How to make moss grow in a terrarium

Java moss growing on epiweb terrarium background Epiweb moss terrarium - introduction:
How to get moss in terrarium?

To answer this question I tested Epiweb background. But before I want to precise that I don't own shares and I don't make advertising for Epiweb brand. I decided to test this mterial by myself because I often listen to people who criticize Epiweb whereas photos on their website are awesome.

Then I precise that these thechnics are explained in a very good french book which is called "Créer un terrarium tropical humide : Installation, plantation, entretien, guide complet des plantes" that I advise you to buy if you speak french and that you can find on Amazon. But i did not make my moss terrarium exactly the same way.

Now before starting take a look at below two videos which show final result after one year and step by step moss growth during more than six months:

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Terrarium light top Now it's good to take a look at the details on existing tank.
As you can see on the photo, I just have one 36w PL-L light so it's is not really enough ligthing for what I planed to do. But for budget reason, I decided to let it in place. But in fact it could be far better to replace it by two 24w lights for getting 48w. And this terrarium top is too small for the 36w light lenght so it's placed in diagonal but it's not good beaceaue at the end we clearly see parts of the terrarium which are not enlightened enough.
Burned part is due to an old light bulb.

Glass Terrarium For information purpose, you can see on right the terrarium tank size: 40cm x 40cm x 60cm (16" x 16" x 24").

The only one probleme I could have with this tank is the height of the water part which is only 8cm depth.

Polyethylene pipe for gardening used in terrarium for rain system Fisrt I gatered required tools and materials:

- Polyethylene pipe (kind of pipe used in garden for spraying many plants in same time) (size: 13mm interior diameter and 16mm exterior diameter - 1/2”)

- Barbed Elbow and caps which are sell closed to the polyethylene pipes in garden stores.

- A water pump. I choosed a pump for aquarium with head height of 75cm (about 30”). Head height is OK for the height of the tank but but I discovered to late that it could be far better to chose a bit heigher.

- Aquarium pipe (12mm diameter, the good size for entering in the 13mm of polyethylene pipe):

- A drill bit for drilling glass (12mm).

- An Epiweb plate.

- Electric plug.

- Aquarium driftwood.

- Peat brick soft.

- And to finish it's good to have aquarium sealant for gluing Epiweb panel to the back of the tank.

DIY Self watering system for terrarium For the first step I took the precise inner size of my tank for cutting (with a cutter) the polyethylene pipe. Then I made marks with a simple pen for holes.
And i drilled all required holes. I made a hole every 2cm (0,8”) with a simple 4mm drill bit for wood.

I wait the last moment for defnitively glue the Epiweb plate to the back of the tank.

DIY rain system for terrarium I placed elbows and cap then I plugged the aquarium green pipe and aquarium pump to try the whole system. Hereafter you can see on the video what I obtained.
Water took at less thirty seconds to rise from the pump to the last hole.

Suction pads for aquarium I bought suction pads for aquarium beacause I thought I could use them to hang pipes but it was to long for the epiweb panel thickness (about 2cm/0,8”). So I decided to stuck the polyethylene pipe between Epiweb panel and glass of the tank and it fits perfectly. Finally it's perfect because the whole systeme remain removable for cleaning.

When I was OK whith the piping, I cut Epiweb plate with a cutter and I made a new try to check if it was still good.

Nylon cable gland for aquarium, terrarium and paludarium Next step was the most complicate because I had to make a hole in the glass for electric wire. I had no choice because I didn't want to make a hole in the stainless steel mesh on top of the tank. I used cable gland for a 12mm hole as you can see on the photo.

How to drill glass How to drill a hole in glass?

If it's the first time you have to drill glass, don't hesitate to try on a piece of glass before because it is a bit tricky.

For more security, I placed the tank on ground on polystyren blocks. Then I put a piece of tape where I made marks for drilling. I used drill bit for glass (about 12€ or 13$ in DIY stores).

When you drill glass it's important that you don't lean to much on the screwing tool. Don't drill to fast and often spray water on the hole you're drilling for avoiding ovearheating and glass breaking.
Go slowly, you must be patient. For a 4mm glass thickness the drilling took about 30 minutes for me for every hole.
I made two holes in the Epiweb plate too with a screwdriver.

I decided to make two holes. When I made the holes, I didn't know if I will use a water heater or not.

Epiweb background for terrarium with watering system When all was good, I placed the panel and the whole system in the tank. I didn't glue the panel because that wasn't necessary, driftwood will avoid panel fall.

Electric plug for terrarium or aquarium Then I had to cut the electric plug of the pump. For doing this I bought a plug, I got the wire through the hole I made in the glass and connect the wire as you can see on the photo.

Be aware of the fact that if you cut the wire as I did, you lost the warranty of the pump. And there are serious risks of fire and electrocution if you make a mistake with electric wire so if you are not self confident ask a professionnal for this part or make a hole in the stainless steel mesh.

Peat brick soft for terrarium and paluarium For the scaping I chosed to try peat bricks for the ground. And I placed a big piece of driftwood for aquarium (but i made a big mistake, I placed this piece of wood in the center of the tank and it's not beautiful at all. For being more beautiful, I would have to place it closer to the left side of the terrarium).

First, peat brick must be immmersed into water to be carved. So I let one peat brick one night in the water. Then I placed the driftwood and cut some pieces of peat for creating the land of my terrarium all around the wood. I cut them with a kitchen knif.
Blocks must be heavily compressed for avoiding collapsing when water will be in the tank. When all was in place, I carve a bit with knif and fingers to get a nice landscape.

At the begining I decided to put aquarium sand on the bottom of water part but it was a very bad idea. In fact sand was always blocking the pump. So I had to remove completely the sand.

When all was good with the landscape I placed water but I had to change it four time before I put on the pump, it was too muddy for it (and blocked it).

How to get moss in terrarium and paludarium To Finish I placed on the Epiweb plate and ground two kind of mosses: Riccia Fluitans and Vesicularia Dubyana (java moss). These two moss are easy to find in aquarium store and internet. and grow fast but needs a lot of light.

To get the best result, I always cut moss like parsley in very small parts with a knife or scissors. Every parts will grow and will cover more space.

It exists a product which comes with Epiweb background which is called Epiweb Moss Mix and which contains a lots of tropcial moss spores. This product seems to be good but is very hard to find. So unfortunately I couldn't test it.

Epiweb terrarium I spread mix of these two moss everywhere in the terrarium but above all in the well enlightened area. Then I rebuild the misting system for keeping the tank wet enough (you will find some photos in gallery of the site). I choose to put on the misting power pump five time per day and during ten seconds. Theere are no animal in the tank so it's enough.

Then I must be patient. You can see below on the photo the progession over the months.

Terrarium moss growing steps on Epiweb background

Moss on Epiweb plate Conclusion: Is Epiweb a good product?

Definitively yes. This product is good if you have light and water enough, it's very important. And the pump must always run night and day. But if these elements are OK, it's a good product to have a beautiful moss terrarium or paludarium.
Here after you can see some random photos of the terrarium after more than 6 months. Moss on peat brick in terrium Moss on peat brick in terrium