Exo Terra vs Zoo Med

Today’s post will include my thoughts and opinions on if you should choose an Exo Terra Terrarium or a Zoo Med Terrarium.  But first, a reminder, you have 1 more day to enter for the $30 Glass Box Tropicals giftcard!  Enter by subscribing to my blog and commenting on this post with your favorite post or something else you would like to see.  Sorry U.S. entries only.


Now without further adieu – Here are my opinions on whether you should choose the Exo Terra or Zoo Med tanks:

Company Background

I love the fact that zoo med is a smaller company focused on reptiles, amphibians and aquatics.  To me, this gives them the knowledge and reputation that I know I can depend on as this is what they make a living at.  Exo Terra is itself focused on similar items, however they are owned by Hagen which sells many brands for all different animals.



The screen on the Exo Terra is made from a lower grade of stainless which will eventually rust.  Granted it could take many years for this to happen depending on the level of humidity within your tank, but it is something to definitely keep an eye on.  The Zoo Med’s screening is made out of a higher grade stainless to help prevent rusting.  Knowing that the screening will not rust gives me the extra piece of mind that I can use the screening that is already there and add a piece of glass to increase the humidity while still allowing for adequate ventilation.



For many years I have had the Exo Terra compact top lighting on my tanks and always wondered why the light would not sit flat.  At first, I actually thought the light I received with my new to me tank was broken and that’s why it wobbled.  I now know that it is due to the uniqueness of the lid that the lights were wobbly.  The Exo Terra lid has a plastic strip down the center which will cause ordinary light fixtures to wobble, hence the specially created light fixtures.



Zoo Med on the other hand has a lid which is all screening so you can virtually install any light you would like.  The Zoo Med lids do have a small clip on either side of the lid to help with installation and removal of the lid top, however the clips are rather small and located around 1/3 of the way from the front so they should easily be avoided.



This is the area that really separates the two manufacturer’s.  With the Exo Terra, all except for the nano size have 2 doors.  This is nice for quick moving animals that may sneak out in a moments notice.  The Zoo Med tanks have 1 door – even on the larger sizes.  While this may make it trickier for quick animals, you should always be alert while the doors are open so I do not see it as an issue with my frogs.  I love how clean and streamlined the single door tanks are.



I feel that the latch is one of the most important pieces of the terrarium.  The latch is responsible for keeping your critters contained in a safe matter.  The Exo Terra latch clicks down to close and lock where as the Zoo Med latch is pushed down manually and automatically bounces back up to lock.  In the past Zoo Med has had issues with their latch, but I have been reassured that this is fixed.



I will update this post if I have any issues with their latch.  Both manufacturer’s have a spot for an added on lock to lock the doors shut.



False Bottom area

A good false bottom is critical to the terrariums ecosystem.  Having the depth to do this is an important consideration for any new tank.  The Zoo Med has 3″ from the bottom of the tank to the air strip.  The Exo Terra’s air strip is around 4″ which allows for a greater depth of water before it will overflow out the front of the tank.  The only reason I see the 3″ depth being an issue is if you are looking to maximize a water area in the front.  (See this post on paludariums & tank design with water areas)


Overall Height

Although both the Exo Terra’s and the Zoo Meds have some overlapping sizes, it has been said that the Zoo Med terrariums are ever so slightly taller which will allow for more usable space.  This also allows for a little extra space to add taller pieces and plants, albeit not very much.


Fruit Fly Protection

One of my biggest pet peeves is walking around the house or in the frog room to find little flies hanging outside the tanks. No tank will be able to perfectly protect against fruit fly escapees, however any that minimize are worth it in my mind.  The Exo Terra appears to be more prone to fruit fly escapees as it has two doors to double the gaps; it also has a larger gap between the bottom of the vent and the latch to allow for escapees.  The Zoo Med tanks seem to be more fruit fly proof out of the box with less gap between the single door.  With either manufacturer you will want to fruit fly proof the doors and the hole in the back where the cords run thru.


Size Options

The Exo Terra is offered in 16 sizes with the largest being 36x18x36 and the 3 smallest sizes being too small for frogs.  Zoo Med offers 4 sizes of their naturalistic terrarium with their largest being 18x18x24 and their smallest being 12x12x12.  If you are looking for a specific height or width there is a good chance that you can find an Exo Terra that would work for you.



The price of the similarly sized tanks are pretty similar online and in stores.  If you can find one at a reptile show that may be your best bet for a good deal.  The Exo Terra kit will include a background, cheap hygrometer and thermometer and some artificial plants.  The Zoo Med tanks only come with a cork background.  For my animals, I would get no use out of the background , hygrometer, thermometer and artificial plants provided by Exo Terra.  Part of the fun of a new tank is creating the backgrounds.  The hygrometer and thermometer are cheap and would not work well within the constantly moist environment of the frogs.  I always use actual plants not artificial as it helps to retain moisture and create the tank ecosystem.

Here is the link to an Exo Terra Tank.

Here is the link to a Zoo Med Terrarium.



I weighed the pros and cons of each manufacturer and ended up with  (4) Zoo Med NT-4’s (18x18x24) from Captive Bred Specialties is Waukesha, WI.  I am very happy thus far with this purchase and cannot wait to get them planted.  Stay tuned for the progress on these tanks.



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12 thoughts on “Exo Terra vs Zoo Med

    1. I got it at Menards – Not sure they are located throughout the country but any home improvement store should have them. The brand is Muscle Rack. I will be doing a post on it in the near future 🙂

  1. I liked this post because it gives all the pros and cons. My favorite is the exo terra for the double doors. (Too hard chasing escapees arouns the room) The best feature is the sliding openings on the top for monsoon mister hoses and fan wiring.

  2. I’ve got both, ZooMed and Exo terra….and a Marty Made. I prefer the Exo over the ZooMed, but the Marty Made is tops over both of those

  3. I have three 12x12x18 tanks. One Zoo Med, Exo-Terra and the forgotten Zilla tank. If you’re building a tank with a water area, go with the Zilla. The bottom lip is far higher than on the other two. I have a Vietnamese Mossy Frog in it, and he seems to be doing well in his surroundings.

  4. I personally get either, whichever is on sale first. Although the fruit fly escape is pretty annoying, just have to clean more often.

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