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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's finally time for my massive newt paludarium! After setting up my last 20L paludarium I learned a lot that I'd like to do better a second time around, so here we are. Some quick specs:

Inspired by a build by asugreen11 on YouTube. Tank is a 36x18x24 exo terra with twinstar 600ea light. Custom built stand. Not much planting wise other than some grewia (lavender star) pre bonsai, mood moss, and perhaps some ancharis and random buce. Most of this will be rock work with Dragon Stone.

The main attraction will be my 4 kaiseri newts. They have all morphed now and are sub adults so it's a good time to upgrade them from their bare bottom 10 gallon and give them a larger land area although I have my doubts on if they will ever use it.

So far I've got the entire structure (just corrugated plastic and silicone) done and silconed into the tank. I reinforced the bottom seams on the exo terra with extra silicone since they are known to leak, and water tested it for 24 hours. Now I have to get 20lb of dragon stone from the store, smash it all into small pieces and silicone it in to cover all the plastic. Silicone some sand into the cracks and around the rock work on the waterfall, water test and test the pump, and then plant. After that I will run it for a few days and then move the newts over. I'll be posting daily since I will be doing all the work start to finish this week so if you're interested follow!

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So 20lbs of dragon stone and 4 hours later....still not finished with the rock work as I ran out of stone LOL. I wasn't anticipating on this being the most difficult part but it is definitely grueling work, like playing rock tetris. I've huffed enough silicone over the past 2 days to knock out Mike Tyson.

Anyways it doesn't look entirely natural to me the way that I have the rocks stacked in there, but I still need to fill some of the gaps with silicone and pack sand on top. I'm hoping once I do that and plant it, it should look more natural than built.

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I was never able to do what you are doing and make it look good. There's a guy on YouTube that does builds like this. I think his name is Anu. I believe he is in Japan or Singapore or some such. His builds are pretty amazing once he plants them and breaks up the straight lines a bit. I look forward to seeing where you can take this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was never able to do what you are doing and make it look good. There's a guy on YouTube that does builds like this. I think his name is Anu. I believe he is in Japan or Singapore or some such. His builds are pretty amazing once he plants them and breaks up the straight lines a bit. I look forward to seeing where you can take this.
Thank you! That is exactly where I got the inspiration from actually hahaha. I must have rewatched the video 50 times!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Another update:
I went to the LFS again and got 15 more lbs of dragon stone. I painstakingly finished all the rock work and then tried my best to silicone damp sand into the waterfall runoff and some of the noticeable cracks in the rocks which I think definitely helped make the hardscape a bit more natural to the eye. Once I glue some Christmas moss and buce into the waterfall area it should definitely make it look less staged. I also took my time stuffing filter floss into almost every crevice I saw between all the stone in the submerged portion of the tank to ensure none of the newts get wedged in the rocks and damage their skin since I had to leave some pretty big gaps in between to allow water to flow through. All I have left to do is brush and vacuum the excess sand away, fill her up a bit to test the water pump and as long as the flow is right coming from the waterfall I can empty it back out and plant it the day after Thanksgiving!
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Been awhile since I updated. A ton happened and I had some setbacks but here's the finished video and pictures!

I dont normally name my scapes but I'm calling this one the "Mountain grotto"

I have some of my killifish i bred in there for now to test the water and make sure there is no silicone leech and ensure my sponge filters are still cycled after having to sit in water without it running for a week. If the killies are alright by the end of the week I'll put them back in their tank and move my newts in! More pics and videos to come.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That came together nicely! The plants help it a lot! What are the little trees? And is that Japan clover on the waterfall? If it is, that will look amazing if it grows out.
Thank you! It was a ton of time and effort. They are grewia aka lavender star pre bonsai. They are good indoor bonsai but I haven't found any info in them in a paludarium setting so time will tell how they play out. And yes I draped some tripartita trimmings along the top of the large waterfall and on the edges of the lower waterfall. I also put a few strands of mini on the bank. I did the same thing on the driftwood waterfall in my other newt paludarium and it looks so nice once it starts to fill in. The mini is literally just a mini tripartita. It grows much smaller than the regular strain submerged but very tiny when grown immersed. I bought a TC of it a while back and thought it would lovely branched out amoung the monte carlo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update: The killifish are out and I moved the newts in last night. The setup is doing well, although the mood moss is getting brown and I may need to find a different species of terrestrial moss to replace it with. The newts unfortunately still managed to find nooks and crannies in the rocks so they have squeezed themselves in between the rocks and the first retaining wall, so I don't expect to see much of them at this point since they typically hide all day and only come out at night. I removed a few rocks to open up some crevices so thru don't damage their skin or get stuck trying to squeeze through tighter gaps. As long as they can't get behind the first wall and into the filtration area it should be fine. I'm hoping as time goes on and they get settled in they won't hide as much. So far I've only seen 2 out of 4. More pictures once they get comfortable!
 
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