Marx2k's Fruiting Chamber

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My documents for my terrarium (minus the pics)  3 08/11 06:46am marx2k

By Marx2k (Marx2k) on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 05:25 am:

My friend, she is nuts. She got the idea of building a two level terarrium out of a 50 gallon rubbermaid storage case today. It took her 4 hours of (guess)work but she finally has it complete. The following pictures will show you exactly what she did but here are the materials she used and the approximate cost:
1 - 50 Gallon Rubbermaid Terarrium. (Now selling at Target as "Holiday Storage Unit") Even comes with wheels ($15)
1 - Top for a 29 gallon fish tank ($11.99)
1 - 10", 100W Fishtank Water Heater ($11.99)
2 - Packages of picture frame hanging hooks ($1.99 ea.)
1 - Spool of fishing line. Came with fishing rod, purchased a while back. ($5)
1 - Flourescent Light (Gro-N-Sho) ($20)
1 - Timer ($15)
1 - 6" Duct Fan - $20)
1 - Pickle Jar (Who knows)
1 - 20 Gallon Air Pump ($7)
1 - 25' Air Hose ($2)
2 - Power Strip ($5 ea)
1 - Package of 2 Air Stones ($1)

Now the fun begins!

From Far Away
This is from when you enter the room. It's the red storage bin. (The other one is a terarrium as well)

Getting Closer
Coming closer now.. Would you guess anything fishy is going on here? (if those casings werent there)

Straight Down Look
This is a straight down look with the top removed. The light is supposed to be on a slant because it will be lighting two levels of casings. The fan comes in directly under the second level (You will see in a moment). The jar takes up minimal space and heats/humidifies like a CHAMP

From The Side
The back of the fan (The input side) is sealed with Poly-Fil to keep out cat hair, and other nasties (This is not a clean room by any stretch of the imagination)

Level 2, Baby!
Now here is the second level. The fish tank top was turned upside down and was attached to the hooks (carefully) via fishing line wrapped around a bunch of times for each hook to provide strength. The hooks are attached to holes that are already in the storage unit (No drilling required there). Now we have a second level! About 10" on each level. She can store 5 casings on each level for 10 casings per terarrium!

Level 2, Again
Another view of the second level

Incubator Tease
Just a shot of her incubator. A couple of casings in there along with some jars and some petri dishes. A heating pad on top, a soil heater w/ thermostat built in on the bottom. Just a tease.


The air line comes in through one of the holes in the handles of the unit. There are 4 holes per side that were there when she got the thing. Small holes, no problem with humidity/heat. And just in case you were worried, the wires for the light and the heater go over the top of the unit and run in back of from the front, again.. it just looks like any old unit. Any questions?

By Marx2k (Marx2k) on Friday, October 19, 2001 - 05:29 am:

Oh and by the way, the light and the fan are on a timer.. They go off for 30 minutes every 6 hours.

By Marx2k (Marx2k) on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 02:37 am:

Ok guys... ready?
1st Pic
(1) 6" Duct Fan
(2) Poly-Fil covering input of fan
(3) 34W Fluorescent lamp attached to lid of container.
(4) 2-liter bottle filled with water/H2O2 combination
(5) 8" 100W Fish Tank heater
(6) Air Stone
(7) Air line
(8) 2 10-gallon air pumps
(9) 2 to 1 air line connection valve
(10) Small holes drilled into bottom of container
(11) Thermometer/humidity gauge
(12) Indoor/outdoor thermometer
(13) (Not shown) Sheet of plexiglass
(13) (Not shown) Foam insulating tape

The entire setup is contained within a 36 gallon Rubbermaid container.

