Freshwater Aquarium Basics
The right aquarium fish can make all the difference. Here’s 6 great tips to help you choose the best beginner fish as you embark on your aquarium keeping adventure!
Choosing your first aquarium fish may seem like a daunting task for a beginner. However, with a little research, you will be able to know what fish will prove to be hardy, undemanding, and well-suited to beginners. Perhaps the pet store may have recommended guppies, neons, or catfish, but many beginners have found it difficult to raise them, considering that they are still learning the ropes of aquarium fish care.
These six important tips will help you pick your first aquarium fish. Taking care of these fish species will certainly be a rewarding undertaking that will fuel your love for the hobby.
1. Choose fish which can easily adapt to new surroundings
A good first species should be one that is hardy, active, confident, and disease resistant. Select fish that appear healthy. Avoid fish that manifest visible signs of disease such as white spots, discolored skin patches, frayed fins, etc. Make sure that the fish can withstand water fluctuation since a new tank often has fluctuations in water quality that can stress your fish.
Aside from water conditions, your new fish should be able to adapt well to the presence of aquarium decorations and to the company of other fish species in the tank. Large or active fish can thrive well alone in a tank with little aquarium decor. However, there are fish species that find being alone distressing. Even with excellent water quality, you may find your pet hiding, not feeding, and may become vulnerable to illness.
2. Avoid fish with known specific feeding habits
Pick a fish species that can be fed a simple flake food for the first 6-8 weeks. Fish with specific feeding habits may result in excess amounts of waste products leading to high ammonia and nitrites in the water. The accumulation of these compounds is hazardous to your fish population.
3. Select fish from the same community
Selecting fish species from the same community will help ensure that you achieve balance in your aquarium. If you choose to get several varieties, make sure that they will get along well. Be sure to select the hardiest species. Fish that belong to the same community will have similar water chemistry and temperature requirements while exhibiting like behavior.
4. Start with peaceful community fish species
Aggressive tropical fish species may need to be fed live feeder-fish and this can certainly add up on your list of responsibilities. It is important to know which aggressive fish species can be matched, or else your peaceful community fish species may end up being eaten by its more aggressive tank mates. Aggressive fish species also need more tank space. Some of the tropical fish species that can thrive well in a community tank include tetras, gouramis, and platys.
5. Don’t buy too many at once
It is important that you stock your aquarium slowly. Being a neophyte, you run the risk of losing large numbers of fish to disease or bad water quality. Putting in many fish at the onset may overload the new tank water and lead to a build up of ammonia. The size and type of your tank and aquarium filter will help determine the amount and frequency of introducing new fish species to your tank. As a rule of thumb, no more than six small fish species should be added every seven days.
6. Buy from reputable breeders and pet shops
Before buying fish from a breeder or pet shop, it is recommended to visit the establishment and observe how they take care of the fish. You can see for yourself if the fish has a healthy appetite or is suffering from any health problems or defects. Never buy fish from aquarium shops that are not particular about maintaining hygiene and sanitation in their tanks. Pet shops that allow dead fish floating inside the tank or fail to quarantine sick fish should never be patronized.
Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic – a proud Australian company that provides excellent online aquarium supplies for betta fish tanks, goldfish tanks and also aquatic plant care products carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra.
Bad guys come in all shapes and sizes. Sometime even fish that are considered great community members can get mean!
There are several aquarium fish species which are known to exhibit aggressive behavior. One of the important causes of aggressive behavior inside the tank is attributed to their being territorial, thus you may find some fish species that chase away or nip at others as a means of protecting their space inside the tank.
Yet fish aggressiveness is also attributed to competition for food and difference in size. Sometimes fish will fight when a dominant one feels that its status is being threatened by another fish. Aggression can also be a warning sign; sick fish can become aggressive while other fish tend to bully sick fish. In some instances, a recognized peaceful fish can become aggressive, thus it is common to have one mean fish in the bunch.
The most common manifestations of aggression inside the tank include tail beating, fin-nipping, pushing water at the enemy, mouth-locked wresting, chasing, biting, and even killing.
When choosing to keep a community aquarium, you should know which species can live harmoniously together. Most species of aggressive fish are more suitable for a single species aquarium.
