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Old 10-03-2015, 12:39 AM
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Default 72G Bowfront Paludarium Build

I have been mining this board for info. for the last couple months as I build my first paludarium. It has really been a great experience so far. Time for a build thread.

I started out with a rough plan for this build. That all went out the window little by little as reality took over. There was so much that I was unaware of prior to starting construction. Rather than fight it, I just let the tank lead me as I went.

In the beginning...

I coated the back and sides with silicone. I also used egg crate to make a hidden area in the corner for the input to my XP-S canister filter.
00-tank_siliconed.jpg

I tried to mock up the pieces I planned to work with. I actually liked this layout, but it wasn't meant to be.
01-initial_mockup.jpg

Once I started spraying GS, all my planning went out the window. This is where it turned from engineering project to more of an art project. Great stuff is a whole lot easier to work with than I thought it would be.
02-first_foam.jpg

03-more-foam.jpg

I decided to scrap my old idea for two false bottoms on PVC pillars and replace one land area with a large double pool waterfall. That's a lot of foam.
04-foam_for_waterfall.jpg

The carving begins. I used a power vibrating tool with a flat blade to carve most of the foam. Just a regular pocket knife for everything I couldn't reach with the power tool. I also had a bunch of sanding pads for the vibrating tool. Those came in handy as well.
05-rough_cut_waterfall.jpg

06-rough_cut_tank.jpg

I sprayed too much foam at once in the thicker spots. It left parts that didn't cure out until I started cutting and punched an air hole. There were several rounds of patching with more GS, recarving, etc. Eventually I got to where it was time to start sealing.

I did one coat of drylok, then went over the whole tank with clear, paintable silicone and filled in all the little air bubble holes in the foam. Then I did another coat of drylok. I mixed a little bit of dry moss into the drylok to give a bit of texture.

This pic is between drylok coats. You can see how bad my air pocket holes were.
07-drylok_first_coat.jpg

I smeared black silicone in the water-holding areas of both of my waterfall pools, then covered them in black aquarium gravel. Nearly time for water testing!
08-pools_finished.jpg

I mixed 30lbs of red flourite and about 25lbs of coarse river gravel in this pic. The tank holds water and the water feature works as expected. First try! Beginner's luck I bet.
09-water_test.jpg

This is the last pic I can attach to this first post. Just a pic of the same configuration under the blue "night" LEDs.
10-blue_light_test.jpg
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:55 AM
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Default Re: 72G Bowfront Paludarium Build

So I decided I didn't like the false bottom land area. I just didn't have enough water depth in the tank to keep any good plants or fish. I was able to get three of the original PVC pillars out. The 4th one will just get hidden. It was foamed tight to the back wall.

11-pillars_removed.jpg

I rearranged all the driftwood pieces and added 25 more pounds of coarse river gravel, then added the extra water depth. I think the tank has somewhere between 35 and 40 gal. in it now. Much better.

12-more_water.jpg

I went and bought a few starter plants to help me get this tank going. I think the grass is Dwarf Sagittaria, a couple cardinal plants, and some baby tears.

13-first_plants.jpg

Now I'm just waiting for the tank to cycle. I tried some black skirt tetras, but they died within a few days of putting them in. I have literally zero experience with fish tanks. I have always been a reptile kind of guy.

I have an old 48" T8 reptile light and a 48" 12W LED light on the tank right now. I don't think it's going to be enough light for the plants. I have an old HID setup that I am going to make a hood for. I just need to replace the 400W bulb with something a little less intense.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: 72G Bowfront Paludarium Build

What do you plan on putting in there frog wise?
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: 72G Bowfront Paludarium Build

I don't think I can do frogs since the water body is so large and hard to get out of. I'm not sure what I'm going to put in the top side. I was originally thinking panther chameleon, but I don't think that is a good idea anymore either. I am open to suggestions.
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