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Hello everyone. I have a rather unique opportunity presented to me. I have a close friend from high school that has always kept reptiles with her dad. they were huge participants in the snake breeding game here in colorado. They had a whole room dedicated to just breeding snakes to feed back into the hobby. what a dream right?! eventually they sized down to just a small rack of snakes but they have always been a fan of keeping responsibly breed exotic pets. They just recently got a baby cayman crocodile from a friend that is temporarily living in a 200-gallon tank. they are currently preparing a 12-foot (idk the gallons, I've seen the tank... it's absolutely massive) custom tank for his long-term hangout. problem is, they want it to be a planted tank (Of course they have perching spots if it wants to come to hang out of the water) and no one in that family has ever kept a plant in an aquarium. Here is the solution to the problem, they are paying me to fully plant the tank. Of course, I was ecstatic not only to plant a tank for a reptile but to have free reign of the huge tank! But then it dawns on me... what plants are not gonna get totally destroyed by a crocodile just vibing in his aquatic home... lighting isn't an issue, the tank he is in now will become the sump, heat is not a problem, we will be using co2 until the plants are fully established.

So this is what I am planning now. blended Christmas moss that I will paint onto the aquascape/Hangouts that will have an absurd amount of time to grab onto the surfaces (dry start method), Salvinia (I would use frogbit or water lettuce but I want them to be able to see the croc chillen in the water without the roots obstructing view, and dwarf hair grass entirely along the bottom. Can anyone recommend plants that might stand a chance of being climbed over or stepped on? Any cool ideas to contribute to the tank? concerns?

And yes, I do plan on adding Green jade shrimp so they might stand a chance to establish a population without the croc making a snack out of all of them. any small fish ideas as roommates? thanks, guys! ill be updating this post with pictures and more information once we start the aquascaping.
 

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So do we get part of the money since you're being paid to do this?

Why Salvinia and not duckweed? I feel like crocodilians and duckweed is just a very classic combination. Bonus points for duckweed being a monster nitrogen sucker. I also feel that crocodilians and lily pads go together, but that's just me.

Speaking of nitrogen suckers: some sort of aroid like Pothos or Monstera might look really nice as well. They're also quite tough.

I'm kinda ehh on the dwarf hair grass along the bottom. Crocodilians make a lot of messes. Depending on lighting, I'd even skip the substrate and do something like slate pieces with Anubias or Java fern on them. I'd definitely just pot any plants and not keep substrate though.

I kinda think that any fish over a few inches is going to be a snack for the caiman. Maybe some of the nano fish, but I don't really feel comfy recommending any of them due to the nitrate issue as well as the waste issue.
 

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I can't even scape tanks with turtles because they dig up when they go to bask. I think if you're attempting this as a scape you're going to want to try to focus on marginal, emersed and floating plants. DHG is going to be destroyed if it will even grow. The spectrum's required for reptiles in combination with their huge bioload leads to a lot of algaes that DHG just cannot compete with.

As for fish- feeder guppies. I'm never going to recommend anything but feeders to anybody asking about a reptilian set up.

Tbh, even a 12 foot tank seems very small to me for a caiman. That's only about double the length of a full grown caiman and unless it's 12 foot squared you're not giving it enough room to even swing itself around.

Good luck.
 

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Obviously I have no experience here, but I would tend to think more along the lines of pond plants and marsh grasses. It's definitely a super cool project!
 

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Do you mean Caiman in the Dracaena lizard sense? Or Caiman in the Caimaninae sense? I'm assuming you mean the gator-like Caimaninae.

Not a good idea to include shrimp. Water quality is going to be nigh impossible to maintain for them and temps are going to be extremely high for them.

Even small fish are going to be eaten.

Gonna be tough to scape anything even if there are areas of the tank where plants won't get damaged. There aren't really any marginal plants that won't be at least partially damaged. Some won't be able to survive the high temperatures necessary to keep a Caiman comfy.

12 feet sounds super-small. Even Dwarf Caiman routinely get up to 5-feet-long. For land/out of water space along, the average Caiman is going to need more than 12 feet out of water for occasional basking. The larger ones spend most of their time in water and essentially need a small swimming pool-sized tank to be semi-humanely kept.

What you're hoping to accomplish isn't impossible - just difficult. Finding a suitable medium for planting alone is going to take a ton of planning. And that's assuming you'll end up using sturdy planter baskets to try to prevent as much damage as possible. Any idea what you'll use for holding substrate and what kind of substrate(s) you'll be using?

You say lighting won't be an issue. What kind of lighting will be in use? How far away will it be from the plants you use? What seems like strong lighting on land may not be much when it comes to keeping certain aquatic plants alive.

What kind of filtration system will they be using? Just a massive pump moving water to the sump? If so, it's possible some fish could live in the sump. Just depends on a lot of factors.

Any idea what the budget will be?

Edit: I should add that this kind of build is super-exciting. Hope you'll keep us updated!
 

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I can't even scape tanks with turtles because they dig up when they go to bask. I think if you're attempting this as a scape you're going to want to try to focus on marginal, emersed and floating plants. DHG is going to be destroyed if it will even grow. The spectrum's required for reptiles in combination with their huge bioload leads to a lot of algaes that DHG just cannot compete with.

As for fish- feeder guppies. I'm never going to recommend anything but feeders to anybody asking about a reptilian set up.

Tbh, even a 12 foot tank seems very small to me for a caiman. That's only about double the length of a full grown caiman and unless it's 12 foot squared you're not giving it enough room to even swing itself around.

Good luck.
Oh! Add on to this: if you're stocking feeder gupppies, or feeder fish of any sort: quarantine them first.
 
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