Well, I don't really feel like this tank is ready for a journal but what the hell!
A bit about myself for those who care to know:
I have been in the hobby for 6 years now. I started as a fish keeper and then added a few plants at a time until I had a jungle style 29 that fascinated me. I ended going the MTS 10, 20, and 29 gallon route for a couple years and bred a ton of fish. Killies, livebearers, rams, apistos, rainbow (praecox and threadfins), plecos, shrimp ect. Nothing super exotic just fun breeding projects!
I ended up hitting some hard times a little while back. Had to break down the fish room (actually had to sell the house...) and give as much as I could to friends and family which was nice. I couldn't bring myself to give up my original 29 gallon so I put it in storage with a few inches of water and my last 10 red cherries. I actually overwintered it in there and all the shrimp made it. I was really amazed. I still have that same 29 running today with the same RCS still going strong. That tank and I have been through a lot together. I'm sure many of you can probably relate with some of your tanks
. I'll never get rid of the RCS colony that weathered that storm with me.
Times started to get better and I started to build things back up. Picked up another 29 to go under the OG, some tens for quarantine and grow out, a 75, a low boy, you get the idea (MTS)... At this point I was also keeping a bioactive terrarium for my 5 foot ball python in a 100G aquarium. A friend expressed interest in owning my ball python, so I took the opportunity to change things up, and parted ways with him. I kept the 100G aquarium, and decided to make it a fish tank.
Well, turned out it had a leak!!! Broke it down and resealed it myself. After all the effort I went through to do this, I wish I had just sold it and put the money into a new one. Resealing a tank that size is an absolute bear. Even after all that, I didn't fully trust that the seams would hold for long when full of 100G. So I decided to fill it partially and make a unique project that would challenge me in all new ways! That is the story of the paludarium
It has been running for about a year but have recently (quarantine stir crazy!) changed all the crucial parts: lighting, substrate, livestock water parameters, the whole right side of the scape, ect. It has been running this new set of flora and fauna for a couple weeks now so you are seeing this particular rendition in its infancy, hence me saying not sure its ready but what the hell.
In the last rendition I did passive CO2 diffusion but since the water height is so low, anything but the slowest growers require trimming and replanting at least weekly. I don't have the schedule for that so this rendition is low tech. I haven't decided yet if I will incorporate Flourish excel. I am also in the process of changing up my usual fert routine. You can check out my other thread if you're interested but right now the whole routine is up in the air so I won't address it here. I am running a single 165W COB LED box light (particular brand is phlizon but I think most are probably all the same). So far I love it. I have it mounted VERY high above the water level because without the CO2 I need to tone down the light. My favorite aspect of the light are the two dimmable channels, warm and cool.
In the past year of having this setup I have found that the terrestrial dirt is constantly leeching, getting mixed in, and in general, dumping organics into the water column. I figured since I am dealing with all this anyway I may as well benefit from it and try planting the aquatic plants in dirt. Several years ago I ran across some crypts planted in deli cups at my LFS. A local breeder had plumbed the deli cup, filled it with clay, and grown out the crypt in it. I couldn't resist buying it. I took the clay/rootball out of the deli cup to plant it, but held onto the cup this whole time. I pulled it out of my "random aquarium stuff" box and decided to dirt it and plant a dwarf tiger lily in it. I found this particular deli cup was just too big. It was 2.5 inches tall, so even when flush with the bottom glass, part of the lip would show through the substrate. I did some underwater surgery to remove the exposed portions of the cup. I liked the process well enough so I bought some smaller sizes to try out. I planted some baby crypts in a wide shallow dish, and a dwarf amazon sword runner in the smallest size. The worry of course is root compaction but I kind of want to see how long that takes and how much it affects the plants. I think the main benefit will be that you can move plants around or sell them without disturbing the root bed. I'm always adjusting my scapes and frequently pulling things out to sell and my plants suffer for it. I'm quite excited about this test! I will update this thread with how it is going. I can tell you that the dwarf lily is already growing really fast. Too early to tell with the crypts and sword.
The way I set up the pot was also experimental. I used sun dried clay from the yard and a small amount of sun dried top soil. I filled the bottom with clay hydroballs because I didn't want the clay to compact too much and create anaerobic pockets or rot. I only used a small amount of topsoil. I capped with the same white sand that is in the paludarium.
Next is filtration. I am big on over-filtering because I overstock and do less maintenance than most.
The land portion on the left side is a giant biological filter. In the back left corner there is a pump that pumps water up into the terrestrial stream water feature. You can see the stream in the pics and where it flows back into the water. The landmass if filled with lava rock and hydroballs. There are two intakes into this giant biofilter. On the front left side of the landmass there is a fairly large cave intended for apisto breeding (they are my fave fish to breed). On the back side against the glass (back right of landmass) there is a long shallow pleco breeding cave. Good luck ever getting a pleco out of there... Anyway, the ceiling of both is made of window screen. I put the intake on the ceiling for a reason. I wanted to limit the amount mulm and debris that made its way into the lava rock bed because cleaning will only happen like once a year during a full breakdown of the terrestrial portion. The easiest way to do this was with gravity and window-screen.
The right side is basically a hidden pile of equipment. I have a hang-on back sitting on two bricks keeping it above the water level. The intake of the hang-on back is buried in another pile of lava rock that acts as a prefilter. Inside the hang-on back there is coarse foam which houses the root system of a bed of wandering jew that is planted on the lid of the HOB inside a foam bowl like thing. The right side also houses the other equipment like the heater, airstone, powerhead (the powerhead pulls water through a foam housing for a little extra filtration), and the output of a Fluval 407 canister filter. The intake of the Fluval 407 is actually hooked up to a large under-gravel filter which spans the right side.
Calculating the number of times the 30-40 gallons of water are filtered per hour would be an insane task not to mention the amount of surface area that water is being pulled through. It is WELL
on the side of over-filtered but it keeps my fish happy and healthy even when I can't have a regular maintenance schedule.
Phew... Thats a lot of words. I am still learning the forums but hopefully all the pics end up making sense. I hope you enjoy the wacky, crazy, unique, mad scientist experiment that this tank is. This tank isn't for everyone that it for sure. It is for me though. It keeps my challenged and constantly learning.
Ill go ahead and tag some people from my other thread because I think it provides a lot of context for that discussion. Obviously the plants haven't grown in much at all yet, but I know what this ecosystem is capable of and I'm excited for others to see it too. @Greggz
Cheers, and thanks for reading!