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Photos of my new Paludarium (building process)

This is a discussion on Photos of my new Paludarium (building process) within the Photos & Pictures of Enclosures, Vivaria, etc forums, part of the Vivaria, Enclosures & Product Reviews category; After a week of work, my new paludarium is finally finished. I photographed the whole proces so I could maybe ...

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Old 22nd November 2006   #1 (permalink)
coen
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Default Photos of my new Paludarium (building process)

After a week of work, my new paludarium is finally finished. I photographed the whole proces so I could maybe give you some ideas. This is my first paludarium built this way, and there was a lot of trial and error, and time will learn if I did this the right way. A collegue of mine has made a paludarium the same time I did one. The idea was to create a natural looking paludarium, much like a european patch of forest floor, with a little (weak) stream ending in a small water, causing virtually no current. I've noticed that most dartfrog paludariums look very pretty, so I've searched the dartfrog forums for methods in building one.

It all started with finding a suitable terrarium. I've found one secondhand on the internet, this was a big one (60cm x 60cm x 40cm). The door is situated on the left side, so the front is one clean plate of glass, which looks great, but it was more difficult to decorate the inner side this way.

Click the image to open in full size.

To build the inner side, we need the following from the do-it-yourself shops:

Tempex: to create "stairs" fromt the water part to the land, and a "cave" where the pump will be situated in.
Greatstuff: Called Purschuim here in Holland. this is used to design the land part.
Black 100% silicone kit: To cover the glass where the great stuff will be.
Tile glue: To apply a waterproof finish to it all.
Latex gloves: NO...this was used because you don't want to get silicones or greatstuff on your hands.

Click the image to open in full size.

The lemon juice was used to remove the calcium stains. This works great. You could also use a razor blade for this (work with caution!)

First I've cleaned the terrarium and desinfected the inside with a terrarium-friendly desinfectant (Namiba Terra TerraDesX). After that I've applied siliconekit to the glass on the places where the greatstuff will be. Be sure to choose 100% silicone kit, otherwise choose special aquarium silicone kit. The black kit will make sure you won't see any ugly yellow greatstuff. Use the gloves to apply it, this works very well and precise. Don't min my unwashed appearance, it was morning....

Click the image to open in full size.

Make sure you apply it with a big margin, you can remove the kit later on with a razorblade very easily.

After applying the kit, I made a stair from tempex. I've used toothpicks to hold it together, this way you can alter the shape easily later on. clip the ends when your sure about the shape. I've made the rough form first:

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Click the image to open in full size.

After that, I've used a lighter to slightly melt the tempex to give it a more natural look. Make sure not to burn the tempex, and to provide proper ventilation! work outside, if possible. When melting the tempex, poisonous gases will be released. If you're happy with the result, glue it to the bottom of your tank with silicone kit.

After that I've made a cave out of tempex, big enough for the pump. I've also placed the PVC pipes.

Click the image to open in full size.

The straight tube is for the electric wire, the bended is for the water output. You can buy a spring in the do-it-yourself shops to bend the pipes. After that you should test if the pump can be attached properly. Remember that there will be substrate on the bottom. I've also glued plates of cocofibre to the backside.

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Then we could apply the greatstuff. Again, make sure to work in a proper ventilated room. Also make sure everything is placed correctly! First spray some water, this helps the greatstuff expand.

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It will expand for about 2/3 after spraying it in an hour or 2, so be cautious about that!

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We've let this harden for 24 hours. If you don't do this, it will still be soft in the middle.

In the meantime I've made a basket by cutting out a triangular piece of cocofibre plate, and glueing this with the silicone kit. I've used the toothpicks again to secure it to the background during the time it will harden. There will be a plant in this basket.

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Then we started to carve the hardened greatstuff.

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At this point it's important to know where you're plants will be, so you can carve out the holes.

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When you're sure about the form, remove all carved out pieces and vacuum clean the whole tank, then apply the first layer of tile glue. I've used a thinner substance at first to make sure all the cavities and holes are filled properly. Let this harden for a day. The apply a second, thicker layer for the waterproof finish. Let this harden for half a day, it will harden faster as it contains less water.

Click the image to open in full size.

