Turning lemons into lemonade (potential 360g paludarium build) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-27-2010, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Turning lemons into lemonade (potential 360g paludarium build)

Hello all,

For reasons that I'm too heartbroken to discuss, I'm taking down my 360g marine reef aquarium. Suffice to say, it has a structural flaw and I don't trust it as an aquarium any more.

That said, it's still intact and structurally sound, but I'm not comfortable keeping it full to the brim with water - so I'm entertaining other uses. My first thought is to transform it into a vivarium or paludarium. So, I'm doing some research - firstly to verify that this is a reasonable concept, and secondly to learn HOW to do it, what I can keep, and so on!

The tank is 6' long x 4' wide x 2' tall. It's built in to a wall such that the "font" side is fully visible, and only portions of one end and the back side are revealed. The other "end" is against an adjacent wall. I have plumbing and electrical run to the tank from it's life as a reef aquarium, so the "support" systems are all there. I have equipment to provide for heating, ventilation, filtration, and so on. My plan is to create a divider wall, maybe 10 - 12" tall, across the tank, such that half of it can be a shallow water feature (in the range of 80 - 100 gallons, most likely) and the other half can be dry land. I would like to heavily plant both sides, and "scape" it with rock, soil, driftwood, and so on to look like a natural jungle river bank.

That's about the extent of my plan at this point. I've kept marine aquariums for about 18 years, and have had an occasional freshwater tank, including a few "high tech" planted tanks. So I think I have the basics of the hobby down, but this is definitely new ground for me, so I have lots of questions:

1) Is this even reasonable?
2) Good sources for info on the plants for the "dry" side of things? i.e. species of plants to use, care info, and so on?
3) Good sources for info on the potential animal life on the "dry" side? Frogs? Other amphibians? This is totally new ground for me. I've done some research on dendros and it looks achievable, but very, very little of the info I've found has been about paludariums, and none of it has been about setups on this scale. It would seem a shame to put a bunch of time and effort into a 1/2" long dart frog that I never see because it's so tiny compared to the size of the tank. What species would be appropriate in a tank this large, while still having reasonable care requirements?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, links, or advice.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-27-2010, 06:00 PM
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Sounds like a good start! I've always wanted to set up a huge vivarium like this .

1). Yes, it's definitely doable. A little bit of silicone and you should be able to make a pretty tight seal to keep the wet side wet, and the dry side dry.

2). Any specific kinds of plants you're looking to use? If you're going to keep it on the humid side, there are lots of bromeliads you could use. Pilea, various orchids, ferns, mosses, and gesneriads are all good options too. There are lots of good websites out there, but the best teacher is personal experience.

3). PDFs are great viv frogs, but from what I understand they aren't great swimmers, so you'd need to give them a way to get out of the water if they fall in. Tree frogs are a good choice too, but since they're nocturnal you won't see them much. Vampire crabs or others from the Geosesarma genus are good choices too.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-28-2010, 09:25 AM
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I know very little about paludariums, although I have done some research on the subject because I have a cracked 90 gallon that could be something spectacular with some work. But what I would like to say is...thank you for typing "suffice to say" in your second sentence. It is really nice to see that phrase used correctly, instead of "suffice IT to say". Ack.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-28-2010, 02:56 PM
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Here's another site to check out for acceptable plants.

Another forum thread to check out. This guy had a huge tank also.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-28-2010, 04:19 PM
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This one is one of my favorites, it's also huge and right here on this forum too:


I think one of your big challenges will be keeping humidity out of the walls.

Of course, you may have already overcome that challenge with it set up as a reef tank?

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-09-2010, 01:21 PM
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Your tank's dimensions are highly suitable for your intended plan. However, expect to put a lot of time into this project. Sorry, I can't advise you about plants since I am not that knowledgeable so rather leave that to the other members.

As far as making a tight seal to avoid leaks, this can be done rather easily. Silicone used for aquariums with a thick piece of glass cut to desired size would work well. It should be close to 1/2 inch thick for your size tank. I recommend running the silicone along three edges, bottom and two sides. You might want to take a look at my Tequariums since those were specifically designed for seperating land and water completely. The drawback would be the visible dividng line of the glass unless it is divided from one side to the other (water front and land back). There is a way around that by running on a diangnal from front corner to the back corner, but your tank is so big that the side edges of the glass should be sloped for a tighter fit. The best idea I can offer is to form an "L" shape with 2 pieces of glass from the side that is covered by the wall to the back portion that is not revealed.

I saw something on aquariumadvice.com regrading dart frogs. There is a member that made a terrarium or something with a a dart frog in it that really impressed me.
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