Originally Posted by MSP
This is quite an interesting design. Do you have any examples or threads to refer to? I’d like to examine this a bit, to encourage in tank breeding. I use the clay ball separation as well, but how have you done the land-mass to water separation while keeping shared drainage? W/o wicking issues into the substrate.
Excellent question, and one that I'm not 100% confident I have satisfactorily alleviated, but I think I've got the solution.
I now create a barrier for the clay balls with the following:
- Use fishing line to sew some window screen into a tube. This tube should be long enough to act as a dam around your water area. The goal is for the tube diameter to be about the height of the leca drainage layer. Don't work too hard on sewing with the fishing line. It'll work.
- Sew one end of the tube shut with fishing line.
- Fill the tube with leca. Add/remove leca until you can curve your dam into position, holding back the leca drainage layer.
- If you prefer or need to, you can create as many of these dams in decreasing size (tube diameter) to create a softer slope to the pool.
- Lay the substrate barrier down as normal.
- add substrate, but use cork pieces to hold back the substrate from cascading down into your pool.
- add more cork and your choice of other hardy materials (leca, stones, maybe orchid bark) until you've totally covered the substrate barrier leading to your pool, and have created your pool area.
- The dams allow you to have a steeper slope to your pool area, so you don't take up so much ground space just trying to change elevation from the top of your substrate to the pool. I have found this to be the key to keeping your substrate out of the water table.
- Shallower substrate and drainage layers probably will not require the dams, but they may be too shallow for your pump design (careful!).
- If you are connecting your pump intake to a drainage bulkhead, you need to ensure that your water level can be above the top of the bulkhead without interacting with your substrate layer. You may need the water level higher than you expect to ensure you are sucking tons of air into the pump.
- Make sure the pump is pumping to and pulling from opposite corners of your tank.
I have not included images or descriptions of the pump system, so let me know if you would like those as well.
Below are pictures of the final result of the dam system (a single dam) below. It's a little tough to see, so ask questions if it isn't clear. I can annotate the images if necessary:
In this tank, the drainage and substrate layers are shallow enough that I didn't need a dam, though I think I'm being a bit risky here:
There is certainly a lot of art to this, but there is a lot of art in building vivs in general. As with all water features, I don't recommend this for your first build.