Terrarium, vivarium or paludarium, what is the difference anyway? Few people can answer this question. This article will help you with that! Ariums are containers that house plants and/or animals. There are many different types of ariums that vary in their design, inhabitants, and requirements. In this article you will learn all about the differences between terrarium, paludarium, vivarium and jarrarium.
Briefly beforehand: The word arium does not actually exist on its own. It comes from Latin and means "room" or "container". However, we will use the word in this article anyway, because it is much more practical than constantly writing terrarium, vivarium, paludarium and jarrarium.
So what is the goal of this article? We want to give you an overview of the different types of Ariums and what to look for when choosing one. We will also give you some tips on what different subspecies of Ariums there are. Hopefully by the end of this article you will know more about Ariums and feel inspired to start your own, improve it, or in the best case scenario, read even more on the Terrarium Blog. 😉
Table of Contents
The short and concise answer
This article is quite long and goes into great detail. If you just want the very short answer, you'll get it here. Terrariums, vivariums and paludariums are not that different from each other. All three are containers for plants and possibly animals. Terrariums contain almost exclusively solid terrain, i.e. soil and rocks, but little to no water.
Paludariums, on the other hand, contain a larger amount of water, which can easily exceed 50%. They are thus a good mix between an aquarium and a terrarium. In a paludarium, amphibians and fish find their home, which would not be so comfortable in a terrarium.
The vivarium is the generic term for all types of arium that contain animals. Terrariums and paludariums can thus also be vivariums, but do not have to be.
This article will look at the terrarium, paludarium, vivarium and finally the jarrarium in detail and explain different subtypes to you. In addition to the four types explained here, there are also the following:
- Riparium (paludarium with less soil)
- Rivarium (paludarium with flowing water)
- Herbarium (collection of plants for scientific purposes)
- Xylarium (collection of preserved plants)
- Orchidarium (herbarium with orchids)
- Mossarium (herbarium with moss)
- Serpentarium (vivarium with snakes)
- Insectarium (vivarium with insects)
- Formicarium (ant farm)
- and the aquarium, of course
Every animal enclosure in a zoo is also an arium. The penguin enclosure is a so-called penguinarium, the dolphin enclosure a dolphinarium and so on. If I listed them all here, you would probably have to scroll for quite a while.
Terrarium: What is a terrarium and what types are there?
A terrarium is a non-water-based arium that houses plants and often animals. It can replicate different terrain types, such as forest, desert or rainforest. These types of ariums are meant to mimic different landforms such as the forest, the desert or the rainforest. There are no limits to the creativity in landscape design.
Definition and features of a terrarium
A terrarium is a container made of glass or plastic that can be either open or closed. An open terrarium has an opening at the top or at the side, through which air and moisture can escape. A closed one has no opening, of course, but forms its own mini-ecosystem, in which water, nutrients and oxygen circulate.
A terrarium can be decorated with various elements, such as soil or moss as a substrate, plants or cacti as greenery and jewelry, stones or figures as eye-catchers. The decoration should match the theme of the terrarium and suit the needs of the inhabitants.
Differences between forest, desert and rainforest terrariums
There are three main types of terrariums that differ in the type of terrain: forest, desert and rainforest terrariums. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages and requires different care and equipment. Here is a table that shows the main differences between the three types:
|Terrarium type||Terrain type||Inhabitants||Care effort||Cost|
|Forest terrarium||Moist and cool soil with lots of shade||Plants like ferns, mosses or orchids; animals like snails, spiders or frogs||Low to medium; regular spraying and cleaning; fertilization and CO2 supply for plants||Inexpensive to moderate; simple equipment and feed; wide selection of affordable plants and animals.|
|Desert terrarium||Dry and hot sand with a lot of sun||Plants like cacti, succulents or aloes; animals like scorpions, lizards or snakes||Medium to high; rare irrigation and cleaning; lighting and heating for plants and animals.||Moderate to expensive; specialized equipment and feed; smaller selection of more expensive plants and animals.|
|Rainforest terrarium||Wet and warm soil with a lot of green||Plants such as bromeliads, tillandsias or anthuriums; animals such as butterflies, geckos or chameleons||High; frequent spraying and cleaning; monitoring of humidity and temperature; lighting and flow for plants and animals.||Expensive to very expensive; specialized equipment and feed; smaller selection of very expensive plants and animals.|
You can find a particularly cool, infinity-looking terrarium on the Ideal Idea YouTube channel. I found this idea incredibly good and highly recommend the video to you.