Some of the aggressive fish groups include the following:
Tiger Barb – The Tiger Barb is considered a good community fish however it is prone to nipping fins, thus they should not be kept with long-finned fish species such as angelfish. Tiger barbs can become aggressive if there is overcrowding inside the tank.
Large Tetras – Tetras are considered community dwellers however there may be an aggressive one in the group. When adding new fish, be sure to observe the temperament and whether the new addition is compatible with the rest of the inhabitants of the tank.
Cichlids – Many varieties of cichlids are aggressive and are best kept in one-species tank. Many cichlids can grow to very large sizes. These include the Green Terror, Jewel Cichlid, and Red or Tiger Oscar. African Cichlids are known to be highly predatory and extremely territorial. While not all Cichlids are very aggressive, the largest is usually the dominant one, behaving aggressively towards all the other tank inhabitants.
Giant Danio – The Giant Danio’s long and narrow body can crowd out other fish in the tank. It is also very active and likes to school.
Red Belly Piranha – Piranhas are notoriously predatory. They are known to eat live food. In fact, they will bite fingers when aggravated or hungry.
Large Gouramis – Kissing Gouramis are recognized for being mean and energetic. Gouramis are also considered fin nippers.
Large Rainbow Fish – Although Rainbow fish can live well with other species in a community tank, they can grow large and their fast speed makes it easier for them to prey on smaller inhabitants of the tank.
Wolf Fish – The freshwater wolf fish is a well-known aggressive predator. Also called “Piranha eater”, they have voracious appetites for feeder fish. Any fish that looks like prey can be disemboweled by the wolf fish. Although they don’t really mess with other fish, they are territorial and will nip other inhabitants of the tank.
Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic – a proud Australian company that provides excellent online aquarium supplies for betta fish tanks, goldfish tanks and also aquatic plant care products carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra.
“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne
Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.
These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.
A few of the unique features of elephants are:
- Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
- Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
- Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
- Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
- Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
- Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
- A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
- Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
- In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
- Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
- The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
- The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
- It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
- Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
- Elephants get frightened of bees.
- This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
- 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
- The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
- These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
- The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.
These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!
Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks
So, you’re looking for a dog, a new best friend. But you’re not looking for just any dog, because you also have kids in your home.
In seeking a dog for a family pet, you’re in luck. Generally speaking, most breeds will get along well with older children as long as they’ve had the right training. However, there are some breeds, which not only tolerate children, but also thrive in a family atmosphere.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Height: 12″-13″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 9-15 years
- Pros: If you want a dog that will cuddle with you while watching a movie or stay close on a cold night, keep reading. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to cuddle. Their small size allows them to fit perfectly in your lap, which so happens to be one of their favorite places to be.
The Cavalier is also one of the best dogs because it’s extremely friendly, and its tail is almost constantly in motion. It will sulk if spoken to harshly or left alone for long periods of time. It just wants to please you and love you 24/7. The Cavalier also loves to play, especially chasing games.
- Cons: Because of its long, silky coat, the Cavalier needs daily brushing.
Its natural energy also means that it needs to be kept on a leash while being walked, or else it will chase anything that moves.
Also, the Cavalier cannot be left at home while you go to work. It does best when someone is home for at least most of the day to keep it company.
Height: 12-14″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 8-12 years
- Pros: Bulldogs, commonly referred to as the English Bulldogs, are a non-sporting dog breed. They are one of the most patient, sturdy breeds out there. If you’re worried that your toddler will annoy the dog, have no fear. Bulldogs are more likely to get up and walk away than bite once they’ve had enough.
In fact, Bulldogs are so patient that they can be downright lazy. After a little bit of play, they are content to curl up next to you on the couch and snooze.
- Cons: Due to their flat features and compact bodies, Bulldogs are prone to respiratory and joint problems. Climates that are excessively hot, humid, or cold are not compatible with these dogs. And you can bet that you will be able to hear your dog snoring while he sleeps.
Bulldogs are voracious eaters, and can easily become overweight without preventative action. Food intake must be carefully monitored, which means keeping the kibble and groceries out of reach. Regular walks also help this dog stay in shape.
Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: lives 10-12 years
- Pros: Golden Retrievers are loyal, patient dogs with playful puppy attitudes that can last for years past physical maturity. They love kids and all the chaos that comes with them.
If you enjoy going for a daily run, a Golden Retriever would make a great running partner. They need 40-60 minutes of hard daily exercise to keep them sane. Since these intelligent dogs were originally bred as a working breed, they thrive when they have a “job” like retrieving the paper or waking up family members.
- Cons: Because of their playful nature and large size, Golden Retrievers can get a little boisterous and knock down small children. Their need to be where the action is can also become a little annoying when you find yourself trying not to trip over your friendly pooch.
Golden Retrievers need to be brushed daily. While this keeps their skin and coat in good condition, it is also essential for keeping hair off your couches and clothes. These dogs shed profusely, so daily grooming and a good vacuum are a must.
Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-12 years
- Pros: Labradors love children. They love all the chaos associated with them, and being very social dogs, the more people around, the better!
Aside from being great family dogs, Labradors can function as hunting dogs or therapy dogs. They are also very intelligent and loyal to the point of absolute devotion.
Like Golden Retrievers, Labradors are also one of the best dogs, making excellent companions for active families. They need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily to stay sane, otherwise they may release their excess energy with barking, chewing, and other vices, which makes for excellent motivation if you’re looking to get into shape.
- Cons: Although Labradors tend to be very active, their love of food can lead to obesity if preventive measures are not taken. Regular meals, few treats, and no table scraps can help keep the dog fit. It is also important to keep the garbage and other food sources out of reach, as Labradors have a reputation for doing anything for a snack.
Labradors also shed profusely, requiring regular grooming and a quality vacuum to keep yourself and your home clean.
Height: 22″-26″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-14 years
- Pros: If you’ve never had a dog before, the dependable Collie is a good bet. Gentle, predictable, and extremely intelligent, these dogs are easily trained.
Collies are very compatible with other pets, and have been known to be very gentle around even small animals like rabbits and chicks. This same gentle nature translates into the way they treat children.
However, since Collies were originally bred as herding dogs, they may try to “herd” your children. This is a habit that can be entertaining at best and annoying at worst. Don’t worry, Collies are only protective, not aggressive.
As a working breed, Collies need daily exercise. This makes them ideal companions for an individual who likes to stay fit.
- Cons: Rough Collies are known for their long, often fluffy, fur. This fur needs regular brushing in order to avoid becoming matted, dirty, and unattractive. Smooth Collies have shorter fur, basically a smooth coat, so less maintenance is needed.
While Collies are usually a fairly quiet breed, their high energy levels make them prone to barking if they get bored. Regular exercise and plenty of time spent with the family helps curb this tendency.
Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests. She loves dogs, socializing, hosting parties, and writing.
Birds can be amazing pets!
Birds are very low maintenance. When keeping them as pets they take up little room, they are great at socializing, they are easily trained, and best of all… a pet bird can be beautiful to look at!
A happy bird will make a happy owner.
If you’re thinking about getting a bird there are a few easy ways to ensure they remain comfortable and healthy.
Here are the 5 must-haves that every pet bird needs:
1 – A Nice Big and Airy Cage
Remember that birds are wild animals. They are used to the freedom of flying around and hunting for food. If you are going to enclose them make sure you invest in a good cage, which is the appropriate size for your bird.
Put the cage in an area out of direct sunlight but where your pet bird can see action, nature, and other living things. Although they are great socializers and will thrive on human contact, high traffic areas may be stressful for them, so keep them out of the traffic corridor.
2 – Plenty of Toys
It’s very important that your bird is entertained. Remember, they have nowhere to go so need to be stimulated throughout the day, especially when you’re not there to talk to them. If they get too bored they can develop behavioral problems such as screaming, plucking their feathers, and biting. Essential toys a bird should have are:
- Foraging Toys: These allow your bird to work for their food like they would in the wild.
- Chewing Toys: Chewing is a major part of a wild bird’s life and it is essential they can do this while caged.
- Preening Toys: Preening toys such as rope will satisfy your bird’s needs and stop them plucking their own feathers.
