You can also build your own ecosphere quite easily. Before I go into how to build one, I must explain a few things so you can better understand your ecosphere and know how to build one.
First, there are five parts to the kind of ecosphere you will be building. These same five parts, or spheres, can be found on earth also. The earth contains two other spheres, but that's a bit off track....
- Lithosphere: This is the 'earthy' part of the ecosphere and contains things like minerals and nutrients. Think soil.
- Hydrosphere: This is a fancy name for the water part. Approximately two-thirds of the earth is covered in water, this is also a good amount for your ecosphere.
- Atmosphere: This the air in the ecosphere, things like oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, etc.
- Pyrrosphere: This is the fire of the ecosphere. This part gets a bit weird. On earth (and in our soon to be built ecosphere) the fire is from the sun. The sun provides light and heat, which in turn produces currents in both our atmosphere and hydropshere.
- Biosphere: This is the life part of the ecosphere, plants and animals and such.
Ok, if you are still a bit shakey on any of that biology, go read some other nodes or /msg me. Assuming you are ok, we will move on to a semi-complete materials list.
- A gallon glass jar. I suppose other sizes could be used, there is nothing really set in stone here. I used a pickle jar, the economy size kind. The glass must be clear, with no labels attached, and it must have a metal lid.
- Plants and animals: I got my plants from a small creek by my house, the variety depends on what you want and what you think will work well. Animals vary, I have seen snails, tadpoles, and guppies all do well. Remember this is not a big jar, so nothing too big.
- Soil: Once again, mine came from the creek. You could use stuff form your yard, whatever. The key with this, as with everything is what you think will work well. You want about a quarter of the jar soil, but that is not real exact, I have seen more and less do equally well. As a starting point I used about 700 g of soil or so.
- Wax and something to heat the wax with. The wax is used to seal the jar. I suppose this step is optional, but for a true ecosphere it should be sealed. Plus it cuts down on the temptations to open it up.
- Other tools and such: A notebook is a good idea to keep track of amounts and to make observations in. Weigh or measure everything you put in it. It doesn't really matter how, but if you decide to build another because your first one died you'll want to know exact amounts. Things like buckets and shovels are great for collecting plants, soil, and water.
If you don't access to a small creek, river, lake, whatever, try the pet store. You can buy snail, guppies, and various plants for relatively cheap.
Tap water or creek water is up to you. I have even seen half and half used.
Do not trespass or break state/federal laws while collecting things. I and the manangement here is not responsible for any laws you break, so don't be stupid.
Remember the idea here is that it will be a self-sustaining ecosphere i.e. you can't add more plants if the fish look hungry, so plan accordingly. All five of the spheres must be present for it to live. Try and get a good balance of everything. I have already given a few things to go off of, but mostly use some common sense. Measure things before you put them in the ecosphere. I know we aren't in school, but it does help later on. Basicly the making is just a gut-feeling kind of thing.
For those that want a true ecosphere, now is the time to seal it. Heat some wax and poor a little around the inside edge of the lid and tighten the lid on. Then take some more wax and mold it around where the lid and the jar meet. You may want to put a date on the top of the jar as to when you sealed it. You may be able to impress friends later with how long it has lived.
Next you have to pick a good location for it. You need light, but whether you want real or artificial, or how much is up to you. Too much and the plants will over take things, too little and the animals will have no plants to eat. You may find out you want to move it to more or less light, again a gut-instinct kind of thing.
Remember that notebook I told you to get? Well now is the time for it. Write down what is in your ecosphere, how much, and where you got it from. Trust me, you won't remember later. Weekly or bi-weekly write down what the ecosphere looks like and what you think is causing the changes. If you move the ecosphere to different light, mention this.
Watch and enjoy! Try not to open it. The temptation is there, but try to just watch. Opening it adds different amounts of gases to the air, making it not a true ecosphere. Feel free to name your animals and other things like that.
Your ecosphere will die. Sorry, but it will. I have seen ecosphere live anywhere from two years to two days. It just depends. When it dies, try and figure out why and make changes accordingly if you decide to build a new one. When you open the ecosphere up, notice the smell and look at the plants and animals, and see what you can figure out.
All of my information came from my personal experiences in my advanced biology class and class discusssions. I have built four ecospheres, with varing degrees of success. Good notes make it much easier to build a more successful ecosphere the next time. If you have any questions, think I need to add something, or just want to tell me how you ecosphere is doing please feel free to /msg me. Good luck!