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Paludarium help/suggestions

3269 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  naegling23
I know this isnt exactly the right forum, but I figure someone here could give me some tips/advice.

Im redoing my firebelly toad tank (20 gal. long) for the 625th time this year because im not happy with it. *** been playing with designs for years, and have had the tank running for 4 or 5 years now. I really like the natural look, so Im trying to avoid things like foam and plastics when its possible in the landscape of the tank (although if they are hidden, its ok). My goal is to have it about half land and half water, but with the land along the back and left side (the tank sits in a corner, the front and right side are visible, and im trying to hide the landmass from view because it looks ugly). I am also not a big fan of siliconing plexiglass into the tank, because that makes it a little too permanent if I want to change it in the future. Im also trying to do some sort of a waterfall/stream, which may split the landmass in 2, or may just run down one side of it. I plan on planting out the land, and eventually adding a couple of smaller fish to the mix in the water side (possibly, I havnt decided yet, it depends on the tank).

Now, on to my question part. When doing the land, I use gravel, and cover it with soil or bark, or some other substrate, but unless it is about 4 inches away from the water it always gets soaked. Is there a way to prevent this? I had a thought of sinking plastic containers into the land and using these as planters, and then just having a thin layer of soil on the top, is this a better idea? The drawback would be that the plants would have to be watered separatly. Should I use a plastic liner to separate the areas? And for the waterfall, should I again use a liner for the stream area, or just use rocks in the right combination, or go one further and use piping or ducts or something? Im still in the planning phases, so any suggestions would be greatly appriciated.
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I'm not sure if any of these suggestions are what you are after, so forgive me if they are not :) :
I had a thought of sinking plastic containers into the land and using these as planters, and then just having a thin layer of soil on the top, is this a better idea? The drawback would be that the plants would have to be watered separatly.
If you drilled small holes in the containers and lined them with landscaping fabric before planting,
the "potting soil" should stay in the containers and be saturated, so no watering.

And for the waterfall, should I again use a liner for the stream area, or just use rocks in the right combination
If you put the plastic liner down first it would hold the area from erosion.
Place rocks on top of the liner to hold it and to give the natural stream bed look.
hmm, drilling holes in the containers is out. The plastic pots will sit below the waterline, so if I put holes in them, the whole container will fill up and rot the plant, not to mention soak the soil. The idea was to use the pots so that I could give the plants deeper soil, and could get away with a 1/2 inch or so covering over the rest of land area. I may end up using a liner for the waterfall, Im not sure how to get it to work yet, but it would help keep the water away from the land. As long as its lined with rocks, it wont make a difference to the eye.
drilled small holes in the containers
Ok, nix that idea...
Maybe think about solid containers and one of those irrigation tubes, or tape thingies, comming up the back side so it isn't seen.
The water "wicks" into the plant container as the soil dries out.
I think people use them when they go on vacation or if they don't want to deal with watering.
Maybe get some ideas from the gardening dept. of a local store.
that could all work. Im thinking that the plants will likely pick up some moisture from the humidity in the environment, so I should only need to water them once it a while, im not too worried about them drying out. The other option is to just bury them in the soil/rocks and hope they drain well enough, and that the roots like it wet.

Im thinking that the only way to really figure this out is to just get my hands dirty, and try a few different alternatives until I find the one I like best.
Have you thought about doing a DIY background styro/concrete (or perhaps the "lightened" concrete that was mixed with perlite?) style thing where you define the bank of the water portion, then have it cut down where you fill with dirt for the land part? That way you've got a "bank" that looks like rock, there's no dirt there so your water doesn't get dirty, etc.

That was probably about as clear as mud, it works fine in my imagination though ;)

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
*** thought about the diy background using foam. *** thought about a plexiglass divider. The problem is that I want it to look natural, and I've found that though the foam looks good, I have never done it, so I doubt my ability to pull it off.

Anyway, I've been playing with a few setups/ideas over the last week or so. I move things around, curse a lot, get frustrated, and walk away....But I'm getting closer. I've also been researching more about the frogs and trying to get the best habitat possible. For some reason I cannot find any pictures of the FBT's in the wild, so I have no idea what they really live in, but descriptions have high humidity, and ranging from ponds to streams to puddles, and the nearby areas. So, if the soil is wet, that should not be a problem, and from what I have been reading, they might not really want a dry spot in the tank anyway.

My current plan is to pile up the rocks so that they are an inch or so out of the water. Planting the plants directly into the water/rocks. I know some plants can live like this, and some cant, its more an issue of finding the right marsh type plants (I know peace lilly grows well like this, but they are a little tall for my tank). I can cover everything with a sturdy substrate, I was going to use the ground coconut bark, which should hold up to being wet. I'll keep you posted as I move forward on this.
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It may not be the look you are after, but philodendron can live with it's roots in water.
There are a couple of different types, too.
I have a whole bunch of the creeping philodendron around my house, I was planning on taking a couple of clippings and using it to grow up along the background.

I also know that pothos will grow in water.

In my haste, I bought the plants that I am planning on using, I guess im just gonna try them and see what happens. If they start to die back, I can always take them out and use them as houseplants.
alright, I give up, im changing course, here is my plan.

I going to build a plexiglass planter box. This way, I can remove the entire land section to easily clean the tank. In addition, I can build the box without having to move my frogs out of the tank and into a temporary location while everything cures. My plan is to have it sit in the back corner, and I will make it into a unique shape to make it a little more natural looking. It will have a cutout in the far back corner for the filter to fit into, and I will allow some space along both the back and side to fill with stone to act as a sort of channel to the filter. Im going to silicone slate to the front of the plexiglass, and fill in the cracks with greatstuff. Im also going to build a plexiglass waterfall for the middle of the land portion.

Question: Do I have to seal the greatstuff, or can I just put my rock/coconut fiber directly onto the top of it?

Ill start on the work, and post some pics of the progress as I move along. Wish me luck, im off to home depot to get supplies!

You know, I have a final exam next week, why do I always find the best projects when its time to study?
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OK, so im sorry, but I still dont have any pictures, I will try to upload a few later tonight.

Its taken a while, so far its still going according to plan, the plan is just taking longer than expected.

The planter box was built, sealed and tested for leaks. The sealed and tested for leaks was repeated for 3-5 days until it finally passed.

Yesterday I glued some slate onto the front of it and covered the rest with greatstuff. The next step is to cover the greatstuff in silicone (havnt figure out how im going to do that part yet) and fix peat/soil/stones to it to make it look natural. I also have to build the waterfall part up a bit, I tried to do it all last night, but until the foam hardens, it just sort of flops over.

Im hoping that I can have the box completed and filled with plants by the end of the weekend, then I can start on the background!

My plan is now to make the tank in separate pieces. I will have a background piece, and a land piece. This way, the tank can be taken apart for a good cleaning whenever I need to.
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I'd be interested in how this turns out - post pics when you can...
naegling23 posted a new thread in "Aquarium Decoration" area and named it "paudarium construction" (or something like that). It has pics of constructing the planter box.
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