Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludariums and other ‘Ariums’

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Before we proceed let me tell you why I write this post, many of us have confusion between the various ‘Ariums’; They usually term them as vivarium or simply as an aquarium.

Petting an amphibian, fish, insect or similar ? Wondering what all those fancy terms means? here are some easy answers.

Why do I care so much about ‘ariums’? What if i don’t know the difference?

Well, its not a hard and fast rule to know the terms, but the confusion may result in death of you precious amphibian pet.

unknowingly many of us keep mixed species together that actually belongs to separate vivaria and should never coexist.

There are few visible and notable differences being a pet enthusiast must know, so without wasting any time let’s dive in.

The terms terrarium and vivarium are often used interchangeably, or to differentiate between a terrestrial habitat and a semi-aquatic one.

In the reptile and amphibian keeping hobbies, it’s common place to refer to enclosures as either a terrarium or vivarium.

Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludarium

So basically in short,
Live plants + Bioactive Enclosure = Vivarium
Plants + Animals = Terrarium
Terrestrial + Aquatic elements = Paludarium

The Term Vivarium is a combination of two words (VIV+ARIUM) (A place where life exists)

Its not the “Viv” its fully defined as VIVA, Viva means “To live”, or “Life” While Arium means a Place.

Technically speaking, there is a fundamental difference that clearly separates the two.

What does Arium mean?

Arium is a Latin suffix that indicates a place for or correlated with something ( usually denotes a live place)

Some examples includes aquarium, planetarium, solarium, armarium, caldarium, solarium.

What is a Terrarium?

The term terrarium is applied for an enclosure meant only for the life and the propagation of plants, such that the substrate, lighting, and other environmental conditions are tailored to meet the requirements of specific species.

In short, Terrariums are designed to raise plants.

What is a Vivarium?

A vivarium, on the other hand, is an enclosure meant to house animals or invertebrates, with environmental conditions suitable for the life and propagation of the particular species.

Specifically, vivariums are enclosures for reptiles, amphibians, and other smaller animals and invertebrates that require an earthen or aqueous environment.

In short, vivarium is an enclosure primarily to be a habitat for an animal.

What animals live in a vivarium?

Insects, scorpions, amphibians, lizards, spiders, snakes and turtles are some animals mostly kept in terrariums.

What is a Paludarium?

A Regular paludarium is basically a terrarium with a water body inside.

It has both aquatic and terrestrial features and a bioactive ecosystem.

What is vivaria?

how are an aquarium and a terrarium similar?

Aquariums are designed to support fish and aquatic animals that live in water

On the contrary Terrariums are usually designed for either reptiles or plants.

Moreover, an aquarium is waterproof while a terrarium has perforations for ventilatation.

Aquatic enclosures (aquariums) and bog types (paludariums), are collectively referred to as vivaria.

There are further divisions to each type of vivarium, designed to meet the needs of particular inhabitant.

such as arboreal, fossorial, desert, wetland, shoreline, cloud forest, etc.,  

For completeness, there are other captive environments that do not fall under vivarium categories, such as aviaries and cages. 

What is a dry aquarium?

A dry Aquarium is a specific type of terrarium that is usually dry with low humidity, plenty of plant life, and no aquatic life.

Almost there...
A dry Aquarium Credits Christian Witt

Depth Review of Ariums

The vivarium is an enclosure containing living organisms such as plants, fish, reptiles, birds, frogs, insects etc.

So vivarium can be an aquatic water body (like an aquarium), connecting terrestrial and water (riparium ) swamps (paludarium), terrestrial (terrarium), and cages (aviary) for birds

Then you can divide terrariums into etc. insectariums (for insects you can further divide even more to formicarium (for ants) etc.

No wonder, A lot of people get this wrong and its pretty understandable. check the table below it will clear all your doubts.

Some well known ‘Ariums’ and their uses

Enclosure’s nameUsed for?
‘Arium‘Latin word meaning location or receptacle
TerrariumSoil and Plants
VivariumAnimals or Invertebrates
PaludariumTerrestrial, Aquatic Plants, and Aquatic life.
Reptilarium/HerpetariumReptiles are kept
AquariumFishes, aquatic plants, or animals are kept
FormicariumOtherwise known as an ant farm
RipariumContain earth and aquatic element
Oceanariumbasically a large aquarium
InsectariumInsects from beetles to worms.
MossariumMoss or rootless plant.
DolphinariumDolphins in a Zoo
FossorialUsed by burrowing animal
ArborealThose who live on trees
Aviariescages or place for keeping birds

For Further Reading

I hope you have learned a lot about Ariums and why they are important?

below are some more relevant topics that are related to this one and you might find them interesting to read!

Here’s an interesting article about vivarium plants. What plants can I put in a vivarium?

Here’s another interesting article about vivarium misters Best Automatic Mister for Frogs (A Buyer’s Guide)

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