Building a 10g paludarium, need plant help
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:26 AM   #1
sheepsour
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Building a 10g paludarium, need plant help


Projected animal residents:

Land: Dart frog(s?), vampire crabs?, tropical isopods, ???

Water: Sparkling gouramis, scarlet badis, honey gourami?, shrimp, ???


I'm in the process of building a 10 gallon (20"x10"x12") paludarium and I'm not sure what plants I should put in it. I've had terrariums, but never very wet ones. This will be tropical temperature, fairly high humidity, and with a sponge filter in the water portion.

What I wanted to do was; make a shelf "bowl" to hold the substrate for the land portion, with a screen bottom, BUT have the shelf dip into the water an inch or two, so the water comes in through the screen and the bottom of the "bowl" is constantly wet. I was intending to plant bog type plants. The main problem is, I will have around 5 inches of above-ground space to work with and everything but moss seems to get so tall. I was going to have a "rock" area with a couple air plants on it, but I'm not sure what would be best for the soil area that won't either drown or overtake the tank.

Larger-than-moss plants I am considering for the land portion are polka dot plants and dwarf anubias. I'm not sure what else, or if those are even a good idea. The main problem is I don't want something that will quickly get too big for the tank, as it will have a lid.

Also, what sort of substrate should I use for the land portion? I was thinking of layering rocks and then an orchid bark/peat moss/coco fiber mix on top? I want something that the plants will grow in, and the bugs (and potentially crabs?) will be able burrow in.

As for the water portion, one of the main reasons for the start of this tank was to have plants that show different forms in and out of the water. Are there any plants like this besides water sprite that would grow in this type of paludarium and stay under 1 foot vertically? I have a fairly good idea of what water plants I want, but could always use suggestions from more experienced people.

As a final note, this is a rather ambitious project for me. I will be adding fauna very slowly, after the plants are established. I've never owned frogs before, and only a few fish. Most of my terrarium experience is with "bugs" (scorpions, spiders, land snails, various insects). I hope you will all be understanding!







tl;dr need short terrestrial plants that like wet feet please help
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:39 AM   #2
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I am still learning the plants that fit best in a terrarium so I'm not much help there, however I can offer some advise on the crabs, if you decide to go that way for critters.
As far as the crabs go - some like to burrow. I have red chilie crabs that burrow. In my land portion I just have a potting soil mix (minus the vermiculite/perlite). The crabs will dig as far as you let them, and in some cases without a trace. (I pulled my tank apart a couple of months ago as I thought that my crabs escaped. I left the land mass sitting on a desk thinking that nothing was in it. The next morning when I went into my room I found a crab crawling across the floor. lol
Crabs do need a mix of water and land. If you have enough water some small fish are a nice addition. The crabs shouldn't bother them.
I have also noticed that the crabs will munch on most plants.
Good luck. Post some pictures when you can of what you've set up.
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:36 AM   #3
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I almost feel like a hypocrite for saying this (my first paludarium was a 10-gallon, with a bunch of lava rocks siliconed all over the place), but I really think you should consider getting a bigger tank.

a 10 gallon isn't a very good beginner tank, and even less so if someone is looking to do a riparium/paludarium set up. For the typical set up, you just up and 1/2 your available volume by setting it up as a paludarium. On top of that, you can shave another 25-30% off of the remaining volume due to backdrop/hardscape and what not.

Granted, the terrestrial plants drawing nutrients from the water column will cover a lot of the filtration you need, but there is still a minimum space requirement necessary for a lot of critters.

I'd strongly urge you to at least use a 29 gallon, they are still relatively inexpensive, and will offer a lot more room both for scaping and for the inhabitant's comfort.

Anyways, aside from that...
I tend to like creeping ficus, but it can really grow, and is probably better in larger tanks. something like selaginella (sp?) or baby's tears can do well in a moist substrate, but I don't have much experience using either one in paludariums. most aquatic mosses will also grow over exposed rocks/wood/whatever if they can keep their feet damp. this is probably your best option for that sized set-up. Almost anything else will require near religious trimming , or it probably won't work at that scale.

Also, within something the size of a 10-gallon, I wouldn't worry too much about your choice of substrate, likely everything will draw it's nutrients straight from the water-column. probably anything relatively inert, and somewhat porous will work well (lava rock, pumice, flourite, kitty litter, safe-t-sorb, oil-dry, etc.) anything that works well for hydroponics will likely work for this. you more or less just want to give the plant something to support it's root structure.

If you stick to smaller critters, it may work, but I'd be hesitant to put much anything bigger then a typical feeder guppy in it.
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Old 10-28-2012, 05:08 AM   #4
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Polka dot plants fair poorly in most indoor setups in my experience, even in terrariums (although outside in the shade I have had them go from a little seedling up to two feet around in just a few months, and even bloom) That brings up another problem - if they do live, they will get big and grow quickly.

Many small vining plants would do well. Creeping fig has small leaves but does grow long so would need periodic pruning. A pothos or philodendron could be trained around the tank or kept pruned small. Fittionias stay short and if one were to get over 5 inches, just cut it back close to the base and it will recover. Small ferns take a while to grow and could be used for at least a year before outgrowing their suroundings.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:19 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the feedback!

