A fun thing about hobbies is that they keep reemerging every few years in different forms and making Terrariums is one of them.

Although it’s rapidly growing, some still don’t know how and why this and the other “-ariums” differ.

Every day, thousands of people ask the same thing you’re asking right now: “What is the difference between a Terrarium, Vivarium, and Paludarium?”.

For starters, Vivarium is a generic term for an area where you can support a life, Terrarium is where you can grow plants in a vessel, and inside a Paludarium, you can simulate a wetland that houses both land and aquatic beings.

I’m not gonna let you go with such a short answer; you’ll find more about Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludarium down below. So, hop down, please…

Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludarium: At a Glance

EnvironmentUsually aridVariedUsually tropical
CO2 injectionNoSometimesSometimes
WaterA little, at bestSometimesYes
Aquatic animalsNoSometimesSometimes
Semi terrestrial animalsNoSometimesSometimes
Terrestrial animalsSometimesSometimesSometimes

You now have a simple look to distinguish between them, for an in-depth understanding, you will have to go a bit further down. I promise you’ll get some valuable info.

A Comprehensive Guide to Terrarium, Vivarium and Paludarium

To show you how a Terrarium, Vivarium, and a Paludarium are different from each other, I’ll break things down step by step so that you’ll have an easier time.

Let’s get on with it!

Terrarium Vs. Vivarium Vs. Paludarium

Terrarium, Vivarium, Paludarium: what are they?


I think I owe you an explanation before I get into the nitty-gritty detail. In essence, all 3 of them do the same thing: Act as an ecosystem for various living beings.

The differences between them are hard to notice at a glance, but make no mistake; this disparity is what makes them unique. I’ll start with what they exist for:

  • Vivarium

Let me start off with the big uncle of the family- Vivarium. It takes its name from the Latin word Vivere, which means to be alive. You could say a Vivarium is a sanctuary for life.

From that notion, we can conclude that any closed area that is dedicated to raising living creatures, is a Vivarium. I’ve seen people branding Vivariums as the replica of natural habitat to favor a particular species in some situations.

Both Terrarium and Paludarium are subclasses for a Vivarium, did you know that?

Not just them, aquarium, greenhouse, oceanarium, penguinarium, fish pond, riparium, koi pond, aviary, etc. all are a form of the Vivarium.

Stick with me for even more interesting facts.

  • Terrarium


A Terrarium is a desert version of a Vivarium. Two features make a Terrarium what it is- low humid conditions and live plants. So, they’re like a mini greenhouse. Vivarium enthusiasts love to build a Terrarium to grow their plants.

Some might argue its ability to self-sustain the ecosystem is also one of its unique features but that only happens on closed Terrariums.

Open Terrariums, which also house bugs like grasshopper or spider have a front door, otherwise it’s pretty inhumane, wouldn’t you agree?

There are sometimes mishaps in design and some reservoirs that are intended to be aquariums fall short of the requirements. Structures like these also get used for Terrariums.

  • Paludarium


Ever seen a water-based Terrarium? Those aren’t Terrariums; you can call them Paludarium. Think of them as aqua-Terrarium. It is an exciting concept that draws its inspiration from swamp forests, albeit just a mini simulation.

A Paludarium is a home to submerged and coastal plants as well as animals that have an affinity for high humidity. You don’t need to inject CO2 because there are so many plants, you’ll never run out of it.

As a result, the plants housed inside one of these containers show a more vibrant display of leaves than an orthodox aquarium.

So these were the simple and basic differences between the three. Now I’ll take you into deeper territories.

Uses of Terrarium, Vivarium and Paludarium

I’ve discussed the existence of the three entails; now it is time for me to give you a brief idea about how they work. Let’s begin:

  • What does a Terrarium do?

We mainly use a Terrarium to grow plants in a miniature receptacle. It could be a glass container, a jar, or even an aquarium box. Just like aquariums, building and keeping Terrariums is a widely popular hobby.

The closed Terrarium is more popular between the open and closed systems because crafting a self-sustaining ecosystem is a thrilling adventure; for many, it can also be called therapeutic.

Making and sharing your aesthetic Terrariums on social media is in fashion now.

  • What does a Vivarium do?

As I said initially, Vivarium is a vast concept, and it could mean many things. The core idea of it is to help grow a life. There are quite a few ways to do it, depending on the approach you’re undertaking and what you want to keep.

Other than creatures and raising, keeping them for research is also a great application for Vivariums. You’ll even see them in zoos and greenhouses.

So, from hobbies to serious implementations, there is a lot of room for you to explore.

  • What does a Paludarium do?

Vivarium lovers are interested in Paludariums too. This one has a diverse ecosystem that the other two don’t have. You can simulate an entire marsh or wetland that can accustom both the land and water creatures.

This diversity strikes curiosity in people to come and try to make their own mini swamp forest.

