led me to ATP have to be left outdoors now (I'm already having withdrawal symptoms). Crying

My jury-rigged lightstand is filling up with chopped back tropicals that spent the summer outdoors (we buy them to make the place look nice for our 3 months of summer -- I let the others think that is what we are doing -- so I can pick one of each to bring in to keep me company the rest of the year! Thumbs up ) I need something else. I did the bottle terrarium thing probably 20 years ago and don't want to repeat that. They lasted several years with patient pruning and moving using every skinny, long-handled tool I could borrow from the kitchen. Too much work and "been there; done that..."

Mother Anna finally admitted she saw a volunteer accidentally kick in the side of our goldfish aquarium when it was being moved into the new monastery building 10 years ago and she threw it away. Grumbling (I knew we had it and looked everywhere for it!)

So where do I start? Maybe an ad in the Pennysaver to see if anyone around here has an aquarium they don't want anymore since I know a large budget will be vetoed for this project? I found some (3) stacked apothecary jars for only $20 and they would do if I go out to the woods and bring in some Partridgeberry. That would be pretty!

But I have to confess I'm really tempted by the mention somewhere here of starting an indoor tropical carnivorous plant bog and that would need the larger aquarium -- plus buying the plants slowly. I had some tropical pitcher plant seeds I started at the same time as my semps, but nothing came of it, even though I left them in the fridge for the required time... Sad

Well, if you don't hear from me here again you'll know I gave up the idea. If I figure out how to weasel in a terrarium somehow, I'll be back! Green Grin! MR
Name: Dave
Winston Salem, NC
DaveNWinston
Nov 1, 2014 5:53 AM CST
Here's how we're coming along. Everything has grown a lot since these photos and I will make some new ones soon.

Dave
Thumb of 2014-11-01/DaveNWinston/b12aee


Thumb of 2014-11-01/DaveNWinston/5710e3


Thumb of 2014-11-01/DaveNWinston/03240e


Thumb of 2014-11-01/DaveNWinston/bff297


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Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
Nov 1, 2014 1:12 PM CST
Thanks for showing the progress of your project, Dave. Where did you get that most-interesting wood piece? It's definitely a good start for an eye-catching focal point. Can I ask if that condensation will go away? I assume there's some balance that needs to be reached when the moisture in the tank and the cover being moved closed and open/ventilation and the plants' respiration all "equalize" in some way over time? I see ivy added' what's the other plants?
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Nov 3, 2014 8:34 AM CST
TY for the update. Looks like you're having fun!
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Name: Bev Walker
SW Virginia (Zone 6a)
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Sundownr
Apr 2, 2016 7:43 AM CST
DaveNWinston, I would love to see an update on your terrarium! How did it turn out?

I was thinking that a sprinkle of activated charcoal might remove any offensive odor from the fishy substrate. The 'fish dirt' substrate might be a great fertilizer for potential plantings, too!

I hope this thread picks back up . . . or, maybe I'll ponder about my 30-gallon tank-to-terrarium project here all by myself. Whistling
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