People, especially those living in a city, want to bring some part of nature also in their homes. Some grow flowers, others set up terrariums and aquariums, but there are also people, to whom it’s not enough. I wanted a river with banks and a waterfall as well, so I came to the creation of a new ecosystem called paludarium.
I selected a definite place in the room and according to its size ordered a custom made tank and table, under which we placed the belongings of Susurs (our rabbit).
In order this corner of nature looked as natural as possible, I took all decorative materials from nature and hided the equipment or left it outside. As the equipping, collecting of decorative materials, acquisition of plants and multiple alteration took a lot of time, it took about 10 months until this system could be concidered as finished.
The paludarium is set up in a 430 liter fish tank (163 x 66 x 40 cm). There is a natural cork bark background attached inside and above the rear and the right side of the tank. The Paludarium has two land parts - one on the right side and one on the left rear corner.
The land part consists of several layers. The lowest layer is gravel, which covers the whole bottom of the tank and the heating cable, then come the large stones and clay blocks, which are completely under water. The next one is the partly immersed clay ball layer. The top layer consists of house plant soil. Thanks to this kind of layer building technology, the soil is always moist, but not too wet.
The water and the land parts aren’t hermetically separated. On the left side a piece of cork bark is used as a separator that doesn’t cover the whole boundary area, but on the right side there is a stone heap. There are a lot of small gaps between the stones, through which the water flows to the rear right paludarium corner going to external filter’s inflow pipe. The ending of the filter outflow pipe is located at the land part on the left side of the paludarium.
An additional water flow comes from a water pump hidden on the right side of the water part and used for water pumping up to the dry land, where a small pond is created and decorated with stones, behind which an ultrasonic fogger is hidden. Through a riverbed the water flows in the main water part making a waterfall. There are also PH controller electrodes and a heating cable thermostat hidden near the water pump. Other equipment (external filter, external heater, CO2 system, misting system pump) is placed under the table.
A lot of hiding places are available for inhabitants – there are many pieces of driftwood in the water, various plants and about 15 cm deep cave in the stone heap. The water part is also decorated with stones of different sizes. All these hideouts are used by the main owners of the paludarium: four dwarf puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) - two males and two females, who have already managed to spawn here once. Puffers live well with shrimps, who carefully clean up all the remnants (remains of snails and bloodworms) after puffer mealtime.
There are no inhabitants on the land part, excluding earthworms, snails and other small creatures brought from forest together with mosses. Sometimes I let my canary bird come here on a visit, he enjoys the water moisture and the warmth coming from the lamps, as well as dabbling in the river.
The main part of the dry land cover creepers, which have climbed over the whole territory of the paludarium – dry land, cork bark walls, branches and all the other places they can reach. For example, Ficus pumila has crept out of the paludarium and climbed about one meter up the room wall. There are also plants growing in soil and those, which grow in a place containing only clay balls and pine bark layer with a poor mix of soil (dendrobium, vanilla orchid), and epiphytes, which I keep attached to the cork bark or fixed between the stones (tillandsies, mini phaelonopsis). Aquarium plants, which are growing on a dry land or immersed, for example, Hydrocotile leucocephala, Hydrocotile verticillata, Christmas moss, riccia, anubiases are also interesting.
All the plants are lightened from the top for nine hours a day by JBL Solar 4 Star 4x80W lighting system hanging between willow branches and modified for use with two timers. At first, there are shining two lamps, then four and before the light turns off again - two. The strong lighting allows to grow not only terrestrial plants, but also demanding aquarium plants, for example, Hemianthus callitrichoides "Cuba", Pogostemon helferi etc.
Of course, due to the strong lighting, a proper fertilizing and a CO2 injection is necessary. I am using a pressurized CO2 with external reactor. The CO2 injection is controlled by a PH controller (Dennerle Evolution DeLuxe), keeping PH level at 6,90. I am fertilizing my plants daily with micronutrient fertilizer F1, EasyLife Ferro, KNO3 and H2PO4. Every weekend before the water change (about 40% per week) I am taking tests (Fe, NO3, PO4) and, depending on the results, I am planning a dosage for the next week. There are also fertilizers in the gravel - Tetra Initial Sticks and JBL Balls. For water changes I am using tap water mixed with reverse osmosis water in a 1:1 ratio.
Carinotetraodon travancoricus (dwarf puffers), (2 males, 2 females)
Neocaridina heteropoda (shrimps in various colors - red, yellow, transparent)(~100)
unbidden guests - Arion circumscriptus Johnston, Lumbricus rubellus and other small creatures
Mangrove and mopani driftwood
Cork bark and cork branches
Stones of varios sizes
Expanded clay bricks and balls
Plastic pipes, silicone and construction foam