Exo Terra Low-Light Livebearer Zone

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Dendrobium Terrarium

My 18″ Cube Exo Terra Terrarium

I have started setting up an 18″ x 18″ x 24″ Exo Terra Terrarium with the eventual goal of it housing some livebearers, low-light orchids, some emerse aquarium plants, and perhaps a tree denizen. I started by getting everything out of the old “setup”, which was basically just a temporary housing while I resealed my 18″ cube Exo Terra.

I started by drilling the bottom for 3/4″ bulkhead fittings (1 3/8″ hole) the same used for ebb-and-flow aquaponic systems. I used the smaller size than “traditional” aquarium bulkheads because a) the glass is thin – terrarium not aquarium, and; b) I don’t need the 300GPH that a 1″ fitting will give me. This is going into a small, crappy SunSun Canister Filter, the plants will do most of the filtration work, this is to give the waterfall some “oomph” and remove any shit that falls into the water off the moss.

Drilled Terrarium

The terrarium after drilling

Anyway, I drilled this piece with the support of George Zhang of The Aquatic Plant Society (née the New York Aquatic Plant Society) and then realized – that was really easy, and I don’t want a tube snaking over the back, especially if I’m going to hang a light over it. So I drilled a second hole for the return.

I will not bore you with the difficulty of getting a barbed fitting on the drain bulkhead (I think 5/8″ ID) onto the 3/8″ ID hose for the filter. But, I failed the first time, using a barb that I think was for 1/2″->3/8″. Super fun and water everywhere. But, I found a product that allows one to cut the tapered adaptor at precisely the point you need for hose from 1/4″ up to 1″ ID so that is fabulous. I will add a pic and the name later if I remember, which I won’t.

Terrarium Hardscape

Hardscape is in, mostly. Water is running, not onto the floor.

Little water in, isn’t on the floor, and I have most of the hardscape set up and mossed up. I used dried Mountain Laurel branches that are all over the property, and responsibly harvested moss from about 10 different sites (I like to take a small amount from each site, leaving a surrounded space that will fill back in). I put in a Masdevalia today, I need to add a picture, which I will do with the next update. Tater Mitts Y’all.

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