70gal Thailand-themed Paludarium Build
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:39 AM   #1
Calivivarium1
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70gal Thailand-themed Paludarium Build


So I recently decided to jump back into this hobby after about two years of keeping only a paludarium with snails (how boring, I know). I'm currently working on building a (roughly) 70gal paludarium (50"L x 24" H x 13" W) with the theme being a stream bank from Thailand.

Equipment: Cobalt E-X-T canister filter, Hydor in-line heater, two 48" Current Satellite+ LED fixtures, a powerhead or two, and possibly an ultrasonic mister.

Flora: TBD at this point, but it will include emersed and immersed plants.

Fauna: Still in flux, but likely dwarf chain loaches Ambastaia sidthimunki and pooooossibly Tiger Barbs Systomus tetrazona (we'll see how they get along with plants..). The original plan was for Pearl Danios Danio albolineatus but the wife thought they were "ugly." Frankly, I am glad she didn't like them because I think I can find something more appealing to me as well. As the tank matures I would like to maybe add some kind of filter feeding shrimp but I am not sure if the shrimp would be okay with the loaches and possibly Tiger Barbs.

So far I have: Refinished the stand, re-siliconed the braces for the tank, siliconed the rear with black silicone in preparation for the 3D background, and I have picked up some rocks/wood for the background. Tomorrow I plan to use Touch n Foam for the background.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:49 AM   #2
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Good to see ya on TPT! Can't wait to see this progress. I think you'll really enjoy the sids...absolutely love them.
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #3
Calivivarium1
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Thanks, jpappy. Here's a quick update:

Almost finished my background, at least at the Touch n Foam stage. It took about 3 1/3 cans of Touch n Foam, but it really needed four full cans. The reason I didn't use the full last can was it malfunctioned and poured out the foam very, very slowly and with almost no air in it. I'm going to try and run by the store tomorrow to pick up another can... I was there today but figured I had enough and didn't want to spend another $8. Oh well.

I wound up using about 1 1/3 tubes of silicone for the back. I would have used more but I left part of it silicone free for some Riparium Hanging Baskets from Riparium Supply. I'll probably just paint the glass behind that part black.

I decided I would go with sort of a waterfall on the left side of the tank. I filled up part of the space that the Touch N Foam would have to fill with two empty food grade plastic containers. The larger one is on top and I left the cap open. I will be filling that with gravel and having my pump return dump out there. I will then have some plant(s) growing up out of that. One of the pics shows the mouth of the container on the bottom right corner. I added some Malaysian driftwood to the background as well as two (hopefully) well placed rocks.

I'm hoping to have the Touch N Foam siliconed-over on Friday. I will be trying to use sand in a few places, the rest will be a mix of just black and Eco Earth.

Most of my equipment came in. One of the Current Satellite Freshwater LED PLus fixtures had a broken RF antennae. I was impressed with Current's warranty service: I submitted a warranty claim and within a few hours I had a reply with their game plan. Seems like they are going to take care of everything so fortunately its not too big a deal. I played around with the working light and I can't wait to get it set up on the tank! I'm thinking of getting a Pro ramp timer when they come out.

I worked on the tank on a table on my back porch tonight, so I apologize that the photos were not only affected by my terrible photography skills but also a lack of light sources and the fact that I was trying to stand on a chair over the tank and take a picture out in front of my (I'm too short to stand over the tank and take a nearly full length pic while its on my work table!)
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:18 AM   #4
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Progress so far: Current was good to their word and shipped me a brand new unit within one week from their receipt of my email about the RF antenna being broken. The new fixture seems to be working just as it should. I have the RF antennae on opposite ends of the so I can control the LED's separately.

I am a little disappointed with the Cobalt E-X-T filter pump, it is not as powerful as I hoped. Fortunately for me the filter was going to be overkill anyway on my tank, so between the filter and my plants I shouldn't have any issues keeping my water nice and clean.

After waiting 48-72hrs for my Touch N Foam to dry I silliconed around the edges (I had already siliconed the back of the tank) of the foam. I initially began to silicone the whole background but decided against it due to the numerous nooks/crannies which would make it nearly impossible to create a 100% sealed background anyway. I stuck some sand into the silicone on parts of the background and pressed Eco Earth into the silicone above the water line. Some of the Eco Earth was slightly damp even after drying in the hot sun and didn't stick as well as I wanted it to. I may go over a few spots with clear silicone/pressed Eco Earth again. I also painted the right side of the background black so the plants in my Riparium Supply planters will have a nice black background to highlight their colors.

