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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I remember many, MANY years ago I had a 20-long (sounds cooler when it's called a 75 liter) with a couple fire-bellied toads. Melinda and I had just married and she enjoyed the chirping (I did not). So this will NOT likely be a fire-bellied set up. The noise is a bit much, plus they really need more land area than I am willing to give up.

I am thinking more along the lines of Notopthalmus viridiscens. I've enjoyed a pair of these in the past so they are on the top of the consideration list. A few shrimp and fish will be added, but only as tank cycling and potential food source (no scaping for them).

This will be the kids' project, so unfortunately you will NOT be dazzled with any artistic ability. But once it's finished the kids, and Melinda and I will enjoy it and that's all that matters. Starter pics for preparing the glass to come...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So far I've got the glass painted for the background. Spray paint (or acrylic for that matter) is so much nicer than trying to cut and apply backgrounds, and the edges of the glass get covered as well so the end result is just really nice. You can see this was a bit of a hasty job (minor runs on the side) as this was in between chores, supper, nightly routine...humid down here in TX on top of that...but this will be inset a little so we'll never see them ;)

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Next will be the hardscape, but that'll be a while unless I can break away and focus some time on it. Or...I could let the kids run with it, but I really need to make sure whatever we come up with will support some weight, as well as a water pump for filtration. So we'll see...baby steps...
 

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My last fire-bellied toad died of old age last year. It was a female so I hadn't heard any chirping for a long time, I really miss them.

Eastern newts have been on my list for a long time, so I will be following with great interest!
 

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Looking forward to how the hard scape turns out !
 

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There are a few aquatic newts and salamanders here in Ohio. I've only seen the terrestrial newts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There are a few aquatic newts and salamanders here in Ohio. I've only seen the terrestrial newts.
You may already know this, but some newts (mainly the eastern newt) has a terrestrial juvenile stage that can last quite a long time (red eft) and then they will become aquatic adults.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, so update pics and then a story about a lesson learned the hard way which will result in an opportunity to try this out in my spare 20H quarantine tank (or buy another 20 long).

I left the rough look of the blob and told the kids it was lava flow...it'll be covered eventually by moss and plants (over time) so really it just needs to support itself.
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Waterfall for filtration. Underneath all this mess are sponge filter pads to keep junk out of the pump and to serve as long-term filtration media. It can theoretically be surgically removed from the left side, but I admit it's going to be a pain to put it back once clean.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I wish I could post more than 5 images at a time but here's the tank at first glance...and of course you'll notice I did not bother to let the water clear before taking pics...reason to come with the final pic and lesson learned in next post.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So the lesson learned is a reminder of something I've known since I was a kid. One of the first things you are taught...do a leak-test BEFORE you invest your time and money into painting a background/sides, creating a miniature waterfall feature, silicone-installing hardscape, carefully placing Eco-Complete, getting your plants where you want them, and seeding your sphagnum bed with the plant species you want to see filling in the terrestrial loft over time.

Otherwise you could get this gentle reminder, which also grants you the opportunity to undo everything you've just done...not to mention having voided the opportunity to return your tank since you've painted and glued all over it...ugh.

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I'll wait a week or so and then will probably drain my QT tank and use that. The hardscape took a little damage trying to remove it (I do pretty effective silicone work evidently). This was sooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating. I may have used interesting words a time or two. But like Davemonkey told me in a text last night...at least it wasn't the 125 that was leaking. Indeed...
 

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Bummer about the leak! It was looking very cool until that happened. What kind of foam did you use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bummer about the leak! It was looking very cool until that happened. What kind of foam did you use?
I used the pond foam that is make specifically for outdoor garden ponds (Melinda found it for me actually)...I'll see if I can find the empty can if it hasn't gone out in the trash yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Smartpond is the brand name (written really small on the can) Waterfall Foam Sealant...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
TAKE 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, after lots of "life" and trying to get this going I have finally got it set up as a new Day 1.
I found the source of the leak and cut/pulled/applied silicone, then my pump got jammed (it is embedded into the scape...oh my goodness...)...anyway, it's done.

This pic is literally a day 1, moment 1 type of shot. So future photos will probably wait a few weeks as the water cycles and plants decide whether to make it or not et cetera. No heater (will not be part of this setup), and I still need a proper light and canopy over this thing (please don't ask...that was takes 2 and 3...please let me just be okay with being where I'm at...). The waterfall is "cool" according to the kids but I don't know how to do a video here (advice welcome).

Anyway, without further adieu...
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Your foam work is the best I've seen. When I did my 20high paludarium I used natural limestone. Eventually I was happy with the result, but it took hours and hours of cutting and fitting the stone,

You have also avoided a mistake I made. My major emersed plants are anubias and C. wendtii. They grew prodigiously, shading out anything I tried to grow submerged in the foreground.

After the last fire-bellied toad died of old age (RIP little froggie!), I flooded the tank and turned a horde of platies loose in it. But I could lower the water level and reinstall the pump if tempted by some new amphibious inhabitant. . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Updated Pics 1 and 2 of total 7

Overall view of the tank
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Overall view of the upper part - my daughter gathered some terrestrial mosses to see if they will work in here. So far so good, and worst case scenario is they'll add some soil and OM to the top.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update pics 3-7 of total 7...some of these are showing similar shots but with different focus. The water pump is working great so far, and mosses/plants are doing well.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
One of the cool things about homeschooling is using the extra setups for biology class.
I still have not made my mind up on a newt species for this setup, so in the meantime Melinda added some wood frog tadpoles since three of our kids are learning about the development stages of frogs. I think one of the older kids may be needing to do a dissection, but my guess is these little guys will be returned from whence they came once they've developed.

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