I didn't even think of Fittonia. I have a fairly large one as a houseplant, I guess I forgot they come in small too.

I am aware of the size constraints but I think I can make it work. All of the fish on my "maybe" list are under two inches and are happy in pairs or small groups.

Do you think lava rock would be too abrasive for burrowing animals? What about flourite?
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:06 PM   #6
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there are many plants you can use that will stay small. peperomia, dwarf philodendron, artillery fern, the list goes on and on. find a local garden center who carries terrarium plants. most are dwarf varieties that stay small. you can even use some aquatics if you like. glosso, staurogyne repens, some crypts, will work in a bog type set up. you won't need your soil below the water line to keep it wet, it will absorb water naturally if it is just touching the water surface. as far as substrate goes, i use an organic soil mix designed for hydroponics, covered in a layer of cocofiber. all my plants are nice and healthy.
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:00 PM   #7
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Be very carefull not to overstock =[
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:57 PM   #8
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WOW OKAY so a whole lot of Life happened and put this project on hold but it's finally coming along. So far it's sculpted and has the base coat of paint on. Here's a 'top' view


and a cave that may or may not become a waterfall.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:01 PM   #9
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This is far, far too small for dart frogs. They are specialized, and do not appreciate being mixed. A pdf would last about five minutes with a crab. You need at least 10 gallons of usable space per frog, imo (though I recommend more if you want it happy). The are poor swimmers. In a 10g paludarium, you would need to have at least 15 times the amount of usable space. Also, do you have experience culturing fruit flies?

Furthermore, leaf litter is critical for darts. I suspect that you have not done proper research on this... This is a very short list of reasons why it would not work, if you would like some more let me know. I encourage you to get into darts, but PLEASE do your research first before caring for a exotic animal.
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Old 02-04-2013, 12:25 AM   #10
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Thank you for your input! Would you mind giving me a link to the sources you use? All the research I have done says a single D. auratus would be fine in the floorspace that is provided in my setup. I don't know yet whether I'll be getting the crabs instead of a frog, or putting them together, but I know people do keep them together. I think maybe you don't know what a vampire crab is?

If you'll take a moment to read my initial post, I did say that while I have not had a frog, I have had exotic animals such as spiders and scorpions. I have plenty of experience raising live food, including fruit flies.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:09 AM   #11
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I would definitely look into the baby's tears, I've had good luck with them in the past. I would also look into some of the ferns.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheepsour View Post
Thank you for your input! Would you mind giving me a link to the sources you use? All the research I have done says a single D. auratus would be fine in the floorspace that is provided in my setup. I don't know yet whether I'll be getting the crabs instead of a frog, or putting them together, but I know people do keep them together. I think maybe you don't know what a vampire crab is?

If you'll take a moment to read my initial post, I did say that while I have not had a frog, I have had exotic animals such as spiders and scorpions. I have plenty of experience raising live food, including fruit flies.
From my understanding only the "root" and waterfall would be terrestrial? That is hardly enough floorspace for a dart. Also, darts do not benefit at all from water. They can drown because they do not understand that they cannot swim through glass. However, if I am mistaken, hypothetically it could work. You need at least 10 gallons per frog of usable space, or else you will never see your frog and it will be stressed.

As for the crabs, yes I know what they are, but I have heard horror stories about the frogs getting stressed to death/forced to drown in similar setups. Better use them then fiddler crabs, though .

But yes, I realize that I came off as a bit rude, and I apologize for that. I just want to make sure that the animals are happy.
And though you may know how to culture fruit flies, are you willing to get REALLY good at it? One dart can eat far more in a day then several thousand slings can in a week in that setup, as many flies would drown in the water feature.

About the plant suggestion, I would stay away from ferns, as dwarf in ferns is relative, as if ferns are happy, they can outgrow many background plants (especially in a 10 gallon). There are some that would work, however.

Also, for a ten gallon tiny tears > baby tears. Gives a better sense of scale.

Hope it helps.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:49 AM   #13
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Also, I second artillery fern (not actually a fern). It grows like mad via its seeds, which it sprays everywhere, but grows great when wet. It would look interesting growing on the waterfall.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:46 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=Open_Cages;2438258] are you willing to get REALLY good at it? One dart can eat far more in a day then several thousand slings can in a week in that setup, as many flies would drown in the water feature.

/QUOTE]
i'm just curious, i've been culturing fruit flies for about a decade now, but how do i know when i am REALLY good at it?

and when i feed my frogs in their palus, i rarley have any drownings. and any that do, get eaten by the aquatic dwellers.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Open_Cages View Post
They can drown because they do not understand that they cannot swim through glass.
i would LOVE to know the source of this info (dendroboard i presume?) in fact, before i built my first paludarium for frogs many years ago, i could not find 1 case of a dart drowning. to this day, i still have yet to read one FACTUAL account of a frog drowning. oh, everyone has "heard" of it happening, but there's no proof. i have actually seen, with my own two eyes, Tincs not only jump in the water, but swim under water the length of their tank. i have seen my Mantellas do this as well. in my opinion, it's statements and thought processes like this that actually hold the dart hobby back, not allow it to progress.

my apologies if i offended anyone, i will climb down from my soap box now.
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