Paludarium: What is a paludarium and what types are there?
A paludarium is a partially water-based enclosure that houses both land and water organisms. It can replicate different wetland habitats such as marsh, swamp, or river. These types of enclosures are intended to mimic transitional zones between land and water. They are particularly interesting for amphibians such as frogs that like to switch between land and water. They can also be interesting if you want to house both a terrarium and an aquarium in the same container.
You should make sure to either clearly separate the areas with a barrier or ensure that all your land animals can swim if you want to house both terrestrial and aquatic creatures in the same enclosure.
Differences between bog, marsh and river paludariums
There are three main types of paludaria, which differ in the type of wetland: Bog, swamp and river paludariums. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages and requires different care and equipment. Here is a table showing the main differences between the three types:
|Paludarium type||Wetland type||Inhabitants||Care effort||Cost|
|Bog paludarium||Acidic and nutrient-poor water with peat moss and heather||Plants such as sundew, Venus flytrap, or cranberry; animals such as dragonflies, salamanders, or frogs||Medium to high; regular spraying and cleaning; monitoring of pH level and water quality; lighting and heating for plants and animals||Moderate to expensive; special equipment and feed; smaller selection of specialized plants and animals|
|Marsh paludarium||Alkaline and nutrient-rich water with reeds and water lilies||Plants such as papyrus, lotus, or water hyacinth; animals such as snails, crabs, or turtles||Low to medium; regular spraying and cleaning; fertilization and CO2 supply for plants; lighting and flow for plants and animals||Inexpensive to moderate; simple equipment and feed; wide selection of affordable plants and animals.|
|River paludarium||Fast-flowing and oxygen-rich water with gravel and rocks||Plants such as Anubias, Java fern, or Cryptocoryne; animals such as shrimps, catfish, or tetras||Medium to high; regular water changes and cleaning; monitoring of water quality and oxygen level; lighting and heating for plants and animals||Moderate to expensive; special equipment and feed; smaller selection of specialized plants and animals|
There are also many great tutorials and showcases on YouTube for paludariums. Here, for example, is a video by Chrisweeet, who provides a step-by-step guide for creating a paludarium.
Vivarium: What is a vivarium and what types are there?
As previously mentioned, a vivarium is an enclosure that houses animals and is adapted to a specific habitat. In principle, a vivarium can replicate all the biotopes on earth, provided the necessary means are available. The average consumer will probably not have a penguinarium at home, but it is not uncommon for zoos to have them.
Since vivarium is the general term for all enclosures with animals, there is not much more to say about the definition.
Differences between desert, rainforest and savannah vivariums
The possibilities for vivarium are as diverse as the different biotopes and animal species on Earth. There are no limits to the imagination and a detailed table would completely blow the frame. However, below you will find three more ideas that build on the above ideas for terrarium and paludarium.
|Vivarium type||Biotope||Animals||Care effort||Cost|
|Desert vivarium||Dry sand with little vegetation||Animals such as scorpions, lizards, or snakes||Medium to high; infrequent watering and cleaning; lighting and heating for animals; monitoring of temperature and humidity||Moderate to expensive; specialized equipment and food; smaller selection of more expensive animals|
|Rainforest vivarium||Wet and warm soil with lots of vegetation||Animals such as butterflies, geckos, or chameleons||High; frequent spraying and cleaning; lighting and airflow for animals; monitoring of temperature and humidity||Expensive to very expensive; special equipment and food; smaller selection of very expensive animals|
|Savannah vivarium||Dry and cool soil with little vegetation||Animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, or hamsters||Low to medium; regular watering and cleaning; lighting for animals; monitoring of temperature and humidity||Cheap to moderate; simple equipment and feed; large selection of inexpensive animals|
Jarrarium: What is a jarrarium and what types are there?
A Jarrarium is a mini-terrarium that is kept in a glass or a bottle. Normally, we refer to it as an closed terrarium on the Terrarium Blog, but the term Jarrarium also exists. It can be water-based, but doesn't have to be, and can house both plants and animals. Essentially, Jarrariums are mini-versions of larger terrariums. In this section, you'll learn everything about the differences between mini-aquariums, mini-terrariums, mini-paludariums, and mini-ripariums.