A hole is cut through the front, lengthwise, and a 6" duct fan is put through. A 4" fan
would probably work better in terms of keeping temperature and humidity up. I think the
6" fan simply causes too much air circulation and temporarily brings down humidity.
The duct fan can be purchased at home depot in the duct/heating section. Any gap
between the sides of the container and the fan is sealed with duct tape. A silicone sealant
can be used as well (and would probably work better) but then the fan is pretty much in
place there forever and would be extremely hard to remove in case you want to switch
containers. The fan is connected to a power cord via pressure screw caps. The input end
of the fan is covered with a layer of poly-fil. This is done to keep large particles like dust
and cat hair (I have two large long hair cats that shed quite a bit) out. The poly-fil is
attached to the fan via a rubber band. Simple. Some people say to use a HEPA filter
cartridge to filter the air coming through the fan, but I figure if the whole container is not
airtight, what is the point of using a HEPA filter? The only reason for the poly-fil is to
keep major contaminants such as dust, pet hair and carpet stuff, etc out. Not to make the
whole container sterile. I don't mind light creeping into the container as complete
darkness isn't necessary, but I figure if you really need complete or near complete
darkness, a piece of black trash bag can be taped over the poly-fil and a few small holes
poked in it to allow airflow through. Also, you can spray paint the poly-fil black but this
would constrict airflow by closing pores in the poly-fil. Another idea would be to get
flexible duct tubing and connect it to the input part of the fan. Have it be approximately a
foot long or so, so you can bend it in an "S" shape so no light comes through the end
that's connected to the fan. Another suggestion is to cover the pressure screw caps with
the live wires in it either with electrical tape or put it through an enclosed electrical box.

Under the lid of the container is attached a 34W fluorescent lamp. It is attached with
screws that go through the lid of the container. The fluorescent is a full spectrum grow
lamp but any sort of light would do. Especially those that have a high ultraviolet range.
As long as it doesn't burn very hot (black light, halogen, HPS, etc). You don't want the
temp to raise drastically inside the container. And especially not anywhere near 106F.
The light does not need to be very bright, so therefore it probably will not burn very hot
anyway. I used a General Electric Gro-N-Sho brand fluorescent I purchased at Home
Depot for $20. This lamp comes with fixture and cord with switch on the cord. This
fluorescent worked well because it had slots to attach to screws so all I had to do was
slide the screw heads through the slots on either end of the lamp. The lamp is put on a 45
degree slant across the lid instead of lengthwise for better light distribution. The
electrical input as well as the connections of the fluorescent lamp to its' sockets are
sealed from humidity with silicone sealant. Better safe than sorry.

Both the fan and the fluorescent light are on a 24-hour timer. For both containers
I put two fans and two fluorescents on one power strip and connected that power strip to
a timer, so both containers' fans and lights start and stop at the same time. The fan and
light both switch on for 30 minutes, 4 times a day. The way I have it set up is to go from
12 AM to 12:30 PM, 12 PM to 12:30 AM, 6 AM to 6:30 AM and 6 PM to 6:30 PM. 2
hours total of air circulation and light for every 24 hour period.

A 2-liter bottle is placed into the container on the opposite end of the fan. The
bottle is cut at the point where it begins sloping inwards. The bottle is filled with a
90%/10% water/H2O2 mixture. The reason it's placed on the opposite end of the fan is to
allow heat and most air to travel from the bottle, throughout the container and to the other
end where some of it goes out through the fan hole. Through this method there is even
distribution of heat and humidity instead of heat and humidity going out of the bottle and
directly out through the hole in the fan.

Into the bottle is placed an 8" 100W fish tank heater. The water that is poured
into the bottle is at the exact temperature I want it to be at (90F). After a few minutes
when the thermostat of the heater is at the same temperature as the thermostat in the fish
tank heater, the fish tank heater is turned up to the exact point where it switches on. Try
to be pretty exact about this. Now I don't really have to worry about getting the exact
temp over the course of hours since I already have it and the fish tank heater thermostat is
tuned to that temperature. When taking the hot water heater out of the bottle for
whatever reason, do not put it right back into the water. Let it cool about 15 minutes. It is
hot and when placed back into the water, the glass will crack. This is an electrical hazard
so be very, very careful when doing this!! I have already gone through three heaters
because of this.

Into the bottle is also placed an air stone connected to an air-line. This creates
many small air bubbles which release oxygen into the container as well as humidify the
container. My belief is that this works also to filter the oxygen that is brought into the
container. Of course, it doesn't really matter because the container isn't air tight (the
humidity would be WAY too high if it were), but the less contaminant brought into the
container, the better. The air-line is connected to two 10-gallon air pumps. In my other
container I just have one 20-gallon air pump, which is much simpler and more efficient.
The air pump(s) are kept outside of the container so new oxygen will come in instead of
circulating the same oxygen over and over and over again. This combination of heat and
air keeps temperature at a constant 90F (this, of course, is chosen by me and I can set it to
any temp I want) and humidity at 85-92%. Perfect. If I wanted higher temperature, I set
the heater higher. This would also raise humidity.

