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Project 7  : Difficulty paludarium 


 Rock and root  paludarium type ( number 4 in part one)


courtesy to : Dendrobord 

Paludarium Design and build ..


Back to the Main Paludarium Page ..

3-With a sudden influx of funds, I've decided to give my crappy Riparium/Paludarium (not sure what to call it) a make over.( Upgrade)


First, a before shot:

Type : Vertical wall paludarium

courtesy to : Dendroboard 

Ordered some ecoweb / epiweb ( Trade names of Soil or compressed coco nuts block )and got to work on both sides with some GE silicone I. 

First, I drained all the water I could and transferred the fishes to other tanks or this big  bucket: 

Made some DIY vines, nylon rope covered with silicone and peat moss. Unfortunately silicone I only comes in clear and white, so some of the rope remains uncovered. Hopefully mosses and epiphytic plants will eventually cover up the rough patches.

Attached them to chunks of cork bark and ecoweb, then siliconed that onto the background.

Also fixed my ghetto-rigged drip wall. Rather than a piece of vinyl tubing snaking up the background, I've replaced it with some PVC. 

Also braided some longer pieces of rope together and strung it out across the tank. I'm using the toothpicks to keep the vines from touching the little bit of water left in there until they are fully cured.

I'm giving the plants a small misting a day, which should hopefully keep 'em alive for a few days while the silicone cures.

That's it as of now, gonna give the silicone a few more days to cure even though the tube says 24 hours. I'll order a bunch of plants and moss this week, as well as a springtail culture, which should hopefully help take care of some of the mold growing on the background. Hope to have the fish back in there by the end of week, I'm sure they're not enjoying the bucket too much.

The water section, when filled (Gonna have less water than the first pic to allow for more plants, probably just a few inches above the bottom of the ecoweb), will have 3 Angelfish, 3 Buenos Aires Tetras, 2 Green Cories, 2 Bumblebee Catfish, and a lone silver dollar (Rest of his school died off). Might get a group of rummynose tetras, I love how close-packed they get in their schools.


-Above : Bought a dozen peppered cories at $1 a piece

-Also in the process of boiling some leaves collected outside. Mostly maple, some oak and beech. Trying to go for a blackwater look for the water section. Still a bit cloudy, but habitable. I'll leave the  filter on for another day, should be cleared up completely by tomorrow.

- Below : NEHERP moss - Here's a pic of it still in the bag, after a day of transit. Give it a few weeks in bright light and high humidity and it'll be lush and bright green, but I always notice new growth starting to appear within the first week. I've bought them in 5x6 and 12x12 ziploc bags, and its packed just like below, a single layer of moss with the "root" side underneath.

Planted the moss

I didn't like how obvious the water pump was, so I went ahead and cut and rearranged the intake so I could stick the pump in a back corner of the tank.


Now I'm just waiting on this plant order, plus I ordered a couple dozen wild-type Neocaridina (cherry shrimp). Both packages should be here this Wednesday.

lots of Neoregelia and ferns.

Also picked a green anole for 50% off, so I figured why not. Unfortunately he was the only one they had. I'll have to pick up a female companion or two for him once they get more in stock.

This will take the place that my old 180g fish tank occupied. It will be a 60x30x48" tall peninsula setup. It will have 10" of water in the bottom/W a large stump center piece & a fake rock wall on one end.

This is my old fish tank, the silicone started to turn loose & leak.

I've been doing a lot of research & asking question for months in preparation for this. I'm planing on having fish in the flooded area tree frogs (thinking whites) & a pair of Giant Day Geckos in the branches with lots of plants & orchids

Made some alterations to what was the area the lights were in. Got the bottom piece of glass in place & wanted to see what the stump would look like in place.

Did I forget to mention I'm building this thing in place because I couldn't face ever moving it?

This is the view from the other side (the kitchen)

First four pieces of glass glued in.

Track is in but no doors yet.

This is just the first stab at the size & shape of were the land will be. Faux rock wall with deep crevices will go most of the way up the end wall from the land area.

The space between the stumps is set & held in place by some lag bolts & zip ties. It will have substrate filling it for probably the largest orchid in the tank.

The water return pipe. I wanted the return water to be dispersed/diffused so I made up this rig. I did a water test & it works great. Some water goes into the glass at the end, some straight back, most back at an angle. I plan to hide it in a fake rock.

The return pump & plumbing. The drain pipes will probably be refined some, this was just pieced together for the water test. The paludarium water level is not a lot higher than the filter, so not a lot of water pressure on the overflow water. That's why the plumbing is a bit different. It's hard to see but there is a 4" tall opening across the back so I can get to the overflow plumbing. That's why the shelf on the back wall.

