Terrarium in a Tank

I’ve been taking care of plants, animals and many combinations of the two for years. One of the things I enjoy the most about having an aquarium tank for a terrarium is the variety of things you can do with it.

The thing I enjoy with the tank for fish that I have used for plants and the toads that are in them is that I can keep changing the tank to suite the plants or animals that I want to put in them at any time. I made the terrarium almost a year ago, since then I have added more and different kids of plants and then a week ago I got to add some toads.

You can use any kind of aquarium for a project like this. It is up to you but I like a larger one like this 20 gallon tall tank. I used a few unique tricks to get the plants to incorporate the tallness of the tank.

To start something like this you need to find a tank. If you don’t want to pay for a new one start searching garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. We have been able to find many of the tanks we have at local Salvation Army and thrift stores.

We get them when they have no cracks, for a terrarium you should get one that does not have any cracks. When you get your tank you will be filling it with some gravel, dirt and peat moss. But first you need to get a few more things for the terrarium.

I have used a piece of wood for the tall object on the side that would give the tank it’s use of tall space and as a climbing anchor for any climbing plants. You can use a like piece of wood or some other thing such as a piece of wrought iron, a ceramic piece such as a statue or garden decoration.

I used three pieces of tile for the tall plant box that is in the right hand side of the tank toward the back. I used a ceramic drill bit to drill two holes in each square and cable tied the three pieces together.

You can use any kind of ceramic tile, anything that you take a fancy to is usable. Any tile as long as it is stone, mason or any kind of ceramic is usable. I used three pieces that are a natural color and purchased them at a Menard’s store near me. I had a drill and ceramic/glass drill bit already. I also picked up a pack of plastic cable ties from the electrical section of the store to connect the tiles together.

What you do is lay the pieces out on a surface and mark the places for the drilling. I put the three pieces with one parallel to the front or back of the tank, with the other two pieces going at an angle toward the back. I will fill the space between the tiles and the back of the tank with gravel and dirt and some peat moss and then plant some plants in there.

When you start put a piece of masking tape down on the tile so the bit does not skid across the surface. I marked the four sides of the tiles with a marker and then slowly drilled the holes. I used a one quarter inch drill bit especially for ceramic/glass. I drilled the holes on two tiles, two holes on each tile right across from each other, about an inch from the side of the tile.

I went down from the top and up from the bottom of the tiles about two inches. This will keep the plastic cable ties down from the top of the tiles planter so that the plants in front of it hides the ties. The two on the bottom will be under dirt.

The drilling went fine for me, sometimes you will get the tile in a bad spot and it will break, this happens. Just get a new tile, they should not cost very much, you can use the broken tile for a decoration in the tank or in some other project.

I cable tied the tiles together using the cable tie, just push the pointed end of the cable tie through the hole of one tile and then through the hole of the next tile. Then stick the end of the cable tie through the box part of the cable tie and pull it tight. Cut the extra part off the cable tie and do the other three. When you have them all done and ready, place them in the tank.

You should do this where the tank is going to sit for good, a sturdy table or like I did a buffet. If you try to move the tank after filling it, the tank will weigh too much and you will hurt yourself. So, fill the tank and such where the tank is going to be for awhile.

Place the three tiles how you want them, I placed them against the back to form a trapezoid with the glass as the long side of the shape. You can figure out how you want it and do it however you wish. You can even use more tiles and get more interesting shapes. I then filled the bottom of the tank with about an inch of gravel. Then about two more inches of gravel in the trapezoid shape to fill it more. Don’t try to fill the shape you use with your tiles and not the rest of the tank. The gravel in the bottom of the tank holds the tiles in place no matter where they are and what shape they are in.

I then put some good potting soil and peat moss into the tank, with more going into the trapezoid shape. I filled the bottom of the tank with about four inches of soil, the potting soil and the peat moss. The trapezoid is filled to the top, some has spilled out from when I water the plants. I occasionally toss in some more peat moss and soil every once in a while to add to the soil composition and to add some fertilizer.

I then put in the stick, it is about a foot and half tall and about four inches around. I just took one that we had found that had some interesting knobs and such on it. I placed it slanting up to the corner so that any plants could climb up it.

I then found some interesting plants to add to the terrarium. The climbing one is a philodendron from my vivarium. I also have added some kind of fern and a couple of others over the last year, one is almost like a palm. I don’t get into finding out the names of plants, I just see one I like at the store and buy it, then see if it works in the tank.

I have been using some fertilizer every once in a while, about once a month or so. I also add some more peat moss or potting soil every once a month or so. This adds some of the needed nutrients that the plants end up eating. You can also do as I have and put things like toads in yours if you wish. From the picture you can see I have made a tank top out of some wood molding, screen and a couple of hinges. The plastic is just pieces of Plexiglas that I bought already cut.

I used some pieces of wood that I had from other projects and made the top to keep the crickets I am feeding the toads in the tank. You can also buy a tank top for yours if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making one. I have the tank up against the window for sun light. It doesn’t get too cold in the winter and the plants do well with the amount of sun they get. I have only had the toads a few days and they seem happy so far. If you put animals such as toads in a tank, you need to follow care guides for them. I have put a dish for water in the bottom of the tank and will feed them crickets and worms on a regular basis.

You can place anything you want in your tank, yard or garden decorations, plant spikes or anything you wish. You can make it as personable as you wish.

Just remember to water your plants, give them fertilizer or some fresh soil every once in awhile and if you add some kind of animals like toads, don’t add the fertilizer on them. They will fertilize the plants for you, along with any crickets or food that the animals don’t eat.

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