Small holes are drilled at the bottom of the container to allow water and CO2 to
fall through. 3 holes on each side of the container are more than adequate for this. Heat
does not escape since hot air will rise. If you choose not to drill holes into the bottom of
the container for any purpose, do make sure to towel the excess water that pools at the
bottom of the container.

A thermometer/humidity gauge is placed somewhere in the middle of the
container. An indoor/outdoor thermometer is used and the line for the outside is
connected to the thermometer/humidity gauge. This way I always know what the
temperature inside the container is without having to open the lid and let humidity
out/colder air in. I tried using Velcro and tapes to stick the thermometers to the walls of
the container but the humidity gets pretty high and the walls sweat and the Velcro is

A large sheet of plexiglass was purchased at Home Depot and cut to the
dimension of the container's footprint lengthwise and three times the container
footprint's width. The plexiglass is then bent into an upside-down "U" and placed inside
the container over everything and directly under the fluorescent lamp. This creates a
great drip shield that also maximizes space underneath. All the water drips down the
sides of the plexiglass and either onto the sides of the container or directly onto the floor
of the container. At first the plexiglass is tough to bend into the correct shape but after a
few days of being in that position and the heat working with it, it begins to take shape of
the upside down "U". After a few days there will no longer be a struggle against the
plexiglass. When inserting the plexiglass into the container, make sure not to hit the 2-
liter bottle. It will tip over easily if pushed and spill all over everything. And you really
don't want hot water running all over your casing. One suggestion would be to put some
sort of weights at the bottom of the water container to keep it from easily tipping over.
What you use as weights is entirely up to you. Another suggestion would be to use a
water container with a wide bottom (Ocean Spray family sized bottles come to mind).

To make a better seal against contamination and heat loss, foam insulating tape is
placed on the lip of the container and the lid placed on top of that. This makes a pretty
good seal and any wires going out (heater, air line, thermometer), are placed either under
the tape or in between two sections of the wire. The only problem I've found with this is
that once in a while the insulating tape wont stick to the lip due to moisture and falls off
when I lift the lid. I just have to place it back on the lip.

This plan for a container terrarium solves the problem of fanning, light,
temperature and humidity for most any type of casing. There is oxygen being fed into the
container 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is complete air exchange every 6 hours
for 30 minutes at a time. There is light every 6 hours for 30 minutes at a time. I can go
on vacation for weeks and the only worry I would have is being there to harvest and re-
add water to the bottle. And the problem is solved by getting a large bottle and a
submersible heater. This way, one can fill the large bottle to the top and this would take a
long time to evaporate off. At this point I have to re-add water every few days. With a
submersible heater, I wouldn't really need to worry about it for as long as I wanted. It all
depends on how much water I put in. Also, the whole setup is whisper quiet. Both tanks
are actually in my bedroom touching the bed that I sleep in and honestly, I can't hear
them at all. The only time I hear anything is when the fans kick in, and these aren't huge
industrial fans. They are extremely quiet. I'm definitely not saying that this is the best
kind of setup for casings, but from what I've read and experimented with, it's the best
sort that I can construct and come up with that is simple, very energy efficient, quiet,
clean, convenient and affordable. I have no need for perlite, humidifiers, heating pads,
etc. Of course, I wouldn't suggest this if you're living with the folks and are worried
about them finding out about your operation. It isn't really low-key. But I suppose what
you can do to make it a little more believable is to file down the screws holding the
fluorescent lamp and point the fan towards a wall so people see the other side of the
container and run all the wires out the same side (this may require extension cords as fish
tank heater cords aren't very long).
2nd Pic

By Marx2k (Marx2k) on Friday, November 02, 2001 - 02:39 am:

Oh and by the way, the only improvements Ive made to this terarrium is I moved the setup to a 50 gallon and I made a 2nd level (described in another post in the archives somewhere)


Posted by: Sgt.Poop Nov 18 02, 02:48 PM GMT
if you bins are not connected to you lids ..flip that sucker up side down.. paper towels will work fine on the bottom...if your bubbler is taller than your cakes it will push that co2 right out the bottom as the moisture stays closer to the cakes... fannin is optional .if any needed maybe once or twice a day
Posted by: Nanook Nov 18 02, 02:50 PM GMT
Excellent tip there Sgt wink.gif