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Paludarium first timer looking for tips

3942 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  bogwalker
I'm feeling very ambitious and also getting "empty aquarium syndrome" as I have a 29 gallon aquarium which has sat empty for three years since my pet rat died. I have always thought it would be very cool to set up a paludarium. I'm revolving this whole think around a pet goldfish (silly I know but he is gorgeous). I do want to add a couple of newts, some tetras, clown loaches,a platy, some koi and possibly some African dwarf frogs. I have been researching several methods and I've decided to go with a Styrofoam shelf for the land which I will cover in Pond Shield epoxy. It is pricey but I think in the long run it will be worth it (not having chemicals leaching into the water). before the first coat I will carve out little "pots" and drainage holes for several kinds of land plants and terrain effects. The holes I will cover with a bit of nylon screen so that dirt won't seep into the water below. I'm going to attach the shelf to the back using aquarium silicone and have rock or pvc supports in the back and driftwood supports in the front. The background I'm having a bit more trouble with. At first I was going to have a false back with a wet/dry filter hidden behind for easy access. I decided that this would take up to much room though and now I'm going with a Fluval 3 submersible. I think I'm going to silicone cork board to the back of the tank. I'm going to have a 4" pvc pipe in the corner to house A Rio pump for the water fall. Off of the pvc pipe I'm going to use Great Stuff Foam to build the terrain and water fall. Also I'm going to have a few great stuff platforms with "pots" and drainage holes to house plants on the back wall (like little cliffs). I guess the biggest question is about the substrate in the water. Here's what I was thinking. first I'd put a level of Eco Complete not sure on how much. I thought to keep it from seeping out I'd cover it in Nylon screen and then a layer of red flint gravel on top(natural of course). I'd cut an X in the screen to insert plants. I still have a few questions though....
1. will a submersible work ok with a substrate made of soil (eco complete). or will it get clogged to easily? What substrate would you recommend? often should one replace cork board?
3. Does anyone have any experience with Fluval filters or Rio products?
Any suggestions, tips or hints are greatly appreciated since this is my first time with a planted aquarium or anything like this.:bounce:
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Koi will NOT fit in 29 gallons, and goldfish should be kept in something bigger, than a 29 gallon half filled with water. Definitely rethink inhabitants.

If you are going to do a paludarium, you would want more front to back width, perhaps a 40 or 50 gallon would suit you better.
thanks I wasn't sure about the koi because I've read mixed reviews on the space they need. I will cut back on the inhabitants I planned on putting in there. I really do wanna try this in my tank because I'm not sure with all the creatures I have in my home that I'm not sure will have room for a bigger tank. I have seen 10 gallon paludariums before so I know it can be done. I'm hoping by having a shelf for land and the water all the way under the shelf it will be enough water for at least 1 goldfish. I'm thinking about 15 gallons of water. he is in a 10 gallon now by himself. If I cut back on the inhabitants I originally listed do you think it will work?
You have a rather extensive list of questions, so I'll do my best to answer them in an orderly manner.

To begin, a 29 gallon aquarium is an excellent candidate for a paludarium, due to its extra height (which thereby permits ample space for both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.) It is, however, not terribly deep, so any background needs to be relatively thin to permit you as much space as possible.

In terms of occupants, if the golldfish is the one fish that you are set on displaying, you should really keep in mind its specific needs- like its preference for sub-tropical water temperatures. With the exception of the koi (which I also agree have no place in any aquarium under 100 gallons,) all of the fish that you listed are tropical species, and would suffer in the colder climate necessary to keep your C. auratus at its best. If you're going to house goldfish, stick to goldfish and other specifically cold water species.

Now, in terms of the two amphibians that you listed, the African dwarf frog is an unacceptable tankmate for the same reasons listed above (it may even look like an appetizing snack to a large, hungry goldfish.) Many species of newts, however, flourish in temperatures from 62-72 degrees Farenheit, and could, potentially, live with your fish; however, again, a swishing newt tail may seem an appealing snack to an inquisitive goldfish. Due to the potent tetrodotoxins housed in the glands in nearly every newt specie, I fear your unfortunate fish would have a quick end, should it ever take a bite of its four-legged tankmate.