As a final we applied an extra thick layer of tile glue, and immediatly after that, pressed in a layer of cocopeat. this excists of 100% cocofibres and will help retaining water and thus help the growth of moss. You could also use normal peat for this. Afterwards i've heard I could best mix this with some sand, as it will help the growth of moss even more. Oh well, this is the first one I've build, trial & error... Also be sure to choose a substrate that doesn't contain chemical substances or other stuff that will help the growth of your plants. It could hurt your inhabitants. Don't place substrate on the part that will be submerged.

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We scattered some sand on the tile glue on the submerged part of the tank. Afterwards I should have chosen a darker type of sand for a more natural look

Click the image to open in full size.

We've let this all harden again for a day and a half. Then the best part could begin: the decoration! Firstly, the plants. You can buy these in ordinary garden centres. Choose plants that need a lot of water and less light. Ask the employees of the garden centre for help with this, or read the cards in the plants, if available.

Click the image to open in full size.

Then, the moss. We were lucky enough to be able to buy a crate full of moss for just 5 euros, so it is worth the try. Time will learn if it will really grow.

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Then I've placed special aquarium/terrarium hydro grains (little red balls of clay) on the bottom of the part that will be submerged, on top of that a sand substrate specially for aquarium plants, and on top of that normal aquarium sand. Then I've filled and emptied the tank with water a couple of times to rinse it all, and test the small river. Make sure you can do something about it when the pipes will get clogged! Also, cover the pipe's output with a filter of some kind so smaller animals won't be able to wriggle themselves into it. Then I've made a simple box for the lighting out of wood, painted it with something non toxic and water resistant, let it dry and glued the cocofibre plate on it for a more pleasing look. Make sure you build the box in such a way, that every plant will receive direct light. For the lighting, I've chosen Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0, because it will give a full spectrum for the plants, but almost no heat for the inhabitants. It also gives off 5% UVB to prevent metabolic bone disease, but that output of UVB will weaken after a year or so. The use of this is debatable, but it certainly won't hurt. We've let the wood boil (in water with some salt added) twice for about an hour, and depending on the wood, it should give off less brown color each time you boil it. Since I won't use any wood underwater, I considered 2 times to be enough.

When everything was ready, we placed the paludarium on it's final place. While moving, I was glad we chose the tempex and greatstuff, which is light as a feather. I filled it with normal tapwater that was left to dechlorinate for a day, and added a cup of pondwater from my backyard. Then I've turned on the light, switched on the pump, and left visiting some friends for the weekend, and to buy the new inhabitants...

The idea was to release some juvenile Marmoratus in the paludarium, but these were still way too small to monitor correctly, so I did not place them in the tank. I also got some new CB juvenile Dobrogicus which were mainly aquatic, and of a larger size then the marmoratus, so I've decided it was reasonably safe to place them in the tank. The water had turned a little brownish over the weekend. I'm still not sure if this is caused by the hydro grains, or the fact that my little river spilled a tiny bit of water over the cocopeat. This shouldn't hurt it's inhabitants though.

The Dobro's are doing fine in the water. Every now and then they will leave the water for some time to wander around the Paludarium and search for food. On the land, they get small crickets and waxworms and in the water they get small cut-up rainworms. This will expand with bloodworms in the near future, and after I've placed silicone tape strips on the door to make it escape proof, I will add springtails and fruitflies.

Here are pictures of the final result!

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Details:

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It's inhabitants (Juvenile Triturus Dobrogicus):

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One of the 2 males, already in a small breeding attire and a swollen cloaca:
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A female displaying male breeding behaviour:
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Another male:
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A male wandering around:
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Old 22nd November 2006   #2 (permalink)
ian
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i bet that gets pride of place in your living room. it would look great with some oriental fire bellied toads in there..ian
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Old 22nd November 2006   #3 (permalink)
virginie
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Really good work, Your tank very beautiful!
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Old 22nd November 2006   #4 (permalink)
samuel
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does the water allways gona be that tea color, is ti because the cocopeat?
the setup looks great, congratulations
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Old 22nd November 2006   #5 (permalink)
nicholas
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One thing that can help with the some of the tea-colored water (if it bothers you or the animals) is to use activated carbon which is available for aquariums. It's used to remove chemicals from the water and can help clear out some the tannins that cause the tea-color. Personally, I don't mind the tea effect. How often do you see and pond with crystal clear water?

