Spring cleaning and another rain system upgrade

Cool vivarium - rain system up and runningYes you heard me right, yet another rain system upgrade… I have actually been wanting to simplify the watering setup I have for quite some time now. I basically wanted to take out the drip system and expand the rain system instead. Yes, admittedly I am a perfectionist and a little bit of a paranoid over achiever, but I actually have several really good reasons for doing this.

First of all, I really would prefer to use just one system as originally planned. But I have also been a little worried about the contamination risks (fungus etc.) of running a closed system of water. The pump for the drip system needs to be submerged and when it runs it pushes a lot of water quickly, so I needed to keep the 25 liter drain collector half full in order to feed the pump and collect all the runoff. A container with standing water (for days at a time) that is cycling through the viv. several times a day. Hmmm…. asking for trouble that is… The rain system on the other hand pulls pure clean RO water from its own 25 liter tank, expelling the excess into the drain which is emptied when full. Easy as pie.

I only installed the second drip system because I wanted a moss covered back wall. Moss is rather finicky, wanting more consistent moisture than the orchids, so the drip system was supposed to water the back wall while the rain system would cover orchid mounts. In theory this sounded like a great idea, but in reality it was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps the drip system works better in less tall vivariums, and where you mount plants directly onto the back wall. Well, it did not work very well in my 160 cm tall vivarium. The drip only travel inside the EpiWeb back wall for about 30-50 cm, or until hitting the first obstruction, in my case a mounted orchid on an EpiWeb block. From there on the water just drips down to the orchids below or the floor, leaving the lower half of the back wall dry. So now that I have given up on the back wall moss project – moss grows fine on the orchid mounts creating the natural illusion I was after anyway – the system is basically obsolete.

I dismantled the drip bars and luckily I had saved the thin sliver of EpiWeb I had cut off at the top to fit the drip pipes so I could just pop them back in now. You barely notice them once in place. Next I assembled 12 more rain nozzles and begun building the extensions. I already had pretty good coverage on the top third of the viv, so I put most of the new nozzles on a new water line accross the middle  of the viv attached to the back wall. I had already run the line for two nozzles a few months ago so it was pretty easy to just extend out from the center. Half the nozzles are pointing up and the other half down, that way I cover the entire back wall. I added one more nozzle to each side on the top bar to cover the corners better and the last two new nozzles went in on the side walls.

While still in work mode I also took the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning in viv. Twice a year I take the subflooring out and clean both the floor and the floor tiles well with soap and finish by rinsing with a bleach solution. Not the most fun job, but well worth the effort. A clean growing area promotes healthy plants!

So, here is the result… I have ten nozzles on the aluminium bar across the top, another ten running across the middle of the viv (five pointing up and five down), there are three more nozzles in the front under the sliding glass doors that cover the plants standing on the vivarium floor, and finally I have two nozzles on the right side wall and one on the left side wall. A total of 26 nozzles, and it is looking soo good! When the system runs the whole vivarium fills with a superfine mist that looks almost like fog, and the pump is soooo quiet! I am so pleased with this. Now I just have to dial in the intervals again, but that is the fun part.

Cool vivarium - spring cleaningCool vivarium - spring cleaningCool vivarium - spring cleaningCool vivarium - rain system upgradeCool vivarium - rain system drainCool vivarium - rain system pumpCool vivarium - rain system up and runningCool vivarium - rain system up and runningCool vivarium closeupsCool vivarium - rain system upgradeCool vivarium closeupsCool vivarium - rain system upgradeCool vivarium closeupsCool vivarium - rain system up and runningCool vivarium - rain system up and runningCool vivarium - rain system up and running

About the Author:

Karma is a digital nomad graphic artist and writer, orchid nerd and long-distance hiker from Gothenburg, Sweden. Former editor-in-chief for the Swedish Orchid Society magazine, published internationally and held lectures on orchid culture.


  1. Pontus A April 18, 2011 at 02:50 - Reply

    Looks fantastic Karma! I am in the process to rebuild my vivaria now. Need to build the sides of the vivaria as I need more room. Also put out my new nozzles. Looks really nice now when you have soooo many nozzles. the mist makes it look lika afternoon cloud on Tenorio volcano!

  2. Karma April 18, 2011 at 13:20 - Reply

    Thank you very much Pontus!! Extra nice to hear that it actually achieves the goal to simulate reality to some degree! Next time I sit in front of the viv. admiring my work – eeer I mean the beautiful orchids – I will imagine being up on the Tenorio volcano with you and Daniel …knee deep in mud of course. 🙂

  3. Xmpraedicta April 21, 2011 at 03:59 - Reply

    I love following your blog – such great photos and such a great resource…really appreciate your great work, and gives me inspiration for the future when I can actually afford something like this/a green house!

    • Karma April 21, 2011 at 09:35 - Reply

      Thank you very much, it is nice to hear that you enjoy my blog! It is wonderful to be able to inspire too! 🙂

  4. Marc February 26, 2012 at 00:54 - Reply

    Question about a noozle : wich angle (water cone at the exit of the nozzle) and wich surface one of it cover in the viv ?

  5. Karma February 26, 2012 at 09:56 - Reply

    Marc: The nozzles has an 80 degree cone shaped spray, I found they do not have a ver far reach to get optimum coverage, about 30-40 cm distance from nozzle to target is optimal. Hard to say how much surface they cover, but effectively about 40-50 cm perhaps, but then you get kind of a turbulence of mist when you have several nozzles placed next to one another so there is a cloud of mist in the whole vivarium really. That said, you need a lot more nozzles than you think. I have just about doubled the amount of nozzles I originally placed in order to get good coverage, but still I keep one side drier than the other so I can provide all my plants in optimal growing conditions.

  6. Akhenaten April 16, 2012 at 08:11 - Reply

    Hello Orhidkarma.
    You could win drought in Epiweb, congratulations.
    In my orhiterrariume Epiweb consisted of pieces, had a depth of 15 cm and a height of 80 cm, 80 cm in width. Wet volumes are very difficult. As a result, it withered away a lot of orchids. You gave up watering tube Epiveb from the top, and increased the number of injectors, ideally implemented your idea. Brilliant.
    I’m such a tube with water on top, too, did not help.
    But I’m currently designing a new orhiterratium for orchids and carnivorous plants. As a substrate for carnivorous using moss, for orchid pine bark and charcoal. In the bark orchids grow better, and the bark is hygroscopic. Moss grows well on a wet pine bark. For more orchid loving dry, I will add in to the vertical wall of a mixture of bark and finely chopped Epiweb.

  7. Karma April 16, 2012 at 11:12 - Reply

    Hello! Thank you very much, nice to hear that you found some help and inspiration in my project. I have mixed feelings about EpiWeb actually… I like many qualities, but not others. I have actually just removed most of my EpiWeb completely… switching to cork mounts… but more on that later, I will have to write an update on that soon. As soon as I have time. Good luck with your build!

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