Bermuda’s landscape and ecosystem is beautiful, but why not bring some of that beauty inside your own home? By making a jarrarium, your own mini ecosystem in a jar, you can take a little slice of Bermuda’s habitat and display it on your coffee table.

Jarrariums are closed ecosystems. They operate on the biological rule that the elements that make up matter and life are recycled, and can survive indefinitely when exposed to energy from the sun. On this premise, you can create ecosystems that require no maintenance – you should be able to create a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange inside your jar, seal it, and have it survive forever without you ever watering it again.

David Latimer, a UK resident, has a bottle garden set up which he has not watered since 1972. This large jarrarium is an example of biological principles coming into action. Jarrariums can survive with only plants inside, as plants photosynthesize as well as completing cell respiration, two opposite bio-chemical reactions that produce opposite waste products; oxygen and carbon dioxide respectively. In this way, a plant based ecosystem can thrive in a sealed environment as it recycles two elements essential for life at the same rate.

Plant and animal sealed ecosystems are also possible, but more difficult to maintain. Marine jarrariums are an easy option for people who want to try introducing animals into their ecosystem, as they are more stable than terrestrial ones. In this article, we outline how to make your very own jararrium.

Photo by Fae Sapsford

1. Start with a jar. It can be any size, but should be made of clear glass so that sunlight can reach your little world, and so that you can see the beauty inside. It should also have a wide neck to enable planting, and a top that can seal it air tight.
2. Put in your soil. For this project its important to put in a few layers of soil to enable drainage and a stable environment for your plants. Start with some loose pebbles at the bottom, and fill this over with soil from your garden to make a planting bed for your jarrarium.
3. Pop in your plants. You can landscape your ecosystem however you want! We recommend a blanket of moss placed on the bottom that will spread over time, and plants that will spread but never grow too large for your jar. Plants tend to grow according to the space they are placed in, but you don’t want to put a little sapling in, for example!
4. Water your ecosystem. Give your jarrarium a fine mist of water, so that everything is moist but not oversaturated. You don’t want to end up with too much water that could knock your ecosystem out of balance
5. Finish off. Clean the sides of your jar with a cotton ball glued to a popsicle stick or some other means. Now that your jar is handsome and polished, put the lid on and place it in an area with moderate (not direct) sunlight.
6. Monitor your jar. Over the next few days watch for condensation inside the jar. There should be none, so open the lid if this happens to let some water evaporate. Soon, you’ll be able to leave the lid on for good and the ecosystem will sustain itself. Turn the jar periodically for even plant growth.

Photo by Fae Sapsford

For a comprehensive guide on how to create marine jarrariums with shrimp in them, visit this page. For a forum full of other jarrarium owners, visit r/jarrariums.