3 – Exercise Equipment
Birds are animals that exercise a lot in the wild so exercise equipment inside their cage will keep them happy and entertained throughout the day. Swinging perches and ladders will not only instigate movement, they are very important for foot and muscle health. Perches that look like natural branches are the best choices, but be sure to get the correct thickness for your bird. Ladders and net climbing obstacles will be great for your pet birds play time and discovery. Also check on the latest innovation that could help your pet. It shouldn’t hurt to try new exercise thingies especially if they look promising.
4 – A Cozy Retreat
Make sure there is a nice place to go so that your bird can find solitude as they would in the wild. This is easily achieved with a bit of fabric on one corner. At nighttime, it’s always a good idea to cover the cage entirely to convey comfort and sleep time. You can also add a small birdhouse inside so the pet can go there anytime it feels like it.
5 – House Keeping
A clean bird cage is essential for your bird’s health and happiness. It’s an easy job to do and made even easier with pre cut cage liners. Changed daily, you will avoid unpleasant smells and bacteria on your cage floor. There are also non-toxic sprays which dissolve droppings, and remove stains and marks from your cage. A good example of this is Poop-Off. Also learn how frequently cleaning should be. The cage doesn’t have to be squeaky clean, because hay and some newspaper trimmings inside can create a nice forest-like atmosphere. But it will be helpful if wastes are removed from time to time.
Melianie Cho of Real Smart, works with pet care and has been working in a pet store for several years, where she advises customers on the best products for their pets. She is also a regular contributor in pet forums and blogs.
Come with us and explore the incredible variety and whimsical nature of the most fascinating dogs on the planet!
As man’s best friend, dogs are known for their loyalty, selfless love and dedication to their owner. Usually their specific breed predetermines their overall character as well as their physical appearance. We all have stumbled upon some pretty funny or even shocking dog looks either in the park or in the canine magazines.
Here are some of the most curious dog breeds know to men:
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Pleple2000
1. A dog or a sheep?
Take for example a breed called Bedlington Terrier. Most people tend to confuse such terriers with lamb, yes lamb! This lamb looking dog breed originally developed in Bedlington, England is actually very active. It needs heaps of exercise every day in order to keep it healthy and happy.
Bedlington Terriers are usually grey to whitish in colour, and have a decent amount of fluffy fur on them. The good news though, is that their specific type of fur makes them ideal for allergy-prone owners.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Towncommon.
2. The Rasta dog!
Another worthy example of a weird looking domesticated canine is the Bergamasco Shepherd. This dog, as its name implies, is bred for helping animal farmers with their stock.
Its furs gradually tend to matt and stick together in clumps, which later become even more tangled thus giving the dog a distinct look. The funny dreadlocks that this Shepherd breed is so well known for actually distinguish it as a true Rastafarian.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Steve Jurvetson
3. The moving frieze rug
A good competitor of the Bob Marley hairdo breed is the Puli. The Puli has thick corded fur that protects it from zero outside temperatures in the winter quite well.
The Puli’s distinct fur coat is practically water resistant as well, which is good news as winters in Hungary (the country where the Puli breed first appeared) can be quite cold and wet.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy minifauna.com
4. The double-nosed hunter
From strange furs and hairs to split noses! The Catalburun is basically a Turkish pointer. However, a Catalburun has a split nose, which is attributed to inbreeding somewhere down the line.
This dog is only found in Turkey. The local people that breed and look after these guys assume them to have superior tracking skills, thanks to their strange yet very useful nose.
5. Hairless with style!
If you are into exotic house pooches, then the Chinese Crested dog will surely fascinate you. The Chinese Crested is a furless dog. This makes it a somewhat higher maintenance animal because his delicate skin is exposed and needs moisturising and protection from the sun – remember there is no fur. This breed also needs regular bathing in order to avoid skin infections.
Believe it or not, Chinese Crested is considered to be one of the ugliest dog breeds out there, and these doggies usually win first spot at ugly dog competitions – yes, there are many such events staged every year.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Przykuta
6. Prematurely old
There are many guard dog breeds, but this one is quite special – it looks way too wise for its age. The Neapolitan Mastiff has droopy skin around its face and neck, which some people find even cute. Usually all those facial wrinkles make these dogs appear quite ancient – just like a grandpa.
