you say aquarium, I say terrarium

They tell me that many aquariums (aquaria?) are eventually converted to terrariums (terraria?) by disappointed owners who give up the tricky task of trying to keep tropical fish alive in a glass tank.

I am now one such owner.

After 12 months, I have decided that it is just not worth it. Despite scores of hours spent meticulously maintaining water quality, temperature, ph, and salinity, and cleaning out filters; after spending hundreds of dollars replacing dead plants and fish, I have been unable to establish the ecosystem well enough for its occupants to survive, let alone thrive. I have spent many hours cleaning and scouring a now empty tank.

I know. I was warned. But I thought I knew better.

I was under the impression that if you took care and did all the right things according to the book, it would work. Well it didn’t.

Kind of like life actually.

So, I have now undertaken an only-slightly-less fraught alternative. I have converted the 250 litre glass tank into a terrarium – specifically, a miniature tropical rainforest complete with miniature palms, ferns, violets, begonias, and even a carnivorous pitcher plant. Catherine has added a few plastic snakes and lizards and Tamara has donated her desktop waterfall. It looks fantastic!

Stay tuned for the post in about 12 months time in which I admit defeat and dismantle the whole disappointing failed ecosystem and put a model ship in the glass case!

Sorry about the picture. [I nicked it from the Carnivorous Plant Association (!) website.] Our camera has stopped working.


~ by Garry on August 2, 2008.

5 Responses to “you say aquarium, I say terrarium”

  1. Hi Garry
    Been there, done that! We knew the end had come when our neighbour’s little boys said “Mrs Kennedy, your fish are sleeping.”

  2. Dear Garry
    I have an antique Mintie Bowl which has been a miserable failure as a terrarium. I gave in and put an artificial African Violet in it. Dad said to give him plenty notice so he can start building a ship! XXX

  3. well if something you tried to grow failed, what hope have I got! Thank goodness for fake african violets.

    oh well, the first week has been good anyway. The little ecosystem is fun to watch – it rains and sometimes gets foggy in there depending on whether the lid is opened a crack or closed completely. The way Toowoomba used to be in winter (remember when there used to be moisture in the air.) I wish our camera was working. It would make a lovely picture the way it is now.

    My problem is not with keeping a close eye on the plants’ progress, it is lnowing what to do if a plant begins to fail. Anyway, it will be an interesting experiment.

  4. Garry, you said ” it is knowing what to do if a plant begins to fail.”

    Try mouth to mouth resuscitation.
    Failing that despatch it by air ambulance to vdh’s Mount Olivet.

    As a last resort throw it on the compost pile down the paddock and it will never look back.


  5. ha!

    alternatively, I could always buy plastic and make believe that everything is thriving. Amazing how real the fake ones can look.
    Couldn’t get away with that ploy with tropical fish though – they never swam quite right.

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