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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Paludarium mechanics

I want to start up a paludarium in my 29gal but I'm a little confused about the land/water intermingling aspect of it. The plans I drew up called for two land sections that rise up out of the water but have small footprints to maximize swimming space. I have seen people that completely separate the land and the water with glass or plastic and then plant their terrestrial flora normally. How does the drainage work in this situation? It seems like there would be nowhere for the water to go, thus possibly rotting the roots of the plants above. Should the land/water barrier be permeable to allow continuous access to the water, or should they be separated and have the terrestrial plants watered separately. Also, do you have to actually water them? or will misting take care of that? If I fertilize the aquatic plants, can I just use that water on the terrestrial plants and avoid using a lot of soil-based fertilizers?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 08:37 PM
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I want to start up a paludarium in my 29gal but I'm a little confused about the land/water intermingling aspect of it. The plans I drew up called for two land sections that rise up out of the water but have small footprints to maximize swimming space. I have seen people that completely separate the land and the water with glass or plastic and then plant their terrestrial flora normally. How does the drainage work in this situation? It seems like there would be nowhere for the water to go, thus possibly rotting the roots of the plants above. Should the land/water barrier be permeable to allow continuous access to the water, or should they be separated and have the terrestrial plants watered separately. Also, do you have to actually water them? or will misting take care of that? If I fertilize the aquatic plants, can I just use that water on the terrestrial plants and avoid using a lot of soil-based fertilizers?
if you plan to section off the land and water portions completely you want to do it with sheets of something rigid and non permeable. i personally use black acrylic sheets in 1/4", but you can go thicker or thinner depending.

then, you would need a false bottom for drainage. basically you place eggcrate on PVC/ABS legs and then put a screen of some kind (fiberglass, weedguard etc) on top of that and then your substrate on the screen. this way, when you water your plants, the excess can drain down into the bottom and you can suck it out when it fills up. this will allow you to plant plants that require soil to grow. i would also recommend a background out of foam etc... so you can have vines going up and airplants on it. it'll help fill in the back of the tank.


separate is better because you don't want too much fertilizer leaking into your water and some plants will not tolerate fertilizer well (broms/tillys etc.). you will need to water your plants in addition to regular misting. if you put on a lid and keep humidity up you will need to water somewhat less, but not much.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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I'm still confused. How does the water drain from the false bottom?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 08:40 PM
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it won't drain out out of the tank completely, but it'll collect in the bottom so it won't waterlog your substrate. i would make the false bottom quite high, so you can have a large amount of water collecting before you need to suck it.

to suck it out you could install a pvc tube down through the substrate/eggcrate/false bottom and then when you want to empty it you just run your siphon tube/turkey baster etc... down into the reservoir and suck out the water.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Wouldn't it be easier to just have a drainage layer of large pebbles up to the height of the water level and then have a permeable membrane that would link the aquatic section and the submerged terrestrial section? That way you get good drainage downwards in the land without having to worry about water pooling up somewhere that you'll never get it out. It's just one less thing I have to worry about maintenance-wise.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-07-2011, 10:59 PM
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Wouldn't it be easier to just have a drainage layer of large pebbles up to the height of the water level and then have a permeable membrane that would link the aquatic section and the submerged terrestrial section? That way you get good drainage downwards in the land without having to worry about water pooling up somewhere that you'll never get it out. It's just one less thing I have to worry about maintenance-wise.

yes and no. if you build a false bottom with a drainage tube, you will be able to get the water out very easily. just stick something down into the reservoir and suck it out.

the first problem with a permeable layer is how will you clean it? detritus is going to accumulate there and you have no way to get it out.

second, if you fill up water all the way to the bottom of your substrate water my end up wicking up into your substrate and waterlogging it. it will kill your plants. you would still need to have a gap between the pebbles and your soil to prevent this and a screen to stop your substrate simply falling in through the pebbles. some of your substrate will probably fall through the mesh anyway, and cloud your water.

third, you want to keep your ferts separate. depending on what plants you end up getting, you don't want terrestrial ferts leaking into the water or vice versa. for example, exposure to strong fertilizer will kill some bromeliads and tillandsias outright. i doubt anything really bad would happen, but then again, do you want to take the chance?

anyway, either way will work, but you'll have to plan it out or you may end up running into problems without an easy fix later down the road.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2011, 03:31 AM
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here is a very ugly, paint drawing i did in 5 mins to try to graphically explain what I think vesper is talking about with separate areas. a 1 year old could draw this better I know...


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2011, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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yeah, I think I understand what you guys are going for. My problem was that I don't really want to have a pvc pipe sticking up through my land area, especially if I decide to keep some critters that could fall through there. Maybe if I just used marginal plants on the areas near the shoreline then a little bit of waterlogging in the soil wouldn't be a big deal. There aren't very many impermeable membranes in nature, so I'm assuming that there is a way to make it work using only drainage layers.

-John

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2011, 07:07 PM
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you could use a piece of wood to hide the siphon. i see what you are saying about the critters, there are probably ways to avoid them falling in the dirty water.

if you try using layers, I would start with quater sized river stones, them smaller gravel on top, then dupont weed guard on top of that (it is permeable but wont allow the dirt to fall down into the rocks), finally on top of weed guard dirt (specifically I would use Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix).

I would be very cautious with any terrestrial plant fertilizer as it could harm the critters in the water area.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2011, 09:46 PM
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Here is a simple illustration with standing water. Quick correction... between the dirt layer and hydroton use weedguard... between the hydroton and eggcrate use window screening.

If you're adding moving water you can build the uptake tube into your background and have it extend to below the water line on the dry land side. This will such the water through the gravel river bed which now acts as a UGF of sorts.

Then place the out put in the water side. Obviously a canister filter or inline water pump is the way to go here.

For forming the land/water junction (riparia section) you silicone the windowscreen to the eggcrate the use the great stuff foam along the edge to build up a "retaining wall" for the soil. You could alternately silicone larger river stones for the same purpose.

On the gradient of the river bed silicon larger river rock to make "steps" for the filler gravel to lay on.

check out my vivarium link below to see some pics of my viv where I used these principles.

I look forward to seeing your project develop!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 09:29 AM
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Hey, if you have any questions then visit this useful site: https://terrariumworld.co.uk/
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