11 November, 2020

How I created a Jarrarium

Following on from my recent adventure of setting up an aquarium, I decided that one wasn't enough. I can't believe it, I'm already addicted to this hobby. I might as well say goodbye to my savings now, because this aquarium addiction isn't cheap. Tanks, substrates, test kits, heaters, pumps, lighting, and all that stuff can carry a hefty price when it's all added up. It's an expensive hobby. But the good news is, that it doesn't have to be. As long as you're willing to compromise, and scale back on your dreams of having a vast aquascape with lots of large fish, then there are much cheaper alternatives that will still net you a small aquatic wonderland. One such alternative is the jarrarium.

A jarrarium is quite simply an aquarium in a jar. A small, convenient and affordable way of taking part in a segment of this hobby. Now, I know what you're thinking, "What on earth can you keep in a jar?" Well, admittedly, it ain't much. Even if you use a fairly large jar, you'll still be hard pressed to find many species that will happily live in a jar. But remember, we're talking about compromises here. Better something than nothing. So here's how I created mine.

  • Jar with a lid (bigger the better)
  • Potting mix (no water crystals or extra stuff)
  • Aquarium gravel (leftover from making the last aquarium)
  • Tap water
  • Water conditioner (Seachem Prime)
  • Suitable plants (Java Moss, Duckweed)
  • Decorations (rocks, wood, and a shell)
  • Tools (jug, old colander)

  1. Clean the jar and lid, and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Using an old colander, sieve the potting mix. This is to remove the coarse bark and woodchip material, leaving the finer particles of potting mix for use in the jarrarium. If the coarse stuff is left in, it will often float to the surface and cause a mess.
  3. Put the fine potting mix into the jar, creating a layer about 2.5 cm thick.
  4. Treat some tap water to make it suitable for aquarium use. The main aim of using the water conditioner is to neutralise any chlorine in the water. Too much chlorine can be bad for both the plants and any animals that might later go in the jarrarium.
  5. Pour some of the treated water into the jar. Just enough to reach the top of the soil. It helps if you can break the fall of the water when pouring it in, to avoid displacing the substrate. I poured it over my other hand which was in the jar. Then poke the wet soil to ensure that there are no bubbles trapped underneath.
  6. Add a layer of aquarium gravel, about 2.5 cm - 3 cm thick. Try to avoid mixing it with the underlying soil as much as possible. The aim is to have a gravel cap over the soil, not one big mixed up mess.
  7. If needed, add a little more of the treated water, to raise the water level to just above the gravel. Then give the gravel a gentle poke, to release any trapped air.
  8. Add the decorations. Keep it simple in such a small container. Don't put too much in there.
  9. Gently fill the jar with treated water.
  10. Let it settle for a few hours.
  11. If the water looks like a murky soup, then remove most of the water, while leaving your soil and gravel intact. Then gently fill the jar with more treated water, and again, allow it to settle for a while.
  12. Add the plants. Choose ones that suit the size of the jar. I used Java Moss for the carpet, and something that looks like Duckweed for a floating surface layer. But feel free to explore other options.
  13. Put the lid on.

And there you have it. All set up and ready to go. Now it's up to you if you want to look after it or neglect it. Maybe it will become a self sustaining ecosphere. Then again, maybe it won't. I have been tending to mine so far. I keep it near a window, so it gets indirect natural light during the day. I sometimes use artificial lighting. Also, I have started a cycling process, by adding a small amount of fish food to the water to kickstart the nitrogen cycle. And I have been measuring key water parameters, to gauge its progress. It's early days with my jarrarium. I'm not sure if I'll add some small animals, once the water has cycled. In either case, I look forward to seeing how it turns out. I'm sure I'll write some more aquarium posts in the future, so feel free to follow along.

Jarrarium - day 0

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