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Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

This is a discussion on Madagascar Mantella Paludarium within the Vivarium, Terrarium & Enclosure Discussion forums, part of the General Topics category; a few months back, i saw my first Mantellas in real life. they were Mantella Betsileo. i immediately fell in ...

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    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    a few months back, i saw my first Mantellas in real life. they were Mantella Betsileo. i immediately fell in love with those little creatures. so i started researching mantellas and the different species. i am narrowed down to M. Betsileo and M. Baroni. regardless of which i choose, they have essentially the same care needs and are from the same region of Madagascar, so this tank will serve as a home for either equally well. or at least that is the way i understand it. if i am wrong, please let me know, it will make the decision so much easier then...lol

    this tank was originally slated to be a fbt tank, but i since decided it would make an even cooler paludarium. i was stuck for inspiration on my new red eye tank when i had a dream at work and saw this tank and all it's possibilities. that night i came home and started designing. the whole thing is centered around a stump that has seen duty in several of my fish tanks, but i never thought of using it in the arrangement it will be in here.
    since i built my 125, i get a lot of "how did you do this/that/the other thing" questions from people on a couple forums i belong to, so i decided to do this as a semi tutorial. now, i freely admit, i am no Don, and his vivs are stunning (Kudos Don!), but i figured this might answer a few questions, and show some of my little tips and tricks. so, i like to think of this thread and not so much a how-to-build-a-paludarium, but as a how-to-build-THIS-paludarium.

    i apologize that my first few steps are not photo documented, remember, i started this a few days ago, so here we go:
    first i set my log in place, determined what height i wanted my water line to be and what height i wanted my shallow section of water to be, then started cutting pipe and egg crate. next, i started planning where my water feature was going to go. this shifted positions numerous times. until a brainstorm finally put it into the position it is in now, back left. the structural until for the water feature will be my "maintenance tunnel". a piece of 4" pvc pipe i cut in half with an air saw at work, then i heated it with a torch while standing on it to get the expansion i wanted out of it. this where i will be able to access all the life support for the tank except for the ultrasonic fogger. it will go in that plastic cup in the back. (more on that in another update). next i started playing with various rock and wood arrangements. i'll post all the pics of the 2 arrangements i had liked, but ended up with the last one.


    yeah, i know, i forgot to take the flash off.....lol next i removed all the egg crate, supports, wood and what not and put them into a parts bin. i use these big sweater boxes all the time for stuff. they are invaluable. i believe they are essential if you have more than one build going at a time. i always do. i also love them for planting. nothing like having every plant you need all in one tray. they are also great for drying coco fiber naturally instead of stinking up the house by putting it in the over. a couple days in the sun and 2 blocks are dry. i love these things!!


    now here's one of those tips/tricks. i left the wood in so i could outline it. i need to block off the aquatic section from the water reserve (the area under the false bottom) so no fish or shrimp can get back there. this will give me the areas i need to work around at a later date. and don't worry, the marker rubs off very easily with a paper towel and some water. i write on all my tanks in magic marker. i make sketches on them, i measure on them. i even write species names on them to help me memorize different species of plants and such. this is what it looks like bare now


    i am trying to keep the cost on this a bit lower than my 125, so i decided to skip gluing egg crate to the glass. it's not a necessary step, i only do it so the great stuff i am going to apply will have a little extra something to adhere to. on this build i chose to just silicone the sides of the tank. so i took some measurements, drew some lines and started siliconing. the answer to what silicone did i use? this one:


    and that brings us to the end of tonight's stuff, tank is all siliconed up and curing. i will give this 48 hours to cure. oh, i think it is worth noting that i cleaned the sides of the tank with isopropyl alcohol in the areas prior to laying down the silicone. this is my own step and i do it to guarantee there is no moisture or dirt on the glass so the silicone will adhere properly. and here it is, all siliconed up:

    another note, the reason the silicone does not go all the way to the bottom of the tank is because it is only needed to give the foam something to attach to. the 2 sides and back are going to be painted with a black waterproofing material that i use at work. i use this stuff when i run out of black contact paper to black out my fish tanks and vivs.

    enjoy, and as always, question/comments/criticisms/suggestions are always welcome. remember, the only dumb question is this one : "what is the definition of dumb?"
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    () Pluke is offline
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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Always like a detailed build thread, keep it up man. Can't wait to see the finished product.


    And.. some baby Tomato Frogs.

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Really excited to see how this turns out, get picture documentation!
    keep us posted!!

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    heck yeah, liking it already

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    thanks guys. i am glad you like it so far. it looks so much better inside my head.....
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Looking good....can't wait to see more!

