What’s The Difference? Terrarium Vs. Vivarium Vs. Paludarium

There are thousands, if not, millions of curious minds out there wondering what the difference is between a terrarium, vivarium, and paludarium. One of them is a general term for a place of life, the second one is where you grow plants in a sealed container, and the third term is when there’s a mixture of land and water living creatures (plants and animals).

Did you know? 💡 According to search data, thousands of people are wondering what the difference is when it comes to vivaria, paludarium, and terrarium.

whats the difference between a vivarium paludarium, and terrarium

This question is asked over hundreds of times every single day. People are asking and searching for better information. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t provide the available knowledge for my readers. I figured I have to help clear things up when it comes to terrarium vs. vivarium vs paludarium. 😎

what are the types of vivariums?

If you’re in search of a deep comparison between the three, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will try my best to explain these topics:

  • The meaning of vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium + images
  • What they are used for
  • Examples of each type
  • What a vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium have in comparison
  • Unique features
  • And many more…

Ready to get started? Let’s begin.

What’s the meaning of a vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium?

What’s the meaning of a vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium?
“Should I start a vivarium or terrarium? Hmm.. maybe a paludarium? I’ll read VivariumTips.com first to get an idea.”

First and foremost, the similar thing about these three is that they are ecosystems with living creatures. You probably don’t know this, but paludarium and terrarium are both branches of a vivarium. So what’s the true meaning behind these three? Let’s start with the main one of the three, vivarium.

What’s the meaning of a vivarium?

According to Wikipedia, vivarium’s meaning in Latin is “a place for life,” which explains why paludarium and terrarium branches off of vivarium. A vivarium usually an area, enclosed and used for raising and keeping living creatures. Sometimes, they are used for studying animals’/plants’ behavior.

Did you know? 💡 The plural term for vivarium is vivaria.

There are many types of vivariums and finding them all will probably take you forever. Below are the types of vivariums that I know of:

  • Terrarium, Herpetarium, Serpentarium, Insectarium, Formicarium
  • Paludarium
  • Aquarium, Oceanarium, Dolphinarium
  • Aviary
  • Fish Pond, Koi Pond
  • Greenhouse, Conservatory
  • Nocturnal House
  • Penguinarium
  • Riparium

I grouped several terms because they’re somewhat branches off of the first term.

What’s the meaning of a terrarium?

why does my terrarium smell?

A terrarium is one of the many branches of a vivarium. They are usually a dry version of a vivarium and the environment is similar to the desert. Vivarium lovers enjoy growing plants in their terrariums. Generally, terrariums are low in humidity.

When it comes to ranking between the three, I would place terrarium 2nd in popularity comparing to paludarium.

Did you know? 💡 There are stories of people with a self-sustaining terrarium that has been alive for decades.

There are two types of terrariums- they are closed terrariums and open terrariums. Usually, these are kept in a jar or mini-tank by owners.  So what’s the difference when it comes to open terrariums vs. closed terrariums?

  • Open Terrariums – When you own a terrarium that doesn’t use a lid, then that would be called an open terrarium. They are generally perfect for plants that can live in dry conditions without a moist ecosystem.
  • Closed Terrariums – For a closed terrarium, there usually has to be a lid or something to seal the entire ecosystem. Because of this, the moisture steams up because of the plants and soil. You probably get the idea when it comes to these two terms.

What’s the meaning of a paludarium?

paludarium user cedrictung
Credit: Redditor u/cedrictung 🙂

Paludarium is another type of vivarium with an interesting ecosystem for owners due to the selection of living creatures you can add. A great comparison would be a swamp-like or forest ecosystem, except that it’s mini and inside a tank!

Did you know? 💡  A YouTuber by the name of SerpaDesign created a video of him with a 500-gallon paludarium. The video has over 200,000+ views and vivarium owners love it.

Another way of explaining the definition of a paludarium is that it’s almost like a mixture between aquarium and terrarium. Usually, paludariums have some type of stream, waterfall, or pond. The humidity is usually high in this type of vivarium.

What are vivariums, terrariums, and paludariums used for?

what are vivariums, terrariums, and paludariums used for?
“Vivariums, terrariums, or paludariums?”

Now that we got the meaning of these types of vivariums out of the way, let’s talk about the usage for each type. This is another common question asked by curious people around the world. What exactly are vivariums, terrariums, and paludariums used for?

What is a vivarium used for?


Vivariums can be used for many things. Also, because of it being a main and general term, the answers can be quite vague. Vivarium, a place of life, can be used in numerous ways, and here are a few examples below: 

  • Vivariums can be used to raise and keep living creatures.
  • They are used for observing and studying how certain creatures behave.
  • People use them for research.
  • They can be kept as a hobby.
  • There are vivariums in zoos for the public.
  • It can be a simulated place for living creatures that are saved out in the wild.

While there are many useful reasons, these are the few on the list that will give you a more reliable idea. Since it’s a vague term, there can be tons of examples of this.

What is a terrarium used for?


