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Old 07-30-2010, 12:16 AM
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Default Island Paludarium for darts?

I'm trying to figure out a design that might work to hold a small group of darts. I found an example of an enclosure (can be seen below) that is close to what I'd like, although there would be a more established land area and an easier entrance/exit from the water. I'd construct it in the largest exo-terra available (equivalent to about 50 gallons) and build the land so that it had at least the same surface area as a completely terrestrial 15 gallon tank. My question is does anyone see any problem with this idea for housing darts...?

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Old 07-30-2010, 01:03 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I would think if you are going to do a setup like this you are going to want a really big tank.

all that area over the water is pretty much useless. why not give your darts as much land as possible.
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

It'd just be for looks. People keep groups of darts in fairly small tanks, I figured if I provided the same ground space that they'd have in one of the smaller tanks while having a surrounding water feature it'd work for them?
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:46 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but with a tank like that and that much water depth wouldn't drowning also be a major concern???
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

in short i'd say no....theoretically yes with a good sized island but I really dont think the hassle would be worth it.

as for drowning, I had to G&B auratus in a tank with a sizeable water feature for awhile and they would occasionally fall in and hop right out, though logs and such into the water help
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:21 AM
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Smile Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I wish I had the imagination to complete such a project! Not sure pdfs would be the right inhabitants maybe some other aquatic frog. You wouldn't have to worry about drowning..of course if you had a gradual slope and had islands of rescue it would be dif.
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:15 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I think it's a beautiful idea for a display tank. Provide objects in the water where frogs could get a hold and crawl out and it'd work. If you want to try a different type frog more suited to that level of water mossy frogs would be a great choice.
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:19 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I say (I am a noob keep in mind), but keep aquatic frogs or if pdfs are not a big deal keep some fish (like white cloud mountain minnows) in it.
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:29 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I can certainly build it where there are many objects in contact with the water as to allow easy access for any frog that should venture a little too close to the shore.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

Ameerega species would probably be worth looking at for a tank like that. Pepperi supposedly deposit their tads directly into eddies in streams, so I would think they can handle water better than other species.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:48 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

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Originally Posted by gtclipse01 View Post
Ameerega species would probably be worth looking at for a tank like that. Pepperi supposedly deposit their tads directly into eddies in streams, so I would think they can handle water better than other species.
If you went with the largest exoterra or zoomed (which I'd go zoomed for the single front pane of glass instead of doors split in middle on an exoterra) But the zoomed doesn't come in a long tank which you'll need to make up some of the land lost by going all the way around with water, so you are probably stuck with exoterra to have any chance of pulling off the full island idea...I'd say only the smaller ameerega would be acceptabe an no more then a pair at that. In fact you are pretty much limited to a pair of any dart with that much land especially since they won't have a background to climb on like they would in most tanks. I think in a tank that small its going to be a real challenge to get a shoreline/ring of water that looks nice and not to "tight". You have 2 choices basically, a very shallow pond so you can have a bit of a slope up to the land mass, or a deeper pond with bascially a straight drop off which would probably be the most challenging to do and make look good.

It is hard to tell the scale based on that pic, but assuming its around the size of a 30 cube and given that the "land" mostly consist of rock, I wouldn't be comfortable putting more then 1 average sized dart in that tank. My guess is that tank is actually much bigger then it looks. My first Tank was a 3/4 Island paludarium and there are more hassles involved then It might seem at first especially if you do it right which I didn't...I got kinda lucky that it worked though. It was basically just gravel and piled around 2 brick right angle edging pieces for land scape to build up a surface for soil, moss/plants. Later I added driftwood around the edge and used that to build up more land area. Here is a pic of the most recent remodel...

This tank may only have "worked" visually because of the Bow front style.

I'd say you are better off doing something like the 3/4 island in a tank that size and will have a better chance of it looking like you imagine or will like. Only you should probably use a true false bottom setup at least in part. I've wanted to try what you are thinking and even after 6 years and 20+ vivs I'm not sure I could pull it off and make it look like I'd like it to in a viv of that size. Probably...but I see it being harder then anticipated.