Goldfish also make difficult tank mates due to their rather prolific penchant for producing ammonia. While they are quite hearty and therefore able to withstand the result of their overly-active metabolisms, many potential inhabitants could be quickly overwhelmed by chemical accumulations in aquaria with lesser volumes and levels of filtration. This, therefore, brings up another difficult question: if you are really intent upon featuring your C. auratus in this tank, why decrease the volume of water if it will only disadvantage the tank's "star?" Perhaps if the majority of the tank is aquatic, with only 9 or so gallons utilized as the terrestrial section of the tank, it would have little effect, but part appreciating a goldfish is providing it with enough space to really see it swim.

Anyway, it's rediculuously late (early?,) and I'll have to answer the rest of your questions tomorrow (or is that later today...?):confused:

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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Yes!! I guess in all my excitement of the new project I forgot the most important part...having a theme or region. There is plenty of tanks out there and plenty of time to set up all sorts of habitats. I'm just so excited that I want it all haha... I really would like to have newts and some of tropical fish. So I think my goldfish can stay in his 10 gallon a bit longer. After all he is only an about and inch and a half long and he has the whole tank to himself. I really want to set this up with a tropical theme and try something different. So my next question is are there any tropical newts?I can't seem to find anything on any. Oh well maybe I'll just stick with the dwarf frogs. What are some good community fish? Tetras? Clown loaches? Those were just two fish I really like any other ideas?
I'm mostly a lurker on this forum looking for ideas and admiring setups, but I felt the need to say something. I have a 29 gallon paludarium setup currently, and all the things you want to put in the tank (speaking in the terms of occupants) is like putting 4 tons of manure into a 1 pound bag. I don't want to discourage you from setting up your tank because I think paludariums are fantastic! But you need to do research first, whatever inhabitant that you are going to choose terrestrially should be able to coexsist with your aquatic choices too and vice versa.

For your fish options Koi and Goldfish should DEFINATELY be out of the question! They are too big, produce too much waste, and would potentially make a meal out of a newt or frog. A single Goldfish should not be house in anything smaller than 55 gallon with no other occupants and PLENTY of filtration, Koi should not be housed in anything smaller than 90 Gallons as a single occupant. As for Clown Loaches they are also DEFINATELY out of the question, they can grow VERY big, 18+ inches, and should be kept in groups of at least 3. Now as for tetras, this is situational, if you plan on putting a heater in your setup you will be able to have some small bodied Tetras (Neons, Cardnials, etc.). Larger bodied tetras (Bleeding hearts, Buenas aires, etc.) might be too big, depending how much water you plan on having, also note that schooling fish like tetras need to kept in groups of 5 or more. If you do use a heater you will also increase the temp of your land setup which may make finding a suitable inhabitant more difficult. If you dcide to not put in a heater then you can go with White Cloud Minnows (I've have these in my paludarium) they stay relatively small and can be in tanks with or without a heater, you can also add shrimp to your setup. Ghost shrimp are inexpensive, can live in heated or unheated tanks, and easy to find (most Petsmarts carry them, or a good LFS should too), or Cherry shrimp which are a little more expensive but have a beautiful red color that will truly stand out (I think they breed like crazy once kept in the correct conditions, and you can make your money back by selling the offspring). Also with an unheated tank your choice of land inhaditants increase since most newts and amphibians prefer a cooler, humid envirmoment than one over 78*F.

If I were you I'de do some homework, setup you tank like you want it with a centerpiece inhabitant in mind (whether terrestrial or aquatic) to fit their needs. Enjoy building your tank, make it exactly how you want it then after its all finished, fishless cycle it then choose exatly what other species will fit in your tank. This way its built with a species in mind and everything else can fit around it.

I hope this helps you, I don't want this to discourage you. Instead, help you make better more informed decision about your setup.
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Thank you for your help. I do have a whole lot more research to do before adding friends to my set up. My plan was to give the tank a good month or longer before I addany fish to it. I think for now I'm just gonna concentrate on the set up rather then the occupants. I've googled paludariums and used what I've found as a reference. However there is not a whole lot on the topic.What is the best kind of filtration? Canister or submersible? Whats the best kind of substrate? Eco Complete and red flint gravel. I know that these sound like basic questions but I want to know peoples opnions on what they use. I'll keep everyone updated on my progress and in the mean time please keep the help coming.
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