Today’s vivariums come in many forms. They can house a specific type of species of 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
- 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 keep 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 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.
A New Type Of Arium
A Bantamarium, or “bantamaria” if using the word in the plural, is an enclosure constructed to portray real scenery while simultaneously housing real plants and animals. They can also be referred to as living dioramas. This is a new type of arium and our very own creation. Click the picture or link to learn more about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, bugs are not necessary for a vivarium. Certain species of reptiles, amphibians, and other animals that live in vivariums may need insects as part of their diets, but they are not necessary for the vivarium itself.
Vivariums typically include a heating and cooling system, while terrariums may not. Additionally, while terrariums can often be made with any type of container, the walls of a vivarium need to be quite thick to provide temperature regulation and maintain the correct environment for the animals living inside.
A vivarium should be thoroughly cleaned every 4–6 weeks or as needed. This includes spot-cleaning any surfaces and removing uneaten food or waste.
As part of the cleaning process, you should also check the temperature, humidity, and filtration system and make any necessary changes.
Examples of suitable animals for a bioactive vivarium include many species of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates such as bearded dragons, leopard geckos, kingsnakes, corn snakes, dart frogs, tree frogs, chameleons, box turtles, and tortoises. Invertebrates including African giant millipedes, land hermit crabs, and many species of insects and spiders are also appropriate.
A vivarium typically consists of a number of components, including substrate (bedding material such as sand or soil), ornaments (rocks, driftwood, and other decorations), plants, and any other necessary items to maintain the vivarium environment. Depending on the type of animals living in the vivarium, certain items such as heat mats, lights, and food containers may also be needed.
A vivarium may house a variety of different living organisms, depending on the type of vivarium and the animals kept inside. Common vivarium inhabitants include reptiles, amphibians, and other small animals, such as turtles, lizards, frogs, and snakes. In some cases, fish, birds, and invertebrates may also be kept in various types f vivariums.
To disinfect plants in a vivarium, gently remove the plants and dip them in either a diluted hydrogen peroxide and water solution or a mixture of vinegar and water for about 30 seconds.
Let the plants dry and then return them back to the vivarium. If you’re unable to remove them, use a misting spray to gently mist plants.