Awesome tank by the way!
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Old 22nd November 2006   #6 (permalink)
coen
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Ian - It does get a lot of sight! Firebelly toads would probably like it, but my dobro's wouldn't Click the image to open in full size.

Samuel - I'm not sure. I'm hoping it's just because of the new hydro grains, I bet it's gonna be over after I've refreshed the water a couple of times.

Nicholas - I don't think the Dobro's mind, but to be honest, I don't really like it that much either. It does have a more natural look, but it is not as pleasing for the eye as clear water would, because then you can see the newts even better.

And thanks for the kind words!
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Old 22nd November 2006   #7 (permalink)
ian
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hi coen i didn't mean to mix them i just thought the set up might be more suited to something like firebellies. not that it doesn't look great with the cresteds in, it does....ian
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Old 22nd November 2006   #8 (permalink)
coen
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Ah yes, you certainly are right! It was originally intended for the juvenile marmoratus, which will be terrestrial for most of their juvenile life. But they are too small to release them in such a big setup.
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Old 22nd November 2006   #9 (permalink)
dane
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awesome step by step display

i actually like the water that colored, looks so realistic and cool
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Old 22nd November 2006   #10 (permalink)
john
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Marvelous! I'll buy two!
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Old 23rd November 2006   #11 (permalink)
coen
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Thanks for the kind words!

Dane - I'm starting to appreciate it more too, I'll just have to see how it looks after the first real water refresh, probably this week.
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Old 27th November 2006   #12 (permalink)
josh
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your paludarium looks great. very good for your first i must say. the tannins will always be present in your water no matter how much you change it. the tannins will be very heavy for a long time, but after continual water changes, it will lighten up a bit. it takes a while, but will never fully go away. i have set up many dart frog vivs in this same fasion and i can tell u from experience. the tannins are very beneficial in that they prevent the growth and spread of fungus and other nasty stuff that could harm your newts. i let tannins go nutts in my tanks for that very reason. any experienced fish breeder can tell you this. my advice is to let the tannins build up until the water is very very dark, do a water change, let them build up again, water change and after doing this a few times, the tannins wont come back as strong. then just let it be. it will benefit your newts. good luck and great job once again. take care

-josh
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Old 28th November 2006   #13 (permalink)
coen
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Thanks Josh, I knew the tannins wouldn't harm the newts but I wasn't aware of their beneficial abilities!

My pump doesn't have a filter, but since it also runs over the substrate and the moss a bit, could it be that this is a (if somewhat slow) natural filter? Is this realistic thinking? Or should I invest a little more in an extra (though very small) filter?
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Old 28th November 2006   #14 (permalink)
josh
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in all my frog vivariums, i dont use any filters or charcoal. i just let the beneficial bacteria and plants do the filtering. i would do a water change on it every so often. just keep an eye on the water and watch the nitrate and nitrite levels...all the same stuff with fish basically. once you get beneficail bacteria, you can do much less water changes. ive had marmoratus in a large tank and i did no water changes and had no problems at all. course, this was a very large tank with wild betta in it as well to clean up scraps.
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Old 29th November 2006   #15 (permalink)
coen
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Yeah that's the problem, the water body is pretty small in this tank, so it takes more effort for the tank to get a stable system, if it at all happens!
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Old 30th November 2006   #16 (permalink)
josh
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it will happen. most of my water bodies are 5 or so inches in diameter and fed by a little stream. it will settle. trust me.
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Old 6th December 2006   #17 (permalink)
deborah
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Very very cool! Thanks for sharing your steps also. nice tank and I agree the tannins are a good thing, we have had the brownish water ever since we constructed ours and that was 4 years ago, although it's clearer now than it used to be. I like how the water looks, it's more natural and I think my newties like it too~
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Old 6th December 2006   #18 (permalink)
morrissey
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wow! You are so talented! What a great set up!
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Old 14th December 2006   #19 (permalink)
coen
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Thanks for the nice comments!
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Old 31st December 2006   #20 (permalink)
blake
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the "tile glue" you used.. is it the same thing as grout? like, what you use to fill in between the tiles? or is there a separate glue that you use for like, sticking tiles to the floor or something?
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