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I think my vivarium is affecting my health :(

Discussion in 'Autonomic, Cardiovascular, and Respiratory' started by bspg, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. bspg

    bspg Plant Queen

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    Preface: my viv does not contain any reptiles or amphibians - just plants and a few bugs and earthworms.

    Being homebound sucks and it's hard to find ways to keep your mind occupied. As such, I'm always trying to find projects to work on to keep my mind busy and give me a sense of purpose.

    One day while watching YouTube videos, I came across a beautiful DIY vivarium and was COMPLETELY entranced by it. This thing was beautiful; bursting with life and color and best of all, plants!

    Screenshot_20170826-121257.png
    I mean...come on :eek::cool:

    As a lover (and keeper) of several plants and terraria, and someone with a lot of time on their hands, building a vivarium was a perfect project for me and I just HAD to make one. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

    I worked very slowly; sometimes taking breaks of several weeks because I just didn't have the energy. In the end it took 3-4 months and lots of YouTube videos but slowly and surely, I built a vivarium. It gave me a great sense of joy and purpose and although it was hard to do with limited energy, it was well worth the effort. :trophy:

    It's been about 7 months since I finished the vivarium and it's really taken off in that time! :tulip: It's not the greatest or the most beautiful vivarium in existence but it's pretty awesome for a first-build and I crafted it with my own hands! MY hands! ME! A girl who rarely gets to do anything she wants to do because she's always so ill.

    Because it's made with natural materials that are housed in humid conditions, it's going to go through some decomposition. This is normal and a healthy part of any natural system.

    Unfortunately, I think this decomposition is affecting the air quality in my house and affecting my airways. :( I've been fine for the past several months but the last 10 days or so I've been having shortness of breath, congestion, and sticky boogers. My boyfriend is experiencing it too so I figured we had picked up a virus or something but when he got up this morning, he said the house smelled musty and he thinks it's from the vivarium.

    I'm not sure what to do at this point but I'm scared and devastated to think my vivarium is making me sick. I worked so hard on it and love it so much! I hate the idea of giving it up. :cry:

    It's possible that we did just catch a virus but looking at the big picture, I feel like I probably didn't do myself any favors by putting an actively decomposing, natural ecosystem in my house. *Face palm*

    My boyfriend wants to try attaching dryer hose to the lid and venting it to a window outside but I'm not sure if that would be enough. I'm worried that the outside air may blow IN through the tube and push musty air out of the vivarium and into the house (the vivarium has a lid but it doesn't cover the top 100%).

    Does anyone here have experience with something like this? Or any ideas on how I could keep the vivarium without compromising my health? I'll get rid of it if I have to, as I can't risk any more damage to my health but I'm hoping there's a way to keep it and be maintain my health too.

    Any ideas are appreciated! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
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  2. 5150

    5150 Senior Member

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    Hi ... nice work on the plant residence : )

    your tenacity is admirable. it seems that you have already solved the situation, as both of you are being affected by something, and your thought that it even *might be* the plant residence is probably enough to make a change.

    so, can you relocate it? maybe to a protected inside porch area, with a door that closes it off from the house? Do a Test... move it elsewhere, and monitor what your symptoms become. I understand that you want to enjoy the beauty as much as you can, but this sounds a bit scary. your logic is already telling you it could be making you guys sicker, and it certainly may be mold

    I feel we can't take such risks. we are too sick as it is .

    Hope all goes well.
     
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  3. bspg

    bspg Plant Queen

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    Thanks! However, that is just the vivarium that I was inspired by. Isn't it beautiful?

    Thank you, that is kind of you to say. It really was my boyfriend who thought the vivarium might be the cause. I think I've been too congested to smell much lately and since I'm in my house 99% of the time, I am probably used to any smells that it has anyway.

    That's a great idea! Unfortunately we don't really have anywhere else to put it. :( We have a tiny spare bedroom but it's our storage room and filled with stuff at the moment. Plus, the vivarium is huge; it's a 35 gallon glass tank. I might be able to convince my boyfriend to move some things around in the spare room but the room is so full, I'm still not sure it would fit.