Terrariums are used for people who love growing plants inside a glass container or a jar as a hobby. For this, since it’s a branch off of vivarium, the examples will be quite specific. Below are the examples of what this type of vivarium can be used for:

  • A terrarium can be used to grow plants.
  • It can be therapeutic for many people, which is another use.
  • A terrarium can be used as a self-sustaining ecosystem.
  • Not all, but some people use terrariums to keep simple pets like lizards.

Because of the tiny size ecosystem that you see on the internet, the popularity of terrarium is starting to increase. People love sharing images of their beloved terrariums.

What is a paludarium used for?

types of vivarium, paludarium

Paludariums are used for vivarium enthusiasts that want a diverse ecosystem. This includes having water living and land-living plants/animals. Below are a few examples of what a paludarium is used for:

  • A paludarium can be used to raise both water and land creatures.
  • People use paludariums because of the diversity of things you can add.
  • They can be used to grow plants.
  • The creation process of a paludarium can be calming for many people.

Many pet owners prefer paludariums because they can add many exciting creatures to their tanks. It can range from turtles, aquatic plants, to even reptiles and fish.

What are some examples of vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium?

examples of vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium
Vivarium, Terrarium, and Paludarium Examples

To give readers a better idea and perspective, here are some examples of each type of vivarium that might help you. This section’s purpose is to help users have a better understanding of the three types of the ecosystem.

What are some examples of a vivarium?

  • Example 1: When you’re at a zoo and you decided to head to the bird area with nets surrounding the place. You noticed that the birds aren’t able to escape because of the nets covering the area. People love coming to watch and feed these birds. This bird area would be considered a vivarium which is also known as an aviary.
  • Example 2: You’re at a friend’s house and you know that he’s a huge fan of ants. He shows you his glass container filled with dirt. You stared at it a little closer and with a little focus, you noticed that there are ants in it. This is another example of a vivarium, also known as formicarium.

Helpful Reminder: Vivarium is the main term that branches into many other terms. This includes terrarium and paludarium.

What are some examples of a terrarium?

  • Example 1: You’re browsing Reddit for the last few hours and suddenly, you scrolled down to one of the top posts with a picture of a jar and plants in them. In the picture, you found dirt, soil, and cool small plants inside this Redditor’s jar. You wondered what this was called, searched it up, and discovered that they’re terrariums.
  • Example 2: There was a time when you’re completely in love with succulents. One day, your succulent-loving friend shows you a completely sealed jar with succulents in them. You asked her how he takes care of her succulents, and then she tells you that it’s self-sustainable.

Helpful Reminder: Terrarium is like a Savannah or desert. There are two types: open terrarium and closed terrarium. Most owners keep this type of vivarium inside a jar or glass bowl.

What are some examples of a paludarium?

  • Example 1: Your teacher has a tank filled with reptiles, but he needed your help one day. He asked you to help him fix up the tank and make sure that there’s around 30% water in the tank. You wondered why and he tells you that he’s trying to add more diversity to it. Now he can add aquatic living things including his reptiles.
  • Example 2: One day, you’re in search of purchasing a new fish for your aquarium. You head to the pet store and noticed these amazing tanks with little ponds and waterfalls. Above the water, there were living animals. Under the water, you see aquatic plants. You decided you want something just like that because of your imagination and creativeness that you had in mind.

Helpful Reminder: Paludariums usually have both land and water inside its’ tank. This can be a pond or mini waterfall.

What do vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium have in their ecosystem?

sea urchin, crab, starfish
Below are what’s in each of the types of vivariums

What does a vivarium have in its ecosystem?

  • Plants, animals
  • Simulated environment
  • Has both water or living creatures (depending on the type of vivarium)

What does a terrarium have in its ecosystem?

  • Reptiles depending on the size of the terrarium
  • Dry small plants
  • If the terrarium has water, then most likely a water dish
  • Soil, dirt, charcoal, etc.

What does a paludarium have in its ecosystem?

  • Waterfalls, ponds, rivers
  • Aquatic animals
  • Reptiles
  • Aquatic plants
  • Dry plants
  • Soil, dirt, charcoal, etc.

Questions About Vivarium, Terrarium, and Paludarium

Below are common questions that people are asking related to this topic. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below this article and I’ll be happy to answer it. Your questions will be added to this article to help future readers.

How much does a vivarium cost to run?
How much does a terrarium cost to run?
  • Creating a terrarium can cost anywhere between $10 to $2,265. This depends on the size and whether you want a jar or tank. There have been cases of people building terrariums inside of their tables.
How much does a paludarium cost to run?
What are the types of vivarium?
  • There are many types of vivarium. Here are the few: aquarium, oceanarium, paludarium, riparium, terrarium, insectarium, orchidarium, formicarium, mossarium, penguinarium, dolphinarium, and jarrarium.
How can I connect with other vivaria bloggers, forums, and group chats?
What is a riparium and how is it related to this article?
  • Riparium is another branch under paludarium. While they are similar, a riparium is usually known as a riverbed aquarium.
What animals can live in a paludarium?
  • In a paludarium, there are usually aquatic plants, semi-aquatic, reptiles/amphibians, fish, dry plants, etc.

From VivariumTips,


When it comes to what the difference is between a vivarium, terrarium, and paludarium- I hope that you have a better understanding.

This article was created to help new interests in the type of vivariums with free knowledge.

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