For a long time, pets have been filling our homes with joy, with plants now quickly catching up in providing companionship, as well as adding a beautiful touch of green to our spaces. But, have you ever thought of merging the two ideas together? Imagine turning your empty fish bowl into a lush, green, and miniature ecosystem? Yes, it is possible! With a fish bowl terrarium, you can bring a little piece of nature right into your home.
These artistic, green creations serve as a fantastic opportunity to reinvent how we use fish bowls, allowing you to express your creativity, while providing an appealing decoration that adds a hint of nature’s charm to your home decor. Sounds like an interesting project, doesn’t it? In this guide, we’ll be swimming through everything you need to know about setting up your own fish bowl terrarium.
Prepare your gardening gloves and let’s dive right in!
The Different Types of Fish Bowl Terrariums
There are two primary types of terrariums you can create with your fish bowl:
1. Closed Terrarium
The traditional type of terrarium, a closed terrarium is a mini, self-sustaining ecosystem that can practically take care of itself. It’s well-suited for tropical plants and moss that thrive in humid and warm conditions. Imagine your own miniature rainforest or woodland right at your home!
2. Open Terrarium
A modern twist on the classic terrarium, an open terrarium is akin to a glass planter. Unlike the closed terrarium, it requires regular care just like a houseplant. Open terrariums are typically filled with arid plants that enjoy dry environments and airflow. Why not create a spectacular succulent or cactus terrarium to bring the arid deserts into your living room?
Looking for some inspiration for your terrarium designs? You’ll find plenty of ideas in our terrarium ideas and terrarium decor articles.
Bonus: A fish bowl can also be used traditionally as an aquarium. If you fancy adding fish into your fish bowl, explore the aquatic counterpart of the terrarium hobby – aquascaping.
The Essential Fish Bowl Terrarium DIY Guide
1. Finding the Right Fish Bowl
The first step to creating your fish bowl terrarium is finding the perfect glass container. Fortunately, glass containers, including fish bowls, are easily accessible online, and you can find them in pet stores and plant markets too.
Selecting the right kind of fish bowl depends on the type of terrarium you’re building. For an open terrarium, a fish bowl with a wider opening is ideal. A narrow neck traps humidity, which is less than ideal for arid plants. Opt for a dish-like shaped container for an open terrarium, as this design allows for better air circulation.
For a closed terrarium, go for a fish bowl with an even, circular opening. Because fish bowls typically don’t come with lids, you might need to find one separately. A custom-cut acrylic sheet works perfectly as a lid for a closed terrarium. They are cost-effective and blend seamlessly with the fish bowl.
2. Building Your Fish Bowl Terrarium Layers
After you’ve found the perfect container and given it a good clean, it’s time to assemble your miniature ecosystem.
Start with a Drainage Layer: This layer is crucial to protect your plants’ roots from excess water. Materials like Leca, aquarium gravel, or decorative pebbles work great for this layer. Aim for approximately one-inch depth.
Follow up with a Substrate Layer: Potting soil, while tempting, does not drain well enough for a terrarium. Consider using a pre-mixed bag of substrate or create your own mix. A tropical mix is suitable for a closed terrarium, whereas an arid mix works well for an open terrarium. Add enough substrate to cover your plants’ roots comfortably.
This is the perfect time to add any large hardscape items such as rocks or wood. Secure them by packing the substrate around these elements, and if you wish, sculpt or slope the substrate for a more dynamic landscape.
3. Selecting and Planting Your Plants
Your choice of plants will, of course, depend on whether your terrarium is open or closed.
For a closed terrarium, consider plants like Peperomia, Pilea, Ferns, Fittonia, and moss. For an open terrarium, succulents, cacti, and air plants make fantastic choices. Make sure to refer to our terrarium plants guide to select the right plants for your project.
Before planting, moisten the substrate lightly with a spray of water. Make a small depression with a terrarium tool or a spoon, place your plants’ roots in, and smooth the substrate around. Keep going until all your plants are in place, then add any additional decor items, give it another light spray of water, and voila! Your fish bowl terrarium is ready.
The Intricate Art of Terrarium Care
Caring for a terrarium might seem challenging, but with a keen eye for detail and a bit of patience, you’ll find it quite manageable. Plus, understanding the needs of your miniature green world and providing them accordingly is part of the fun!
Caring for a Closed Terrarium: Decoding Nature’s Signals
When it comes to closed terrarium care, you’ll feel like a bit of a plant detective. Each sign that the plants inside your fish bowl terrarium give, is a clue towards maintaining the perfect balance in your small, enclosed ecosystem.
Generally, closed terrariums are quite self-sustaining. Their ingenious design allows them to recycle water, much like the Earth’s water cycle. However, this doesn’t mean they are entirely maintenance-free. You’ll need to pay attention to signs of distress and act accordingly.
If you notice that the interior of your terrarium is looking particularly dry, don’t hesitate to give it a few sprays of water. Similarly, if you spot any plants that have passed their prime, remove them promptly to prevent any potential decay from affecting the health of the remaining plants. Overgrown plants can start taking over the small space, leading to competition for resources. Make sure to trim back any plants that are getting a bit too adventurous.
Lighting is another crucial aspect of closed terrarium care. These tiny ecosystems need bright, indirect light to flourish. Direct sunlight can cause the terrarium to heat up excessively, leading to a ‘greenhouse effect’ which could potentially harm the plants inside.
For a more in-depth understanding of caring for your closed terrarium, check out our comprehensive terrarium care guide.
Caring for an Open Terrarium: An Exercise in Diligence
In contrast to closed terrariums, open terrariums require a more hands-on approach. These types of terrariums thrive in direct sunlight and need a consistent watering schedule. Unlike their closed counterparts, open terrariums do not retain water as effectively, which means you’ll need to keep a close eye on the moisture levels.
A balanced watering regimen is crucial for an open terrarium. The idea is to keep the soil moist but not overly saturated. After watering, allow the terrarium to dry out before the next watering session. This method mimics the natural cycle of arid plants, which are accustomed to periods of drought followed by rain.
When it comes to the care of air plants in your open terrarium, remember that they are a bit different from your average houseplant. Air plants will need to be soaked in water for around an hour every few weeks. This process allows them to absorb the necessary water and nutrients they need to grow. But be careful to let them dry out thoroughly after their soak to prevent rot.
In essence, caring for a fish bowl terrarium, be it open or closed, is an engaging task that requires understanding, attentiveness, and a pinch of love. As you watch your miniature ecosystem thrive, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the intricate workings of nature.
So there you have it, a complete guide to creating and maintaining your very own fish bowl terrarium. Be it a lush, humid rainforest, a quaint woodland, or a captivating desert landscape, the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to designing your terrarium. Grab your fish bowl, get your plants, and let your creativity flow as you embark on this exciting venture. Good luck and happy planting!