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    ok, so i got to do a bit of work tonight. my main concentration was "sealing" the aquatic section from the false bottom. this was a very important step for this build because it will be housing shrimp and fish, and i cannot allow them to get underneath the false bottom and possibly die there, polluting my water. so what i did was cut pieces of egg crate to appropriate lengths and heights, and then i wrapped them in weed blocking sheet, then tied it up with brown monofilament fishing line. yes, i could have used fiberglass screening, but baby shrimp can get through that. and since i have like a grillion feet of this stuff and no mosquito netting, i went with it. we'll see if that is a mistake when i get to the water testing portion of the build. here's the left side land mass :
    1113_191819.jpg[/IMG]
    i took a bunch of pics from the top so that you can see the different diameters of pipe i am using for my supports. because the mass is 5" to it's bottom, and space is limited because i have to install a filter and heater under there, i combined 3" pipe and 2" pipe on the land section. 2" pipe for the shallow water section. height was the factor there. it's only 3"to the bottom of the shallow section, so 2" pipe will suffice. the right side also uses 2" and 3" pipe.

    in the next couple pics, you can see my filter, a fluval nano, which has served me well for years in shrimp tanks, in the top left corner.


    i also worked on my fogger setup. i plan on using an ultrasonic fogger. not so much for adding humidity to the tank. the aquatic section will handle that task very well, but for the cool effect it should give on that cool stump!! i mean come on, that stump just is begging to be planted and fogged out....lol now, the thing i have learned and hated about ultrasonic foggers is the fact that they shoot water EVERYWHERE!! or so it seems. it actually does shoot a small fountain up about 2-5". so the difficult thing with them is concealing it. after about 6 hours of testing the fogger in all sorts of containers, and trying to control the fountain, i remembered someone gave me a few of these containers a while back. don't ask me what they are used for, but for some reason i can't help but think it was racquetball balls. so anyway, i played with it for about an hour, and came up with this contraption:


    i didn't cut the bottom off, because i needed the height right where it is. actually, i wish it was an inch longer, then it wouldn't have to sit on a rock i siliconed to the bottom of the tank. but that's fine, there will be rocks covering it from view anyway. i drilled some holes into the sides so that it can get a fresh water supply and not go stagnant, and notched the top portion to direct the fog. there is also a lid for this as well. it hides the fountain and also directs the fog. this also needed to be accessible in case i need to replace the fogger's membrane. here it is covered up:

    this is what it looks like with it before the wood was replaced, and after:



    and don't worry, that moss is getting scraped off and the stump baked (again!) before it goes in for real. that's it for tonight, i think it took me longer to type this than to do the actual work...LOL
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Great thread! I was wondering how to block off the under land portions of the false bottom for critters. Did you totally wrap those sections, or just cover the submerged walls? What kind of weed blocker did you use and are you concerned about it clogging/stopping water flow under those areas??

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Quote Originally Posted by flynmnky View Post
    Great thread! I was wondering how to block off the under land portions of the false bottom for critters. Did you totally wrap those sections, or just cover the submerged walls? What kind of weed blocker did you use and are you concerned about it clogging/stopping water flow under those areas??
    i only wrapped the submerged walls. not sure what brand weed blocker i have. i bought it at home depot for like, $8 i think. it's a roll of like, a million yards....lol i actually would have preferred to use mosquito netting. but i didn't feel like trying to find it around here, and i had this stuff lying around. i am actually a bit concerned about stopping the flow, which is i why i said that i'll find out if it was a mistake when i do water testing this weekend. if it does stop flow, then i will probably double up some fiberglass screen to keep the juvenile shrimp out. and the fish i plan on putting in there breed very readily, so i don't want the fry to get behind it either, so i can remove them.
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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Looks great.

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyVegetables97 View Post
    Looks great.
    thanks but there's still plenty of time for me to muck it all up......LOL
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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    looks good so far, a lot of that stuff still seems to go over my head but i think im getting a bettr understanding of it the more setups you build...which means im bound to master it in no time lol. good luk!
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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    I am such a visual person and this thread really helps me!!!! Thanks so much. Can't wait to see the finished product!!!!

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Thanks guys. jay, it will all start to make sense as it comes together. Remember, i am building this out of the vision in my defective brain....lol i normally sketch up some sort of diagram before i start so i can determine base structures and behind the scenes stuff, but i decided to wing this one. I don't recommend building one that way. And if you do, take a lot of pics for reference.

    Amanda, stay tuned, because this weekend i start the terrestrial water feature and do the water testing. Sunday's update should have plenty of pics for you to follow along with. I'm going to try to take step by step pics of the water feature construction, since that is what i get asked about most often.
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Hey chipmunk! Trying really hard to wait til this weekend but I just can't stand wondering anymore! Do you power your falls with your filter or run a dedicated power head?

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Gonna run this one off of the filter. Which of course opens up the possibility or getting fish/shrimp nasties above ground where the frogs are. And while i believe they should be good, but just in case, i'm going to have a bit of lava rock in the aquatic section for good bacteria to grow on. Add that to the extra filtration i get from the plants and that water will be cleaner that what comes out of my tap......lol
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    I'd imagine with some good plants and biological filter sites, ammonia/nitrates should be well in check. Do you run carbon? Do tannins turn your water brown? Can't wait to see what you do this weekend... Oh yeah! And how tall is your waterfall gonna be? (It is a fall, right?)
    Am I driving you nuts with all my questions?? Lol! Bwaaaah!

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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Nope, no carbon. I actually run lava rock in all my filters, except this one, it's too small. Carbon would eventually clog up and wear out over time and i am trying to keep maintenance down.
    I was going to do an actual water fall, but i'm thinking the splashing may eventually drive me nuts.....lol the coco fiber with create the blackwater effect, which i love. The leaf litter will also add to that. I'm hoping to have nice, clear, tea colored water

    I don't mind the questions at all. It's why i created the thread as a sort of tutorial.
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    Default Re: Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Elizabeth, didn't i see you mention somewhere that you grow or grew orchids?
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    Default Madagascar Mantella Paludarium

    Yes, but far from any kind of expert. I dabble. :-)

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