Definition and characteristics of a jarrarium
A Jarrarium is a small container made of glass or plastic, filled with soil or water and in which plants or animals live. The emphasis here is really on small. For Jarrariums, canning jars, bottles, or very small terrarium containers are used, which can then stand as a small decorative element on a windowsill or shelf. Unlike a large terrarium, they do not take up a large part of the room, but rather serve as a decorative background for the space.
Differences between mini-aquariums, terrariums, paludariums and ripariums
There are four main types of Jarrariums, which differ in the type of Arium: Mini-aquariums, Mini-terrariums, Mini-paludariums, and Mini-ripariums. We haven't talked about the Riparium yet. It is a sub-form of the Paludarium, which, however, has significantly more water and is intended to simulate a shoreline. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages and requires different care and equipment. Here is a table showing the main differences between the four types:
|Jarrarium type||Arium type||Inhabitants||Care effort||Cost|
|Mini-aquarium||Water-based Arium with only a water zone.||Plants such as Anubias, Java moss or Hornwort; animals such as shrimp, snails or guppies||Medium to high; regular water changes and cleaning; monitoring of water quality and oxygen level; lighting and heating for plants and animals||Moderate to expensive; special equipment and feed; smaller selection of specialized plants and animals|
|Mini-terrarium||Non-water-based Arium with only a land zone.||Plants such as ferns, succulents or orchids; animals such as spiders, frogs or geckos||Low to medium; regular spraying and cleaning; fertilization and CO2 supply for plants; lighting for plants and animals||Inexpensive to moderate; simple equipment and feed; wide selection of affordable plants and animals.|
|Mini-paludarium||Partially water-based Arium with land and water zones.||Plants such as bromeliads, lotuses or water lilies; animals such as dragonflies, salamanders or turtles||High; regular water changes and cleaning; monitoring of humidity and temperature; lighting and flow for plants and animals||Expensive to very expensive; specialized equipment and feed; smaller selection of very expensive plants and animals.|
|Mini-riparium||Partially water-based Arium with water and shoreline zone.||Plants such as mangroves, sea grasses or saltworts; animals such as snails, crabs or tetras||Medium to high; regular water changes and cleaning; monitoring of salinity and water quality; lighting and flow for plants and animals|
Advantages of a jarrarium
A jarrarium is much easier to maintain compared to the larger variants, as it requires little equipment and little to no feed. If you only have small insects, worms and spiders in your jarrarium, it forms a small mini-ecosystem that keeps itself alive on its own. You can also let your creativity run wild and design your jarrarium with different containers and decorations according to your taste.
Disadvantages of a jarrarium
A jarrarium also has some disadvantages. It requires a lot of know-how for the setup at the beginning, so that the ecosystem stays in balance. Also, there can be problems like algae growth, mold or odor if the jarrarium is not properly cared for. Plant death or - even worse - glass breakage can also occur if it is exposed to too much or too little light or heat.
Tipps für alles findest du aber hier direkt auf dem Terrarium Blog!
- The Ultimate Guide to a Closed Terrarium
- How much water does a Closed Terrarium need?
- Tips and tricks for cleaning a Closed Terrarium
The YouTube channel Terrarium Designs has a great video for a small mini-paludarium that shows how anyone can create one at home with very few resources.
Tips for selecting, setting up, and maintaining a jarrarium.
If you decide to go for a jarrarium, you should consider some tips to get the most out of your enclosed ecosystem. To design your jarrarium, you must consider three things: the size and shape of the container, the plants or animals you want to keep, and the decorations you want to use.
The size and shape of the container determine how much space you have for your plants or animals. The larger the jarrarium, the more you can keep. The shape should match the theme and decor. The plants or animals are the heart of your jarrarium. You should research them well before selecting them. They should be compatible and not disturb or prey on each other. You should also adjust the number and size of the plants or animals to the capacity of the jarrarium.
The decoration is the main focus of your jarrarium. You should design it to resemble the natural habitat of your plants or animals. Here you can find the ultimate guide for building a closed terrarium.
This was the last part of our article about the different types of Ariums. We hope this article has given you a good overview of the different types of Ariums and that you feel inspired to start or improve your own. Ariums are a great way to care for plants and animals, explore nature, and express your creativity. However, they are also a big responsibility that requires a lot of time, money and expertise. You should therefore do your research before choosing an arium.
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