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Thread: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

  1. #1
    100+ Post Member MikeM670's Avatar
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    Default Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    I have a question regarding whether it is okay to allow the drainage water from under the substrate to mix with the water feature?

    I will be building my first vivarium from a 40 gallon breeder tank. I plan on having a water feature consisting of a small pond with a water fall and a separate stream flowing into that pond. I will be elevating the substrate above the tank bottom with plastic egg crate sitting on some pvc spacers too allow for drainage of the substrate. Do I need to keep the water feature separate from the drainage water?

    To circulate the water I will be using a small pond pump that flows 55 to 80 gph to pump threw a filter then over the waterfall and also to the other side of the tank to supply the stream that will flow back down to the pond. I will construct the filter from scratch and hopefully include a bio wheel with the filter media.

    If I can mix the substrate water with the water feature then one benefit of this is I can use the same pump with additional plumbing to pump out excess water from the tank as needed.

    Comments would be appreciated!

    Mike

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  3. #2
    Paul Rust
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Hello and welcome.
    If you use coco-fiber as a substrate you will have to keep it seperate because the water will turn dark brown as it percolates through it.

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    100+ Post Member MikeM670's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Rust View Post
    Hello and welcome.
    If you use coco-fiber as a substrate you will have to keep it seperate because the water will turn dark brown as it percolates through it.
    Paul,

    Thank you for the input. I was afraid that might be the case but wanted to ask. I was hoping that the two water types could be mixed as I was thinking of using the pump for the water feature to also let me remove excess water by adding a T to the line with a valve.

    Mike

  5. #4
    smashtoad
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Mike,

    It is my opinion that you are over-complicating things...but hey, you are not alone. I have seen false bottom tanks that boggle the mind in their complexity, with page after page of "how-to journal posts" where they photograph every step. It is almost as if they get off on their technical ability to construct these things...and that is fine if you're into that. I am not.

    The substrate in my terrariums is nothing more than 4" to 5" of small (BB sized) gravel covered with another 3" to 4" of sphagnum moss. The pump is wrapped in black fiberglass screen and buried on the very bottom glass. The gravel acts as a filter too, keeping the sphagnum moss from impeding the flow of the pump...and even if something does manage to breach the gravel and screen and stop the pump...digging it up and clearing it is not big deal at all.

    False bottoms are cool and all, but are simply not necessary unless you are:
    A) Growing plants that simply refuse to root into moist sphagnum (most rainforest plants love the stuff)...or...
    B) Housing animals that produce too high a bioload for the tank to naturally handle (which may be true of a white's, depending on the size of your tank).

    The water that runs over your flow log is highly oxygenated and very beneficial, essentially turning the gravel bed into a 4" deep undergravel filter. And as someone else said...springtails are very beneficial, as well as isopods (also known as pill bugs or roly polys).

    Below are some progression pics of my terribilis tank (top pic) and another terrarium that has housed amblypigids and now houses a pygmy chameleon...the first tank has been set up for three years as of December 2010, and the second for almost two years...the pumps have never clogged in their current configuration. Having a mind-blowing viv is not hard at all...the background is by far the biggest pain in the butt. The rest can be set up in a couple hours, once you have all of your stuff ready to go.

    One of the things I really love about sphagnum moss is that it comes to life if ket damp and well lit. About 8 months to a year later it dies off...but...can be replaced with other species of moss that magically grow out of nowhere. Look on the flow log in that last shot...the stuff growing on it is not the riccia I planted in the first pic...that stuff died long ago...the moss growing on the flow log propagated itself...

    Also, one must resist the urge to attempt to landscape a mature looking viv right off the bat...because it is impossible. Choose plants that will grow in...and wait...it is worth it.

    The day I planted it...



    About 1.5 years old...



    Maybe a year ago...




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    100+ Post Member MikeM670's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Smashtoad,

    I really love how your vivarium turned out. Thank you for your input. Since I still haven't started on mine yet your info will come in handy. I have been going over in my mind exactly how the substrate, water feature will be constructed. I purchased a 40 gallon breeder for my first attempt but feel its a bit short. I love the length and depth of the tank. Now I am thinking of getting a premade vivarium like the zoo med 18x18x24.

  7. #6
    bshmerlie
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Smashtoad, are you saying the moss now growing in your tank grew out of the dead Sphagnum moss? Or is it a moss you planted? If so what kind?

  8. #7
    smashtoad
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Quote Originally Posted by bshmerlie View Post
    Smashtoad, are you saying the moss now growing in your tank grew out of the dead Sphagnum moss? Or is it a moss you planted? If so what kind?
    Yes...the spore for this moss was apparently either in the sphagnum or the driftwood. It was not planted.

  9. #8
    bshmerlie
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    Default Re: Mixing Substrate and Water Feature Water

    Does that happen often?

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