Hello bantam world, we are back for another bantamarium experience with the mini-mountain terrarium. This will be our third chapter moving on from the desert & rocky cliff terrarium. Those enclosures are still holding up and you can find updates on my social media for those interested.
This will be an intermediate-level enclosure that is very similar to the last one we just completed. So if you got through that without a sweat, you should be well primed for this living diorama.
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!
Lullabies By Lake Louise
Before even starting this sculpt, I knew I wanted to scape a scenery that involved a mountain range of some type. When I stumbled across the Canadian Rockies, I swear to the big guy up top, the blue lake started to sing to me. I really let the harmonies of each stroke take the wheel on my creativity as the “Lullabies Of Lake Louise” terrain began to take shape.
Making The Mini Mountain Terrarium
Piggybacking off our last terrarium project, this bantamarium will be very similar in the way it will come together. Forgive me if you feel like this tutorial is akin to the last one. That’s a good sign for you, it means you’re really starting to familiarize yourself with the way I structure these types of habitats.
- Bantamarium Case Kit (or any 6in x 6in square enclosure)
- Sheet Moss
- RO Water (or rain water)
- ‘Lullabies By Lake Louise’ Terrain
- White Acrylic Paint
- Resin & Dye
Mini Mountain Terrarium Construction:
Taking a closer look at the terrain I’m working with today, we will notice a few things worth keeping in mind as we go. It measures just under six inches for the width and length. This will make it suitable for a 6×6 enclosure. The base thickness is about 1/2 an inch so we want to make sure it has at least that amount in tank depth for holding excess water.
Our Bantamarium case crown and divider tray will work perfectly for this. A three-inch tall glass case will cover the crown once this living diorama is assembled making this bantamarium a closed terrarium.
It is totally possible to build your own enclosure for this terrain if you’d like to make things even more personal.
Once the terrain and enclosure are assembled, we can move on to the resin pouring phase. Mix equal parts resin in a mixing cup along with a few drops of dye. The color and amount of dye are totally up to your preference. You should only need a few ounces of resin to achieve the false water feature we are aiming for.
With the terrain resting flush on a flat surface, pour the resin slowly from one end of the lowest depth and gradually work your way across the terrain. Stop pouring once the resin reaches the desired height. It will need a genuine 24 hours before you can remove the tape and proceed to the next steps.
I got a little resin happy with this terrain and ended up pouring a lot more resin than I needed. Where the stream leading up to the lake should have been a literal string… I straight up flooded the top end lol. No big deal as I predict the moss will grow in dense enough to not really reveal that area from most angles.
The next day, with the resin, cured we can remove the tape and proceed to add some snow to the mountain top. Using a small paintbrush and white acrylic paint I dry rubbed paint across the highest peaks of the terrain. My technique for dry rubbing includes rubbing one side of the paint off the brush and using that side to paint the texture.
You really don’t need much paint for this step and once cured it will be safe for use around the plants. I was able to move on to planting within an hour after I painted.
Mini Mountain Terrarium Plants
Today’s choice of foliage for the mini mountain terrarium will be sheet moss. I’ve worked with this moss before and have been able to recreate the perfect forest effect I will be aiming for in this bantamarium. Even though sheet moss is a pleurocarpous moss (carpeting) it’s still growing in an erect position towards the light. Over time this will create a perfect array of miniature forest trees.
Much like the rocky cliff terrarium, I will apply two methods of application to experiment with the results. The combination of the two will assure a dense forest and fast establishing of the moss.
The first method will be traditional to the way moss is usually applied to the concrete. Mashup the moss and mix it with water and buttermilk. Blend until you get a greenish/white paste with the consistency of thick paint. Use a paintbrush to apply the paste on the lower unpainted areas of the terrain.
This method will take longer to see results as most moss will not survive the beating required to get an even paste. However, with patience, once the moss does start to acclimate, it will grow more uniform and dense giving an absolute phenomenal look in the long run.
The second method is simple but will require a steady hand during application. Dice the moss up into tiny bits. Sprinkle the chopped moss across the unpainted areas of the terrain. Misting the terrain prior to applying moss will help keep the moss in desired areas.
This method yields much faster results than the first because the plants aren’t being totally destroyed. They will also become established noticeably faster and should continue growing within a week. The downside to this way of applying moss is the patchy look in the initial growth phase as well as the difficulty with keeping moss in one place when misting.
Mini terrarium Animals
I wouldn’t recommend many livestock in a bantamarium this small. I prefer the low maintenance and easy upkeep in something like this. That’s not to say you couldn’t make this living diorama habitable though.
If I did stock some type of animal, I’d go with a microfauna. A few isopods or springtails would not only add movement to the terrarium, but they would also do well keeping it clean and mold-free.
Mini Mountain Terrarium Care
This mini mountain terrarium will only need watering every once in a while and that’s it. This low-maintenance setup shouldn’t grow fast and doesn’t produce waste. Depending on the type of enclosure you set the terrain in, the frequency between watering is going to be slightly different.
For example, the Bantamarium case I’m using doesn’t require misting as long as I keep the glass on. Once I fill the bottom tray with water, the evaporation cycle circulates within the case for weeks. The terrain will absorb stagnant water as well helping with the humidity regulation.
If you are using a self-built enclosure and it’s a closed terrarium, make sure any stagnant water is low enough to not reach the moss. Open top containers will need misting as moss becomes noticeably dry.
Lastly, remove lids daily on closed terrariums for a few minutes to provide proper air circulation and avoid mold.
This photo-realistic mini mountain terrarium was definitely one of the bantamaria I was most excited about creating. I already know the potential sheet moss has when groomed correctly. But on the contrary, this moss takes a little bit longer to acclimate than other carpeting mosses. So have patience, don’t panic if you see brown before you see green. These guys are resilient. Check parameters and make adjustments as needed.
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 terrains yourself, check them out in our shop.