Mastiffs were originally bred in Italy, ancient Rome to be exact. They were a worthy part of the Roman army. The legionnaires trained them to wear special armour with sharp spikes on their back, with the help of which they could knock down the enemy horses.
7. Out of proportions
The Russian Borzoi impresses with quite a disproportionate body type – it has small head and a really long body and slender legs. If you think you have the patience and tenacity to train and discipline dogs, try out your luck with a Russian Borzoi.
This purpose bred dog is highly athletic and similar in appearance to a greyhound, but very unruly. The Borzoi (meaning fast dog in Russian) is agile and willing to chase small animals and prey for as long as it physically can. Canine experts say these hounds are best trained by experienced dog handlers as they do as they please because they lack the concept of obedience that other dogs have.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Webweazle
8. The angry sailor
Brussels Griffon is a small yet really temperamental dog. It has angry look and a thick beard complemented by a characteristic moustache. Compared to other breeds, this little guy likes dominating, or at least tries to dominate other dogs around.
Most people find the Griffon to be quite cute with its bearded face and the hilarious aura the dog has about it. The Griffon can be described as a bossy, four-legged caricature.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Ingunn Axelsen
9. The mini Big Foot
The Affenpinscher has a very hairy face. Its facial fur could grow so thick that you could practically see the dog’s resemblance to the mythic creature the Big Foot. The initial purpose of this German Affenpinscher breed was no other but to hunt and kill rats. The Affenpinscher is relatively small in size, which does make it more efficient when rat eradication time comes. The dog has distinctive burly, long fur.
The Affenpinscher can be described as playful, active, adventurous and fun loving, though at times these little guys can be quite stubborn.
10. The rabbit-eared hobbit
Short and petite at first sight the French Bulldogs could make you believe they have something in common with rabbits – or at least their long ears will. However their character is much stronger than that of a trembling fluffy bunny. They were originally bred in France, to attack and kill bulls. Back then this violent and cruel ‘sporting activity’ was in its hay day, luckily the tradition was abolished. The dog in question is no other but the now super cute French Bulldog.
Despite its dark and violent origin, this dog breed has changed into one of man’s most affectionate companions. These little guys crave human attention and will happily interact with you at every chance they get.
Natalie Goodale is a freelance writer, who loves spending time with her Shih Tzu dog, Roxane. She is involved in a number of projects, the most current of them all being a mutual initiative with San Antonio Dog Life.
Fish keeping as a hobby has gained popularity all over the world!
Aquariums are a good alternative for people who desire to keep pets, aside from cats and dogs.
The Chinese people believe that aquariums bring good luck to homes and offices. The water it contains is one of the five elements of the earth. Water is said to generate positive energy and promote calm and harmony. Water is also believed to bring in good luck, wealth, and prosperity.
Keeping an aquarium filled with bright fish and lush vegetation in the office or in your home offers therapeutic benefits for your physical and mental health. The miniature aquatic ecosystem is a great way to bring nature indoors. Spending a few minutes following the swimming movements of the fish and listening to the sound of running water will certainly reduce your body’s reaction to stress while inducing calmness and enhancing positive feelings.
The beneficial effects that you can gain from observing the tranquility of the aquatic environment and its inhabitants have been shown to be similar to the results attained when petting a dog or cat. This simply shows that interaction with animals and nature can lower stress levels while offering a lot of other health benefits.
People that are constantly bombarded with stressors can suffer from hypertension. Studies have shown that those who had fish in their room or office experienced a reduction in blood pressure and a stable pulse rate. The graceful movements of the fish make them a great stress reducer.
Fish make a perfect pet of choice for the elderly since they don’t have the energy to meet the physical demands of keeping a dog or cat. Fish keeping also gives them the satisfaction of being able to care for another creature. It is also a great way to overcome their solitude.
Children can also enjoy the multiple health benefits of watching fish in the aquarium. Hyperactive kids have been shown to relax and gain social benefits including developing a sense of responsibility and good nurturing abilities when caring for fish.
Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to reap several health benefits from spending time with aquariums. Several studies have shown a positive effect on the patients’ nutritional intake and weight gain. Consequently, these patients also required fewer nutritional supplements. Patients also tend to have lesser displays of physically aggressive behaviors.
