Today’s vivariums come in many forms. They can house a specific type of species plant as well as animal. This guide will help you understand the popular types of vivariums (also known as “arium”) a hobbyist can construct. Feel free to request a feature on a particular kind of arium if you do not see it on the list below.
A vivarium, also commonly referred to as “vivaria”, is an enclosure made to house plants and/or animals. The viva part of the word comes from the Latin word vivus, meaning “living.”The word itself translates to “a place of life.” The plural form of the vivarium is vivaria.
Vivarium vs Terrarium
The key difference between a vivarium and a terrarium is simple. One has an established animal enclosed, and one does not. As a result, adding an inhabitant to a terrarium changes the enclosure to a vivarium or at the very least, a bioactive terrarium.
Main Types Of Vivariums
Vivariums are literally a representation of nature in a case, so they come in a variety of ways. There are four common types of vivariums. These ecosystems can then be broken down into these more individualized styles:
- Aquarium – A fully aquatic enclosure that will consist of saltwater, freshwater, or a combination of both (brackish). These types of vivariums are made to resemble large bodies of open water like oceans or lakes.
- Terrarium – A non-aquatic enclosure that will consist of terrain like features. These tanks are usually modeled to look like various types of land found in nature like the forest, jungle, or desert.
- Paludarium – A semi-aquatic enclosure that will consist of both water and land. These vivariums are designed to resemble land that has water flowing through or around it like the rainforest or woods with a creek.
- Riparium – A mostly aquatic enclosure that will consist of water with parts of the hardscape emerging from the water. This type of setup will resemble shorelines or river banks.
Animal Based Ariums
Animal-based enclosures are vivariums that are constructed specifically for one group of animals. Reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds are usually what comes to mind when thinking of these types of ariums.
- Aviary – An enclosure that houses birds. They are usually large enough for birds to take flight within. Cages with optimal airflow are the standard practice for these vivariums.
- Herpetarium – These vivariums are built for a multitude of amphibian and reptile species. Dart frogs are one of the most popular types of animals kept in these enclosures.
- Serpentarium – A specific type of herpetarium used for snake keeping. One could easily refer to either term when referring to a snake enclosure though.
- Insectarium – An enclosure constructed for arthropods. This can include insects as well as many spiders. This term is commonly used to refer to living insects as well as preserved insects for observation purposes.
- Formicarium – Also commonly referred to as “Ant Farm” is a specialized enclosure built to contain ants. These types of vivariums come in many forms but are all engineered to create a sealed environment to keeps ants from escaping.
Plant Based Ariums
Plant-based enclosures can easily be used to describe many of the ariums previously discussed in this guide. The terms given here are more of a way to associate enclosures that only house one specific plant species. If they don’t house an actual living animal, then they are typically referred to as “Plant species + Terrarium.”
- Kinocorium – Also referred to as a mushroom terrarium. These enclosures are designed to observe many types of fungus. It is common to find mosses used as a secondary plant species to decorate as well as maintain humidity within the terrarium.
- Orchidarium – Also Referred to as an orchid terrarium. These enclosures are constructed to showcase many orchid species. It is common to see a number of other plant species used as a secondary flora.
- Carnivarium – Also referred to as a carnivorous plant terrarium. These enclosures are constructed to showcase plants that obtain their nutrients through the digestion of insects. Special requirements are usually taken with these enclosures to ensure specific environmental parameters.
- Succularium – Also referred to as a succulent terrarium. These enclosures are designed to house succulents and cacti. They are commonly constructed with drought-tolerant conditions in mind often resembling desert terrains.
- Mossarium – Also referred to as a moss terrarium. These enclosures are typically built with moss as a sole species plant. Secondary plants aren’t usually used with these enclosures but when they are, it’s used sparingly to keep the focus on the moss.