Custom paludarium build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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Custom paludarium build

I started this project a few weeks ago, but unfortunately have not gotten terribly far due to my travel schedule.

This paludarium is 36"x28"x54" internally and sits on a 36"x28"x24" base. There is 2x4" frame construction and the panels are made from 5/8" hardwood plywood. This project is nowhere near complete and is already getting heavy. (I made the 28" depth so that it can fit out of my apartment door if and when I need to move.)

Here is the base or stand that will house the sump and other electrical equipment.



The panels were then attached.







I used exterior screws to attach the panels and used quite a few to help make everything rigid.



I started working on internal bracing for the panels before I left on my last trip, but don't have any pictures yet. I'll connect all the panels over the stand with 1x2"s on the inside and brace around the bottom and top before using fiber cloth and marine epoxy to seal the inside. I'm going to make the entire front panel a solid sheet of glass trimmed with wood around the outside 1-2" in order to avoid having a visible seam on the front.

I'll cut two large doors into the sides for access and cover them with wood trimmed glass doors. I plan to keep the top open for ventilation unless I find that enclosing it and adding vent fans helps with humidity. I want the tank humid inside, but not so much as to cause condensation on the glass. I'm still deciding how I plan to light this rather tall structure.

I plan to set this up as a cliff face with several growing tiers and a cascade pool before the main water area in the front of the enclosure.

Hopefully, having a 5' growing height will allow me to use some plants that aren't commonly grown in riparium or paludarium set ups due to space constraints.

In retrospect, I now think I may be happier with a paludarium that is 48" across the front, but there's no reason I can't build a second right?
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 08:00 AM
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Wow, looking good with the DIY start!! I can't wait to see when everything comes together later. I'm having a good feeling it's going to be spectacular once finished..

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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

There's a tremendous amount to be done yet. With my recent travel schedule it may take months to complete this project. This is a good thing though. If I complete a project, that simply means I'll be starting another one soon.

One thing that is giving me quite a headache is deciding how I will light this thing. Many have suggested Par 38 LEDs, but I'm just not sold on them yet. ($$)

I haven't quite decided how I want to construct the access doors yet either, and I need to locally source some cut glass panels. All in good time I suppose.
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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 07:25 PM
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I love how tall it is and it'll be interesting to see the construction. Subscribing
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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 08:12 PM
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Thats looking good
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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkfood View Post
One thing that is giving me quite a headache is deciding how I will light this thing. Many have suggested Par 38 LEDs, but I'm just not sold on them yet. ($$)
Your schedule related delays might work for you on this point. I've been watching "replacement" LED bulbs for a while, and I've seen a noticeable uptick in the quality and variety of what's becoming available, accompanied by some modest decline in price. I expect/hope for that trend to continue, which would make a delay in deciding on lighting a benefit.

Just to throw something else to watch into the mix, there are LED bulbs designed as replacements for florescent bulbs (for example). They might give you some more options.
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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Good point on the waiting. LEDs are much more powerful and a little cheaper than they were say a year ago.

The general consesus seems to be that LEDs wil replace flourescent lights. I tend to agree, but it may be a few years yet. More than anything, I think the price has to come down. Alternatively, they could become powerful enough that you wouldn't need many of them, as long as the performance increase doesn't come with an offsetting price increase.
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 09:21 PM
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I worked in the semiconductor equipment industry for a while, and that experience makes me tend to expect them to kind of slide around on price/performance until they figure out how they want to do them, at which point scaling will drop the prices pretty sharply.

We might not be *too* far from that point, but it's really tough to call. The most recent stuff I've seen on store shelves from Philips (for example) is pretty encouraging. Good enough that I'm doing some household attritional replacements, anyway. :shrug:
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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I finished the internal bracing for the plywood sides. I didn't feel screwing the plywood together would be very strong so I built an internal frame to attach them to.










Hopefully I'll get the front panel on soon, but first I have to cut the ends off of all of these screws and sand all the wood edges flush, which will take some time.
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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-07-2011, 10:06 PM
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It's looking really nice.
Subscribed!
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post #11 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 05:46 AM
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Sub'd. Looks like it's going to be great.
I'm not sold on the LED's either cause of the $$$.

I quit!
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post #12 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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I keep going back and forth on whether to use LEDs or not. If I do, it's going to be the 1200 lumen PAR38s. I think it will cost around $500-$600 to light the tank if I go that route. I can cover the top of the box with T5s with good reflectors for about $400.

I think PAR38 spotlights might actually prove to be a better set up as less light would spew out of the front.

Then again, using a combination of both isn't out of the question either.

I'm waiting for Friday to buy another piece of plywood (the nice stuff is expensive) so until then all I can do is sand, which isn't really worth posting pictures of.
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post #13 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-09-2011, 10:20 PM
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It occurs to me that if you went with the spotlights (halogen, perhaps, to keep your electricity costs down) you'd be able to easily replace them with LED spotlights when they get where you need them cost/lumen-wise. Just a thought.
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post #14 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-14-2011, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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I had a little time to work on this project over the weekend.

First I attached the front panel. It turns out the panels had all been cut 1/2" too wide, so I put some 36 grit in my belt sander and pretended it was a planer. The really big overhangs I hit with a jig saw first.



I sanded every edge flush. I don't want any gaps that may be hard to seal later.

Now I have the big panel for the front glass cut out. It's finally starting to look like a paludarium as opposed to a big shipping crate.



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post #15 of 70 (permalink) Old 08-17-2011, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
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I cut the side access openings for the sump and main enclosure today. I still have a little sanding to do on them. The other side will have a much smaller opening to make room for the waterfall.





It's been slow going, but it's starting to get there.
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