75g Paludarium build log (56k)
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:22 PM   #1
vespers_
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75g Paludarium build log (56k)


Hello everyone!

so a little bit of background on how this all started. all my previous tanks have been small (<30g) as i have had to keep them in my bedroom, so a 75g is a huge step up!

This project just sort of came about by accident. It started when i was browsing a local fish forum and came across someone selling a 75g tank, stand, light fixture (marineland 2x48" t5ho), gravel and filter (fluval 304) for 100 dollars. the stand was rusty and the filter was dirty, and the fixture had no bulbs, but i snatched it up right away.

at the time i was building a 10g shrimp tank, but scrapped that idea and left it unfinished (but up and running) in favor of the new 75g.

so anyway, i played around with various ideas on what to do with the tank for a long time. i wanted to keep it simple and not need to run co2, so an iwagumi was not an option. my second thought was a native st Lawrence river biotope with round gobies and zebra mussels, but i also scrapped that idea due to the fact that there were just too many unknowns about how to care for a temperate/cold water tank. my third thought was a brackish mangrove type tank with archers, anableps and bumblebees. i was all set to start building that when reality came crashing down... i couldn't have a full 75g tank on a second story floor.

so i went back to the drawing board and stumbled across paludariums/vivariums and instantly fell in love. combining water and land in one tank to get the best of both worlds sounded awesome.

i did a bunch of planning and finally settled on this current build. i really wanted to have a large water area, but needed to keep the gallons down. so, this tank has room for 4.5 inches of water under the false bottom, which equals about 18 gallons of water (48"X18"X4.5"). i'm thinking the water portion will be a blackwater type setup and be unplanted, although i may decide to add plants later. i won't be using co2 either.

the stand needed a lot of work. i had to strip all the old paint and rust and then repainted in a nice flat black. no pics of the stand as it was when i bought it.



this is the false bottom. i will cover the front panels in foam and silicone and coco coir. we'll see how it holds up underwater. if it fails, i have black acrylic i can replace it with. i'm hoping this will look more natural than a black panel.



All tie wrapped:



at first i was going to make a dripwall, but decided against it and opted for terraced pools instead. they are curing now. i'll start foaming tomorrow.



roughly what they will look like in the tank:



i'll update this thread as i go. i'm probably going to start foaming tomorrow and should ahve some more pics up soon .
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:29 PM   #2
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I can't wait to see this progress! Very clever!
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driftwoodhunter View Post
I can't wait to see this progress! Very clever!
thanks!
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:14 AM   #4
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Are you going to make a live wall? That would be cool.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:23 AM   #5
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Are you going to make a live wall? That would be cool.
i'm thinking i'll cover it with stuff like ficus pumila and pennywort. i wasn't sure how the coco coir on the background would hold up with water constantly running down it which is why i didn't make a drip wall. i'll try riccia and java moss too. not sure how well it'll do, so we'll find out.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:03 AM   #6
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Subscribed....
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:58 AM   #7
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Looks like you're starting to get moving on this project.

The only advice I have is that I would drill some holes in the PVC legs and zip-tie them to the diffuser just to keep things from shifting during construction.

How are you cutting the diffuser? I used tin snips, but find that pieces of plastic sometimes fly all the way into adjacent rooms. (I actually wear safety glasses when I cut it.)
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkfood View Post
Looks like you're starting to get moving on this project.

The only advice I have is that I would drill some holes in the PVC legs and zip-tie them to the diffuser just to keep things from shifting during construction.

How are you cutting the diffuser? I used tin snips, but find that pieces of plastic sometimes fly all the way into adjacent rooms. (I actually wear safety glasses when I cut it.)
i've been cutting it with needle nosed pliers, which works really well but does fling bits around pretty far .

are you referring to the pvc legs under the main false bottom? i haven't attached them yet because i need to remove the whole thing to work on it outside the tank and having the legs on would make it hard to work with. when i finish it, i'll just silicone the legs in to the bottom of the tank and then place the false bottom onto them with more silicone.

i'm wishing i had some doors to open like they have on exo-terras... foaming the background is going to be a nightmare...
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:46 PM   #9
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This is impressive already!
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:29 AM   #10
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so quick update. i started foaming tonight. this is just really rough, and i'll probably end up carving it out and adding more sticks into it.









i can't really build the pools until i have the pump here so i can work out how fast the flow will be. not sure when i'll have time to go out and get it though. hopefully soon enough
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:54 AM   #11
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Very cool, can't wait for more updates!
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Very cool, can't wait for more updates!
thanks!
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:25 PM   #13
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I'm not really sure how the great stuff will handle being submerged long term. If you seal it with silicone that can only help though. The real problem might be keeping it submerged, the stuff is going to want to float. However, if you add enough substrate/rock/driftwood atop it, you should be able to hold it down.

Are you planning on using great stuff for the background too? If so, I would recommend spreading a layer of silicone over it first. A rougher surface will help it stick.

And don't make the mistake I did... Leave the false bottom in when you create the background, or at least, be sure you will be able to fit it back into place after it is done. I didn't think of this and it was a PITA to torque the false in there after the great stuff cured. Luckily, diffuser is a little more flexible than one might think.

This is looking good though. I cant wait to see the finished product. Any thoughts on inhabitants?
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dubvstudent View Post
I'm not really sure how the great stuff will handle being submerged long term. If you seal it with silicone that can only help though. The real problem might be keeping it submerged, the stuff is going to want to float. However, if you add enough substrate/rock/driftwood atop it, you should be able to hold it down.

Are you planning on using great stuff for the background too? If so, I would recommend spreading a layer of silicone over it first. A rougher surface will help it stick.

And don't make the mistake I did... Leave the false bottom in when you create the background, or at least, be sure you will be able to fit it back into place after it is done. I didn't think of this and it was a PITA to torque the false in there after the great stuff cured. Luckily, diffuser is a little more flexible than one might think.

This is looking good though. I cant wait to see the finished product. Any thoughts on inhabitants?
i'm hoping the foam will hold up under water but i'm also going to paint the foam black before i silicone it so that if by any chance the coco coir does come off you won't be able to see the ugly foam. i would rather just use black silicone, but unfortunately i can't find any that would be safe in the aquarium...

i'm thinking i'll just weight it down with rocks or something to make sure it doesn't float, and it'll be all siliconed into place too, so it shouldn't move around too much.

i'm going to make the background out of foam too and cover the back glass with silicone first, but i'm not sure how well it'll work. the tank doesn't have doors like an exo-terra so accessing it is going to be a real pain... and i don't think the foam gun will even fit in... lol i really don't want to use the straws... they just don't work.

lol that's funny about the background! i think i'll get the false bottom in place, then do the background and then put the pools in last. i think that'll be the easiest way to do it, so most of it is built outside the tank and then just placed inside it.

as far as inhabitants... i'm not sure... i think for the first little while i won't keep anything and focus on getting my plants to grow. at some point i will get shrimp (probably amanos) and i might decide to add frogs (either darts or tree frogs) later on, but i'm not loving the bugs requirement and the fact that i can't leave them to go on holidays without getting someone to come in and feed them.

i just spent a long time carving the foam and my back hurts a lot, but i think it'll look good when i finally finish i also picked up a little pump ( hydor pico 400) and when i find a tube to fit it, i'll figure out the flow for the pools and then foam them all in.





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Old 09-21-2011, 09:01 PM   #15
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Epoxy the foam to seal it. You can add sand on the epoxy while it is drying to give it a more natural look.
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