Build Thread: 29 Gallon South American Paludarium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 04:49 AM Thread Starter
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Build Thread: 29 Gallon South American Paludarium

Well, I officially started my new Paludarium today. It's a 29 Gallon "Marty Made" Terrarium with sliding glass doors and built in screen top. I almost went with the 34" wide exo terra, but I like this better, think it looks much nicer plus I can use a AGA/Aqueon "Knock Down" stand and fit one of my 20 longs right under it .

I ordered some 1/2" Bulkhead fittings from the LFS and a 1 1/8" Drill bit from glass-holes.com and I just drilled out the two holes and installed the bulkheads tonight. I wanted to keep as much equipment outside the tank as possible since it's a limited space already.

After I drilled the tank I sized up some plastic egg crate and cut it to fit inside, around the bulkheads. I will be gluing the egg crate to the back of the aquarium and then using great stuff on top of that. The egg crate gives the Great Stuff much more surface area to grab hold of, and it seems to make it hold it's shape better. The last two times I did a great stuff background without it, it wound up shrinking and pulling away from the glass, with the egg crate it seems to stay in place nicely.

The filtration will be done with an Eheim 2213 and the output will be used to create a waterfall in the tank. I will probably have to use the doubletap to restrict the flow a bit so the waterfall isn't too powerful, or I may T it off and divert some of the water directly back to the pool area.

My Goal is to create a smaller version of this tank, https://www.plantedtank.net/articles/...to-Journal/28/
I will probably seal the front with black silicon and trim around it so no visible acrylic can be seen, or I might even use egg crate and foam to build the divider, I haven't decided yet.

Note: I'll upload some photos shortly. Apparently my computer's card reader doesn't support the SDHC card from my camera. I'll have to use my laptop at work tomorrow which does read SDHC cards.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, here are the pictures. Didnt get much further then this as of yet. I got two 1/2" Quick Disconnect/Shutoff valves for the Eheim (since the filter itself was a freebie from my neighbor, it didnt have all the parts). Wednesday the tubing and O-Ring come in which I also need, and then I can set it up and make sure i have no leaks anywhere. Then I have to drain it out again and start the foaming.



I am not sure if I should build the land area out of an acrylic shelf, like in the tutorial I linked to above. It might be a good idea, as this will be home to a small semi-aquatic snake (of all creatures to go in a paludarium, lol) and I dont want it to be able to burrow down into the Hydroton pellets if I were to use that on the land side, and if I use egg crate/foam I would worry about it pulling away eventually providing a nice hole for the snake to explore.

Maybe I shouldnt even use the great stuff on the background for that same reason (even though the shrinking/pulling is greatly minimized by using the egg crate backing in my experiance). I could carve out a background using foam insulation and silicon it to the back, and then either coat it in concrete or coco fiber. That way I know it wont shrink like the great stuff. Decisions Decisions, lol.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-14-2009, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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Got my Eheim 2213 hooked up last night, and I just glued the bulkheads using PVC glue, as I didnt have it the other night (I only had CPVC cement in the house). Waiting for the glue to cure for another hour, then I can leak test the bulkheads and the filter (I have concerns with the O-Ring on the eheim, but I have a brand new one if it doesnt work right).

I picked up some 1/2" thick styrofoam sheets, I am still debating on if I should do the wall in just Great Stuff, or if I should try to carve it out of the foam instead.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-14-2009, 12:38 AM
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I bet it'll look great when its done!

Keep the updates coming,
-Andrew
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-15-2009, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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I started building the land area today from the egg crate, leaving 2 inches down from the slidng glass in order to create a litter dam, but then I did not realize that by doing that, I was limiting myself to only 4 inches of water (then with the substrate, more like 3 inches)!

So, now I have to rethink my method. I need to have an area for substrate, but I want to keep the water as high as possible at the same time. I am thinking I may have to create a dam using acrylic just like in the photo journal I linked to above. Unless I can use foam and cement to build a water tight dam right in the tank, I am not sure of that though.

Will update with pics again as soon as I figure out which method I am going to attempt .
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2009, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally found some black silicon this morning and was able to get the land area siliconed in place.

I decided to go the simple route and just use one piece of glass as the divider, instead of trying to replicate the underwater cave as in the example I first linked to. I made the water section pretty small, probably only 3-4 gallons, so an Eheim 2213 is definitely going to be overkill, lol.

Gonna let the silicone cure for 48 hours and then leak test it. I dont want to start on the background or anything until I make sure the divider is good.

I decided to "Paint" the front area where the divider is with silicone, and then after I apply foam to the divider, I will trim and peel the excess silicone so it follows the contour of the foam. I hate the look of bare glass siliconed to the front of an aquarium, at least this way it will look like the landscape was cut away.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2009, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Uggh, cant really do anything until after 6pm tomorrow, when I should be able to leak test the divider.

I am contemplating swapping filters around though. I bought a 2211 for my other paludarium, but since I made this water area so much smaller then I originally planned (around 3.5 gallons) I am thinking perhaps the 2211 will work better on this, and the 2213 will be better on my other paludarium which has the whole bottom full of water (around 8.5 gallons). It's a pain in the arse getting that eheim tubing onto the bulkheads though, so i am not looking forward to moving it all around, lol.

Update:
The divider holds water, bulkheads and Eheim arent leaking (left the water in and let things run for hours, no leaks anywhere). Tomorrow night I will finally be able to start foaming the background! Will update with Pics of the process.

