5 Critical Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Next Enclosure, Part 1

Not many people realize that an enclosure can have a significant impact on the success or failure of the habitat within it.

A good enclosure will not be a mere box to hold your plants and animals, but a mechanism for helping your plants and animals thrive. 

A great enclosure is one that will make this process easy for you, requiring little time and effort to maintain all while helping your habitat become more beautiful and stable over time.

Ready to learn how to pick out a great enclosure?  Read on to learn the five most important criteria your next enclosure should meet.



Captive plants and animals thrive best in enclosures that simulate their natural environments. 

So, if you know what functions to reproduce, you can recreate the natural environment your plants and animals need to thrive.

Here’s what you need in an enclosure for the best results:

Reproduce Air Cycles
In the wild, air moves naturally with humidity and temperature changes, animal movement, and from wind. It is important to actively simulate natural air movement in your enclosure with fans. 
Reproduce Water Cycles
Nature cycles and purifies water through rainfall, filtration through soils and substrates, purification from plants that absorb and sequester toxic compounds, proper balance of beneficial microbes that consume waste, and so forth.  You can recreate these systems with an active water cycling system that uses a pump, tubing, and misting system.
Substrate and soil composition
A good soil and substrate composition will help cycle your water, keep the upper soils from being too wet, and to give plenty of surface area for growth of beneficial, waste consuming microbes.  Make sure your enclosure allows you to have at least three inches of substrate at the bottom.
Flexible Lighting
Your enclosure should have flexible lighting options or allow you to add the lights best suited for your application.  If lighting is permanently fixed into the design, make sure the lights have the correct lighting levels, intensity, and can be set on a timer to make creating a day-night cycle easier.
Temperature & Humidity Management
Look for an enclosure that has minimal screens or openings to the air.  Lower air exchange will make it easier to maintain the desired temperature and humidity levels in your enclosure. Also, consider using an acrylic enclosure.  Acrylic has many benefits, one of which is that it is 20% more insulating than glass, so temperatures are more stable. 


It isn’t enough for an enclosure to be able to reproduce the natural conditions for your plants and animals to thrive.  An enclosure must also reproduce these conditions safely.

Safely Sequester Mechanical Components

While mechanical components like fans and pumps are important for your habitat’s ongoing health, it is also really important to separate them from the actual environment. 


Fans should never dangle in an enclosure where the blades could come in contact with plants or animals.  Instead, a fan should be mounted in an enclosed vent, preferably also hidden from human view or placed in an inconspicuous way so it doesn’t detract from the overall visual enjoyment of the enclosure.

Above: An example of our Air Flow System.  The fan, mounted in a separate chamber at the top of the enclosure, pulls air from the back of the enclosure and pushes it out the front over the doors, which also helps keep the front viewing area clear of condensation in high humidity environments.


Pumps, likewise, should be both hidden from view and from pet access.  Two good ways to incorporate a pump into an enclosure design are:

1. Create a separate compartment within the enclosure for the pump to sit. 

In the example above, a compartment for the pump was built at the back for safe water cycling.
2. Use a sump system underneath the enclosure and then pump the water back via tubing
Other Safety Features
Other safety features to look for in your next enclosure are:
      • Can the doors or access panels be secured with a lock?  This is especially important when the enclosure is in a high traffic area, such as a living room, or if children will have access to it.
      • If making an enclosure worthy of display in your home or office, acrylic is the ideal choice because it is 17 times stronger than glass and less likely to shatter if impacted.  This is one of the reasons acrylic is preferred for zoos and other public displays.  A high quality, cell-cast acrylic, like what we use, is also scratch resistant and has a more clear display than glass due to its 93% transparency rating.


This seems simple, but setting up a well-functioning miniature ecosystem can get really complicated!  If your enclosure doesn’t have all the necessary functions for environment simulation listed in Question 1, then you will need to find a way to add these functions by modifying or adding-to the enclosure. This adds time and complexity to your set-up process.

So, choosing an enclosure that already has the necessary functions incorporated into the design will simplify the set-up process.  While most enclosures will be stand-alone products, some, like ours, can come with things like the fans and tubing pre-installed to save you time, as well as customized packages that include lighting, substrate material, and more, so you can save time and effort in gathering all you need to set up. 

It can also be helpful to have an expert available to ask quick questions about your enclosure and the habitat you are creating.  Make sure you have the support you need to put everything together quickly and easily.  All of our enclosures come with free phone and e-mail support to answer any questions you have about setting up your enclosure and getting your habitat established.


On-going maintenance of an enclosure and habitat is something that causes many hobbyists to walk away from their enclosures.  Things like remembering to turn on/off the lights, pump, and fan, perform weekly water changes, manually misting and fertilizing plants, and removing excess decaying matter take more time than they realize.  Over time, it can start to feel like you spend more time managing your enclosure than enjoying it. 

Fortunately, there is a better way.  Let nature and your enclosure’s systems do the work for you so you can spend more time enjoying your enclosure.

When your enclosure supports nature’s normal functions, like air and water cycling, there is less work for you to do in maintaining the health of the enclosed habitat.  For example: When water is properly cycled, water changes are rarely needed. 

And, you can also save time and energy by automating these functions with the use of timers.  Your lights, pump, fan, and any other mechanical elements can be set up to automatically turn on and off.

So, look for an enclosure that not only allows you to reproduce nature’s functions, but allows you to automate them too.


Did you know that most enclosure manufacturers offer little on-going support and only a 1 year warranty? 

In contrast, when you purchase our enclosures, you get a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all of our enclosures, which guarantees that our enclosures are free of defects in materials or workmanship for the lifetime of the enclosure. We will repair or replace any defective enclosure. (You can learn more about our warranty here.)

And, you get on-going support via phone or e-mail so you can get expert help when you need it over the lifetime of your enclosure.

We can do this because we don’t outsource our manufacturing process.  Our production system is completely in-house, combining the best acrylic enclosure manufacturing systems with the quality and feel of a handcrafted work of art.  All enclosures are finished by hand and closely inspected and tested so you get an enclosure with the best combination of function and beauty.


BioVivara’s enclosures were designed by veteran habitat creators Seth and Rachel Hiser.  They started making their own custom enclosures because they became frustrated with standard, mass-produced enclosure options that didn’t meet their needs.  So, now you too have access to enclosures that are specifically designed to help you create the natural habitat you want, get the systems in place to save you time and improve your results, and do this in a way that makes your habitat more beautiful and stable over time. 

We combine the best theories, systems, and technology from greenhouses, aquaponics, hydroponics, planted aquariums, and even the saltwater aquarium industry to create the most comprehensive, yet flexible and customizable, enclosure on the market today.

Whether you want …

  • An enclosure that looks like a slice of rainforest transplanted into your home
  • An orchidarium that recreates the specific temperature range and humidity level of your orchid’s natural habitat to achieve consistent flowering and growth
  • To recreate the natural habitat of your dart frogs, micro geckos, abronia, or other exotic animals to improve their quality of life and your enjoyment of their enclosure


  • A custom enclosure designed to strict specifications for animal conservation and reproduction
  • A large display enclosure for your miniature orchid collection
  • An enclosure that helps students learn about biomes, habitat creation, and life cycles

… we have the expertise you need to make it happen, backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty.  We can offer the best enclosure warranty in the business (most enclosures have only a 1-year warranty) because we craft every single enclosure to exacting specifications in our own facility, which gives us complete control over the design-build process and build quality. 

Show me your nature emulating enclosures

Have questions about your enclosure needs?  Give us a call at 877-524-5979 or e-mail questions@biovivara.com.