Terrariums, Vivariums, Paludariums, Insectariums – We’ve explained them all

Last Updated on April 25, 2021 by cmoarz

Vivarium comes from Latin root words that mean “Place of life”. Vivariums generally come in 2 categories;


Closed-vivariums are small, self-contained environments that have been sealed off from the outside world. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: a closed ecosystem. This means that there is no air exchange with the external environment. In this blog post, you will learn everything you need to know about terrariums! Keep in mind not all closed terrariums are capable of a self-sustaining environment.


Open-vivariums are the opposite of closed terrariums. They usually have plants and animals that thrive in an external environment with many different types of habitats, such as forests, jungles, deserts, etc. Open terrariums can have covered but are still open to the outside atmosphere. They might also be completely wide open to the outside world.

Both types of vivariums have their own purposes. Both can contain life or just plants, both can be aquatic, both can be self-sustaining.

The most common materials that make up both open and closer terrariums are glass and plastic. Often you will find people messing about with old glass bottles and jars. These can be very fun. You can also buy various (none aquatic or aquatic) terrariums in places like Amazon or Walmart.

Depending on the type of vivarium, they can be aqua-based, or they can be terrestrial. Aquatic terrariums require more specialized setups and plants because they need to keep water inside of the container. Terrestrial terrariums cannot hold large amounts of standing water, so you will find mosses, lichens, ferns or other types of plants in these types of installations.

Here is a list of the various types of vivariums

Aqua terrariums: generally these types of installations will have a watertight container, and plants that require or prefer wet soil as well as aquatic animals like frogs and fish. They can be either closed or open.

Terrestrial Terrariums: some people use this type to show off various habitats, creatures, or plants. They’re often more decorative than other -airums, because you have more control over what goes in them. They can be either closed or open. Usually, they contain no water – but theirs always someone 🙂

These also come with many different styles; from being very open on one side to completely closed off most everywhere else, such as having glass around three sides while leaving only one wide-open! Generally, these open styles don’t have living creatures in them, Only plants. But there are always exceptions!

A paludarium: is a semi-aquatic terrarium that is usually more of an open style than closed, with water added and aquatic plants.

This type generally consists of two tanks: one for the land or ground area, and another for the water part. This allows you to show off many different habitats at once (such as having various types of -airums inside), without needing a whole bunch of separate containers!

However, it can be difficult when caring for these kind’s because they need to have both wet and dry areas in order to stay healthy; this means adding soil to up outcroppings so some parts are kept moist but other parts aren’t too damp or soggy. Typically these are also known as swamp vivarium/terrariums. (There are so many -ariums, hopefully, I got that right!)

An aquarium: We all know what this one is, Most aquariums have very little in the way of real plants or land. Often filled with gravel and plastic plants instead. These are definitely meant more as a showpiece for your fish than a closed or open ecosystem. That’s not to say aquariums can’t become very complex in nature. There’s a bit of an argument about aquarium classifications vs aqua terrarium. While similar, I’m on the side that says they’re different enough to need separated classifications.

A insectarium: As the name implies, These are for the little guys. A place to show off your insects in all their glory. Biome doesn’t matter and usually just mimics whatever the insect inhabitances natural environment is.

A formicarium: Also known commonly as the Ant-farm, Not to be confused with an insectarium. This is a closed ecosystem. The ants are given all the space they need to live, and food in order to survive. If you’ve ever watched AntsCanada on youtube, this is what he would be using.

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