So I am new to the paludarium/viv world, however am a woodworker and cabinetmaker, and general craftsman. I live and breathe construction, but have also been in the aquarium hobby (fresh and salt) for over 10 years (other experience I have in my intro in the newbie section of the board)
This build will have alot of restrictions and challenges. I am very glad to have Dndro as such a good resource as I have been doing research for quite a few months and gathering some needed construction materials. I will also be attending the Toronto Reptile Expo this coming weekend (Jan 27) to search out some build materials like cork and branches/driftwood etc.
I live in a condo and unfortunately lots of wall space has been dedicated to storage and my 80 gal cichlid tank and my 30 gallon reef tank. This paludarium will be located offset of a column infront of a window. To make it even more challenging it will be above a mini freezer that is 38" to the solid wood top. The freezer surround is built with solid wood and lag bolted to the concrete next to it. I have 56" from the top to underside of ceiling and may end up using it all (with the false bottom I want below, height of tank, and cabinet/access above).
It is a custom 1/2" glass 75 Gallon column tank. It originally was going to be used for Discus (hence the taller profile) but decided to take the plunge. Exterior dimensions are 24.25"W x 24.25"D x 29.5"H. This gives a rough 75 gallons to work with. Due to the tall profile, this is where my wife and I had the idea to 'sacrifice' 5-6" on the bottom to water to allow us to still house some aquatic plants and MAYBE some small guppies or shrimp...still not decided on this part.
When I got the tank it was in pretty rough shape, it sat outside for something like 2 years. The back glass has a few scratches which I am not too concerned about and the silicone inside looked like it was in rough shape. Being in the building industry, scraping near the joints looks like UV reactive sealant was used to secure the glass together. Either way, entire tank was scraped, washed, disinfected, washed again, taped off, degreased and then resealed with Silicone 1. I typically have contractor packs of this stuff in storage.
(disregard the dead plants in the tank)
The Construction Materials:
I have compiled some of the materials I will be using to build the false bottom, air circulation channels, lid, background, tank surround/cabinet (more on that later)
-GE Silicone 1
-glass scrapers and lots of replacement blades
-First Aid Kit (because I am bound to cut myself duh)
-Masking Tape/Frog tape for nice clean caulking lines
-Silicone profile scraper (old credit card cut to profile)
-Paper Towel (Did I say that yet?)
-Respirator and fans (since I am working inside in the middle of -10C weather)
-3/4" PVC for false bottom standoffs
-White lighting diffuser
-Great Stuff Sprayfoam (I found 16ox Multipurpose Black RV/Marine at HD near me)
-Acrylic Paints (for tinting Drylok)
-All The Tools!
Above is what I have so far. Have some other misc stuff lying around for other stages, but luckily they are still in storage.
Well this is the interesting part. I have always rushed into and finished builds quickly. every 2 years the 80 gallon gets re-scaped in the matter of 24 hours. The reef was assembled in approx 7 days once materials started arriving. This build is going to be longer thought out and implemented. I work from home and typically can spare an hour throughout the day. Family life typically eats up mornings and afternoons and time with the wife afterwards with another hour or 2 to focus on the build. Weekends are sporadic for time to work on the build also.
With all that being said; once I have a clear direction and have all the materials I would like to have the build completed in 5-6 weeks time. I have an image in my head of the design and pretty adamant in sticking to it due to where the pal will sit in the condo and what I am looking for in terms of inspirational photos/builds I have seen. I would then like to have it run for 7 days to off gas anything remaining and ensure the water feature will work without issue. I would then like to place order for all the plants/CUC and get it planted in 7 days and let things cycle and settle
Sorry in advance if this becomes long winded, but I am also tracking this for myself and my daughter. Happy reading and I am gladly open to suggestions as they come.