People also do this activity to relax their nerves. For a perfect safari look, I think this is the best. You can have aquatic plants and wildlife species like turtles, fish, and reptiles too.

What is a Terrarium, Vivarium and Paludarium made of?

By now, you know what each of them specializes in, did you notice I’ve emphasized the interiors quite a bit? That’s exactly my next point of discussion. We’ll now see what they’re made of:

  • The ecosystem of a Terrarium

Plants, you can’t imagine a Terrarium without plants. After all, the terra in the Terrarium stands for earth, and we know how important plants are for our planet.

Owners usually add small and dry plants.

Other than plants, there are other materials like dirt, sand, pebbles, activated carbon e.t.c. Some even add small insects to give it a more lively look.

  • The ecosystem of a Vivarium

It is hard to describe the insides of a Vivarium, as it is such a broad thing. I don’t like repeating myself, but in this case, I just have to remind you over and over again, like an alarm.

And since Vivarium could mean so many things, It’s hard to nail down staples. Yet, there are a few things that are a must in a Vivarium:

You’ll definitely see plants and animals because you can’t have a Vivarium if there’s no life inside of it.

Other than that there will be a simulation of an environment that will cater to the growth and well-being of the life-form you chose to have.

  • The ecosystem of a Paludarium

In this case, Paludariums have it easy. We know what they are and what they specialize in. A Paludarium is incomplete without water, so expect to see a lot of it.

Ideally, there should be both aquatic and terrestrial creatures in a Paludarium. And since it’ll replicate a wetland, you’ll find a fair amount of soil and dirt.

The best Vivarium enthusiasts also add structures like waterfalls or rivers to make it look as realistic as possible.

Expenses of a Terrarium, Vivarium and Paludarium

I’ve blabbered a lot about what these 3 have and focus on so that people explore and settle on their preferences smoothly, but alongside tastes, there is another matter we need to consider as well the cost.

Only when your tastes and your finances align, it is then you choose to go after a product. I’ll be going to concentrate on that aspect now:

  • Cost of making a Terrarium

The Terrarium is the most affordable among them, as you can procure most of the components from stuff at home or nearby. For example, you can use off with a Jar, get some sand pebbles from a nearby area, etc.

However, if you want to make it a premium Terrarium, you can do that too. There are plenty of options to choose from if you decide to go this route and it costs up to $2500. Size plays a part too.

I’m gonna give myself a pat on the back for rhyming Terrarium with premium, by the way.

  • Cost of making a Vivarium

I know you’re expecting me to say how Vivarium is such a massive concept that it is hard to get a good reading on how much it’d cost, so I’m not going to disappoint you.

But it is my responsibility to give you a practical range at least. Since a Vivarium could be something small like a Terrarium to a gigantic greenhouse, you can expect the cost to be as low as $10, or up to $3000.

  • Cost of making a Paludarium

As for the Paludarium, the initial cost is a bit higher. But the maximum possible cost is lower than $1000, which is lesser than Terrarium and Vivarium.

The factor that dictates the cost is the size of the container you’re using and the add-ons you want to install to make it realistic.

Other members of the Vivarium family

Since you’ve stuck with me for so long, I thought, why should I stop at Terrarium and Paludarium when I can introduce you to the other kinds of Vivariums as well.

After going on and on about how there is a wide range of Vivariums, this is the least I could do. Hang in there a little bit more and expand your horizons!


It is a plant Aquarium with a strong resemblance with a Paludarium; the differences are how the plants are arranged inside it and the surrounding land.

This kind of structure simulates a riverbank.


I think you already know what this is. Many owners collect and raise insects inside a dry container. In a way, it’s like a terrarium, with bugs.


If you’re living in the western hemisphere, there is no chance that you missed this. Either in person or on television, you’ve seen an ensemble of sea creatures from the other side of the glass.

Well, turns out they’re a type of Vivarium as well!


I’m confident you’ve either seen this or read about it once, just didn’t know its name; just like me before I was charmed by it. The common name for this is- Ant Farm.

You’d be bewildered knowing how many people love to keep one of these.


Since global warming is melting the polar region bit by bit, the creatures there, like penguins, are losing their natural habitat. So, to simulate a home for them, someone came up with this idea!


This is also pretty simple, and it consists of a glass container that you use to store and grow moss.


Amongst the grand scale Vivariums, this one has the most widespread application. Just to jog your memory, in case you forget, a greenhouse encloses an area so that you can manipulate heat distribution for the plants to have easy growth.

These are just a few examples; there are so many more variations out there.

Welcome to Vivarium Land

I believe you clearly have a fascination with Vivariums and their sub-classes. This is why I didn’t stop immediately after explaining Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludarium to you.

And I ended up giving you a sneak peek of the many other uses of a Vivarium that would certainly reel you even deeper into this craft.

In my eyes, it is a magical realm; I hope you’ll share the same sentiments.

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