by Stephanie H., Sprague Branch
If you have been to Sprague Library’s Teen Space you may have noticed a large tank filled with plants. This is our bioactive terrarium. A bioactive terrarium is a replication of a natural environment inside a tank or aquarium. Often people create these as habitats for reptiles, spiders or other insects. The terrarium at Sprague is home to a colony of Dairy Cow Isopods, which are larger spotted cousins of roly-polys you may find out in your yard.
The terrarium consists of four levels. The first level is LECA which are clay balls that retain water and act as a drainage layer. Over that a screen sheet is placed so that the substrate is separated so that it does not get messy. The substrate is a mix of soil and moss so that plants can be planted. On the very top is leaf litter which breaks down and adds nutrients to the soil.
After that we added plants to the terrarium. A variety of philodendrons, peperomias and ferns are in our terrarium as they do well in humid environments. Finally the isopods are added. We started with 10 isopods and their colony has grown since then! The isopods eat leaf litter and decaying materials, which help keep the terrarium clean and free of mold. The terrarium also has a row of LED grow lights on top to ensure that the plants get the full spectrum of sunlight.
Bioactive terrariums are a very fun hobby to get into. Make sure to check ours out the next time you come to Sprague!
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