I always been fascinated with the nature and how life can sustain itself so well! As a child I had all sorts of different aquariums and aquatic animals. Even though I never liked eating fish, you could really say I loved them!
One day my step father brought me to the pet store to buy some new fishes and a filter for mu pump. The guy in the store asked me if I had any catfish in my aquarium. I didn’t. So the guy start to explain to me that catfish are like vacuum cleaners and take care of a lot of the waste from the fish. Right there in that store, I started to understand how nature works! As you all know, an aquarium requires some tending to and doing some regular maintenance or it will over grow or worse, all your fish could and probably would die! So how did nature sustain itself as good as it does?
So, in this article I’m going to describe to you what a Biosphere is and how you can go on making your own at home!
So what is a Biosphere?
The Earth itself is actually a Biosphere. The word origins from Greek “bios sphaira” and translates to “life sphere”. But lets just call it a zone of life for now as I’ll explain more along the way.
Well, I guess all of you heard of photosynthesis sometime in your life, but let me break it down really fast for you. So the plants on our planet uses the energy from the sun, some water and carbon dioxide to grow. But what is produced is more interesting for a biosphere to work properly. Oxygen and glucose, also know as air & sugar!
Now, there is some “larger” life forms like shrimp that actually can live and survive on just that sugar!
They have actually constructed a couple of Biosphere experiments as research facilities on a very large scale! One was called Biosphere 2 and from 1991 to 1993, a marine researcher named Gaie Alling and a Belgian engineer named Mark “Laser” Van Thillo took part of an astonishing scientific experiment in Arizona on a massive scale!
The interior of Biosphere 2 includes a rainforest, an ocean with a real living coral reef and simulated waves, a mangrove wetland, a grassy savannah a foggy desert, as well as an organic food farm!
Biosphere 2 facility in Arizona.
How to make a Biosphere!
All you really need is a transparent, sealable container of some sort. I prefer glass as it feels more natural, but you can use plastic if you want to.
I’m going to show you an easy model that I think latterly anyone can create at home by yourself!
So this is what you are going to use:
- A sharp knife, like a razor blade or a box cutter. A pair of succors works to.
- Two whole 2 /1,5-liter soda bottles,
- Two bottle caps
- Some kind of tape
- A piece of heavy cotton string – about 6 inches long (15 cm)
- Distilled water or cold tap water
- A small amount of planting soil
- A plant or two with a developed root system .
- If available, you could also add some pill bugs (Isopods) worms, or a land snail.
So here is what you are going to do:
- First you cut off the top from one bottle & the bottom from the other one. You can trow away the bottom piece.
- Now, place the bottle without the top standing upwards as it is intended.
- Unscrew the bottle cap from the bottle without a bottom and drill or punch a hole trough it, then pull the cotton string trough the hole and screw the cap back on to the bottle.
- Now place the one with the string upside-down in the topless bottle and note how far down the bottle cap is reaching. Pull out the top bottle once again and add you water as a pond right under where you noted that the bottle cap reached to.
- Next you are going to place 2-4 inches of soil in the bottle withe the string. (6-10 cm)
- Carefully insert a couple of your small plats and bury the roots.
- Use some tape to tightly seal the pieces together as shown in the picture.
- Optional: add some pill bugs, worms or a snail to you bottle. This can be done through the top cap after the plants have set root.
You have now created your own Ecosystem! To make a biosphere is really fun and a perfect science project! Keep track every day to see how your sphere develop!
So I’m going to show you a beautiful Biosphere that I created fairly easy with mostly stuff that was lying around my house.
I found this big glass bowl just lying around. First I thought I’ll just leave it open and use it as a pot. But then I remembered a Youtube Video I watched a few weeks back.. So I went searching my history at my YouTube account and finally I found it!
All I really needed was a screen mesh for the false bottom you need for an efficient Eco system to work properly, so off to the hardware store. You don’t really need much so I got 3 feet (or 1 meter) for about $2.50. I still got a good amount lying in my closet. And I’ve made a sun blocking screen from a piece so that my powerful 670W LED light doesn’t burn my plats! Very helpful when growing Chili. Let me know and I’ll tell you more about How you can make your own sun blocking screen for your more sensitive plants for under $3 or less!
- I then went out to collect some gravel. I usually try to keep them under 1 inch, preferably a little smaller, like 2/3 of an inch (or 2 cm).
- In my shed I found a bag of coal left over from the late night summer BBQ last year. I poured some of it into another bag and started to break it apart with a hammer. You do this because many small pieces have a larger combined surface then just a few big pieces.
- I washed the stones and boiled them for about 10-12 minutes to prevent any unwanted bacteria in my Eco system.
- I measured and cut a circular piece from my screen mesh. This will serve as a false bottom to separate the soil from the gravel and coal.
- I washed the coal so all the powder was gone and I was left with just parts in size of the gravel. (2/3 of an inch or 2 cm)
- Then I placed the gravel at the bottom of the bowl evenly about 2/3 of an inch thick and covered that with a layer of coal about 1/3 of an inch. Second & third picture further down shows the bottom layer.
- Place the mesh over the coal and spread about 4-5 small stones from the gravel on it to hold it in place. It’s important to cover the whole area. So if you mesh is a little to big, don’t worry, that’s great!
- Get your soil of choice and make sure that it is a bit moist. Start to landscape your planting area. In this case I just used some standard potting soil mixed with 10-15% vermiculite to prevent the soil from getting firm and eventually solid to fast.
- Find some plants that not are too big, preferably some sprouts or cuttings from another plant that you already got. When I first made this one I when and bought 2 small nice plants that I eventually had to transplant to a regular open spot because of how rapidly the plats grew! ( I was amazed actually)
- I then found a cork-trivet in my kitchen that was prefect as a lid for the sphere!
- I also wanted a light to act as a sun inside my sphere so I made a hole and fitted a lamp holder through the hole. Then I used my hot glue gun to secure it and seal it properly.
- Before I but the lid on and sealed it I watered down the plats with a good amount. You want the water to trickle down and cover about 1/4 of an inch (or 1 cm) of the bottom gravel. This way you insure your plants water since the convection will keep the sphere moist at all time.
- I cleaned the inside of the glass a bit with a cotton pad then I placed the lid on top and with the help of a friend, we span the sphere while I hot glued the lid in place.
I watched as the Biosphere outgrew all my other plants! It was literally a jungle in there! I soon realized that this container was way to small for the long term.
My next project.
I got this giant glass Demijohn about 6 months ago. The plan has always been to make “The BioSphere Of All Time” but it has since then served as a decorative lamp thingy-thing.
But soon it’s time! I got a move coming up so my first new years project will be the Grand Demijohn BioSphere!
So let’s sum it all up.
So I told you a little about biospheres and the science behind it. Hopefully you found it interesting and informative. We also covered how you simply can create your own little Eco system right in your house with very limited resources!
Did you try it? It wasn’t that hard, right? If you did create your own, leave a comment telling us about your creation and what materials you used!
I will keep replanting my small biosphere when necessary and at the same time share my new creations with you. If you got any suggestions or tips you want to share with me before starting the Grand Damejeanne, then please leave a comment down below!
Thank you for reading!