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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!

I've been lurking on the forums for about five years while I used DB as a resource to build freshwater tanks, paludariums, and classrooms. Most of my posts have been over at plantedtank.

Here I am with my first dart frog tank. I built it from the 75 gallon paludarium in my living room. I took a bunch of pics of the build. I will post them here when I have time. No frogs yet.

https://imgur.com/X01S9Qd

This is a pic of the buttress and the paludarium it replaced. I'll miss the old tank, but as I got more and more into paludaria (?plural) I was more interested in the terrestrial plants than the aquatic ones.

Of note, this new build has a water feature. I fully realize after a great deal of reading on DB that creating a vivarium with a water feature is discouraged, especially for n00bs. I hope to persuade you that in this case the water feature has been well thought out. It is shallow, any frogs (not yet added) can escape from the water, and the pump is easily accessible through the buttress tree.
 

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So I built the false bottom scaffolding with egg crate and zip ties. The idea was to have three successively higher levels of substrate held back by buttress roots.

After I built the false bottom I started working with Great Stuff (gaps and cracks). I put down thin layers and let them dry before adding more.

 

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After a little bit of work I had this:



I'd previously used pink insulation sheets with Drylok for all of my paludariums. I had grown concerned that exposed polystyrene could harm livestock, as it had been reported to be a possible endocrine disruptor. Having made some inquiries here, I decided that GS was a better way to go. It turned out that it was easier to carve than polystyrene, though a little more difficult to paint.
 

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Good luck-- I've always wanted to see buttresses done will and realistically, which is a challenge. I wonder if CNCing them out of wood would be a good way, but then you need to paint it anyway to look like bark.
 

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Good luck-- I've always wanted to see buttresses done will and realistically, which is a challenge. I wonder if CNCing them out of wood would be a good way, but then you need to paint it anyway to look like bark.
Well I'm not sure this buttress would be mistaken for a real tree. It looks pretty good in the tank and will be more realistic as plants and moss grow on it. Here's the pre-painted pic. The strips of GS on the right ended up being glued between other buttresses to make ridges.



The point of the large buttress on the foreground is to force the water to go around it. It's siliconed very well to the bottom of the tank. At the right end there is a place in the structure to put a large piece of Poret foam. Either all or the vast majority of the water gets forced through the foam filter. It's basically a version of a Hamburg Mattenfilter that I use on most of my tanks.

There is of course water under the false bottom. The pump is around 60 GPH and is located at the base of the tree. I didn't install a drain because I didn't want to drill the tank. I can siphon if needed, but currently my mister can't keep up with evaporation. I have a MistKing starter with two double nozzles misting 3X 15 seconds a day.

Here's a pic during painting.Notice the buttress ridges between the main roots.



Here's a shot of the false bottom standing on its end. It was all painted with Krylon.

 

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This looks great! I can’t wait to see more, I think you have something pretty cool going on here. As for the water feature, I always do one. I wouldn’t discourage anyone with experience in aquaria,paludariums, etc. from doing water features. It’s clear you’ve thought it through and that’s what matters.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This looks great! I can’t wait to see more, I think you have something pretty cool going on here. As for the water feature, I always do one. I wouldn’t discourage anyone with experience in aquaria,paludariums, etc. from doing water features. It’s clear you’ve thought it through and that’s what matters.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Thank you! It's going well so far. No frogs yet... taking my time to let it grow in and get stable.

I'll keep posting a pic here or there when I grab a minute. Here's one of the inside of the tree. I put down beads of GS to help it keep shape and strength. Unfortunately it sort of bent it too much and I had to spend some time bending it back to true with bricks. You can also see the silicone hose that connects to the pump.



Here's the beginning of the cut for the fans. I run two AC Infinity Multifan S5s. They're really quiet. You can see a small hole on the left. I enlarged it a bit and made another about the same size.



Here's the view from inside the tree of the fans installed. They will slip right out of the zip ties if/when I need to replace them. The zip ties attach to the egg crate.

 

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Discussion Starter #9
what exactly are the fans for, are they to keep the pump cool or just for air circulation?
Just for air circulation. The air comes out of the central stump into the vivarium. They do a good job of keeping the glass clear and drying out the plants after the mister goes off.

Here's another couple of pics:

This one is before painting. It shows the paludarium while it was still a 'fish' tank. At this point I'd moved all the inhabitants to different aquariums. I had been more interested in the emergent and above-water plants for a couple years.



