Reptiles And Amphibians

Difference between Aquarium and Terrarium

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Despite having similar sounding names, there are clear differences between an aquarium and a terrarium. If small in size, both products are simple to maintain and excellent choices for those who don’t have a lot of room to display a tank. Understanding the differences will assist in choosing between the two products.


The most obvious difference between the two is an aquarium is full of water and a terrarium has dirt or gravel in the base. The same size tank can be used for both, but the two cannot be set up in the same tank at the same time.


Most aquariums are filled with aquatic animals of some kind. This is typically tropical fish. The fish can be either fresh water or salt water depending on the type of tank that is established. Land reptiles, such as snakes or lizards, or amphibians, such as frogs or turtles, are commonly included in terrariums.


Terrariums that include no animals are very easy to maintain. Because they are self-sustaining, a terrarium frequently requires nothing more than a misting with water every week or so. If the terrarium is covered with glass or plastic, even this may not be required. More would be required if animals were added. Aquariums that include fish will require more than this. The fish will need to be fed once or twice a day.  The aquarium will need to be clean as the water becomes dirty or as algae begins to grow.


For most terrariums all that is required is some sort of container. This can be as simple as a two liter bottle or as large as a glass aquarium.  After the terrarium is established, no other pieces are needed. This is not true for larger aquariums. Most will require a filter and a hood with a light. Large tanks may require two filters. This requires the aquarium to be placed near an outlet, which is different compared to the terrarium.


Most aquariums are filled with brightly colored, plastic decorations.  They can be purchased in almost any store is many imaginative themes. While real plants can be used, a majority of plants used in aquariums are fakes.  In terrariums, the plants used are real. They are planted in the dirt at the base and allowed to grow. This contributes to the beauty and the natural habitat in the terrarium.


A difference not often thought of is the difference in where these two should be placed.  An aquarium should not be placed near a window as this will encourage the growth of algae. A terrarium can be placed near a window to allow the plants to get the sunlight needed for growth.

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