I didn't quit sync everything right and I don't have the last bit of hardware (including some goodies from Hydrophyte!) and some plants (from him as well as a few other sources) are still MIA. So far I am happy with the look I have, if the plants start to take off I think I will be somewhat challenged in keeping the tank from looking artificially manicured and yet at the same time not looking like a wild jungle.
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:20 AM   #5
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Some pics (water is still a little cloudy):
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Old 09-28-2013, 07:35 AM   #6
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Here are some new pics. I was borrowing a Canon something or another; I wasn't super familiar with it but it seemed to take decent shots. Excuse the bacteria bloom in the water... I didn't realize how many streaks were on my glass either until I took a picture. Tank looks better in person, lol! The camera didn't have a big zoom lens, but I think you can see the new growth on my moss pretty well in it. I am quite impressed with the LED lights, plant growth is good, tank looks good (I usually just leave it on the "yellow" or plant grow setting unless I am actively watching the tank), and the lights give off only a little heat.

Most of the rest of my plants should be here this week. I am not 100% yet on what plants will be growing on the background though... I have a pretty sweet vine in my other paludarium, but I'm not sure this tank will be humid enough. Maybe I'll take a few cuttings and just see what happens. The only livestock right now is a school of a dozen Odessa barbs. They were labeled as both Ticto and Odessa barbs; I'll do some more research on where exactly these come from if Odessa and Ticto barbs are in fact different species.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:43 PM   #7
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I like the background you have created.
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:30 PM   #8
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That looks great - can't wait to see it finished.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:16 PM   #9
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Looking great!

http://www.selectaquatics.com/odessa_barbs.htm
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:40 AM   #10
Calivivarium1
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Thanks, and thanks for the link re:barbs. These are definitely Pethia padamya. It is frustrating trying to pin down where these guys come from; apparently the ones actually observed for their scientific classification are from Myanmar. However, the scientific literature (that I have found) doesn't say anything more about whether or not they are present elsewhere in Myanmar/Southeast Asia. Several collector sights/fish data sights claim they are found from Nepal to Thailand (Dr Foster and Smith says they are from Sumatra, maybe that's the fish farm location?).

I really need to figure out what plants I am going to grow on the background, I want to have this thing fully planted within two weeks.

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Old 11-21-2013, 07:19 AM   #11
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It's been a little while since I posted any updates... tank is doing fantastic. My only complaint is that the diatom bloom is in full swing! I am hoping it dies off on its own here, but I'm not going to hold my breathe on that one. I may snag a few SAE's (they are from the CHao Praya anyway).. The tank currently houses my 12 Odessa Barbs and 7 Dwarf Chain Loaches. I hope to add the last three loaches next week. I am still thinking hard about a bamboo shrimp (filter feeder), but I will wait a few more months before adding one.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:54 PM   #12
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this looks fantastic, what did you do with the emerged part of the background to get it look so natural/sandy? the odessa barbs look outstanding aswell. very nice.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:07 AM   #13
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Jam,
Thanks for the compliments. Though the Odessa's were sold as possibly Ticto barbs (which actually come from the Chao Praya as opposed to a nearby stretch of Myanmar), I am absolutely in love with them. They were eating out of my hand by the second week. They are great dither fish and my loaches frequently shoal with them.

The majority of the background is Eco Earth (coconut fiber) pressed into silicone. The small portion around the "waterfall" (which didn't quite turn out how I wanted it to, I wanted it to be more of a pool up top) is just sand sprinkled over the silicone. I think I screwed up with some of the Eco Earth in two ways: 1) not all of it was 100% dry and 2) I didn't press some portions of it hard enough into the silicone. I thought about using Gorilla Glue but didn't know how it would handle the water (the parts that hit the water, anyway).
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:30 AM   #14
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I've read gorilla glue is fine underwater, never used it myself though. I can't see anything wrong with the Eco earth parts from the pictures, but there is never anything wrong with a critical eye.
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:36 PM   #15
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Thanks, I may try Gorilla Glue next time. I'm loving the Riparium Supply planters; I now want to to do a tank just using those.
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