Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paludarium Start

I've decided to make a paludarium since I will most likely be in this apartment for several years. I kept one in college that I loved but eventually had to get rid of. At the time, I didn't know the word 'paludarium,' but had devised the set up on my own, using a tupperware to separate the land portion from the water. I had three tree frogs, a house gecko, an anole, a firebelly toad, and three fire-belly newts living in that vivarium, with seemingly none of the problems generally associated with mixing species: in over a year, none of my animals died (except for one that escaped, found its way into my roommate's underwear drawer, and dried out). Wish I still had pictures (Here are pics of other people's projects.)

Deciding to do some research on waterfall construction, I discovered that people all over the place are making professional quality paludariums that look just like the setups I've always loved seeing at zoos. So I've decided to make my own.

I'm not sure the gallon measurement of this (Probably about 29?) tank, but I got a good deal on it on Rakuten: 4000 yen. It measures 60 cm x 30 cm x 45 cm high. Using insulation foam and some styrofoam bricks I found at the local home center, I've constructed the basic outline of my rock work. Because the 'bricks' already have holes cut in them, I'm hoping that this will allow me to easily plant things and keep them separated from the water portion.
I've constructed the waterfall portion on out insulation foam. It's pretty easy to work with. I've been cutting it with a cheap soldering iron. As seen in the picture, there is a shallow trough along the top ridge of the waterfall. I've opened a small hole along the back wall where the hose from my filter will continual empty its water. I've then cut ridges all down the front of the rock face, so hopefully, the water will flow down in several places. I want to get moss growing in some of the crevices, and hopefully it will look very cool.
Along the walls I've placed cork bark which will eventually be fastened into place using expanding foam sealant. I plan to use the silicone / coco fiber technique on the rest of the open portions seen in this picture.
Now that I have shaped the foam into rock-like shapes, my next step is to put several layers of waterproof concrete on them, which I will then have to cure for about a month, leeching out all of the lye so it doesn't cause havoc with the ph levels of the water.
More to come after!

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