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Thread: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

  1. #1
    Synethstesia
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    Cool First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Hello!

    As the title states, this is my first attempt at a paludarium/vivarium build... Previously I've kept both freshwater and reef aquariums, but recently I've been enamored with some of the builds I've seen here and elsewhere around the web. My goal for the pal was to eventually house either darts or anoles, and a few very small fish and shrimp as well as plenty of tropical terrestrial/aquatic/emergent and epiphytic plants and mosses. I decided to go with an 18x18x24 exo terra, both because it will be easier to move when I leave in a couple years and just to try to keep the budget from getting too far out of hand. (Didn't work). Feel free to ask any questions, or throw some advice my way!

    So I wanted the fish to have as much area to swim as possible, while still maintaining a natural look from the front of the pal. I went with PVC supports under the drainage plate, instead of hydroballs for this reason. I couldn't find the eggcrate that everyone uses at any of my local Home Depot or Lowes, so I bought a sheet of Lexan and drilled a bunch of holes through it after cutting it down to size.









    For the gravel barrier, I used a flexible plastic canvas from the craft store. This was a small error on my part, as I would have preferred something more rigid which would have allowed me to create a gradual land-water transition with far less gravel than I ended up using. On both the left and right of the tank, I wanted entrances into the sub-platform area of the water so that the fish could do a complete lap and better utilize the whole area. I left a section on the left without a barrier, eventually to be covered up by moss and plants. On the right, I cut a cork bark round in half and cut out a section in the barrier where I wanted it to go. Off the the very left would be the water return from the filter in the form of a waterfall.



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  3. #2
    Synethstesia
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    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    I then siliconed in rubber tubing for the in/out lines of the external filter, as well as airline tubing for an eventual C02 generator and a small heater, in case I ever needed to heat the water in the future. (the pal currently resides in my 80 degree Idolomantis room).



    After testing out the gravel situation, I decided I would have to silicone a layer over top of my barrier in order to maintain the appearance I was going for. I then siliconed the platform into place. To add to the depth of the pal, and add interest for creatures, I also siliconed in a small PVC cave section, along with the cork bark.



    pieces in place, I covered them with black outdoor pond sealer and used brushes/sharpies to keep any drainage points open



    24 hours later, I went ahead and began carving out my desired overall shape.



    Laid down another layer of silicone, and dumped the cococoir on... The coir didn't really adhere as well as I had hoped to the silicone, but it was acceptable.



    Here it is filled with water:



    and planted up, waterfall running:





    and a little fog test:


  4. #3

    Default First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    The second post's pictures don't work.


    Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
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  5. #4
    jossh27
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    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    They work for me!! And it looks great. I wish i had the creativity to do something like this. How are you going to keep the water clean from the land substrate?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Wow! You made it look so easy. I really really really like the caves you have. I definitely have my notepad out and am taking notes. I want to try to make some caves like that.

    I can't wait to see the new spoiled frogs/anoles/fish you put in (; They'll love it.

    You've got talent for sure.
    0.0.4 Dendrobates Auratus 'Nicaraguan Green and Black'
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    1.2.0 Canyon Tree Frogs
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  7. #6

    Default First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    For some reason, pics don't show up on tapatalk. The tank looks good. Not much land mass though. It might be better suited for anoles than frogs.




    Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  8. #7
    Synethstesia
    Guest

    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Thank You for the kind words guys! I really appreciate the feedback. I'm glad the pics show up through the computer, I guess the website I use to host the images doesn't like tapatalk. For some reason the forum's built in file attachment system wouldn't accept my images even though I made sure they were the correct size and image type.

    Quote Originally Posted by jossh27 View Post
    They work for me!! And it looks great. I wish i had the creativity to do something like this. How are you going to keep the water clean from the land substrate?
    The land is separated from the water with that lexan platform I made, and I used a bottom layer of larger gravel underneath the eco-complete black gravel, so the water comes to just under the gravel line. The substrate (ABG mix) is a good 2.5 inches above the water. Some of the substrate does fall into the water, but normally it just sinks into the gravel - sphagnum and charcoal float and are easy to remove and smaller particulate is removed by the external canister filter.

