90g Cliffside Paludarium Build (Let's try this again)

By: lonesomeshark
May 8th, 2013
2:09 am

90g Cliffside Paludarium Build (Let's try this again)

OK. Sorry for the trouble with the last post attempt. Hopefully, this post will not create a problem.

This is my first post though I have been lurking for a while and have really enjoyed the creativity and inspiration provided by all of you. I'm looking forward to learning more!

Here is my new paludarium build and my first attempt at a build such as this. My hope is to create the appearance of a cliff with land mass jutting out above and beach area below. The water section will be sparsely planted. My thought was to create a bonsai forest on top of the cliff. I am not sure of options for species that can interact with the land section and would love your input on this...


Tank dimensions- 47" x 22" D x 19.5" H
Light- Medium-high LEDs though I have not measured PAR levels- about 12" above water level
Substrate- Medium Sand on the bottom with some Microbe-Lift Aquatic Plant Media. I used some spare Fluval Stratum and top soil for the land area
CO2 injection
Filtration is via a 45g diy sump with biomedia and separate refugium
I am also using a MistKing misting system for the emersed plants/bonsai

Background- These are real rocks that are foamed together with black expanding foam to create a nice stable cliff-like appearance (no worry of falling rocks here)

Rocks were chosen to fit together and then foamed. Sand is piled up initially and pressed into foam before it fully cures/sets to give a more natural appearance. I like the way this has turned out so far. Will let you know how it stands up over time.

I used styrofoam to support the rocks while the foam cured and then removed it. The styrofoam was replaced with a PVC and egg crate false bottom to support the land area.

View from behind showing the foam 'seams' that will completely separate the land section.

Plumbing is hidden behind the cliff and enters the water area through a couple of small supply holes built into the cliff wall. Detail view below.

I used some weed barrier fabric over the egg crate to allow water to travel under the front gravel section in the area of the submersed cliff. This will allow this area to be 'flooded' so I can have some emersed plants that like wet feet. I am thinking of an HC carpet here that will be partially emersed. In the areas of land that I want to keep dry, I am using some spare EPDM rubber pond liner that I had laying around that I siliconed to the back side of the rock cliff. This is being supported by the false bottom.

Perspective view of the tank positioned in the living room wall unit.

Starting to plant and stock with some colored skirt tetras, danios, and Endlers.

Couple of detail shots.

Side is viewable as well showing open top. Water is still hazy in this pic.

I'm experimenting with some mosses for the land portion. Need something that likes light!

This is where I'm at right now in the build. I will post updates when I've had a chance to plant the land section.

Are there any suggestions on a semi-aquatic species that will get along with fish and perhaps come out on the land section without risk of escape through the open top? FW crab maybe?

Also, any thoughts on some nice submersed plants that are small leaved and will maintain the desired scale? I don't want a broad-leafed or stem plant that will look too large in perspective.

Thanks for your input in advance.

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92 comments on "90g Cliffside Paludarium Build (Let's try this again)"

  • Michael
    May 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

    This looks great, I can't wait to see it fully planted and grown!

    Take a look at Marselia, Anubias barteri 'Nana Petite', Hydrocotyle tripartita, and Ranunculus inudatus. All will grow submerged or emersed, and have the fine texture you are looking for.

  • lonesomeshark
    May 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations Michael. All really good, especially the ranunculus. What a nice looking plant! I have never used it before.

  • DonaldmBoyer
    May 8, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Incredible build with a lot of potential! Love it!! So cool! What do you plan on planting in the top?

  • AaronT
    May 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Very cool setup. I think this is the first paludarium I've seen that doesn't incorporate wood into the hardscape. It begs the question, where did you get those sweet stones?

  • Michael
    May 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Lonesome, I hope your last post is visible to everyone--I notice that it is highlighted in blue like the post in your first thread that no one could see except me. Strange! If anyone has problems seeing it, please let me know and I will copy and re-post.

    Donald and Aaron, Lonesome replied to your posts in the "blue" post.

    I grow bonsai too, and a little forest of Ficus nerifolia v. salicifolia would look fantastic.

  • Yo-han
    May 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Bonsai would be really nice indeed. But the rock wall is very very well done!

    PS. post not visible indeed Michael...

  • lonesomeshark
    May 9, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Michael, too weird. The post is not visible. When I posted yesterday, I got a message saying that the post had to be reviewed by a moderator before it could be published. Guess I'm on the watch list!
    No worries, I had copied the response just in case and am pasting below...

    "Donald, thank you. I hope I can realize the potential and not blow it on the planting! I am toying with the idea of doing a forest of bonsai trees on top surrounded by rolling moss and low-growing cover plants.

    Aaron, you probably see more wood because wood is cheaper than stone! That being said, I got these from a store fairly local to me called AB Bonsai that I read about on one of the forums. They sell the stone under the name Gray Yin stone although, to my eye, it looks identical to Seiryu stone and much cheaper! If you buy it in bulk from them, you can get the stone at less than $1/lb (cheap in relative terms of course...river rock is 10 cents a pound!). The bags they sell have a lot of smaller pieces but they allowed me to comb through their stock to pick out the choice ones. One advantage of this type of scape is that you can use relatively thinner, lighter pieces that do not need to be able to stand alone and 'hold' the focal space as in an Iwagumi layout. Still, at about 100lbs of stone for this layout, only something this expensive can be called a hobby!"

  • Michael
    May 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Something is definitely wrong. You are not on any "watch list"--I don't think such exists. No one has given you any infractions, which would be the way a moderator would limit your posts if that were necessary for reason. Obviously that is not the case, since you have a moderator and 3 very senior members of APC following your thread closely.

    The only thing I can think of is that your ISP is associated with spam, and you are being screened automatically for that reason.

  • Michael
    May 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I've notified Crowd Gather that they have a technical problem here.

  • Michael
    May 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I am re-posting for Lonesome who is still being blocked. Tech support, this is ridiculous!

    Here's my first attempt at planting the land area. The bonsai is a trident maple...normally an outdoor species but I am going to try my hand at growing it under the grow lights. Might have to uproot it and move it outside come winter time...we'll see. I plan to carry the bonsai forest idea along the back wall with a couple more 'forest' plantings. The ground covers are all varieties of mosses that supposedly enjoy light. I'm looking forward to seeing how they fill in. Your critique is welcome.

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