You certainly know a lot of things, but how to care for a terrarium may not be one of them. Don’t worry, though, it’s not too hard – terrariums and jarrariums are self sustaining ecosystems. That whole self sustaining bit means their care should be easy.
At the same time, I claim to be self sustaining and my fiancee still has to care for me – your ecosystem is going to need similar attention and compassion. But don’t fret, with the correct care plan, your self sustaining ecosystem will flourish. On the other hand, if your jarrarium or terrarium care is sub-par, then you could be dealing with a real eyesore. Follow these steps to be sure that that doesn’t happen to you.
Are you sure that what you have is a jarrarium? See how it stacks up to our parameters here.
In short, a jarrarium is a micro-aquarium where instead of pet store fish you’ve got flora and fauna from your local pond. The best part about it is that you can make one for next to nothing out of a few household materials. Another perceived benefit of jarrariums is that they’re a fully self sustaining ecosystem. They are not, and without proper care your jarrarium’s ecosystem will perish.
So, how can you find the perfect balance between benevolent god and mad scientist when caring for your jarrarium? Well, it’s easier than you think.
Change the Water
In the natural world, the water cycle and other processes take care of changing the water within ecosystems. In your self sustaining ecosystem, however, Mother Nature isn’t there to pick up after you – the honus of cycling water is yours. You should consider this fact when buying or creating your jarrarium – with the correct forethought, a built from scratch customizable option will alleviate the struggles associated with changing the water.
It should be noted that the more animals you include in your ecosystem, the more frequently you’ll need to change the water – a conservative estimate is weekly. Conversely, less animals and more plants means less of a necessity to change. Choosing the correct substrate can also have a drastic impact on your need to change your jarrarium’s water.
A good rule of thumb is to change your water every two weeks. As previously mentioned, if you have jarrarium animals then this will need to be done more frequently. When changing the water, be sure to replace at least half of it with treated water, every time. You can scoop the water out by hand, or pick up a water siphon like this one here.
You should make an effort to mitigate the effect that the water change has on your self sustaining ecosystem’s inhabitants. A great tip to do this is to pour your treated water gently onto the back of a spoon. The spoon will disperse the water in a way that won’t kick up debris.
Trim Your Jarrarium Plants
One of your biggest concerns when caring for your jarrarium is going to revolve around overcrowding. Jarrarium’s are the ideal ecosystem for these aquatic plants. They have ideal lighting, low competition, copious nutrients, and no predators – when can I move in?
Jokes aside, trimming your jarrium is made easy or difficult by your ecosystem’s housing. If your’s features a bottleneck design for example, good luck changing the water or trimming your plants. Fortunately, some surgical grade gardening tools can save the day if you’ve already constructed your self sustaining ecosystem. Be sure though that whatever tools you use are extra sharp; plants with clean snips are less prone to infection and more likely to bounce back.
You mean I have to clean this thing? I thought it was a self sustaining ecosystem!
Well, for the most part it is – you’ll only need to clean your jarrarium on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. You should also give it a wipe if you notice algae creeping up the sides of your housing (unless you’re going for a Real Pond Ecosystem of Planet Earth look – then it’s okay!). If you allow your jarrarium to go uncleaned for too long, the chemical balances inside your ecosystem will get all out of whack. From personal experience, there’s little chance of coming back from it.
Cleaning is the pinnacle of jarrarium care, so you need to do it correctly. Should you replace the substrate? No, that’s too much work and it’ll anger your aquatic organisms. Your best bet is to use a water siphon or aquatic vacuum to suck up all the gunk. For efficiencies sake, you should probably do this when you’re changing your water and trimming your plants as your water level will drop as a result.
Struggling with the difference between a terrarium and a jarrarium? Don’t worry, we’ve got guides for that.
Aright, so now that we’re sure we’re on the same page, let’s discuss terrarium care. It’s much less intensive than jarrarium care because terrariums are solely terrestrial. As a result, there are less biological processes going on, which means less of a chance of a catastrophe. While some may call this boring, others may view it as a chance to keep something alive.
There are two opens available to you when choosing a terrarium – open or closed. See which one is the right choice for you here.
Open Terrarium Care
Caring for an open, or unsealed, terrarium is one step above taking care of a pet rock, but you can make it so much more. Tip number one is to put it somewhere where you’ll remember it, because an open terrarium is not totally self sustaining.
Don’t Forget to Water your Terrarium
While condensation will help to keep its closed cousin moist, the open terrarium has no such luck. It’s relying on you to make sure it stays alive. The plants that you have in your terrarium will dictate how frequently you’ll need to water them, but the majority of open terrariums house hardier, drought-resistant plants. This means that misting every week or so depending on climate is the way to go.
Grooming Terrarium Plants
As with all plant-grooming, clean cuts lead to healthy plants. So, be sure that you’re using sharp tools. Other than that, your terrariums plants should be snipped when they encroach on their neighbors and get too close to the glass. Pro tip – you should look into propagating whatever you cut!
Open Terrarium Cleaning
Because your terrarium is open, you may find that you don’t have to clean it quite as much. At the same time, there are some catastrophic problems that can occur if things go unchecked for too long.
The biggest issue that you can run into is mold. Your terrarium – even an open one – is a humid place thanks to all those plants in such a small area, and mold loves some humidity. Your best course of action to combat a mold outbreak is to be vigilant about removing dead plants. To be honest, the best rule of thumb in a self sustaining ecosystem is to get rid of the plant even if it’s dying; to try bringing it back risks the survival of your whole little world!
Closed Terrarium Care
Your closed, or sealed, terrarium is as close to a self sustaining ecosystem as you’re going to get. At the same time, there are a couple maintenance tips that you can implement to make your terrarium care as stress-free as possible.
The Key is Planning
The manner in which you construct your closed ecosystem will dictate the ease or difficulty of its care. So take your time with your substrate and choose the right plants. A great tip that you can implement post-build, is to turn your terrarium periodically so that the light distribution is even.
Mist Every Couple Weeks
Because the terrarium is closed, condensation will happen and will keep your self sustaining ecosystem, for the most part, self sustaining. At the end of the day, though, if your closed terrarium is too dry, then mist the soil and plants.
Terrarium Plants Look Terrible?
If you find that you self sustaining ecosystem looks too wet and the plants look sick, then just open the lid for a few days. You may find that allowing the outside air in is a good thing. If it ends up being a bad thing, then chances are your terrarium was on it’s way out anyway.
Closed Terrarium Cleaning
While you don’t want to interrupt the the natural processes going on inside, if there is algae build-up on your housing, then you’re going to want to clean it. This cleaning is as easy as wiping the glass down with a moist paper towel. If you find that the algae is really caked on, then try an expired credit card to scrape it off.