    Quote Originally Posted by deranged chipmunk View Post
    For some reason, pics don't show up on tapatalk. The tank looks good. Not much land mass though. It might be better suited for anoles than frogs.
    This was my thinking as well, the floor space is about 12x12 but there is plenty of vertical climbing space and will be more once my broms come in and things start to grow out. I was thinking a more arboreal dart frog might be suitable, but I understand they are a little more difficult. I've never done frogs before, and I do prefer the idea of them hanging out and laying tadpoles in the broms and such, but my first priority is definitely the comfort of the creatures.

    I've since stuck in a few aquatic plants, sword, anubia, and java fern which are all doing pretty well so far. Not sure the microgramma vacciniifolia is going to make it which is a shame, because it's one of my favorites and is somewhat hard to source. I'm using a 5k and 6.4k 23 watt bulbs for the plants.

    My next step is to get the humidity stable again, and start to think about the C02 reactor - the ultrasonic humidifier I use to keep my terrarium room humid crapped out and I need to replace it next weel. I've already got half of the wire mesh top covered with spare lexan, and should have enough to make a cover for the other side but I also need to rig up a new, smaller fan and figure out how to install it inside the viv without being noticed. Right now I just have a giant computer fan rigged up pulling in air from outside the viv. The C02 reactor will use a slightly cumbersome but cheap biological engine to produce supplemental C02 for the plants, keep algae blooms to a minimum, and provide extra water movement through airline tubing running down to the large air stone under the platform.

    Updated pics coming soon!

  9. #8

    Default First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    I would rethink the co2. Definitely not needed and overkill. Not to mention that unless you are using pressurized with a precise needle valve, you won't have enough control over the amount going into the tank. Remember, unlike a planted tank (yup, been keeping them for about a decade now), this is a closed environment. Any co2 that doesn't get absorbed in a planted aquarium just Goes into the atmosphere. In a mostly sealed tank that is required for darts, any co2 not absorbed by the water will build up within the enclosure.

    Just food for thought


    Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  10. #9
    Synethstesia
    Guest

    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Alrighty, so here's a quick update - My Neos came in and I've got just about everything I wanted in there now, but I need to get some moss coverage going (Anyone have experience with NE Herps Moss Slurry?), and maybe a few low growing plants for the foreground. The Ceropegia at the top is just a cutting I got from a friend I'm acclimating, but I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it in the pal. I've got some Selaginella erythropus, Selaginella willdenowii, a philodendron"Moonlight", a tillandsia, a trailing peperomia, and the orchid is a Psychopsis hybrid. You can tell the original Neo got a little too much water while I was figuring out how to keep it dry planted directly in what is basically the waterfall, but I figured it out before too much damage could be done. The m. vacciniifolia is still hanging in there, but I'm having my doubts as to whether its going to survive. Finally got around to cutting another piece of lexan to cover the second half of the enclosure as well, and right now a computer fan against the crevices is enough to stir the air inside a little bit.


    Click to Enlarge!



    I'd also like to show everyone what happened four weeks after making the foam background:





    Somehow, a pocket of unexpanded foam found an exit, right under my poor tillandsia! luckily, I was able to pull most of it off. Then a couple weeks later, another pocket came out from the edge of the glass... Luckily it was a smaller pocket, and didn't get to my orchid! Pretty annoying that this is happening over a six weeks after I applied the foam.

    Anyhow things are going well now, next steps are figuring out the moss situation, and the internal circulation fan. I think I'm going to try and patch some of the spots where the cococoir has washed away from the silicone, if that doesn't work then hopefully the moss will eventually cover everything. Reptile exo is coming up in a couple of weeks, but I don't think things will be grown in to where I want them to stock it with critters just yet. Still need some more small plants or leaf litter or maybe a driftwood branch / rocks to break up the land area a little and provide areas to hide. May still end up revamping the waterfall.

    I'm not looking to do a super precise C02 set up, but I was hoping it would help me to battle algae blooms when I need it, especially with how many watts per gallon I have over the pal. The exo terra is vented in front along the water's edge, hopefully with c02 being heavier than 02, it would let enough escape not keep from being a problem if I don't run it constantly... Truthfully, I just wanted to mess around with it ; )

  11. #10
    Synethstesia
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    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Quick update! My broms came in and I got a pilea, peperomia, tillandsias, ceropegia, psychopsis, and philodendron in there... Added a few zebra danios and a few ghost shrimp to the aquatic section.


  12. #11
    100+ Post Member jarteta97's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Paludarium Build - 18x18x24

    Looking beautiful! I love the way you did the background, I'm a fan and user of cork tube hides
    “Life is a journey, not a destination.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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