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56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Starting a build thread for an in situ alto I got recently. It's going to be mostly dedicated to mini/micro orchids, with some other favorite plants of mine (probably several marcgravias). I really got in to mini orchids while planting my 18x18x24, and probably have around 10-12 in there but just maxed out on space. So I wanted to go big and the alto seemed the best for this. This will unlikely hold frogs for quite some time (if ever), unless I attempt to move my R. sirensis trio in to this eventually. Before adding frogs, will obviously change it as needed to fit their needs.

I was pretty determined to use matala for my drainage even with the built in drainage set up in the Alto. Had bad experiences with LECA and wicking in the past. I cut a piece to fit in the bottom as shown below. Forgot to take pics of the next step, but essentially I also made a wedge shaped piece to make a greater slope for about 6 inches, to allow for some deeper substrate while still allowing air to come in through the bottom vents. Covered this was substrate barrier, then put in ABG.

Along side all of this was also making the background, which I made with pumice stone and ghostwood. Pretty much just followed In Situ's video, siliconed everything to the background. I then put sphagnum moss between the rocks, to eventually root epiphytes in there.





Wood Cuisine Ingredient Dish Rectangle

56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What kind of lighting are you using? Is it pre-made/ purchased, or DIY? Thanks!
It's Spectral Designs lighting that comes with the Alto vivarium. I got their lighting for my Exoterra though and am very happy with them! Have gotten great plant growth and colors.

This looks great, and I’m looking forward to seeing it come together! Funny enough, your build is nearly cut and dry exactly what I am doing for my second terrarium. I just got an alto and I’m adding the pumice/ghost wood background soon. It’s great to see how you did it! I’ll be curious how well you find the plants start growing into the background.

For your inspiration, here’s a photo of an orchidarium in an alto. This exact terrarium inspired me to get an alto and build it out for some large obligates.
Thanks! Looking forward to seeing yours too. Regarding the background, we will see...I'm considering coating the sphagnum with some moss slurry like Dusk Moss Mix potentially if I don't plant it heavily, or just letting it naturally get covered.

Great inspiration, though I'm hoping to pack a lot more orchids in mine lol :D

56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's been awhile so wanted to provide an update on this. Slowly adding orchids in (winter has made me hesitant to ship...), all so far have done very well, though as you can tell there's a lot more space to still fill in. Included some close ups of recent blooms!

Full Plant List:
1. Cissus amazonica
2. Drydella cristata
3. Lepanthes calodictyon
4. Lepanthes telipogoniflora
5. Lepanthopsis astrophora
6. Ludochilus 'Sea Turtle' (Ludisia discolor var. nigrenscens x Anoectochilus formosanus)
7. Masdevallia erinaceae
8. Masdevallia nidifica
9. Mediocalcar decoratum
10. Peperomia villacaulus
11. Platystele orectoglossa
12. Platystele reflexa
13. Pleurothallis fastidiosa (schweinfurthii)
14. Pleurothallis mastodon
15. Pleurothallis (Specklinia) megalops
16. Pleurothallis sandemanii
17. Restrepia dodsonii
18. Scaphosepalum swertifolium
19. Solanum “Ecuador”
20. Trisetella pantex

Plant Branch Terrestrial plant Grass Twig

Flower Plant Purple Terrestrial plant Petal

Plant Flower Terrestrial plant Twig Flowering plant

Flower Plant Petal Terrestrial plant Pedicel

Flower Plant Petal Orange Terrestrial plant

56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's been a very long time since I've posted here, and was asked to update, so here's a recent shot of where the viv is at nearly 1 year since starting. It's been intentionally a slow process, I often go months between adding orchids, but it's getting there.

Plant Branch Terrestrial plant Houseplant Flowerpot

And here is the most recent plant list:
  1. Barbosella dusenii
  2. Cissus amazonica
  3. Drydella cristata
  4. Lepanthes antilocapra
  5. Lepanthes calodictyon
  6. Lepanthes escobariana
  7. Lepanthes felis
  8. Lepanthes telipogoniflora (x2)
  9. Lepanthes niesseniae
  10. Lepanthopsis astrophora
  11. Ludochilus 'Sea Turtle' (Ludisia discolor var. nigrenscens x Anoectochilus formosanus)
  12. Marcgravia “Azeal”
  13. Marcgravia “El coca”
  14. Marcgravia “Ecuador #9”
  15. Marcgravia “Peru”
  16. Marcgravia “Puerto Rico”
  17. Masdevallia erinaceae
  18. Masdevallia herradurae
  19. Masdevallia melanoxantha
  20. Masdevallia nidifica
  21. Mediocalcar decoratum
  22. Neoregelia “Fireball”
  23. Peperomia villacaulus
  24. Platystele orectoglossa
  25. Platystele reflexa
  26. Pleurothallis acrisepala
  27. Pleurothallis fastidiosa (schweinfurthii)
  28. Pleurothallis mastodon
  29. Pleurothallis megalops
  30. Pleurothallis sandemanii
  31. Porroglossum meridionale
  32. Restrepia dodsonii
  33. Rhaphidophora pachyphylla
  34. Scaphosepalum swertifolium
  35. Stelis argentata
  36. Solanum “Ecuador”
  37. Trisetella hoeijeri
  38. Trisetella pantex

56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The most recent addition was the hygrolon (wrapped around epiweb) in the top left corner. This area was mostly wasted space, and the central area tended to stay too wet for most orchids, so I think I'd give this a shot. It's been a couple weeks and is already turning a little green.

Flower Botany Plant Vegetation Terrestrial plant

Rectangle Road surface Grass Asphalt Landscape

A little pocket to likely put an orchid in at some point:
Rectangle Gas Tints and shades Road surface Asphalt

56 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Awesome setup! I have 5 InSitu amazonias and i love them! I went with foam backgrounds. You have to get at least a pair of frogs in here! It’s too awesome not to.
Thanks! I think I'll eventually get some frogs in here once it's planted more and fully established. In it's current state I don't think it's really optimized for frogs- before I put any frogs in here I'll add more broms and make sure they have functional space. I'm not sure how much any frog would use the smaller branches with the mini orchids on them. And maybe if they have plenty of other areas to use, they won't trample the orchids....
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