Ever on the lookout for new products, Jeremy Gay spotted this new creation on YouTube, from the makers of biOrb.
So there I am minding my own business, surfing the Internet for all things natural history, when this crops up — a terrarium — from Reef One. And it made me sit up and take notice. And so quiet has the release been that Google biOrb AIR and you'll get an airpump for their existing aquarium models.
And although not a vessel in which to keep fish, there is considerable crossover with people who keep fish and those who like other forms of natural history, including plants and inverts — and in this case, a tank which has been specially built to grow plants.
"The biOrbAIR is a fully automated terrarium that creates the perfect micro-climate for growing tropical plants" says the official blurb on the Reef One website.
"This micro-climate replicates the natural conditions under a tropical forest canopy,enabling many species of plants, such as Orchids, to thrive as nature intended.
"The biOrbAIR uses a treated sterilised coir compost as the growth media to cultivate the plant roots."
"The coir compost is placed on top of a capilliary matt that draws water up to the compost from a small water reservoir in the base.
"The capilliary action prevents the plant roots from soaking and rotting. Natural daylight is not necessary as the lighting is arranged in a six-LED array at the top of the sphere. This emits the perfect light output for encouraging natural growth and prevents plants bending towards a single light source.
"To discourage stagnation and condensation within the biOrbAIR, a constantly running fan recycles the air through a replaceable carbon filter. A small amount of fresh air is regularly introduced as part of the circulation process.
"To maintain the humidity within the micro-climate, water is added using an ultrasonic mister mounted in the top water reservoir. The mister generates the 'swirling' water vapour if the humidity drops below 75% RH."
What's in the box
Terrarium and base
Lighting and misting module
Carbon filter Cartridge
500ml Bottle Himidimist x 2
24 V Transformer
Capilliary matting plus rubber stopper
The biOrbAIR is 56cm tall and 50cm in diameter.
What we think
Well you won't have the perpetual argument of whether it's suitable for goldfish or not, and as a lover of planted terrariums and moist, forest environments in general, first impressions are that I'm a fan.
Reef One is one of the few companies which successfully reaches outside of the pet market with its life-styled products and I can imagine this fitting right into apartment situations and the sorts of people demographics which are just like the one in the video.
Every fishkeeper I've shown has liked it so far, so Reef One may actually gain some new business from those who normally shun their aquarium products, and I think the aquascapers may see potential in a bit of extra planting and hardscape design too.
If you wanted to be really harsh you could say it looks bit like a squat space rocket, and I wonder if the Life mould could now possibly be converted to an AIR too, and if it would indeed look even better than the spherical mould featured above? I wonder too if that new light may hint at better lighting for their biOrb aquariums in the future?
The multi-pet keepers amongst you may also be asking the obvious question of if you can keep terrestrial life in it. I think dartfrogs would be cool, while Nathan Hill is thinking Praying mantis. It's a great solution for all those dodgy house plants which are still being sold as true aquatics, and the Reef One website is hinting at doing AIR specific plants too.
The RRP at just short of £350 is quite high I think, as a good planted terrarium could either be constructed using the conventional garden centre, or reptile enclosure route for a lot less, but like I said Reef One are the masters of Lifestyle design and you won't get anything quite like it elsewhere.
So in a way it's exciting, and I'm sure it will turn up in the Ideal Home show or in an Ikea-styled room some time in the future. Now who's going to try and copy it first?
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