So after researching, planning and researching some more, I decided to build a tank for geosesarma crabs. I did not want to simply set up a tank, put some gravel in and have a little water area since I was looking for a long-term build project with a significant dry and wet area. The plan ultimately was to build a vivarium/paludarium (I'm still not sure on the terminology) where I could provide a significant water and land portion as well as have enough upwards room to grow epiphytes that enjoy the high humidity like fern, orchids, mosses, bromeliads, etc.
Many vivaria are designed with a very shallow water level (1-2 inches) and a significant land and vertical area as most of these are for frogs. I definitely took many build ideas from the "frog people" and modified them to fit my design.
The tank is a 37 gallon (general 20L footprint, but 22" high). There is a 6" deep water feature and the substrate will be something like 4-5" deep above the water. I read the crabs are tunnelers so I want to provide them with enough depth to be able to thoroughly dig their burrows to provide them with semi-natural conditions. The substrate is elevated off the water via an egg-crate false bottom so that it does not stay water-logged. There is a part that will extend into the water and will be able to grow marginal plants (like emersed crypts, thank you Gordon). I'll have a layer of hydroton in the bottom to be able to support springtails, isopods, and other microfauna which will act as janitors and live food. I heard these vivaria tend to form mold (I guess there is an arch-nemesis or each enclosure: aquariums have algae, vivaria have mold, etc.) so I want to have janitors to clean that up.
There is a water fall to return oxygenated water back into the water and to add a little humidity via evaporation. Also, it looks nice
. The whole waterfall is driven via a Fluval 405 which is ample filtration and gph. Actually, it is more gph than I need and I might downgrade sometime in the future, but currently it works. I covered the outlets with mesh so the flow will be decreased and to direct the water to run along the background, instead of just falling and splashing everywhere.
I am planning on keeping the temperature of the tank around 24-26C, so I want to have the water around 26-27 degrees to allow for evaporation. Ultimately, I want to add an inline heater, but currently a submersed heater hidden in some corner will have to do. I am confident that I'll be able to hide it.
Lighting wise, I decided to go with a 30" HO T5 fixture to be able to grow high-light demanding plants like bromeliads. The light extends pretty well to the bottom, and I think I'll be able to grow low-light plants in the water.
I'll add a detailed build log in the next posts, since the pictures are currently uploading to photo bucket. Also, I just wanted to note, that now looking back, a ready-made background that you can buy in a store are a lot cheaper than home-made. Only, you can't customize them, and you don't get the satisfaction of building it yourself
I would like to thank several people (on TPT or not) who have been great in extending information and helping me plan this:
My lovely fiancee for her help and understanding (especially of the mess), Gordon Richards, Rachel O'Leary, Bill Brissette, Bill (Fishes_in_Philly), rozdaboff, John from NEFG, Matt and Doug on dendroboard. Also, Jaime and *** for encouragement and thoughful comments. I am sorry if I forgot you.