Doctors and dentists often put an aquarium in their waiting rooms because of the calming effect it exerts on patients who are quite nervous while waiting for results of medical tests or waiting for the dentist.
No matter how old you are, owning an aquarium will certainly offer you a lot of health benefits. Today’s busy lifestyles will constantly bombard you with a lot of stressors. However, at the end of the day, you will find peace and tranquility as you spend time gazing at the enchanting aquascape of your fish tank.
Peter Hartono is the online ambassador for Just Aquatic – a website dedicated in providing homegrown aquatic plants and aquarium supplies for fish and aquarium enthusiasts as well as aquascape hobbyists.
Housing your pet will never be as fun or rewarding as when you create its perfect home.
Each animal has its particular habitat needs and a vivarium setup is a re-creation of its natural home. There are as many unique virarium arrangements as there are exotic pets.
A vivarium is an enclosure where selected plants and animal species are kept or raised. The concept of vivariums started initially as a medium to study and research selected flora and fauna. Literally, vivarium means “a place of life”.
The ecosystem inside a vivarium is created to simulate, on a smaller scale, the environment conditions, which are favorable to the species. Vivariums can range from small enclosures that can sit on a table to a very large structure that houses bigger animals and are placed outdoors.
Types of Vivariums
There are several types of vivarium depending on the habitat that you wish to simulate and the accompanying flora and fauna that will be used. These include:
- Aquarium: These are water habitats that can house freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and coral reef inhabitants.
- Insectarium: These habitats are for housing insects and arachnids.
- Terrarium: This is generally a dry habitat for housing reptiles
- Paludarium: The paludarium simulates a semi-aquatic habitat such as in rainforests or swamps. Other setups of a paludarium combine a terrarium and an aquarium, sometimes known as a viquarium
- Riparium. A riparium recreates the wet habitats near lakes, rivers, and ponds. The setup is suitable for marginal plants that thrive best in the water-saturated soil along the water’s edge.
- Penguinarium: A unique habitat for housing penguins
Materials for a vivarium
Vivariums are commonly made of clear plastic or glass containers. Wood or metal can also be used as long as there’s a side, which is transparent. There are also vivariums made from plywood with built-in sliding glass doors.
The material that you will use depends on what flora and fauna you plan to put in, the desired size, height and weight, cost, desired quality, as well as the ability of the materials to simulate the natural environment and provide protection against extreme environment conditions.
Coated plywood can retain heat better compared to glass or plastic vivariums. These types of enclosures can also withstand high humidity. When making a vivarium, it is recommended to place a high-drainage substrate on top of a layer of stones to help retain humidity without the substrate surface being saturated.
The type of substrate will depend on several factors including what is favorable for the plants and/or animals, the benefits, and the aesthetic value. The most common substrates used include soil, wood chips, pebbles, peat, sand, coconut coir, and wood mulch. There are also vivariums that use tissue paper and newspaper.
These are the recommended methods to effectively regulate humidity inside the vivarium:
- Regular pulverization of water
- Enhanced water evaporation by placing a basin inside
- Use of humidifiers and automated pulverization systems
The lighting system is always designed to meet the requirements of the animal and plant species. Various types of bulbs are needed to simulate specific natural environments. There are also certain flora and fauna that require a good source of ultraviolet rays for vitamin D synthesis and assimilation of calcium. Specialized bulbs are available which can emit a more natural sunlight effect.
You may also need to put in a day/night regulator to mimic the change between light and dark periods. The regulator is set depending on the natural habitat of the species including the season that you desire to achieve.
Heat inside a vivarium can be provided in several ways:
- Heat rocks
- Infrared lamps
- Heating lamps
- Hot plates
- Heat mats
- Heating cords
- Equipment that can generate hot air inside the vivarium
The heat inside the enclosure is controlled by a thermostat. Thermo-control systems are often employed to regulate not only heat but also light cycles and humidity.
Aside from promoting proper air circulation, ventilation can also prevent the growth and development of pathogenic molds and bacteria. This is particularly true in vivariums that maintain a warm and humid environment.