50g breeder paludarium journal & log
I believe this is my first 'official' post in these forums. My name is Simon, I've got about a dozen years of keeping freshwater fish and B.Orientalis, B.Bombina and B.Maxima (oriental, European, and 'giant' types of firebelly toads respectively)
So before I explain what I am doing, and pose my first in many questions, let me explain the 'story'. I originally had a pair of B.Orientalis that I rescued out of a LFS that was doing their very best to kill them. (think a 3 gallon container with more dead toads then live ones). I brought them home, called my old bible school teacher (Jane Hoffer, of Hoffer Pets in Milwaukee) and very carefully took notes. I originally set them up in a 20h, used a piece of egg crate to make a slope, tossed in gravel, pothos, and voila, it was a work of (crappy) art.
Of course, the itch settled in then, I soon had two more tanks of different types of Bombina running, each a 20h. I never went overboard on lighting, originally I used the fluorescent fixtures from my freshwater fish keeping days, then switched over to clamp style screw in bulb fixtures, with pc bulbs, two to a tank. I fell in love with the whisper 20i internal filters, careful placement of driftwood and it makes a very nice waterfall.
We jump back to the modern day, I still have those same 3 20g tanks, I proudly show them off (despite the fact that I don't have more then 2-3 species of plants, they are well grown in and look good to an uneducated viewer). I recieve a phone call several weeks ago that was a plea from a friend, her kids went out and bought 8 toads, from different stores, of differing sizes. She had, with a degree of horror, saw the largest toad cannibalize one of the much to small toads in the tank. She knew I kept them, and wanted them gone.. To be honest, I believe she also bought into the toxicity tale that fbt have (which is called unken-reflex, something produced only under certain circumstances, and has a very unique associated behavior with it) Being that is one thing I do, I grabbed several large Tupperware containers and drove over to her house and rescued the toads. I separated them first by size before returning them home, took me a few hours but I was able to seperate the 7 remaining toads by species. two went into my B.Bombina tank, 5 into the B.Orientalis tank. Now I stress about having 4 toads in a 20g. I know its supposed to be safe to do, I feel bad enough about keeping these guys out of their natural habitats, its worse if they are overcrowded. Having 7 toads however in a 20h is unacceptible, however I also refuse to mix species, given that all three tanks are in the middle of the fall mating season.
Long story short, it was time to upgrade from a 20g. I went over to hoffers, which is argueably one of the finest fish stores in Wisconsin, unfortunately also one of the most expensive. I did manage to get a bit of a deal on a 50g breeder tank, and stand. I was debating a 90 gallon, but I am not financially well off at the moment, and the price difference was considerable, especially given that having a 36x18 foot print is pretty darn good in comparison to a 48x18, and that my apartment isn't nearly large enough for a 90 gallon.
So I bring it all home and start hitting up websites, looking for information on planted tanks. I figure if I'm going to set up this 50g tank, I might as well go all out and do it as well as I can.. then I came here, and located this wonderfully gluttonous reservoir of accumulated knowledge.. and I've found myself wasting hours just digging thru archives trying to see what everyone else did.
I believe in KISS, it serves me well in my daytime (well, night time) job. If you are asking what KISS is, its an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I ended up responding to a local ad on craigslist and snagged a used 20g tank, glass canopy, and a filter for 15 bucks, despite a large crack that runs across the top of the backwall of the tank (siliconed the heck out of) So I was able to seperate the B.Orientalis into two tanks, which quelled my fear of overstocking, but doesnt help my overall situation of having almost no floor or leg room left in my apartment. (tank on my kitchen table, coffee table, stand, two in my bedroom)
So with all those aquariums around I knew I had bit more time to do something nice with the large tank, and find that perfect place in my apartment to place it. I finally settled on a good location in my bedroom and I moved the tank into place, and then slammed into a 'creative wall' that I am still suffering from, I blame it all on these forums. I had a simple idea, and I've been so overloaded with information I'm not totally sure what to do now.
So this is what I have for the 50g breeder.
Used (never been assembled) 2x55 watt ahsupply kit
4 clamp on style reflector lights with screw in pc bulbs
Approximately 2 bags of flourite original (1 full bag, 2 ~1/2 bags)
Pea gravel of various colors, mostly from HD and Lowes
White sand 20 lbs or so, left over from a friends aragonite project
(basic white playbox sand from HD)
2 bags Schultz Profile aquatic soil (left overs from bosses fish tank)
1 bag of Schultz peat moss (reads as Canadian spaghum)
5-6 medium pieces of driftwood that I got for 4 bucks from a lfs, they left them sitting in the back room of their shop in a 5 gallon bucket of water for a few months, were covered in a white fuzz from sitting in damp conditions. I remember reading somewhere however that this was not harmful, and the wood could be cycled along with a tank (its just a natural process/outgrowth)
2x Whisper 20i internal filters
2x 75w stealth heaters
2x microjet waterpumps about 50 gph each
My concept for the tank is to simulate a pond edge or bogs edge if possible. I've got 18 inches of width to work, I was planning on clustering the majority of the driftwood against the rear wall of the tank, then running a declining grade down to the front of the aquarium. Place a 20i filter in the center of the tank with two pieces of drift wood to break up the water spill from the filter. I'm stuck on where to place the heaters and water pumps, my idea for the water pumps was to use a dripper manifold (if I can ever find one for under 10 dollars) and split the flow from the two microjets to 6 small black hoses I'd run up pieces of driftwood to accent with dripping or a small waterfall like action.
I want to have about 5-6 inches of water, heavy aquatic and emergent growth, java moss or something a bit.. ah..bit more interesting to cover the drift wood. I'd also like to have something a bit more interesting then pothos, dwarf hair grass, and java moss for the tank.
So thats where I am stuck at. Do I want to go low tech? Is it safe to use co2 with amphibians? Can I manage to grow a solid green substrate of some type of plant? What type of lights do I want with this setup for optimal growth? Should/Can I use "lucky" bamboo? According to tom barr, I should add peat moss to my substrate, how much? an inch? a sprinkling? this ties into the co2 question. Is it a good idea to layer flourite and schultz? Better idea to go buy Soilmaster select? Should I cap it with sand? am I being mental about this tank? What type of emergent plants should I be looking for to use for this concept? Is the white fuzzy malaysian drift wood safe to still use?
I apologize for my ramblings, I work thirdshift and should be sleeping right now, but I was quite ecstatic to make my first post and finally throw down my ideas. I promise to take pictures and to edit this post to make it legible after I get some sleep.