Bioactive Enclosure - Fifty species of plants, 13 months of growth!

Connorology

Established Member
Howdy Everyone,

I'm under quarantine in California and am losing my mind to boredom. I made a show-and-tell video of my panther setup at the roughly 1 year mark that I figure I'd share here for any interested parties. I've had good luck with my plant collection and have about fifty different species in my setup. I recently got my Phalaenopsis orchid to bloom, and I have some nice shots in here.


Here is the link.

Best,

Connor
 

Connorology

Established Member
Wow. Fifty?! Im at 13 lol.
Haha well you're making progress. Disclosure: I think I am down to 46 actually, I removed a few that weren't doing as well to make additional room for the ones that were. We have some natural(ish) selection going on in the enclosure.

My hope is to eventually build a huge terrarium that's about 6-7' tall and 4-5' wide and have like 100 species of crazy plants. With a custom build I could better position lights too.
 

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
Wow! Very impressive.

What's the biggest thing you would change if you were to do it all over again?
 

Connorology

Established Member
Wow! Very impressive.

What's the biggest thing you would change if you were to do it all over again?
Thank you! And good question - I put a fair amount of planning in before doing anything, so there weren't huge oversights fortunately. I have three somewhat related "even better yet" improvements that relate to vivarium lifespan I would make in hindsight:

1) Substrate: I would probably use a substrate that is tree fern based instead of the SerpaDesign mix I am currently using (coco fiber, orchid bark, sphagnum, sand, charcoal), which works well but seems to be breaking down faster than I would like. I had to add quite a bit more at the 1 year mark. Supposedly ABG is tree fern based and lasts longer.

2) Plant processing: I would also have quarantined/processed my plants for longer (or just more effectively). This is something I did not know how to do correctly when I was starting up this setup despite my research. All plants should be completely bare rooted and quarantined, and the hardier specimens can even be bleach treated in a dilute solution. I somehow managed to introduce both orchid snails and millipedes, likely due to my own sloppiness. The snails seem to cause minimal damage at the moment, and I remove them when I see them. The millipedes I was ambivalent about because I've had them in prior setups and they never caused any damage, but they have really been gnawing apart one of Spicoli's climbing branches down by the base of it. I also suspect they contributed to the relatively fast breakdown of my substrate.

3) Isopods: I would have used different isopods that reproduce more quickly. Porcellio scaber, Porcellionides pruinosis, or even regular dwarf whites seem like good options (or some combination). The A. vulgare I used (normal rollie pollies I've had in culture for years) work just fine for cleanup, but they reproduce so slowly I think they have been getting out competed by the millipedes, partially contributing to problems 1 and 2. Faster reproducing and more aggressive isopod species that go after the eggs of rival inverts might be preferable.

So yeah, basically TLDR: I would ensure more control over microfauna populations and try for a more durable substrate. I will be moving soon and will have to take this setup down to move it to my new place, so I'll get another crack at it. I'll also say that my MistKing system is newish (I used to hand spray) as is my thermostat - I am now of the opinion both of those are the best investments I could have made husbandry-wise and not having them was ill-advised on my part. The cost of both combined was like $180, which is less money than the cost of a vet visit(s) to try and resolve husbandry issues after the fact.
 
Top Bottom