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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
With the background done, plumbing done and false bottom done it was time to test the tank with water in there.

Water Motor vehicle Vehicle door Automotive exterior Bumper


Rectangle Wood Natural landscape Sky Gas


I bought some driftwood from amazon which I soaked for a week and changed the water every day.

5PCS Aquarium Driftwood Branches Reptiles Trunk Driftwood Natural Wood Fish Tank Decoration Plant Stump Ornament Decor Assorted
$16.99


Wood Branch Organism Plant Trunk


Added the first moss onto the Rock ledge and let the driftwood sit in the water till it stopped floating.

Water Water resources Plant Rectangle Wood


Then i added the pebbles for my drainage layer.

Bedrock Plant Grass Wood Road surface


Plant Grass Watercourse Road surface Groundcover


For my water substrate i bought from Petsmart :

CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate 20lbs
$20.99

You do have to wash it at least 20 times to get the water clear.

Plant Rectangle Natural landscape Grass Groundcover


For my plant substrate i mixed dried Sphagnum Moss, Sphagnum Peat moss, Pine Bark Chips and activated Charcoal pellets.

432 cu. in. Sphagnum Moss
$5.38
Imagitarium Activated Carbon for Fresh or Salt Water Aquariums, 11 oz.
$4.31


Food Ingredient Table Cuisine Dish


Plant Mixture Drink Darjeeling tea Soil


Plant Terrestrial plant Soil Mixture Flowering plant
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I got a couple plants from Home Depot.

Costa Farms 3.8 in. Exotic Angel Plant
$4.98
Costa Farms 4.8 in. Exotic Angel Plant
$6.98 x 2 =$13.96
METROLINA GREENHOUSES Mondo Ground Cover Plant (1-Plant)
$2.98
Vigoro 1 pt. Moss Sagina Ground Cover Plant
$3.48

Plant Houseplant Fines herbes Grass Leaf vegetable


Plant Houseplant Flowerpot Leaf Botany


Plant Table Flowerpot Plant community Houseplant


I shaked off and washed off all the soil.

Plant Blue Houseplant Flowerpot Grass


Plant Houseplant Flowerpot Flower Terrestrial plant


Then i separated all the plants.

Plant Product Table Rectangle Wood


And then started to plant them into the tank.

Leaf Wood Grass Plant Groundcover


Plant Wood Grass Groundcover Landscape


Plant Grass Wood Groundcover Shrub


Plant Rectangle Terrestrial plant Wood Natural landscape
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Filled up the water.

Plant Water Natural landscape Bedrock Terrestrial plant


Plant Water resources Plant community Natural landscape Leaf


Plant Terrestrial plant Natural landscape Watercourse Grass


Cycled the tank for 4 weeks with Api Quick start and checked the water parameters with the Freshwater Master test Kit.

API® Quick Start Aquarium Cycling Water Conditioner
$7.99
API® Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit
$24.59


As my first fish i got 2 Danios. I wanted to see if they will survive before i get more expensive fishes. They were $2.99 each.

Water Plant Vertebrate Pet supply Organism


While I was at PetSmart with my Son, the store clerk showed us the Red Claw Crabs. Of course my son was fascinated with them and we got 2 of them.
Little did i know that they require brackish water to survive, it was nowhere mentioned in the store nor did they told us. They were $3.99 each.

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Groundcover Leaf vegetable


Plant Reptile Leaf Organism Toad


Plant Snake Reptile Organism Terrestrial plant


Plant Wood Terrestrial plant Organism Natural landscape


Plant Organism Natural landscape Wood Grass
 

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That setup looks great!! Do you think those red clawed crabs are going to pester your plants? Like digging them up or clipping leaves?
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
That setup looks great!! Do you think those red clawed crabs are going to pester your plants? Like digging them up or clipping leaves?
Only thing they clipped was brown leaves so that was a plus since they cleaned the tank. They ate leftover fish food decaying plant matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I noticed that my substrate was wet, not sure if that was too wet or normal for a Paludarium with high humidity, something must be wicking water up into the soil the I thought.

Plant Blue Cuisine Terrestrial plant Flowerpot


Compost Soil Terrestrial plant Wood Insect



So I removed all of the plant and soil. I also removed all of the pebbles and washed them. I cut small walls from the corrugated plastic I had leftover and added them around the background to separate the substrate from the background.
My thought was that the background is wicking up water somehow into the soil.

Plant Wood Bedrock Tree Trunk


Bedrock Wood Grass Road surface Asphalt


I also cut the (Tree) shorter, maybe that was what wicked the water.

Wood Font Trunk Brick Metal


Then i replanted the Tank.

