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Old 05-08-2008, 07:54 PM
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Default Invert Planted Terraria and Vivaria



Planting a Viv


Generally, you have to consider planting whilst you are considering décor and substrate, before you add your pet. It’s not a disaster to add plants to an enclosure, but its best to try to keep disturbance to a minimum once established.

Another good idea is to research your animals’ natural habitat and try to mimic it, or use that as a basis for ideas. If it’s a desert animal, then some rainforest plants are not a good idea.

With planted vivs, you will need more substrate than normal – I’d recommend at least 3” or so to accommodate most small plants. It’s also an idea to leave them in their pots, to allow them to be removed easily for maintenance or in the event of death.

With T’s that web heavily, its probably a greater challenge to create a planted tank – I’d avoid any small leaved plants and go for big robust, fast growing plants that will deal with the attentions of the spider.

(sorry about the sizes of some of this pics, they looked nice!)


“Jungle Types”


What I mean here are conditions where you’re invert will typically be after a normal humidity of 70% + and a temp range of between 14 – 28C or so.

There are lots of options here, but mainly look for plants that will tolerate shade and mechanical damage – my own curly-hair often broke many fern fronds and webbed over them. Having something that tolerates this sort of constant damage is a must.

Another point is that you'll probably have more success with fewer large plants, and more simple plants such as mosses and lichen. I cant recommend mosses enough - they can be easily collected, store humidity and make a great display when grown alongside larger specimen plants. There's no easier way to get rid of that "sterile" look than by adding some mosses to the container, along with decaying leaves, twigs etc. I really wish I still had my 2ft glass tanks set up to show pics of - alas, my pets are in large RUBs now because I move often.

Substrates:

Coir block and chemical free composts are a good start, especially when mixed with sphagnum moss to retain water. In this sort of setting, it can be difficult not to over water the enclosure, but with practice you can control the humidity and condensation.

Sand/Grit is a good idea to add – it improves drainage and a 1/2” layer at the bottom of the tank will allow excess water to pool and should stop the soil becoming waterlogged at the risk of your invert’s health. Vermiculite/ perlite (or Hortag) are also good alternatives to grit, and are completely inert so won’t react in any way to damage or poison your pet.

Light is hard to get correct initially – although if your room is fairly bright, you will probably only have to add a little extra light for adequate growth. Try to keep the bulb at least a few inches away from any foliage lest the plant become overheated or scorched.

The aim is for the plants to grow slowly, so fertiliser is not needed (and may damage your inverts anyway).

Have a look at this website for some great ideas for viv plants that would be suitable for tropical set ups:

http://www.dartfrog.co.uk/plants.html

The ones I have actually tried include many of the bromeliads and various fern species and numerous mosses. I would stay away from carnivorous plants and Orchids unless you are familiar with them outside of a viv (I‘ll explain later). The names are in Latin, so if you just copy them into google, you will find the exact plant – the common names are often misleading.

Some suggested plants:

Cryptanthus sp. – eg Cryptanthus acaulis
Neoregelia sp.
Vriesea sp.
Tillandsia sp.
Cissus sp.
Ficus sp. – especially Ficus pumila
Muehlenbeckia complexa
Pellonia repens

Philodendron sp.
Tradescantia sp.
Asplenium nidus
Athyrium spicatum
Tillandsia usneoides (below)

Cordyline terminalis
Dracaena sanderiana
Chamaedorea elegans






Above: Too bad this communal H.incei tank uses silk plants, otherwise it would be a great planted viv. Something like this is easily attainable with real plants however and this is a great inspiration for those willing to try the real thing. The basic parts are already there - light, moisture and deep soil.

Desert / semi arid Types:

By desert, I mean something with humidity <70% and typically with an open, sandy substrate. Think of most yellow scorpions and Solifuge species as typical inhabitants of this sort of invert set up.

Soil should be well drained and with plenty of added grit. A layer of grit about 3" deep should be placed at the bottom to catch any excess water, and if you have a burrowing animal, then this should really be fenced off in some manner (think similar to undergravel filters in fish tanks). Watering should be seldom, especially if succulents are used.

This type of set up will likely have fewer plants than a tropical set up – if for aesthetic reasons if nothing else. General advice would be to stay away from cacti or spiky succulents.

Suggested plants would be things like Stone-plants (Family Aizoaceae or Ficoidaceae). These are smooth and safe, and because of their deep growing style are unlikely to be damaged too much with the burrowing activity of the animal.

You are really spoiled for choice within the stone-plants and other related species, I can’t really list too many species here – suffice to say, you are safe with anything that isn’t spiky…

Suggested planting:

Pleiospilos nelii
Senecio mandraliscae
Dinteranthus wilmotianus



Above: This sort of natural planting is a perfect inspiration for a planted viv for something like a solifuge.



A UK plant, Sedum anglicum. This succulent will happily survive in the cooler semi arid viv.




This is a great little stone plant, and suitable for a desert type viv.


Carnivorous plants and orchids


These can be a bit of a headache at times.

Orchids: These should thrive, but more often than not, you find people struggling. Obviously, they are rainforest plants, but they often require cooler conditions than people realise and ambient light levels. What is most likely to throw the beginner is the need for winter dormancy in some species.

I would suggest that Orchids only be tried by people who have grown them outside of containers first, or who are comfortable regulating the moisture level within the viv – orchids HATE having their roots permanently waterlogged.

