A vivarium is a bit of nature indoors.
You can grow plant and/or animals in it, reproducing the ecosystem from which they originate.
The beauty of the vivarium itself makes it a highly decorative object but is also fascinating to observe the life in the vivarium.
This can range from a few plants in a glass jar that require little care to a large box with full control over the environment where temperature, humidity, light, composition of the substrate and water are artificially regulated.
In general, a vivarium is partially or completely closed off, with or without air holes, depending on the climate and the animals which can escape.
There is a wide variety of vivaria, ranging from desert to tropical rainforest or freshwater to saltwater. They can be fully terrestrial or aquatic, or a combination of both.
In this blog we will only talk about vivaria destined to be installed at home. These can range in size from a small vivarium that can stand on your desk to vivaria over a meter wide that take up a lot of space.
The word vivarium (plural: vivaria, vivariums) is the Latin word for park, preserve or enclosure.
An aquarium is a vivarium that is completely filled with water and where you keep aquatic animals, like fish, shrimps, snails …
There may or may not be plants in it, mostly for decorative purposes.
An aquarium can be cold or hot and filled with fresh or salt water.
Aquarium is the Latin word for a tank for keeping aquatic animals or a place for exhibiting aquatic animals.
A terrarium is a vivarium consisting mainly of soil. It emulates dry or moist habitats: desert, savanna or forest.
Here, both plants and animals are kept, such as reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, scorpions …
The water is present only in the form of a drinking place for the animals.
Terrarium is derived from the Latin word terra, meaning earth, soil.
A paludarium is a vivarium that mimics the tropical rainforest or a swamp.
It usually consists of a tank portion and a terrestrial area.
It is suitable for growing numerous small tropical plants and aquatic fauna (fish, snails, shrimp), but also frogs, salamanders and insects.
Paludarium is derived from the Latin palus, itself derived from the Greek pelos, meaning swamp, morass, marsh…
A riparium is a vivarium that emulates a river bank or shore and usually contains an aquatic and a terrestrial part.
It is suitable for growing a multitude of plants and animals, depending on the temperature of the riparium.
Riparium is derived from the Latin word ripa, that means river bank or sea shore.
An aquaterrarium is a vivarium with an aquarium and a land area.
A typical example of an aquaterrarium is the ones that are used for turtles: they must be able to swim but also need a dry space above the water.
Aquaterrarium is a combination of the words aquarium and terrarium.
Where do I start?
The type vivarium you start with depends entirely on your interest: whether you like orchids, tropical plants, succulents, fish, reptiles, amphibians or insects.
You should examine in what habitat they occur naturally and your findings will lead you to the final choice of the type of vivarium that is suitable for you.