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Thread: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

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    Default Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    Hello! so for the past month or so I have been hard deliberating on whether or not I wanted to establish a salt water aquarium or a paludarium, and I have come to the conclusion that I feel frogs are more for me than fish so the choice has been made.

    I have the choice between two tanks, both are 37 gallons. Here are their demensions; 30L X 12 W X 24 H or 20 L X 18 W X 24 H. Here is what I over all want to accomplish: A paludarium that has a decent sized body of water at one side of the aquarium and a land mass on the other with plenty of vertical foliage and branches. I would also really like to include a waterfall feature or fog feature in the paludarium for aesthetic appeal and to help maintain humidity, I saw a paludarium that included both these features in a 75 gallon tank however I understand I am working with half the real estate and am likely already pushing it by trying to create both a water section and land section. So I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to make one of these options feasible. As for species I am in the midst of researching between poison dart frogs, red eyed green tree frogs, and fire belly toads and am still up in the air on this, so any insight you could offer would be helpful and I plan on selecting plants based on what species of frog I pick.

    my purpose in posting this is to ask - is it realistic to be able to fit a land and water mass in a 37 gallon palidarum (as I have not seen it done in anything under 40 gallons, I am not saying it has not been done just that I have not seen it.) I want to make sure 2-3 frogs can live comfortably in this habitat.

    I may be a novice creator - but I feel I am up to the challenge to do my due dilligence and part of that I feel is asking people who have experience with this sort of hobby work, I am receptive and open to all advice and suggestions.

    Note: this project is in a preliminary planning phase I just want to make sure I am on the right track before I purchase an aquarium to begin construction - and I am well aware that this project may take a lot of time to complete before it is ready for frogs - I am willing to commit to the labor! (also if there are any formatting issues with the post please let me know I will correct them)

    Kind regards,
    Spencer

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  3. #2
    100+ Post Member DanDrobates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    I’ve constructed quite a few over the years so I’ll share some of my insights, failures and successes. Of the sizes you are considering I’d go with the second. The greater width will give you more space to work with. The land area can be better constructed this way. You may also want to consider a three dimensional background for planting and to add some visual appeal. I use corkbark and purfoam. There are plenty of good tutorials on YouTube. A good background provides an opportunity to grow epiphytes such as bromeliads that won’t crowd your land area, will look colorful and in my opinion are quite stunning under the right lighting.

    As far as general construction of the water feature my experience has been simple is better. Incorporating a good filtration system is wise but it can be hard to hide the hardware. You want the filter to be functional and serviceable easily. This can take some planning but it can be done. I use small submersible pumps connected to tubing buried in the background. I hide the pump behind some easily moveable driftwood. Keep the gravel level shallow and monitor the water parameters regularly. I personally incorporate wood such as mopani and magnolia leaves. These stain the water but it provides a slightly acidic ph which acts as an antimicrobial. As far as foggers go even the most expensive ones take a dump and fail quickly so I wouldn’t advise bothering with one. You’d be better off with a misting system.

    As far as your species choices go I’d advise against dart frogs. They won’t make any use of the water feature unless it’s extremely shallow and they can drown. The red eyed treefrogs won’t make much use of it either and they’re nocturnal. The fireblies would be the best choice but again keep the water shallow. They are also a bold genus and you’ll actually see them out during the day.

    One last note. Watch some tutorials and get as many opinions as you can. You may want to practice some techniques on a smaller vivarium such as a ten gallon first because you will make mistakes the first time around. Believe me I made plenty before I got it right and was satisfied with the results. Plant selection, lighting, species selection and most importantly long term practicality are crucial to success. Practice on something small and work out what you want. After that you’ll be better equipped for a larger build.

    Good luck

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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    Hello! First off let me thank you for taking the time to construct a reply and for your insight!

    Now to begin in your first paragraph you suggest looking up some youtubers for some tutorials and since reading your post I've done just that! I've been checking out Serpa Design and his DIY channel, very informative stuff, if you had any personal reccomendations of other creators who are good I'd be open to hearing them. Also - I agree that I think the second aquarium would be a better fit, I just wanted to gather a second opinion, so I think I'll be going with the 20L X 18 W X 24 H.

    To your point about the foggers thanks for the heads up! I was unaware of functionality issues they had, I will for sure look into getting a proper misting set up for the enclosure - and thank you for the advice on the pump/water set up for sure wouldn't want to introduce harmful microbials to my enclosure.

    After Supplementing your suggestion of the fire belly toad with some research of my own I'd tend to agree that they'd seem like a better fit for the enclosure than the other two species, so I'd be more than happy to make them the species for this tank.