Basically the way I'd do it probably would be to build a false bottom in a box in the middle...in a cube or octagon type shape depending on tank shape. Then find suitable pieces of driftwood to place in a a ring around it trying to create a "bowl" with the drift wood being the wall of the bowl....then foam the gaps in the walls of the bowl so your substrate doesn't fall into the water. Hide it all best you can, fill the bowl with your substrate and decor then plant it. With good choices of wood you should be able to use the wood to help build and hold even more land mass then just the false bottom box would by itself. You coule use rocks and drift wood or just rocks to do what I'm suggestign to make it look more like the tank in the picture. Either way it will be a challenge. Also you'll need to combine the false bottom box, and the drift wood in such a way as to give you a good ratio of land to water.

Basically if you make your false bottom so that there is six inches from each glass side to the edge of your false bottom by the time you add wood/rock you'll probably cut that distance in half. Meaning you'll have around 3 inches average of water surface from glass to shore going all around....That might look good...but a different ratio of land to ring of water size might look better. Like in the pic it looks good but I would actually have strived to make the land go towards the glass on every side another 1- 3 inches depending on tank size. I mentioned assuming the tank u posted being 30gal cube sized but really I think it has more floor space. Most 15 gal tanks actually have the footprint of a 10gallon tank, which is proably about the max total floor area you will get from a tank around 30 gallons...probably less while being able to make it look good...maybe slightly more, maybe less. No background though so your pushing the limits of whats generally found acceptable for usable space for a pair of frogs. Might be only 1 frog would be best in a tank that size.

I'd try to do it in a bigger tank if you are going to go the full island route. The biggest zoomed is 18x18x24 and the biggest exoterra is 36x18x24 (WxDxH)...the maximum depth of both tanks is 18 inches and that is what is going to kill you. If you had just 3 inches of water surface from glass to shore edge on every side that would mean your false bottom strip would only be 4 inches wide and however long your tank is minus 6 inches. But that doesn't include the driftwood/rocks you'd need to hide the false bottom.

Fitting those in would essentially take up more of your visible water surface or more of your false bottom area. Essentially what you are looking at in a tank with only 18inches of depth and a 3 inch wide strip of water going all the way around is one small/medium potted plant surrounded by drift wood/rocks, or a series of 2-3 of them in a row surrounded by drift/wood rock. 2-3 in a row in combination with the drift wood helping to maximize the land mass may be enough for 1 or 2 frogs since it should roughly equal the floor space of a 10gal if it is in the largest exoterra. I don't think you'll want less then 2-3 inches water surface area going around the tank, it will just look to "tight"...not like the pic.

Really to do this "right" you probably need a tank thats is 24x24xwhatever height 36x36x? or 48x48x? would be more ideal, but by the time u get to 36x36x? You are looking at a massive tank. Some of the Tall 100+gallon semi cube shaped tanks I've seen would be well suited to this. But other then a custom made tank I havent seen many standard sized aquariums I thought I could pull this off in nicely until you approach the 75gal mark. A Hex in that size or larger might work. The problem is until you get to a tank thats 24x24x? or bigger its very hard to squeeze out enough land mass going the full island route.

You really need atleast 3-4 inches from glass to edge of shore to make it look nice. So let that be your guide. Imagine how much land mass would be in the center of the tank after you subtract at least 3-4 inches in a strip going all away around the tank. Probably closer to the 4 mark because you should NOT really consider the first inch of shore going all the way around "usable" space probably...its more of a transitional area that probably won't get a lot of use in most spots. Its not that hard to get your 3-4 inches in a tank 30 gallons or bigger doing the 3/4 island...which basically gives you the look you want unless your tanks is somewhere you can walk nearly 360 degrees around it. I'm not sure but taking a look at the pic again...the land may actually extend to the back glass, or very close to it. I dont like the idea of only having an inch of water surface in the back though. To "tight" looking for me if it is easily visible and the only benefit is fish could swim all the way around.