Plant Wood Grass Terrestrial plant Groundcover


Plant Flower Terrestrial plant Wood Grass


Plant Grass Compost Groundcover Shrub
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Next up was adding homemade CO2. I searched the internet and found a post of somebody using a syringe with cotton to make a diffuser. So I started to build this

Drinkware Liquid Fluid Bicycle part Fender


Medical equipment Hypodermic needle Electrical wiring Material property Cable


Fluid Plastic bottle Water bottle Bicycle part Lamp


I poked a couple of holes in there.

Hood Automotive lighting Kitchen utensil Motor vehicle Cable


Tested it and found it working quiet well.

Water Liquid Drinkware Barware Tableware


Electricity Audio equipment Electrical wiring Cable Gadget



While picking up some supplies from Petsmart i also got 5 Ghost Shrimps. They were 39 cents each.

Plant Leaf Botany Organism Grass


One of them had eggs but they never hatched.

Plant Wood Natural landscape Organism Bedrock
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
The 2 little Danios i bought at the beginning went missing. Since I never saw the Crabs attacking any fish or shrimps, I suspected that they swam behind the cave and got chopped up by the wavemaker which is hidden inside the cave.

So i closed the gap with a stone. The crabs seem to love it. That was from now on their favorite spot to sit on.

Plant Vertebrate Organism Terrestrial plant Sculpture


Leaf Plant Wood Grass Houseplant


Water Arthropod Plant Organism Decapoda
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
After 4 failed attempts to create a water feature I decided to ditch the old one since the paint started to chip off.
So on to Water feature number 5.
I made some flat panels with Great Stuff foam and glued them together.

Food Ingredient Cuisine Dish Art


I bought a bag of Quikrete at Ace Hardwarestore and covered the panels with it.

Quikrete Mortar Mix - 10 lb bag
$2.99


Hand Glove Azure Gesture Wall


I let it dry for a week and test fitted it in the tank.

Plant Leaf Botany Grass Vegetation


It was a nice fit so i went ahead and did a second coat with Quickcrete.

Sleeve Glove Grey Wood Tints and shades


Flooring Gas Artifact Rock Soil


I also added a second stone for the other Red Claw Crab, now they both could chill on the stones.

Bedrock Grass Terrestrial animal Soil Rock


I removed the China Doll plants because i read somewhere that they don't belong in a Paludarium.

Plant Houseplant Flowerpot Rectangle Grass


I noticed that the substrate is wet again. I rolled up some paper towels and stuck them into the soil. Changed them out everyday but it did not really helped with the issue.

Plant Wood Vegetation Grass Groundcover


Plant Vertebrate Wood Terrestrial plant Tree
 

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This is beautiful, but unfortunately in order to have dry substrate you would need a “wick break” - some kind of gap that does not allow water to travel from your pond area to your land area. I don’t think your setup is going to allow for that, so the easiest solution may be to just roll with the wicking and get plants that like wet feet, like Biophytums, Utricularias and some Selaginellas. An aquatic soil like Fluval Stratum would probably work best, but my ABG has held up really well to being very wet in my paludarium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
What i ended up doing was removing all the plants and substrate.

Plant Plant community Botany Terrestrial plant Grass


Wood Bedrock Asphalt Road surface Grass


I cut the "Tree" even shorter.

Wood Bedrock Grass Trunk Soil


Then I added another inch of pebbles to raise the substrate higher and raised the corrugated plastic walls. I did had half an inch of free space between water line and the false bottom but that might was not enough. Made new substrate and filled the land portion of the tank.

Plant Wood Grass Groundcover Landscape


I left some space between the "tree" and the substrate. I separated it with cling film to make sure its not touching.

Brown Wood Trunk Grass Soil


On to replanting the tank.

Plant Wood Botany Branch Terrestrial plant


I left more space at the waterfall so no splashing onto the substrate, I also added some stones and cling film to separate the pebbles from the substrate.

Plant Leaf Botany Grass Vegetation


Planting done.

Plant Wood Natural landscape Vegetation Grass


I collected more moss to cover the ground.

Plant Fines herbes Ingredient Aonori Leaf vegetable


Plant Fines herbes Ingredient Grass Leaf vegetable
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Then added the moss.

Plant Wood Terrestrial plant Grass Trunk


Plant Bedrock Natural landscape Terrestrial plant Wood


Plant Plant community Wood Branch Bedrock


Raising the pebbles and separating the substrate with cling film seem to have done the trick. Since then i never had issues with wet substrate again.
Plants and moss were growing in good.

Plant Botany Bedrock Terrestrial plant Grass


Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Groundcover Grass


Plant Botany Leaf Terrestrial plant Organism


Plant Leaf Bedrock Terrestrial plant Grass
 

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This may work long-term, but keep in mind that if anything drapes over the edge into the water (like you had the moss originally), it will wick water up into your land area. You’ll have to keep your foam rock ledge clear of moss and plants to avoid that.
 
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