Aquascaping is a popular art of modern era. People are keeping planted aquariums and other forms of aquascapes like as Vivarium and Paludariums. Aquascaping is touching new heights with Vivariums and Paludariums. Vivarium and Paludariums are closed containers used to keep terrestrial and aquatic plants in high humid environment.
A Vivarium is defined as an enclosed container to keep live terrestrial plants and animals for studying and observation. In other words a Vivarium is a portion of an ecosystem for particular animal. The word Vivarium originated from Latin word “viveria” which means “Place of life”.
A Paludarium is a type of Vivarium that contain both terrestrial/aquatic plants and animals inside a closed area. The word Paludarium came in existence from the Latin word “Palus” which means Marsh or Swamp. A paludarium is divided into two sections, Water Area and Land Area like as Marsh areas in nature. The water portion of paludarium is used as an aquarium while the land portion having terrestrial/semi aquatic plants, animals. High humidity is created by using various equipments. People keep fishes, snails, shrimps, crayfishes in water portion and house crabs, newts, frogs in Land portion of container. To do something different, many aquarists turning their interest towards paludariums. Although suitable equipments and tanks are still not available in India but many aquarists showing their interest in paludariums.
|A DIY open paludarium with waterfall||A DIY closed paludarium|
Planning a Paludarium
It is highly recommended to plan the paludarium as per every aspect and requirement of animals to be keep. Water depth should be enough for aquatic animals. Equipments in the paludarium should be choose as per requirement of plant and animals. Filtration should be strong to clean the water. Humidity level is the key factor for the success of growing to terrestrial plants. Proper water drainage is another key factor. Water logging in the roots of terrestrial plants could melt them.
I started my first paludarium in the mid of June 2013. After studying about paludariums, the hunt for equipments begins. But nothing special found on Delhi aquarium shops. So committed to make everything DIY (Do It Yourself).
- Made a DIY paludarium tank.
- 3D background was made using thermocol, cement, rasin etc.
- Rocks were collected from forest.
- Most of the terrestrial plants collected from hilly area.
Flora and Fauna
A wide range of plants; aquatic and terrestrial can be easily grown in a paludarium. Terrestrial plants should be able to grow in humid environment.
Aquatic Plants: Most of the aquatic plants are suitable for the water portion of paludarium. But consider the amount of light reaching upto the surface of paludarium. Sometimes overgrown terrestrial plants stop the penetration of light upto bottom. So it is recommended to keep low/mid light plant like as Anubias sp., Java fern, Hair grass, Marselia hirsute etc. Mosses and Riccia looks very beautiful.
|Bolbitis sp.||Bolbitis heudelotii||Riccia fluitans|
Terrestrial Plant: All the aquatic/semi aquatic and humidity tolerant plant can be grow in land portion of the paludarium. Some of the popular plants are following:
- Aquatic foreground plant such as Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘cuba’, Micranthum ‘Monte carlo’, Marselia sp., Hair grass etc.
- Aquatic ferns like as Java fern, staghorn fern, Bolbitis sp.
- Lagenandra sp.
- Cryptocoryne sp. Plant easily grows in humid environment.
- Anubias family plant.
- Terrestrial ferns like as maidenhair fern, epiphytic ferns etc.
- Terrestrial and Aquatic mosses
- Liverwortsa like as Marchantia sp., subwasertang etc.
- Tillandsia sp.
- Creepers like as Ficus pumila.
|Adiantum raddianum||Cryptanthus||Hemigraphis repanda|
|Selaginella sp.||Terrestrial mosses||Fern|
The most interesting part of paludarium keeping is choices of different type of animals. Always check the basic requirement and compatibility of animals to each other. Some of the common choices of animals for the paludarium are:
- Fishes as per the size of water portion of paludarium.
- Shrimps are tiny creature and play the role of scavenger.
- Cray fishes looks interesting.
- Snails like as Nerite, Assassins can add colors and also clean the leftovers.
- Dwarf crabs like as micro crab (Limnopilos naiyanetri), Vampire crabs (Geosesarma sp.), Panther crab (Parathelphusa pantherina) etc. Watching their activities is a treat for eyes. They are omnivorous and able to eat everything.
- Poison Dart frogs are one of the most colorful creatures on Earth. They are small in size and do not disturb the decoration and arrangement of plants. Unfortunately Indian laws do not allow keeping them. Dwarf frogs, Tree frogs, Pacman frogs, African claw frog are another choices. Sometimes pacman and African claw frogs appear in Indian fish shops.
There are some more choices such as Toads, Axoloti, Salamanders, turtles, snakes etc. But always study deeply before owning any animals. Read carefully about their requirements, feeding habits, water parameters etc. For example many animals like to feed only live creatures. Most of the frogs do not accept flake foods and eat only live food. They continuously need supply of live feed like as fruit fly, insects etc. Ensure the continuous food supply for specific animal before owning any animal.
|Hillstream loach||Nerite snail||Shrimp|
There are many ways to create background of Paludarium. Some aquarists use expandable PU Foam tubes to create the background. They are little bit expensive. I used Thermocol to create background in all of my paludariums.
Procedure to making Background
- Draw the sketch of your theme on paper.
- Lay the thermocol seats with the back wall of paludarium.
- Use sharp knife to cut the thermocol seats as per your theme. Make patterns over the structure.
- Paste the thermocol with aquarium wall using silicone.
- Brought construction cement, cement color as per your choice and make mixture of cement and color. Mix water to make it paste.
- Apply the mixture paste over the thermocol design. Wait to dry it.’
- After getting cement dry, wash the background atleast 15-20 times.
- Now seal all the leakages using silicone. Make holes in background to put the plants. Again apply silicone on the internal walls of these holes. Fill these holes with substrate.
- Fix twigs, driftwoods, Roots over the background.
- The background is almost ready to use.
Making Rainfall System
Rainfall is the essential part of paludarium. Land portion plant needs continuous rainfall. In open paludariums, simply fix a spraybar along with the top walls of the paludarium and supply water using a powerhead.
In closed paludariums, need something expensive. To create humid environment, use a RO Pump and Nozzles to create tiny water vapors. Run it at interval of one hour for 50-60 seconds.
Setting up Paludarium
- Lay the substrate over surface of paludarium. Fill all the holes with substrate.
- Start plantation.
- Stick mosses over walls of the paludarium. Tie the aquatic and epiphytic ferns, Anubias, Bromelied, Cryptanthus etc. with driftwoods, rocks.
- Put the rooted plants in holes.
- Apply water spray after every few minutes to keep plant wet.
- After plantation, start the rain system
- After 15 days, introduce fishes in the tank.
- Shrimp/snails etc. should be introduce after 5-6 weeks.
- Ensure the stable water parameters and proper cycling of the paludarium
- If everything is correct, it is ready to introduce other animals like as crabs, frogs etc.
- Change water every week. Always maintain the water quality. It is best to use RO water.
- Check the holes of spraybar/nozzles every week.
- Remove the food leftovers from the paludarium time to time.
- Remove all the dry and fallen leaves of plants. Trim over grown plants.
- Check the paludarium for any unwanted animal. In open paludariums, sometimes home lizards, cockroaches make their home.
A paludarium is complete replica of a specific habitat. It can be very interesting, if everything including plants and animals are choose with prior research. Ensure the compatibly of all the creatures. Incompatible animals will be disappear one by one. Only the animals stands on top of food chain will be remain live. Paludarium will be convert into a nightmare. So make a dream paludarium, study as much possible about animals, plants etc.