    I am open to doing a practice vivarium on a smaller aquarium before I take the plunge on a larger one but my biggest concern is any frog I put into a smaller set up may not have the space to live comfortably. so If I were to take on the endeavor of constructing a smaller vivarium say ten or fifteen gallons what species would you recommend I look into - if any at all? If I were to establish a smaller vivarium I'd want to house something other than the fire belly toads since those will be in the larger habitat.

    Thanks again for your time, and kind regards,
    Spencer

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    100+ Post Member DanDrobates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    You’re welcome believe me lol. Yes as far as tutorials go serpa design is great. My only criticism is his use of bituminous clay as a filler since it doesn’t last to long and deteriorates when dry. Also I apologize, I should have clarified that a small practice build shouldn’t house any animals as it would definitely be too small. It’s really just a way to practice some of the techniques. Think of it as a sketch on scrap paper before committing paint to a canvas. The pur foam takes a few tries to get it right so I always recommend a trial first. It’s not cheap either if you use several cans. You could even practice on cardboard first and toss it out if it doesn’t look right. Also if you want your foam to dry spray it with a spray bottle filled with water. It will cure faster.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    I have built paludariums ranging from 8 gallons to 125 gallons and the best piece of advice I can offer is this: decide on what inhabitants you want to stock it with, then build to suit that species.

    As far as your tank choices, you should decide how much terrestrial area and how much aquatic area you want. The 30” long tank, while it lacks in depth would give you space for more water and land, while the 20” long cans cut down on that. I am not saying that either is better, you can design both to work. Also remember, that by definition, a paludarium includes land as well as enough water to safely house aquatic life. Otherwise, you are just building a viv with a tiny water feature.

    Now, a word about water features and frogs. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes because Dan is very knowledgeable, but I can tell you from experience, that darts, mantellas, retf, and whites will not drown in water. Provided you give them exit points, they are safe. I could give numerous examples of watching my frogs jump into their water features for a swim and climbing back out. I do believe I have quite a few pics of deep water palus I built on my profile page here. I have never lost a frog to drowning.

    Submersible pumps and heaters are very helpful when building palus, but even better options sometimes are drilling the tank above the water line so you can plumb a desktop canister into the tank, making sure the drilled hole is concealed so that you are not dealing with escapes. And believe me, it does not take much for a frog to escape.

    As Dan stated, foggers can be hit and miss. The little ultrasonics have reliability issues, and using an external humidifier requires some creativity to plumb them.

    A misting system is crucial. Unless of course, you prefer to mist by hand on a daily basis. One thing to keep in mind when adding a misting system to a paludarium is you are going to gain water in the tank, so plan ahead to be able to remove your excess water. Whether it be a drilled overflow, or just a piece of aquarium tubing with a valve coming out of the tank, you’ll need to remove excess water.

    Research your plants well. Just because plants are labeled as aquatic in stores, does not mean they are true aquatics. Plants like mondo grass, for example, will grow very slowly submerged, however, it needs to be taken out periodically and grown emerged to survive.

    I think that should get you started. I rambled long enough. Good luck with your build


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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    Thank you bill for the supplemental information. My toes are not sore lol. In retrospect I realized that I should have worded my statement about darts drowning a little differently. I should have prefaced by mentioning, as you did, that if appropriate hall outs are provided it’s very unlikely. I’ve seen some novice builds though that that lack reasonable exit points and my concern may have been overly cautious but only for the sake of the OP. Thank you and regards

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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    I believe wholeheartedly in being ‘somewhat’ over cautious. It’s not a bad thing. For instance, I never recommend using smaller floating plants (I.e. duckweed, azolla sp) due to froglets can become confused and panic. It’s the one true case of a frog drowning that I could actually verify. A froglet essentially got trapped under duckweed and lost it’s way and ultimately drowned.

    The other thing that people tend to forget is that have the biggest exit point of them all, the glass. Froggy feet mesh perfectly with glass and they climb right onto it from water. My Ranitomeya used to do that when they dove into the water to evade me. Lol


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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    Good point. Its ironic though that I trust my smaller species over my larger ones. I’ve seen my tincs scale glass up a few inches and then slowly slide down and plop into the leaf litter. My epidobates and my imitators on the other hand are like spider man.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    I think a lot has to do with their different natures. That’s the exact reason that I always recommend building for the particular animal being kept in the tank. My terrestrial species always had 90% land and maybe a small pond. Arboreal species I almost always gave a lot more water because other than feeding, the ground was rarely used. It’s that delicate balance of building to suit for them, while keeping it visually appealing for me.


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    Default Re: Looking for advice navigating my first paludarium project.

    Hello!
    I’m in the process of setting up as well, but am confused about lighting. I’ve read that the fire bellies don’t need special lighting (heat etc),but what’s appropriate for the frogs and live plants?

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