The shallow method may be the best way to go in a smaller tank, where your false bottom slopes almost from the the edges of the glass up to your land area creating the illusion of depth right in the very front culminating in a false bottom 2-4 inches high surrounded by thinner rocks and/or drift wood to make a shore/transitional area into the land mass. Still in a small tank it will be almost as hard to pull off and make look good if you make the water go 360 degrees around. Plus it wouldn't be as good for fish or plants. I think till you get to a tank that is 24 inches front to back the 3/4 island is the better way to go visually.

Anyways didn't really mean to write a novel but I hope some of that helps...Like I said I've wanted to do a tank like this for awhile but I think you need a pretty large tank to do the idea justice visually. Doing the 3/4 island with no actual background (unlike my 46 bowfront tank pictured)should help create the illusion of a full island more. I'm not saying you cant make a full Island in smaller tanks tanks then 24inches front to back that doesn't still look good, but pulling it off with enough usable land area in all but fairly long tanks is almost impossible. I'm not sure my math is right, but 4 inches going all the way around on a 24x24x24 cube would give your left over land mass a surface area of 16x16 inches....so your frog wold be living on an area less then 1.5 square feet, about the size of a 10gal. Good luck!
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Last edited by Dendro Dave; 07-30-2010 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

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Anyways didn't really mean to write a novel but I hope some of that helps...
read the whole post but this made me laugh haha
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

I think I'll try to go with the 3/4 island setup that Dave described. The tank wouldn't be viewed from 360 degrees so there's no point in having water all the way around and I can still create the illusion of an island-type land mass if there are still three sides with a ring of water. That would allow me to do a background as well. I figured I'd do it by stacking up a ring of broken slate pieces in where I want the edge of the land to be, that would provide a naturalistic drainage layer and still provide a natural feel. Pour in gravel up to the water line for drainage, then put my substrate on top of the gravel. That'd provide for a good amount of soft-substrate land space (not just rocks and wood stacked up) while still providing the look I wanted.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:35 PM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

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Originally Posted by rudukai13 View Post
I think I'll try to go with the 3/4 island setup that Dave described. The tank wouldn't be viewed from 360 degrees so there's no point in having water all the way around and I can still create the illusion of an island-type land mass if there are still three sides with a ring of water. That would allow me to do a background as well. I figured I'd do it by stacking up a ring of broken slate pieces in where I want the edge of the land to be, that would provide a naturalistic drainage layer and still provide a natural feel. Pour in gravel up to the water line for drainage, then put my substrate on top of the gravel. That'd provide for a good amount of soft-substrate land space (not just rocks and wood stacked up) while still providing the look I wanted.
That is similar but better then what I did with my first tank, if i had it to do over I'd probably do a false bottom instead of gravel then surround that with the rock like you are talking about. You could make your rock ring...seal it with black waterfall foam, then place a false bottom in that "bowl" that was not quite as high as your rock ring and build your land up from there. Also there is no reason the rock ring has to go around 360 either, you can just do a 3/4 ring to the back glass and then have the gravel or false bottom run to the edge of the back glass. will save on weight and cost...cost of slate adds up quick. I blew like 60 bucks on rock here at a local pet store. You'll probably have to break large pieces into small pieces unless you are lucky and find all small pieces you can stack. Be careful, breaking slate can be messy and even dangerous as sharp pieces will shoot off...best wear some safety glasses.
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Old 07-31-2010, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: Island Paludarium for darts?

My parents have many pounds of slate stored up from a renovation project a few years back and they'd be happy to let me have some pieces of it. I considered using a true false bottom, but I think trying to do it as much with natural materials as possible is the way to go. Plus, if I create the drainage layer using the same gravel as I will have on the bottom of the tank outside of the rock ring (in the water section) and some of the gravel pokes out of the stacked slate a bit, it will create a nice visual effect and help blend the slate into the rest of the substrate a bit.
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