So the first step to making this work was to put a pretty thick bead of silicone on the bottom of the tank. This serves the dual purpose of adhering the structure to the tank and sealing it so the water can only go through the poret foam mattenfilter for filtration.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Not the best pic. This is when the false bottom was installed and I'd started putting in aquarium substrate. I used some old Fluorite Black Sand. You can see the Poret foam on the right side that filters the water before it goes back under the false bottom to the pump.



This is a high as the water will ever be. It can of course be lowered, since any plants I have in there will be perfectly fine growing as emergents. You can see the pumped water breaking the surface on the left. I've also since replaced my DIY pendant LEDs with a Beamswork DA 6500K 0.50W Series LED Pent. It looks better and doesn't leak light out the front.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Long shot with substrate. I used NE Herp substrate #1. This also shows the Poret filter pretty well.



Very initial planting. Some Phalaenopsis orchids, which did very well in this tank's previous life as a half-full paludarium on a log with their roots in the water. Anubias heterophylla and Sagittaria subulata in the water portion. A little varigated Ficus pumila on the left, a Cryptanthus NOID by the right stump, and the first layer of live oak and magnolia leaves.



I wish I'd made the buttress roots a little taller because the substrate and the leaf litter is burying them.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I haven't taken many shots since the initial setup. Here's tonight:



I covered the back of the tank with frosted window privacy film and rigged a Phillips Hue programmable LED behind it. This is the evening mode; sort of golden. It is pink in the morning, around 5000k white during the day, gold in the evening, and red at dusk. It stays a muted faint blue at night. I had to cut foam board to create a "box" behind the tank to keep the light from leaking out into the room.
 

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Welcome to the dark side! But seriously the palu looks great. As someone who followed your builds on TPT you were someone who inspired me to build my own paludarium.

Have you decided on what frogs you are going to keep? Personally I would suggest taking advantage of all that water and go with Epipedobates species if you don't mind being overrun with froglets.
 

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Really digging the frosted back pane with the Phillips light. Very cool.
 

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Welcome to the dark side! But seriously the palu looks great. As someone who followed your builds on TPT you were someone who inspired me to build my own paludarium.

Have you decided on what frogs you are going to keep? Personally I would suggest taking advantage of all that water and go with Epipedobates species if you don't mind being overrun with froglets.
Hey Dude! Although I've moved to the high school and someone else is running "Method's Classroom" several of the plants you donated are still going strong in there.

I've been looking forward to making a PDF tank for a couple years and decided to bite the bullet over the summer. I've also taken my time researching frogs and was about to post a question here anyway :)

So I've narrowed the species down to a few. I want a frog that does well in groups; I have a larger tank after all. I also want a frog that's relatively easy for beginners. Sound might be a factor because this tank is right under the TV in the living room. Here are the frogs I've narrowed it down to (in no particular order).

Leucs (concerned about the sound, but otherwise they seem perfect)
Auratus 'Bocas' (Too big? Too camouflaged? Other auratus sound shy)
R. vanzolinii (too fast?)
R. variabilis (too camouflaged)
R. imitator (worried about aggression in groups)

I've always liked Epipedobates but it seems like they're at least as loud as leucs and not quite as easy to keep.

I'm open for suggestions!
 

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Really digging the frosted back pane with the Phillips light. Very cool.
Thanks! It stays a dark orange-red for about an hour after the main light goes out and i really like the effect. I can't claim the idea of course; it's been done in aquariums for years.
 

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I THINK I've narrowed my choices down to two...

Leucs or Auratus (Bocas)

Thoughts?
 

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Hey Dude! Although I've moved to the high school and someone else is running "Method's Classroom" several of the plants you donated are still going strong in there.

I've been looking forward to making a PDF tank for a couple years and decided to bite the bullet over the summer. I've also taken my time researching frogs and was about to post a question here anyway :)

So I've narrowed the species down to a few. I want a frog that does well in groups; I have a larger tank after all. I also want a frog that's relatively easy for beginners. Sound might be a factor because this tank is right under the TV in the living room. Here are the frogs I've narrowed it down to (in no particular order).

Leucs (concerned about the sound, but otherwise they seem perfect)
Auratus 'Bocas' (Too big? Too camouflaged? Other auratus sound shy)
R. vanzolinii (too fast?)
R. variabilis (too camouflaged)
R. imitator (worried about aggression in groups)

I've always liked Epipedobates but it seems like they're at least as loud as leucs and not quite as easy to keep.

I'm open for suggestions!
Awesome to hear about the plants! Yeah don't go for Epipedobates if you're concerned with noise lol
 
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