Hello everyone, today I am going to share my journal for my paludarium build. I am fairly new to the hobby and really didn't know where to start so I went to my LFS and I bought a 55 gallon long I bought some Cichlids and some stuff to decorate which as you all know is very pricey at LFS.
I then started to go online and see all the different setups out there and I got this itch to start doing different tanks I wanted a planted tank and seeing as Cichlids tend to uproot plants I had to get a new tank...Craigslist here I come. As I browsed all the listings most people were over priced Then I found one at an auction $10 a steal for another 55 long. The planted tank went through some transformations and I finally found how I wanted it, It didn't stop there as most of you know once you start in the hobby you usually can't stop. I wanted to find something new that I have never seen before and I found a Paludarium...Remember I am new and older so I didn't know these existed. As I looked through all the different styles of paludariums I found myself really wanting to build this. I spent many days and nights trying to come up with a nice design and found myself overthinking the whole idea, mind you in my head I was thinking grand ideas but then putting it to paper and actually doing it was more complex and pricey. I decided that my first should be simple and learn from the mistakes before I start making a grand paludarium that would take up my whole living room.. Girlfriend was not going to have that.. so I started out by thinking what size tank and what do I want the land mass made out of, do I use natural stuff like rocks and branches or go with a synthetic style and use styrofoam and just cement it and color it. I went to Petco they had $1/gallon sale and I got the 40 gallon breeder, now that I have it I should have went bigger, but for now it would do. I actually started out with the styrofoam. I went to my Home Depot and got two large sheets of styrofoam insulation about $5 per sheet not bad.
Now was the task of how I wanted to cut it and the best way to cut it. I started out with using a knife and torch and started cutting out the design. It started out looking great I got all the styrofoam cut and I started to piece it together. I siliconed with Ge II 100% silicone and made sure everything fit.. And it fits so now I wanted to shape the land...but how..
I thought a waterfall maybe a stream so I went with a spring I built up the styrofoam to look like a mountain side with a cave in it that I could have the water running out and into a brook that went into the main water portion.
I siliconed it in and it started to look very promising so now I needed to cement the foam to seal it. I used a cement paste that's used for patching which actually was a bad idea I will go into that later.
I put some rocks in it to add some depth and realness to it,
its starting to come to fruition and look really nice. At this point I wanted to do a water test to see how it would stand up and see how the water would flow.
A trickle not very pleasing but it worked that's the main thing right now. Now on to painting it.
I got some paint so I could make it look more realistic and after I painted it I realized that I would have to seal that in as well, which means more silicone.
I started to silicone it all over I noticed it would clump up and wouldn't be completely clear but i figured I’m going to have substrate there so it shouldn't matter.
I got some cork wood from my local hobby store to use as the side
and just used another piece of foam for the background.
I took the torch and started to make the background look like a cliff side with some crevices painted it and siliconed that.
So now I have my land mass, sides and background I was trying to figure out how to get the water to come out of the spring I ran rubber tubing from the top of the spring all the way underneath the foam land and figured I'll just put a small pump in there, that looked awful so I figured I would just run intake to it from my filter. but first I wanted to get the whole thing secured to the bottom so I siliconed it in and waited about 4 days before I started to put my substrate in.
I used Floramax as my bottom layer and then put black diamond blasting sand which is where it is at right now, I think i'm going to put small pebbles over that but I’m getting ahead of myself I wanted to first find out what plants I wanted. I still have not yet determined what plants to use, any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
First I wanted to get my light system going this is something I was toying with since the beginning do I buy lights, what's the best light so on and so on I started to find DIY ideas for lights and came across an idea to use LED hang down lights so I went on Ebay and found some cheap 9w and then I found some GU10 sockets to fit the lights and wired it all up to see if I could get it to work and with no hesitation it is illuminating...Nice I might have a knack for electrician work but that's for another forum.
I wanted to make a canopy for it I thought about making a wood one then I was looking at the styrofoam it came to me I could piece it all together paint it and add the lights into it.
Once I got the holes cut into place where I wanted my lights
I siliconed the sockets in then I put the lights in and tested it before I siliconed all the wires into place in the grooves that I cut out.
We have light I put two blue LED’s in the middle and 8 soft white all around them. After I made this i decided to put some red LED strip lights in around the edge.
Now that I know it works its time to silicone them all into place and start putting together the rest of the canopy.
I have plenty of light so then it was time to paint it. (as you can see in the picture I had the pump in the tank for the spring and the tube and that pump just looked so ugly and would be really hard to hide)
Now that it's painted it's time to start working on the tank again. I put some plants from my planted tank into it just to try and see what would look best. I put some moss on the background and around the cork wood I also bought some creeping Jenny to help fill out the land portion and I put a piece of moneywort in and Anubias barteri var. nana.
I have been filtering out the water every three days in case there happens to be anything that was leaching out.
I wanted to make my own canister filter but that turned out to be a failure so I'm now waiting to get more money to just buy one. Thats where Im at right now check back for when I get to put fish in it and my terrestrial creatures. I couldn't put very many pictures so you can check out the videos that I put on Youtube that shows all my tanks and the build process at