Hey everyone, hope all is well. I’m here to bring you a fun easy cave terrarium build I personally think any level hobbyists will enjoy. I actually had so much fun exploring the idea of a cave enclosure, I decided to make two unique styles… we will get more into what I did with the second one in another tutorial but for now, let’s make a miniature cavern!
If you aren’t familiar with what a bantamarium is, I strongly recommend you take a look at this deep dive I put together. In a nutshell, it’s a concept I’ve been working on where we bring a diorama to life. The goal is ultimately to make photo-realistic vivariums anyone, no matter the skill level, can make!
A Story About A Cave…
Going into this tank, my inspiration mostly came from two movies: Morbius & The Batman! Despite one obviously being a better movie, they both inspired me to make this equally. If you’ve been following my social media lately, you’ll notice I’ve been having a little too much fun creating stories in these miniature setups… You try making a bantamarium without feeling inspired to write a potential Oscar-winning script!
Making A Mini Cave Terrarium
Making the type of miniature cave terrarium I have in mind for today’s build will be a simple project. Once you’ve gathered all the items on the list, or just pick up the complete kit, it more than likely won’t take more than a few minutes to complete. Let’s start with what you’ll need:
- Mini Bantamarium Jar 4.5″ x 4.75″
- Mini Cave | Inner Terrain Decor
- Sheet Moss
- English Ivy
- Coco Coir Soil
- Natural Sand
- Black Gravel
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The Mini Cave Decor Terrain For Terrariums:
I wanted to start by talking a little bit about the cave decor I’m providing within this tutorial. These are the first of many more terrains currently set to come out. They’re hand-sculpted and cast concrete. I paint as well as seal each of these to enhance the look and prevent it from altering the substrate parameters.
Making A Cave Terrarium:
For this tutorial, I decided to use one of my smaller jars to get the job done. I will more than likely revisit the cave idea later for a much larger setup. This one will work perfectly for what we have to do today though.
We will need to set up a basic drainage layer for stagnant water to sit and slowly evaporate into the substrate over time. For this layer, I am using black gravel. It’s scaped at a slope about half an inch deep in the front and two inches deep in the back.
Once I get that layer done, we can move on cave move onto the substrate. For this area, coconut coir peat will work just fine. I’m just looking for an even pour throughout the terrarium about half an inch to an inch thick.
Even though I added additional sand and botanicals AFTER plants, I think it actually might make more sense to do this first so you can establish exact areas paths could be created.
I crushed a tiny amount of dried Magnolia leaves to make my path seem a bit more natural. This also provides shelter as well as a food source for microfauna.
Once we have our substrates and path setup we are ready to add some plants. Believe it or not, we are almost done with this. I told you this would be a quick setup.
Best Plants For Cave Terrariums
Now for plants, there are a number of ways to approach this… If you want a maintenance-free setup you don’t plan on adding critters too, I’d say stock it with preserved moss and call it a day. If you’re comfortable with handling live plants then keep reading and I will show you a few cool ideas.
I started with a good carpeting moss like barbula sp. Placing bits around the scape directly on top of the coconut coir until it was all covered. This moss already has a lining of soil attached to it so I don’t have to worry about acclimation here.
My next choice of plant to add a touch of character was English ivy. I love the way these guys look like trees when used sparingly. I will more than likely have to trim them here and there over time as they grow.
Ok so here’s a cool approach you probably noticed earlier. I’m using small pieces of the exposed ivy root to create vines throughout the terrarium. I was easily able to do this because I used ivy that was propagating in a cup of water. These roots will actually last quite a while due to the high humidity within the enclosure.
Cave Terrarium Animals
Since this terrarium isn’t as big as some of my other projects, I will probably just stock it with a few isopods and springtails to help keep things clean. At the moment I’ve also added a darling beetle to watch him explore… These guys usually like drier setups though so I may eventually move him back to the mealworm setup…
Cave Terrarium Care
Caring for this cave terrarium will be relatively easy. Outside of a small trim here and there with the English ivy, most of this setup will maintain itself and won’t outgrow this jar. Add water when you see the drainage layer dry out and keep the lid on!
This is everything I did to make a mini cave terrarium folks. I hope you enjoyed this quick read as well as some of my award-winning cinematics! This is one I’ve been itching to scratch off the list for a while. If you’re still here hungry for more cavern collectibles, dive into the next guide to see how I made a larger, semi-aquatic cave paludarium!
If you’re interested in seeing updates on how this as well as other enclosures progress follow me on social media. If you’d like to get your tall tweezers on one of these limited edition vivarium decors yourself, check them out in our shop.