Carnivorous plants – a favourite of mine. These have a tough reputation, in my opinion unfounded. However, in the invert viv, you have to be selective. Many of the large Nepenthes, Sarracenia and Drosera are to be avoided – these plants prey on sometimes very large inverts, and your pet is no exception.

Most carnivores need pretty humid conditions and wet soils, which can be a problem for inverts.

A quick solution would be to plant the carnivore in a saucer in the viv – the saucer collects more water than the surrounding soil, thus accommodating both plant and animal better.

My suggested carnivores to grow would be:

Utricularia reneformis
U. sandersonii
U. graminifolia
U. calycifida

Most of the Utricularia sp. The 4 above are easily available and are very pretty plants.

Cephalotus follicularis (below)– this is a tiny austrailian pitcher plant, easy to grow and very pretty. Most adult T’s and scorps will be safe from it, as the traps are only 1cm diameter.




I don’t recommend venus flytraps, larger pitcher plants (Sarracenia or nepenthes) or sundews. Its too likely that your invert will eventually become prey to these plants as they grow, or at the very least, the mucus from the sundews could stress your pet. Other types of carnivores do exist, but they again tend to be either difficult to get hold of, expensive and ultimately, unsuitable for use with inverts.

If anyone wants advice on culturing specific carnivores, please pm me, I’ve grown many species since I was 14 and have a decent knowledge of how to grow them.

I’ve left specific growth advice out of this as its way beyond the scope of it to cover all the plants mentioned. Hopefully this will give a decent grounding in how to make planted vivs.



Good links:

http://www.desertusa.com/flora.html#cactus

http://www.pitcherplant.com/terrarium.html

http://www.dartfrog.co.uk/plants.html

http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC1457.htm

http://www.blackjungle.com/basics.htm

http://www.hantsflytrap.com/ - Fantastic carnivorous plant website, Matthew is a decent guy, and I used to chat to him at a lot of the Scottish plant exhibitions. His plants are top notch, never had problems from him.


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Old 05-08-2008, 08:00 PM
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Great Article, Cheers GRB!!!!
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:13 PM
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dude, ive been waiting for you to do this!! haha

awesome thread, very helpful, needs to be sticky'd
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by monitorfan666 View Post
dude, ive been waiting for you to do this!! haha

awesome thread, very helpful, needs to be sticky'd
Hey dude, thanks.

If you need help with carnivores, i'd be happy to offer advice on specifics. Hopefully this thread will develop into a plant discussion thread and we can get some pics up etc.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRB View Post
Hey dude, thanks.

If you need help with carnivores, i'd be happy to offer advice on specifics. Hopefully this thread will develop into a plant discussion thread and we can get some pics up etc.
awesome, i have a question lol

regarding venus fly traps, i know you say that inverts may become prey to some species, but for something like an adult Heterometrus Cyaneus, what do you reckon? does it depend on how large the fly traps grow to (which i dont know haha)
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Old 06-08-2008, 08:58 AM
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With a venus flytrap, its not so much the possibility that your pet will become prey (the traps are only likely to get 1" big at most), its more that the plant is quite fragile.

If your Het was to continually walk over the plant, stimulate traps to close without prey inside, break eaves etc, the plant wouldnt last long.

The other issue is that a venus flytrap grows best when sitting in a saucer of water, under pretty intense sunlight - I dont use ANY shading on my greenhouse, and it gets full sunshine at all times. The plants love it, and grow amazingly. In normal viv conditions that you'd keep your Het under, there probably would be insufficient light unless you want to bake your scorp. I've seen pics of these plants in the wild basically waterlogged under full sun, and they get huge.

Theres also the possibility that a trap might catch a leg, resulting in stress to your invert, and the loss of the leg. Thats mainly why I didnt suggest venus flytraps.

They are great plants, and easy to grow, but I dont think they are good for use with inverts. Thats just IMO.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:18 AM
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Thank you for reasuring me. I've pick up some air plants as you dont need to put them in soil as they dont grow routs. You can stick them anywhere with special glue and are perfect for the conditions. I shall keep you updated on how they do, and how the little one likes them.
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:35 PM
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awesoome thread, very informative, personally of the few plants i did try, they all died, i really dont get on with plants, lol
Definately inspiration to try again at somepoint though.
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRB View Post
With a venus flytrap, its not so much the possibility that your pet will become prey (the traps are only likely to get 1" big at most), its more that the plant is quite fragile.

If your Het was to continually walk over the plant, stimulate traps to close without prey inside, break eaves etc, the plant wouldnt last long.

The other issue is that a venus flytrap grows best when sitting in a saucer of water, under pretty intense sunlight - I dont use ANY shading on my greenhouse, and it gets full sunshine at all times. The plants love it, and grow amazingly. In normal viv conditions that you'd keep your Het under, there probably would be insufficient light unless you want to bake your scorp. I've seen pics of these plants in the wild basically waterlogged under full sun, and they get huge.

Theres also the possibility that a trap might catch a leg, resulting in stress to your invert, and the loss of the leg. Thats mainly why I didnt suggest venus flytraps.

They are great plants, and easy to grow, but I dont think they are good for use with inverts. Thats just IMO.
thanks alot for that mate, very helpful like always

a mod needs to sticky this thread so it stays in sight
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Old 06-08-2008, 05:19 PM
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agreed, is a thread that can be applied to any invert and even vert setups alike.
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