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Old 03-12-2009, 04:41 PM
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Default paludarium build: more water, less land

Hi all,

I don't post a lot here, but I do lurk all the time. I don't keep frogs, and I don't plan to (sorry!) But I thought I would post some pictures of my paludarium build because I got all of my best ideas from this site (thanks!)

The newt species I'm working with is Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis. They're native to SE US, prefer cool, still water, and can be kept fully aquatic. I'd been keeping my newts in a 10 gallon planted aquarium, but decided that they deserved a better home after being such loyal pets for so long (18 years). So I lurked here for many months and got inspired to build them a paludarium. My goal was to make something that resembled a pond or lake edge: so the newts had plenty of water area, but I got to enjoy the land area too.

I got a 29 gallon tank for cheap at Petco, some soaked and dried cypress driftwood, tubing for the filter, Great Stuff, black aquarium silicone, and coco fiber and I was ready to start.

Step 1: After deciding on a driftwood arrangement that I liked, I smeared black silicone over the areas that would eventually be covered in Great Stuff:

palu1.jpg

Step 2: Then I glued the driftwood down into the arrangement I wanted using silicone. I basically wanted the driftwood to act as a shelf for the tiny land portion. The idea was to have the land area actually sit above the surface of the water – to avoid having to worry about flooding or false bottoms. The blue tape is holding the wood in place while the silicone dries:

palu2.jpg

Step 3: Time for Great Stuff! I put the filter tubing in place behind the driftwood and added a little Styrofoam insert behind the biggest piece of wood as filler, and then filled in the gaps with Great Stuff. You can't see it in the picture, but I also snaked a small rope through the filter tube to prevent a possible collapse of the tube as the Great Stuff expanded:

palu3.jpg

A cute little anole kept trying to catch a fly that was trapped in the aquarium:

palu4.jpg

Step 4: After shaping the dried Great Stuff, I smeared black silicone over any exposed areas and added coco fiber to any areas that were above the water line. I hadn't realized how incredibly hard it would be to reach the underside of the land area and I had to practically crawl into the tank with a handheld mirror to make sure I got enough silicone everywhere. Here it is all cleaned up (silicone and coco fiber went everywhere!):

palu5.jpg

The test run with water went well. The filter is a Fluval Plus 1 internal filter, rated for 15 gallons (I think), but I only wanted a tiny bit of flow. I cut back the filter tubing to the correct length. Water comes out and cascades down (and off) the edge of the submerged driftwood log. I didn't really try to hide the filter much (besides gluing a stick in front of it) mostly for practical reasons, but I don't think it's that noticeable:

palu6.jpg

More to come Thanks for looking.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Very nice!! I'm sure your newts will have a ball once it's planted . Oh and that anole is hilarious! Whereabouts are you from that you've got cute little anoles in your house? Keep us posted!
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Thanks for the comment! It's actually been up and running for about 8 months or so - the newts love it! I can't get them to stop making more newts

For the land area, I used a combination of resurrection fern (taken from a fallen tree) and some moss that I had growing in another vivarium. Resurrection fern was very easy to add because it forms a sort of matt that can be peeled off the log like a bad hairpiece. I tacked bits of it onto the coco fiber covered background. I added a tiny bit of soil (mixed with coco fiber and sand) to the land area over the main piece of driftwood and added some moss there:

palu7.jpg

Here are the bent pieces of wire I used to secure the ferns to the Great Stuff (I removed them a couple of months later):

palu8.jpg

Once I was done with the land, I added the aquatic plants. I used a rinsed sand substrate mostly for looks:

palu10.jpg

Here's the whole thing, freshly set up. The water's still a little cloudy from the sand:

palu9.jpg

After about 8 months, it's grown in pretty nicely. The resurrection fern is actually sending out new rhizomes and the roots have grown down the driftwood and into the water. I really like this fern – highly recommended if you can get your hands on some:

palu14.jpg
plants2.JPG

The mosses are spreading slowly but steadily:

plants3.jpg

Some kind of spike moss (?) that came in with the other moss. It sends aerial roots down into the substrate and grows like a epiphyte:

plants1.JPG

The water plants have done well… maybe too well. I'm constantly trimming them back:

palu12.jpg
palu13.jpg

And the whole thing about 2 months ago. The tannins in the water from the driftwood actually don't look so dark in person:

palu17.jpg
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:04 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Super! Those are surely some happy newts, lets have some newt pics



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Old 03-12-2009, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Beautiful! Notos are great animals, a lot of fun to watch.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:39 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Wow! Sorry I must have skimmed past the part about it already being set up... I was mesmerized by all the photos .

Your paludarium is superb! I do second the request for newt pics though... And it's ok that you don't like frogs. I think we have a couple of members that are only here for the plants .
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Thanks, all!

Yeah, Notos (and newts in general) are actually very active pets. Mine are utterly fearless when it comes to food - they tried to eat the cat once when she stuck her face near the water.

