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Small terrarium for N. ventricosa x ampullaria

Joined
Apr 4, 2017
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Hi

I have recently built a small terrarium to accommodate a single Nepenthes plant. The challenge was to achieve a stable environment in a small volume with conditions appropriate for N. ventricosa x ampullaria while keeping the cost as low as possible. Below is a picture taken just after the plant was introduced.
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Technical details:
The soil mix is a 50-50 mix of peat moss and perlite. Illumination provided by a 10 W LED lamp emitting 1200 lumens at 6000-6500 K. Temperature, humidity and time lapse photography is done with a Raspberry Pi 1 B. The temperature/ humidity probe is the DHT22 sensor and time lapse photography using Pi Camera 2. A code was written in python 2.7.4 to make a log of the data and send it to an online IoT host. Live data from the terrarium: vivarium - ThingSpeak

The terrarium was made from sheets of acrylic glass cut with a plastic cutter. It's not easy to cut a straight line on your first attempt so I'd recommend doing a few test cuts to get used to the tool. Superglue was used to stick the acrylic together in a cuboid shape. The cover was made from thin plywood sheets and houses the LED light. The heat given off by the LED increases provides a higher daytime temperature which drops by approximately 6 degrees Celsius at night.


Comments and conclusions:
After one month, the plant has grown considerably and there is some reddening of the new leafs suggesting a good amount of light at the appropriate wavelengths is being provided. The humidity is a bit too high, the detector maxes out at 98.6% so this is the minimum value inside. This is being remedied by removing the condensation from the walls once every few days. One improvement that will be added shortly is a small fan to increase ventilation, this will also be operated by the Pi based on feedback from the humidity sensor. The camera was attached to the LED lamp to take images from above, after two weeks of continuous operation the images started to be corrupted. When removed from the terrarium the camera went back to taking normal pictures after about half an hour. This suggest that the high humidity and/or temperature are not appropriate for the Pi Camera 2.
The humidity/temperature log allows to see how quickly the terrarium's environment goes back to its equilibrium position after being disturbed by removing the lid and letting the humid and warm air esccape. This happens on a scale of minutes for humidity and tens of minutes (~30-60) for temperature.


Any advice on how to improve on this set up would be very welcome and appreciated as my experience with carnivorous plants and vivaria is quite limited. Feel free to ask if you'd like to know more about my set up.

One month progress
A picture of the set up one month after planting

34337229635_c854962267_b.jpg


Below are some more before and after pictures.

Fresh after planting

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A month later



 
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Joined
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Welcome to Terraforums! I don't think peat moss is ideal for growing Nepenthes, but hey, whatever works for you. I'm interested in seeing this setup as the plant grows bigger.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2008
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1,838
It looks good. I'd just add some siding around the bottom to discourage algae growth below the surface of the soil. Also be prepared, your plant will outgrow that contain within 6 months. The good thing is that vent x amp is an adaptable hybrid. Once it does outgrow that tank you can easily reuse it for other plants.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
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It looks good. I'd just add some siding around the bottom to discourage algae growth below the surface of the soil. Also be prepared, your plant will outgrow that contain within 6 months. The good thing is that vent x amp is an adaptable hybrid. Once it does outgrow that tank you can easily reuse it for other plants.

Thanks for the advice. Just to clarify, by siding you mean something outside of the vivarium to prevent photosynthesis of the algae? Or did you mean putting a layer of something like live sphagnum around the sides inside the vivarium? I'm building a much larger vivarium which will hold this plant once it outgrows the small tank.

An interesting thing i've noticed is that even though the soil became almost entirely dry, to the point of the plant beginning to wilt, the RH was still at least 98.6%. I think this is because of transpiration, it makes me wonder if the small volume of the vivarium means that transpiration will always keep the RH high. I've ordered a small fan in the hopes that this will help bring the humidity down a little and so reduce the amount of condensation on the glass.

I'll post an update when I get the fan working on the humidity sensor feedback loop.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2008
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Yeah, something like dark paper or plastic would work just fine. Algae doesn't really do any harm but some people do not like the aesthetics of it.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
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A quick update on the progress. I've installed a small cooling fan in the vivarium. It's a 5V 3x3 standard fan for the Raspberry Pi and it is virtually noiseless. I've hung it inside the tank just high enough to not be visible. The air hits one of the glass sides and prevents condensation, I've tried to make sure that the air doesn't hit the plant directly so as not to dry it out too much.

I've noticed that the DHT22 humidity and temperature sensor has stopped working properly. I take it out of the vivarium once a week and compare it's readings to another sensor I have in my living room. A few days ago I noticed a very significant offset, 30% on relative humidity and 5 degrees Celsius. Apparently after a month in the extremely high humidity the sensor lost its accuracy. I'll keep it out for a few days and see if the effect is reversible.


I'm pretty happy with how the fan is working so far, here's the results for you to see. First picture shows the side with airflow the second is the one with no airflow.

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34618402656_58440a0ccb_b.jpg
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
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Hi everyone
The time has come to move the plant to a larger set up as it has outgrown the small vivarium. Fortunately I have just finished building a larger one. Before I go on to describe the new set up I have a few questions and comments about the old one and the plant itself. Firstly let's have a look at the plant's progress.

35854724226_282a17b6dc_z.jpg
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Seeing as it only took 2.5 months for the plant to outgrow its little habitat it seems that the lights used are well suited for the plant's needs. I measured the emission spectrum of the cool white light LED lamp used in the set up and you can see that in the graph below.

35459155991_118afe7159_o.png


It would be interesting to compare this to the photosynthetic action spectrum of Nepenthes. Does anyone know of a reliable publication with this information?


When moving my plant to the new set up I noticed that there is more than one stem present. There is another, smaller one that seems to grow from its side but I cannot see where it starts (it is well below the soil level). A question to more experienced growers is, do you think this is something that originates from the larger plant or is it a separate plant? Can I separate it from the original plant or should I just leave it alone? Another thing I've noticed is that some of the pitchers had no liquid in them. I did a quick search and found conflicting opinions on how to deal with that, some say to just leave it alone and they will fill up and others suggest to add a bit of water to them. Have any of you experienced the same issue? What were the causes and what solutions did you find?

Here are a picture of the plant in it's new home
35854735776_be4795eec4_z.jpg
 
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Joined
Aug 4, 2008
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1,838
What you have is called a basal shoot. As nepenthes grow they will occasionally produce offshoots both above and below soil level. Your terrarium looks very nice. That's a nice amount of lush moss you've got going there.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
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from what I see in my nepenthes in my terrarium is usually a humidity problem my pitchers most of them have some liquid about 1/4 of the pitcher
 
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Apr 4, 2017
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What you have is called a basal shoot.

Thanks for the info, I've had a look around the net and it looks like that's exactly what it is. I'm going to leave it alone for now and maybe separate it once the plant has settled into it's new vivarium.


from what I see in my nepenthes in my terrarium is usually a humidity problem my pitchers most of them have some liquid about 1/4 of the pitcher

Ok thanks for letting me know. So is it enough to just provide high humidity and wait for the fluid to fill up the pitchers again or do you add a bit of water to them to encourage that process?
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Messages
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Thanks for the info, I've had a look around the net and it looks like that's exactly what it is. I'm going to leave it alone for now and maybe separate it once the plant has settled into it's new vivarium.




Ok thanks for letting me know. So is it enough to just provide high humidity and wait for the fluid to fill up the pitchers again or do you add a bit of water to them to encourage that process?

I sometimes add a little bit of water to help but usually if humidity is provide you will see in the new pitchers before they open they will have liquid in them already
 
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