TableTop Biosphere

by Kaci Jones

This is an example of what a TableTop Biosphere should look like. Photograph by:

This is an example of what a TableTop Biosphere should look like.
Photograph by:

When going around and telling people what I wanted for Christmas, it was like I was speaking a foreign language, because I asked for a Table Top Biosphere. A Table Top Biosphere has everything that the Earth’s biosphere has, just on a smaller scale. Here are the components my present will have:

  • Enclosure: the biosphere will be in a glass jar that transmits light, but doesn’t allow anything else to enter or exit the jar.
  • Econaut: the biosphere has a shrimp that consumes algae and the plant matter. The shrimp like all animals consumes oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide.
  • Photosynthesizer: this is where the plants within the biosphere go through the photosynthesis process and converts light energy and carbon dioxide to oxygen for the animals to consume.
  • Energy source: the energy source that is used in the photosynthesizer comes from either light from the sun or from a bulb.
  • Scavengers: these are animals like amphipods, ostracods, and copepods— they eat tiny bits of plant and animal matter.
  • Recyclers: these are microbes include photosynthetic algae and decomposing bacteria. These consume all the chemical nutrients.
  • Cleaning Crew: these are assorted snails that are added to consume algae, clean the walls of the container and reproduce freely.
  • pH Buffer: these are added to the bottom of the container and are made up of: rocks, shells, or mineral powders that help stabilize the pH in the biosphere.
  • Refuge: this is an aquarium ornament that provides shelter and hiding places for small or stressed animals.

Things you’ll need:

  • 1-quart glass canning jar
  • Clear bottles or plastic containers
  • Tap water
  • Small river rocks
  • Tap-water dechlorinator
  • Aquarium ornament or other glass or ceramic obstacle
  • Fine fishnet or kitchen strainer
  • Freshwater minerals such as “Kent Freshwater” or “cichlid salts”
  • Amano shrimp (1)
  • Snails (4) of assorted species
  • 8 inch stem of hornwort
  • 2”x2” piece of duckweed
  • 1 Tbsp powdered calcium carbonate
  • Assorted amphipods (2-8)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp pond sludge

3 easy steps to creating your very own biosphere are:

  1. Gather the supplies from the aquarium
  2. Gather the pond life organisms
  3. Then bottle all the supplies up

To me recreating a biosphere is one of the coolest things to me, and is going to be the greatest Christmas present ever!


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