    Thank you and thanks for your help. I agree, we can't really take risks with such a complex illness that science knows little about.

    I'll talk to my boyfriend and see what he thinks about moving it to the other room. He'll probably say it's not gonna happen, but I will ask.
     
  4. bspg

    bspg Plant Queen

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    I'm feeling absolutely horrible now and believe I'm going into a crash. :(:ill:

    I've got stomach cramps, flu-like symptoms, a sore throat, and chills. :cry:

    Dammit.
     
  5. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member

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    If it were me I'd be really reluctant to give up having the vivarium where I could see it. We have to find our pleasures where we can and your vivarium is such a lovely idea.

    If it's not possible to vent the vivarium itself to the outside, how about improving air quality in the room with an air purifier. There are models that will remove bacteria and mould and reduce the load in the room. There would be an ongoing cost. This could be done quite quickly and with little fuss if budget allows.

    Also, I was under the impression that a vivarium should be ok completely sealed for extended periods. Is this not possible?

    Sorry you feel so ill now, hope you recover baseline soon.:hug:
     
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  6. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    Your vivarium is beautiful ! I am a fish tank person myself. I still have my tank but no more room in the house. Your tank looks a good size, maybe 50-70 gallons ? I took great pleasure in fish keeping and looking at the social life going on in the tank was always so relaxing.

    What if you turned your vivarium into a soft water fish tank ? Lots to learn there as well, and maybe if you really like it, you could even go into sea water. Your boyfriend could help with the cleaning, but if you buy the right equipement, it's not that hard, maybe 15 minutes per week. The bigger the tank is, the easier it is to take care of. Don't go for less than 50 gallons, way too much work !

    In any case, if you suspect your vivarium is affecting your health, you should get rid of it. Don't take the risk of getting worse. Life is hard enough as it is.
     
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  7. L'engle

    L'engle moogle

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    If you decide you can't keep it, I would suggest you try keeping marimo, which are the round moss that live underwater. I have one in my room and it requires only that I add more water to it every few weeks. It seems to clean the water that it is kept in so I have never had to change the water and the air quality in here is fine. If I smell the glass cylinder it is in the air above it actually had a nice fresh smell, though I don't know how much it carries out into the room. I've had it for a couple of years now. I also keep snake plants, which are low maintenance and filter the air. They are quite dry and only need watering every so often, so they don't add a lot of humidity to the air.

    I hope you can keep your vivarium, but even if you can't, don't give up on having beautiful living things in your home. It is too important for us that are mostly stuck inside!
     
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  8. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    I used to have many of them in my tank, very nice and easy to keep ! :)
     
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  9. boolybooly

    boolybooly

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    Well presuming its not a virus you both picked up then it could be mould spores.

    If that was the case then you might want to consider the nature of the growing medium and the ecosystem of decomposition.

    If the growing medium has high energy organics in it like incompletely decayed plant material or dung then it would provide perhaps too rich an environment, one in which mould could prosper. I imagine the best anti mould set up would be a very decayed compost and feed the plants nutrients via the watering system with added fertilisers in the water. To take that to the extreme you could use zeolite or laterite as a soil medium and try something akin to hydroponic culture. Also remove any dead leaves from the growing plants.

    Alternatively it may be possible to change the culture of organisms decomposing the medium with a compost starter product which will introduce other organisms which will naturally compete with the mould and prevent it from dominating and running out of control. You would have to find a way to spray that on to get good coverage.

    Fuzzy patches on the medium under the leaves or on dead leaves would be a sign of spore formation as the fuzz is a mass of sporangia, spore making "seed" heads of the mould but its possible they could be there and not visible.

    Also it may be worth considering some plants produce odours or pollen which can cause a reaction in some people.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017 at 1:24 AM
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  10. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois Prairie ❀❤✿Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ✿❤❀

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    My apartment has very little natural light and my house plants are not very happy here. I thought a vivarium might be just the thing. I am sensitive to molds and mildews, though. I would definitely have to go the inorganic media/hydroponic route.

    While doing a search on vivariums, I found this site on vivarium ventilation and air circulation.
     
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