Water Features as Terrarium Inspiration

This article contains photos and tips to give you ideas and reference points for terraria water features, such as waterfalls, drip walls, streams, and ponds.

  • Decide if the water feature is primary or secondary focus.
  • Think of the design as a whole.
  • Make a better design by varying the water depth, path, speed, etc.
  • Think ahead about the type of plants, care, design, etc.
  • Plan carefully for technical aspects – filtration, maintenance, etc.
  • See examples in post for inspiration
  • See resources for water feature parts and supplies link

Key Elements in This Collection

  • Waterfalls
  • Drip walls
  • Rock arrangements
  • Bodies of water
  • Textures and patterns
  • Visual flow and composition

Reference Photos

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Tips for Water Feature Designs

When creating water features in terrariums, paludariums, and other designs, pay particular attention to the following:

Primary or Secondary?

Should the water feature be the primary focus of the design, or should it be an added feature?

Try to put a focus on one aspect of the design, instead of making everything equally important.

If you want the water feature to be king, make it big and make it dramatic.

If the water feature is meant to be a secondary or minor feature, then make sure the rest of the design would look good even without it.

Overall composition and visual flow

Try to think of the entire design as a whole.

How does the water movement, shape, size, and so on interact with the other elements in the design?

Creating interest and depth.

Vary the water depth, angle, speed, path, and so on, to:

  • keep the viewer’s interest and encourage exploration
  • create varying micro-environments suitable for different types of plants
  • make the composition more dynamic and exciting
  • make everything look more natural

Forethought about plant and moss placement

As you’re planning the water feature, try to envision the plantings that you’ll make.

With regard to the plants, think about things such as:

  • Type of plants and their cultural requirements
  • Size of the plants
  • Growth habit
  • Texture and color

Technical Considerations

There are many important things you need to plan for when making water features.

Below is a summarized list of some of those factors:

Water filtration
  • External, internal, or none (manual water changes)
Pumps and plumbing
  • External, internal, or none
  • Bulkhead and hole position
  • Sump size and location
  • Pump size, flow, and head (max pumping height)
  • Plumbing size vs. water volume and speed
  • Cleaning the water areas and glass
  • Maintaining the pump and other equipment
  • Ease of access to these items in the finished build
Water depth
  • Hardscape and substrate shape, slope, etc.
  • Bulkhead height
Splashing and dripping
  • Containing the water inside the tank
  • Moisture management
  • Water travel over time (wetness tends to spread)
  • Rocks, wood, gravel, and others that can stand being wet
  • Avoid typical soil or substrates if they will be constantly wet

Example Designs

The Cliff Drip Wall
The Cliff Drip Wall

The Cliff Drip Wall
10G Vert Drip Wall


10 Gallon Vert Drip Wall
Helpful list of recommended equipment and supplies for water features, on Amazon.