How to Make a Wetland Container

Ponds and wetlands are a wealth of diversity, but it’s challenging to observe what goes on beneath the surface of the water, or even know what lives there. Fortunately, there is a way to not only see what lives under the water, but to bring it home for long-term observation and study. Creating a wetland container is very simple and requires very few materials. Unlike a fish aquarium, no pumps or other special equipment is needed, and you may already have many of the materials on hand.

MATERIALS

JAR: The first thing you’ll need is a container for your wetland. It can be a large jar or any type of glass container. The container needs to have a wide opening to get materials in and out and also for maintenance. It’s also better…

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365 Nature – Day 353

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


Although I haven’t written much about my wetland in a bottle recently, I’ve still been watching the life inside regularly. There are two and the larger one has grown a great amount of vegetation and it’s hard to see the life inside. Today I saw a half dozen damselfly larvae of various sizes. Recently I’d seen scud and snails, but today I could find none of either and I wonder why. The other container, which is taller but smaller in diameter had many snails and the glass is much cleaner. Each container still contains at least one small water beetle and considering I haven’t caught anything for some time, both of the ecosystems appear to be stable. The taller container also has damselfly larvae and both have…

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365 Nature – Day 295

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


Yesterday afternoon I noticed a damselfly larvae in my wetland in a bottle and watched it for awhile. It was resting on the bottom, walking over the gravel very slowly. I put up my hand loupe and saw it’s jaws moving back and forth. Perhaps it had just had a meal, or was preparing for the next one. As I watched, it put its legs very slowly on the side of the glass jar and tried to climb up. If promptly fell over and had to clamber back over to the proper side. As I looked around the container I noticed something new up high, a small case with a larva inside. It almost looked like a cocoon, except it appeared to be open on one side….

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365 Nature – Day 282

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


I continue to watch my wetland in a bottle and notice changes constantly. Often times, I collect damselfly larvae, daphnia, scuds and other animals, pour them into the jars and never see them again. Whether they’re hiding in the vegetation or eaten by predators, I don’t know. But a few days ago I noticed something larger in the container, a dragonfly larva. I had put a couple of them in, that I saved from the arboretum algae that had been raked out of the pond on Day 273, but I have to think this one was somehow in there before this because it’s so large. How this monster of a larva could have grown so large without being seen before shows how quick and secretive it…

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365 Nature – Day 268

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


My two wetland in a bottles are doing really well. The original one struggled for awhile with only the plants I added during the workshop when I learned how to make them. But I added more plants collected from our shorelines and the water is now clear and snails, hydra and water boatmen are doing well inside. The original plants are now growing well with the cleaner water. As I mentioned on Day 260, some of the plants in the other container are doing a little too well, notably the two duckweed species and the Canadian Waterweed. The duckweed plants are starting to pile on top of each other and I’m going to have to remove some. I hesitate to do this because after looking at all…

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365 Nature – Day 260

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


If there was any doubt that my daughter was born in Seattle, all one has to do is observe her when the sun comes through the dining room windows in the morning. She closes her eyes and says the sun is too bright and hides in the shadows. It’s surprising she doesn’t hiss as well to complete the vampire effect. While I’m pretty much the same way, I have found one benefit to the blinding morning sun, it creates great light for my wetland in a bottle. Even though it sits in surrounded by corner windows, the vegetation has grown so much it’s hard to see what’s inside unless a bright light illuminates it, such as the morning sun.

This morning I took some time to look inside…

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