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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

This is my first post as I am new to your community. I have read tons of posts and spent hours going down the internet rabbit hole that is vivarium lighting. I am currently working on a new pallarium build in an old 29 gallon high tank (24 "x 12" x 16") I had lying around the garage. Essentially it will be half water half land with a background along the sides and back. ** I will attach a photo of what i've got going on so far.... its not much. Also the egg crate will be moved lower to create a container for substrate layers.**
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Like I said she is still "rough" and the pictures aren't the best ......so be nice.....
I have finally gotten to the part of my build where I am considering what plants I want to go where and how the background should be build to best accomidate the plants I choose. After looking through TONS of vivarium plants I found that I am partial to shade or low light plants. (Peperomia prostrata, selaginella kraussiana, nephrolepis exaltata, calathea elliptica "vittata", pellionia pulchra) I alot of what I read online talked about how theses prefer indirect light..... Usually you would put these at the bottom in the shade made from the other plants but can I just have a tank thats "shady". I hope this makes sense. I don't want to fry the plants. If I need bright lighting and a rock ledge that "protects" them from the direct rays I can incorporate that into the build. Help please. Examples/ light fixtures/ anything
 

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All the plants you list are grown under normal viv lighting, so any fixture that you find mentioned in build threads would be worth checking into. "Shade" recommendations are relative to sunlight, which we don't really use in vivs. Choosing a lighting option that is dimmable (many are) gives more options for plant choices, as well.
 

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What @Socratic Monologue said is true, pretty much every lighting setup we have would be considered “shade”, no artificial lights can fully replicate sunlight and anyway we’re usually trying to imitate a forest floor or canopy, where everything is quite shaded.

Since paludariums are not good habitats for dart frogs, they aren’t as common on here, but I do have a paludarium and don’t have dart frogs so I can give some more specific recommendations:

If you are only growing low light plants like the ones you listed, you can use a dim light fixture and this will also help your algae situation. Most aquarium people have a light cycle that is only 6-8 hours on each day, whereas vivarium people growing tropical plants usually do 12 hours of light each day. If you try to combine this 12 hour cycle with an aquatic section it results in a vicious algae bloom before other aquatic plants get a good foothold, so just be aware of that.

However, while lower light will reduce algae, it will also severely limit which aquatic plants you can grow. Artificial lights fall off steeply in intensity the farther you get from the light, so the light that is hitting your water will be much less intense than the light hitting plants higher up in your tank.

So, like everything involving paludariums, this is going to be a balancing act. I strongly recommend getting a light where you can adjust intensity, so you can start out dim to keep the initial algae bloom under control, and then slowly raise the light level until you find the sweet spot where both aquatic and terrestrial plants are happy. Maybe you can do the same thing with lighting schedule instead of intensity, starting at 6 hours a day and slowly going up to 12. At that point (probably 6 months in) is when I would recommend adding whatever creature you have intended for the tank. Just not, of course, dart frogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for your suggestions and shared knowledge... It makes complete sense and I don't know why I didn't think of that myself. I will definitely get a dimmable lighting set up. As for the inhabitant @Harpspiel, I will only be doing fire belly toads after the build is complete and thriving. I was thinking of maybe doing two 13W jungle dawn lights side by side to light the terrestrial plants and then a spotlight in the center of the tank (further away from the planted portion) to penetrate down into the water for aquatic plants. I hadn't thought about the algae bloom though.
 

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Aquarium people will tell you that you can’t keep a healthy aquatic environment with lights on for 12 hours a day. I’ll tell you I have managed it, but with a dense aquatic planting and very light bioload (just shrimp and a snail), and a lot of algae for months. Maybe a fast-growing low light aquatic plant that can take over just at the start, and then you can trim it back or give it away and replace with more desirable plants.

To see what has worked for me, you can check out my build and I’m happy to provide suggestions and planting lists.
 
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