This is the tank I used for the filter for the discus. It is way over kill for the paludarium but I had it already so might as well use it.

This is what it looked like with the filter media in it.

That's about it for now. I'll be ordering the misting system & couple other things this week. Next will be foam fitting & carving. More pix then.

I glued all this glass together with Silicone sealant . All I had ever heard about building tanks was clean the glass good & use 100% silicone. After this was all put together I ran across the fact that there is silicone sealant & silicone adhesive. The adhesive is much stronger & should be used for tank building & the sealant should be used for sealing. 

I have spent the last three days on Reef Centrals DIY forum (because there are a lot of tank builders on that site) trying to find out if this should be OK sense it's only 10" of water & wide glue seams. No one would or could say for sure if it should be OK, nor had any suggestions of what to do to be sure. I did find out the best silicone to use for under pressure use is Momentive RTV 100 series (108 being the clear thicker stuff we are familiar with). 

Just to be sure I'm going to trim & clean the silicone off the inside bottom seams & glue (with the better stuff) a strip of glass in the seams to reinforce the bottom seams. Might not be necessary, but this has been & will be even more work to bring together, so what's a little more work for peace of mind.

At the same time I lost 132 GB of mostly photos on my work computer. most was backed up but not a couple personal shoots I just did & needed badly. Spent a lot of time & some money trying to recover them & don't think what I need is in there. Crap!!!

Also went looking for grout. Lowe's had the colors I wanted, but half needed to be ordered. Sadly it takes 2 weeks for special order grout because of the way it has to be shipped. The good news is I got the black & two grays, so after carving the foam I can do the first coat or two.



Rock works : 

This was the second attempt at the support pillar. It was much better but still didn't like the scale, it looked like a miniature of a large structure instead of life size. at least looked that way to me.

Third time's the charm I guess. Still not 100% happy with the look of the scale but think it's as close to what I was hoping for as I can get. 

Some of the tools & pieces cut out before trimming, sculpting & sanding.

I did not want to glue the rocks in. Because if I have learned one thing, it's that things change or at least we change or minds as to what we want to do.
So I cut some voids to fill with weights so hopefully they wont float!
I had not figured out how I was going to keep the first rocks from floating. 

Weights are fishing sinkers, scraps of marble & then fill with sand & supper glue the whole mess together.

Sculpting part of the bottom half is done. It's only half in size, way more than half in work & complexity. I must admit I like it!

The water level will be about where the top layer of the shelf meets the second layer. I have in my head what the top part will be like, which doesn't help much I know. If I tried to describe it, it probably wouldn't help much either. Just have to finish so we all can see what it will look like.

These are not nearly done but thought some might like to see what they look like half done. The big gaps between the three chunks where wide enough will have 3 or 4" net pots for plants. The trench like cracks in the rock faces will have some Hygrolon with moss etc. in the bottom of them & around the net pots too.

More when they are done. I was thinking I was almost ready for grout when I remembered I need to do a rock to hide the pipe where water comes in from the filter too.


The three tall rocks that make the rock wall. The round holes are for planting pots.

The rock that holds the shelf up & the return pipe rock.

More when I get some different colors of grout on. Then the curing time. Probably work on the hood while waiting.


Back to the tank ..




Living room side view

View from my chair.

I'm thinking the two branches at the very top will have little to no plants on them. The basking light will be on the righthand side. Also plan to have most or all the misting miss those two so they wont be wet all the time. I have heard that geckos at least develop foot problems if they are wet all the time. Might go with anoles but they probably would like a dry place as well.

I'm going to try & go without any bamboo, mostly because I don't care for the look of it.

Kitchen side

I first thought there might be too many branches, because there might not be enough room for plant growth. But the more I look at this the more I like it.  

I did a color test on a test piece of foam.

This test was more to see if the technique I was thinking of would actually work. The colors may vary some but I'm very happy with how the technique looks. 

Instead of the lowest spots being dark I thought I'd make them green to look like algae (it is more greenish in person). Did a thin wash of the green & wiped most off the higher places. Then brushed thinned grout of different colors on a sea sponge & dabbed that on. 

Cave in the rock shelf

Some close ups

I'm not recommending anyone do the sea sponge dapping method, but if you do. This is after cleaning up some. I hate working in latex cloves.

Other than the fact these things are so light they even feel like rocks now. 

One more step that took way longer than I ever guessed closer to being done.

When they are all done I'll put them back in the tank & get a shot all put together, before the curing thing begins.

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