Here are a few shots of the gang. The two females:

female1.JPG
whatup.JPG
darkfemale1.JPG
adults2.JPG

The male newt in breeding dress - he's a real jerk:

malenewt5.JPG
male2.JPG

Some of their kids (at various stages of development). They've been pretty much courting and laying eggs non-stop since the move to the new tank:

2008larvae2.JPG
larvae2.JPG
mar10_eft1.JPG
sneaky1.JPG
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

great pics! their spots look like the spots on a brown trout, with the cool blue halo around the black.
congrats on the breeding, can't get much better proof of their happiness than that



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Old 03-13-2009, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

i never found much on newts....................................so they only stay cool color when there babys right? thanks for the pics btw.
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Old 03-13-2009, 02:06 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Absolutely awesome setup and gorgeous newt specimens!!!!

I love newts!

Here are my two firebellies posing...the one on the left is sporting a newly regenerated front left limb, which is why it is smaller..



Thanks for sharing



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Old 03-13-2009, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

love the tank. and also the resurrection ferns, ive see these ferns growing on trees around my house, but never thought about using them, i need to go collect some to use in my tank.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:47 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Quote:
Originally Posted by scream-aim-fire View Post
love the tank. and also the resurrection ferns, ive see these ferns growing on trees around my house, but never thought about using them, i need to go collect some to use in my tank.
I was worried they wouldn't do well in a vivarium, but after some initial frond dropping, they've really started to grow in. The key is making sure the fronds aren't touching anything, otherwise they will develop black spots and rot.

Just a couple pictures of the inhabitants enjoying the paludarium:

palu15.jpg
palu18.jpg

Enjoying it too much:

mar13_amplex.JPG
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:22 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Wow, what a beautiful build. Thank you for posting such a detailed construction journal. I have been brainstorming ways to create a 'canopy' area of wood and plants and your journal will be very helpful for my build. I am glad you decided to post, your newts are beautiful and oh so lucky!!!
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Setup looks really nice.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Oh, I remember you from caudata.org!!! It's awesome that you successfully propagated them, I know the young 'uns can be a pain. Sadly I'm selling mine, but I was planning to do the same.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyberbrat View Post
Wow, what a beautiful build. Thank you for posting such a detailed construction journal. I have been brainstorming ways to create a 'canopy' area of wood and plants and your journal will be very helpful for my build. I am glad you decided to post, your newts are beautiful and oh so lucky!!!
Thanks! Glad it was helpful.

I would definitely recommend, if anyone tried something similar, that you assemble the 'shelf' outside of the tank as much as possible before attaching it to the inside - it's just so much easier that way to get silicone into every nook and cranny. Plus, if you have aquatic creatures that might try to get into small cracks or holes behind your background, you can seal these off.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowfoot View Post
Thanks! Glad it was helpful.

I would definitely recommend, if anyone tried something similar, that you assemble the 'shelf' outside of the tank as much as possible before attaching it to the inside - it's just so much easier that way to get silicone into every nook and cranny. Plus, if you have aquatic creatures that might try to get into small cracks or holes behind your background, you can seal these off.
Thanks for the tip, had not thought about making the shelf outside the tank. I think I will go shopping for some supplies this weekend and actually give it a try. : )
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:32 PM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

really nice tank. I'm glad to see someone like minded posting here. You're inspiring me to post a couple of my paludarium, which are similar in having more water than land. I've always wondered why there aren't more people exploring this route.... I've stopped wanting to have aquariums and terrariums, I'm constantly thinking about deep water paludarium.

Also, you're right on about assembling the shelf outside the tank. My first paludarium has a shelf I constructed to hang on strips of plexi that suction cup to the tank walls. The entire planted shelf can be removed and stood on the edge of a cardboard box for tank cleanings and replanting. It made revisions during the construction really easy. Made planting the shelf really easy. and it's saved me a lot of trouble on a few occasions. The only drawback is the slippage of the suction cups over time... Which I am sure could be corrected using magnets instead. Even with slippage, the shelf has never fallen into the tank. It's been running over a year. in the pic below, the shelf is in the tank on the right...
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

Quote:
Originally Posted by mellowvision View Post
Also, you're right on about assembling the shelf outside the tank. My first paludarium has a shelf I constructed to hang on strips of plexi that suction cup to the tank walls. The entire planted shelf can be removed and stood on the edge of a cardboard box for tank cleanings and replanting. It made revisions during the construction really easy. Made planting the shelf really easy. and it's saved me a lot of trouble on a few occasions. The only drawback is the slippage of the suction cups over time... Which I am sure could be corrected using magnets instead. Even with slippage, the shelf has never fallen into the tank. It's been running over a year. in the pic below, the shelf is in the tank on the right...
Wow, those are incredibly cool! That's a really great idea, especially if you're afraid to commit to a particular type of tank. It would really work well for keeping newt species that need deep water during the breeding season but live on land the remainder of the year. I might have to steal it
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: paludarium build: more water, less land

steal away!

actually, one thing that's been great about it, is I've been able to raise and lower my waterline a lot by moving the suctioncups... you could breed in the same tank potentially.

and it's funny you bring up the commitment issue, I built it thinking I'd probably move it into a larger tank eventually.
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