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self watering terrarium

Discussion in 'Terrariums, Paludariums and Vivariums' started by jbradt, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. jbradt

    jbradt this is bat country

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    hey all,

    working off a thread on terraforums.com i decided to make a self watering terrarium. this is basically a flood and drain design that's automated with a fountain pump on a timer. The drain is a syphon that forms as the water fills up the tank.

    Here's a couple of really poor quality pics:
    6329099855_d94e060a93_b.jpg

    6330211732_78fa58c8aa_b.jpg

    So, the five gallon bucket below the tank is the resevoir. Inside is a 75gph fountain pump with a tube going into the tank (the tube on the left). The two tubes on the right are for drainage. As the water fills the tank, it pushes into the drain tube, then back down into the bucket; automatically starting the siphon. As the water level builds up to the second tube, the second siphon starts which creates an equilibrium with the incoming water, effectually holding the water level stable (in this case, at a depth of 2"). As long as the pump continues to run, the water level will stay at this level. Obviously, when the pump shuts down, the pump tube will also become a drain as the water pushes back down, and the tank empties relatively quickly.

    i thought there might be some cool applications for all the terrarium guru's over here, so i thought i'd post this up.

    as always, criticisms/comments/advice are always welcome!
     
  2. CerenaDaft

    CerenaDaft AC Members

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    Looks awesome! Is the pump loud tho?
    I wish I had something cool like this... Great for vacations!
     
  3. jbradt

    jbradt this is bat country

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    Actually I was expecting it to be loud, but it's nearly silent. The loudest part of the whole thing is the sucking sound made by the drain tubes when the water level gets really low. It's really cheap and relatively easy to do...
     
  4. CerenaDaft

    CerenaDaft AC Members

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    I'm just about to get a large tank so this is out of my reach! :(
    But I just got a tutoring job so maybe soon!
     
  5. mellowvision

    mellowvision Seafood Lover

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    automation is fun.

    I would like to suggest bulkheads. Someday you'll be happy you did.
     
  6. mellowvision

    mellowvision Seafood Lover

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    oh, but I was also going to say, from having several paludariums now, I think the best self watering terrarium set up would be a misthead on a timer, with a bottom drilled floor drain into a bucket for collection. Mist is a lot nicer than drip in the long run.
     
  7. jbradt

    jbradt this is bat country

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    I keep thinking about going that way. Just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm still in the experimental phase. Do they make bulkheads this small?

    I've also thought about going this route. I guess I'm a little skeptical that for my application it would be very efficient at watering individual plant pots. It's also a little more pricey due to having to buy the misters and all. It's definitely a thought for the future though.
     
  8. jbradt

    jbradt this is bat country

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    Well, I got the top cut and fitted today. I'm still trying to figure out whether I'd be better off going with an opening on one side, or holes throughout the top for air exchange. If anyone has any thoughts on this I'd be most appreciative. Hopefully monday I'll be able to get the fan(s) and substrate in and get into the final stage of testing this bad boy. If all goes well, I should have my junior helis in it this week!!!
     
  9. jbradt

    jbradt this is bat country

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    Bump, hoping for some thoughts on ventilation... =)
     
  10. mellowvision

    mellowvision Seafood Lover

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    For vents, you can do a few things. you can lift one edge of the glass, creating a gap on one end, or you could drill holes and then block them off when you want to close it, or have 2 pieces of glass. it really depends on how much fresh air you want to let in, and your ideal humidity level. I can't give you a specific way to go without knowing your plans, but can tell you what I'm doing now...

    I have a 10g terrarium going right now, where I mist a few times a week and the only venting is basically where the versatop has leaks, near the plastic strips. The front glass is usually 70% covered in condensation, and I don't find a need to vent very often. When I clean the front glass for viewing, it usually takes a day or two before it has condensation again, unless I mist heavily.

    My 45g paludarium is another story. I've had huge problems keeping the glass clear. I've tried venting by lifting the cover, added fans inside, even an airline bringing in dry air. Nothing was keeping the glass clear. I decided my heated pond was the issue, and dropped the temperature by 1.5ยบ to around 74.5 and still have the airline, and fans running on the lowest setting. The front glass has been clear for 2 days now. I think the issue really was the pond temp vs. ambient temp... but I do like using the airpump to push dry air into the canopy. I have the hose end positioned right behind the fans, which are basically in the center pointing at the glass. So, the fresh air is blown at the glass and down, creating a constant flow. Air flow is often more important than venting.

    Also, you were talking about watering multiple pots... if you're most concerned with automated watering of potted plants, the way to go is to get a threaded drip manifold, and thread that onto your bulkhead inside the tank, and then use drip hoses. (yes, bulkeads are available for almost any size pipe or tube, check places like USplastics) you can get them at hydroponics sites and garden centers. Most manifolds give you 8 or 10 hoses from one 1/2" line, and they're super cheap. then you can just run soft hoses to the pot sites.

    I still think a floor drain is superior for what you want to do, and that misting is less troublesome than drips, but if you're doing something like african violets that only want water at their roots, I see why misting isn't the option.
     

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