Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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jentralala 03-24-2013 10:30 PM

I'm not sure if anyone has experience here with DIY paludariums (I hope so!) but I have a question.

All of the DIY builds have false bottoms made of egg crate/pvc pipe for drainage. But...I was wondering if perhaps there is an easier way. I'm thinking of converting my unused 65 gallon into a paludarium, but instead of going through the trouble of creating a false bottom, I'd create a complete foam background, and just carve out places for soil for plants. I'd have to make sure the soil places are shallow enough so as not to be too heavy and pull the background away from the glass, but are there any other problems I should be aware of?

I'd also like to create a bit of a waterfall effect, so I'm still working out placement for the water pump. Any ideas? I'd like it to be as invisible as possible.

Any help is appreciated, I'm a total noob at paludariums/vivariums! :)

Chesh 03-26-2013 07:15 PM

Nobody knows? :(

jentralala 03-26-2013 09:07 PM

I may just have to join another forum to see if I can find an answer :( Oh well, this is going to be months down the road anyways.

Chesh 03-27-2013 12:30 AM

Well I'm excited for it :) You'll have to let me know what you come up with!

willow 03-30-2013 05:28 AM

i doubt i'm going to be much help here...however i reckon type in
to youtube how to build a paludarium,you should come up with some
nice ideas.
good luck.

SpookyTooth 04-04-2013 11:33 AM

I know I'm a few days late but just a few thoughts on this:

The purpose of a false bottom is to allow excess water to drain away to stop mould build up. False bottoms can be made by using the eggcrate method you mention or by adding a layer of something called hydroton to the bottom of your planted area then covering it with mesh designed to keep weeds out of flower beds. The hydroton creates a water reservoir, the mesh stops the substrate getting into the water reservoir thus allowing the water to climb and cause mould.

Hyrdoton is a type of clay that is used in hydroponics, it's great for false bottoms (I've used it before in a terrarium) and is typically available in large bags at a decent price. If you google "terrarium false bottoms" you might find a variety of articles about hydroton and its uses.

Even if you cut out sections in a foam background for your plants, the excess water would need to go somewhere that wouldn't interferre with the aquarium section of the paludarium; you could always rig up a piece of aquarium tubing in the bottom of your false bottom and then get a syringe (minus the needle) that fits on the end, you'll then be able to suck the water out of the reservoir if needed. In my own terrarium I didn't bother to put anything in the water reservoir as, to be frank, I didn't think about it. I didn't have any issues but I tore the terrarium down pretty quickly due to other reasons.

Good luck!

BWG 04-04-2013 12:32 PM

Any idea what you plan to house? I'm only asking because if you only plan aquatic creatures than a "riparium" might be what you're looking for. No need to buy from him though when a clear shower caddy would do the same trick.

lol If I'm completely on the wrong subject...well just ignore me then.

jentralala 04-04-2013 01:04 PM

Thanks for the advice!

Theoretically, if I built a foam background and created spaces for the plants (it'd have to be large areas instead of individual spots for individual plants for this to work) and put the hydroton (which I have heard about, but thank you for clarifying it's uses!) in the bottom covered with mesh, then the soil on top. Then (or beforehand would probably easier) drill the bottom of the 'pot/shelf' so the water drains through?

I had not understood the purpose of a false bottom but thank you SO much for pointing out it's because of mold, it honestly hadn't even occurred to me that mold would occur. I had been wondering about the purpose of false bottoms.

Blackwater- My first thought was actually to do a riparium! :) They are really pretty, but eventually I decided I'd really like to give a paludarium a try since I've always found them to be quite pretty and I've been wanting to give land critters a try :)
I'm thinking about getting some type of smaller toad/frog (preferably not fire belly though, as I've heard some worrying things about them poisoning themselves and fish in the water portion) that will enjoy the water space. I'm still not sure as to what type of fish although at this point I'm leaning towards Cory cats, although it would have to be a species that is okay with warmer water.

BWG 04-04-2013 01:11 PM

I've heard the same thing about firebelly toads and fish. I didn't experience it though. I had firebellies in a largely aquatic tank with just driftwood and plants to climb out on. The toads loved it enough to breed for me. It was a pain though, but only because crickets drowned often and it was a lot of cleaning them up.

I eventually added some zebra danios and bronze cories. Never had a problem with the fish dying from mysterious deaths. That's just my experience so take it for what it's worth.

SpookyTooth 04-04-2013 01:14 PM

You are most welcome! I imagine what you outline could work, though I'm not entirely certain. Another issue with not having adequate drainage is root rot; I don't know how prone other plants are to it as the species I keep are particularly so, but without the right drainage the soil may become boggy which isn't good for many species. Constantly damp roots + little oxygen due to boggy water is a recipe for disaster.

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