Last edited by Goanna; 08-19-2009 at 04:16 AM.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2009, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, well finally got some more done today.

Began foaming the background. I learned the hard way once before that putting the foam directly on glass, or on glass coated with silicone, is not enough (65 gallon DIY aquarium background, pulled right off the wall when I was cycling the tank)! It can and will pull away from the glass eventually. However, if you silicone a piece of plastic egg crate to the back of the tank, and foam onto that, it will hold its shape and not pull away. If you put the straw from the great stuff into every cell of the egg crate, you can inject the foam behind the egg crate, and then move to the next cell to foam on top of it. This way the foam completely encases the egg crate and will hold on very well when it cures. It's more time consuming doing one cell at a time, but in the end you'll have a background that will hold its shape and stay in place!



I tried keeping the foam as thin as possible, I didnt want a thick background as I dont want to take away from the overall cage space. So, I didnt embed any planters into the foam, instead I'll use a few thin pieces of cork bark placed in the foam and I will be able to glue tilandsias and other epiphytic plants to them.

I made the waterfall shelf out of a piece of corkbark that I rounded and hacked up with a sharp knife, lol. I tested it out with a slow flow of water from the sink and it had a nice cascade effect, similar to the one in the photo I liked.

Tomorrow I will turn the tank upright, and finish the foaming. I still have to do the divider, and on top of the waterfall. I may be able to start siliconing the background and applying the coco fiber as well, since it's such a thin layer and the crate holds it in place, it may be firm enough to do that.

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-24-2009, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Finished applying the Coco Fiber late last night.

The Dam is covered with a thin strip of Cork Bark, kinda looks like a log sitting accross it. Should look cool when it's all setup and planted.

Next steps will be to test out the waterfall after allowing the silicone to cure for 48 hours, and then to decide how I am setting up the land area and work on that. I just need to make sure I do it in a way where the Snake cant get into the bottom layer, because if I use Egg Crate to create a false bottom, he could get stuck under it, and if I use LECA (Hydroton, etc) he could mix it with the bedding and make a mess.

(These pics were from my Phone, so they didn't come out great).
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-26-2009, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
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Well it's been over 48 hours since the last of the silicone was applied, so I filled up the water section today and tested out the waterfall.

It works pretty well but I want to try and get the flow to have multiple streams, like in the photo in the link above of the Bowfront Paludarium. Right now it kind of condenses into just one cascade. I might have to try to carve out the cork bark a bit to emulate the same type of cascade. Once I start planting, I may also just try to drape some java moss off of the corkbark on the fall and see how that looks.

Also, I think the Eheim 2213 is a bit powerful for this, so I am probably going to swap it with the filter on my Exo-Terra Paludarium (an Eheim 2211) which has a slower flow rate, plus the filter itself is smaller and the total water volume in this paludarium is under 4 gallons, so a 2213 is overkill.

Here are some pictures of the waterfall now.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-27-2009, 04:45 AM
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Looking good! Hoping to turn a 30L tank into a mini paludarium, any tips?

Thanks

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I think I came up with a way to make a snake proof drainage layer .

I was contemplating the idea of trying to silicon the weed block fabrik to the glass above a layer of LECA, but then I though, why not just make the weed block fabrick into a pouch!

So, I took a bunch of weed block, broke out the sewing machine, and pretty much made a pillow case out of the weed block fabric. It's not nylon thread, so it may eventually dissintegrate, but if I were to do the same thing with Nylon Thread it would last a very long time.

So, I have a sack of hydroton which I can now seal with a zip tie, and then put my coco fiber right over that. Even if the snake burrows down deep, he wont be able to mix the LECA with the substrate and make a mess. Plus, if for any reason I need to strip this down, it will be very easy to do now.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamH View Post
Looking good! Hoping to turn a 30L tank into a mini paludarium, any tips?

Thanks
The only tips I have I think I mentioned already. I'll state the two biggest tips below.

One is to clean the glass with rubbing alcohol and use Egg Crate to make sure the Great Stuff foam stays in place.

Second would be to consider drilling the tank and installing bulkheads if you can. Doing this saves space inside the tank, plus the bulkheads are easy to hide with foam and plants, and using an external canister filter makes keeping the water area clean a nice, simple task.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-03-2009, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, here are some recent pictures. I just got a bunch of assorted Tilandsias in the mail (from eBay) and I just have them all sitting on the ground for now so they get some light. I will be splitting them up between my two paludariums.

I also have some Dwarf Bromeliads on the way (also from eBay). I am thinking that I will just stick with Epiphytes, so I can mount them to wood/rocks, and if the snake uproots them it wont be too detrimental to the plant. Also the soil is not too high either (2-3" at most), so rooted plants wouldn't have much space.

I do have live spanish moss to drape around as well, and I'll get a couple aquatic and/or small emergent plants for the water area. Maybe some mosses as well.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-13-2009, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Went to the White Plains NY reptile expo today and picked up a few things from Black Jungle terrarium supply.

They had some Epiphytic Ferns and some small creeping vines that they also said could be mounted. I picked up a few things but didnt think to ask the latin names .

I finished setting up most of the tank. The plants are in and it's starting to look promising IMO. I just need to do some aquascaping in the water area now.

I also finally swapped the Eheim 2213 with the 2211 I had in my living room and it works much better this way. The 2211 is Plenty Powerful enough to run the !4 gallons of water in this Paludarium, and the 2213's extra filtration area will be quite useful in Exo-Terra Paludarium (where the whole bottom is aquatic and houses some fish).

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