Build a Desert


  1. Large aquarium with a lighted hood cover
  2. Small desk lamp with bendable gooseneck (optional)
  3. Thermometer
  4. Sand
  5. Vermiculite
  6. Peat moss
  7. Rocks (medium sized)
  8. Gravel
  9. Plants, including cacti and succulents


  1. On the floor of the aquarium, spread a 1-inch layer of gravel.
  2. Mix the soil in the following ratios:
    Soil: 1 part
    Sand: 3 part
    Vermiculite, and peat moss: 1 part
    Spread this mixture on top of the gravel in an uphill sloping fashion toward the back of the aquarium. This layer should be about a 2.0- to 2.5-inch thickness.
  3. Place several cacti and succulent plants in the soil. You can visit your local nursery for a greater selection of cacti and succulents.
  4. Place rocks in the soil for decorations. (Woody tree branches may also be used.)
  5. Place thermometer in the terrarium where you can read the temperature.
  6. Use the lamp to help create a hot atmosphere.
  7. Periodically sprinkle the cacti and succulent plants in the soil with water.


Design an observation chart. Chart any changes in your plants. Give water in increments of a 1/2 cup. Keep track of the amount of water given and the temperature of the terrarium.

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