The Paludarium

by Kent Turner

A paludarium encompasses the habitat where water and air play equal importance. A paludarium may incorporate a gradually sloped beach, a mangrove flat, a rivers edge, or a flooded forest. There are many ways to use the biotope theme, but they all include some emerged and some submerged area within the same tank. In a brackish paludarium, one could include fiddler crabs, mudskippers, archerfish, and four-eyed anableps to see how these creatures use the air/water zone naturally. In a freshwater paludarium, amphibians such as newts and some frogs, as well as lesser known ceacilians and sirens would work well. In a saltwater paludarium, one could recreate the littoral zone where waves crash upon rocky shores. An elaborate system could include tide pools, and could simulate wave action via timed pumps or a dump-bucket system. With enginuity one could even simulate the ebbs of the tides using a reservoir tank. Encrusting mollusks, sea urchins, crabs, starfish and others would be perfect for this type of setup.

Many freshwater paludariums incorporate waterfalls as part of the theme. These are easy to construct using rocks and a circulating pump. There are commercial inserts you can buy to provide waterfalls and pools inside the aquarium. While fun, these don't appear very natural. It is more rewarding to start from scratch and design your own, and the end result can be far superior. There are different ways to construct a paludarium. Lets examine a few methods:

Land/water divider

Slope or shelf

Land wall

Emergent rocks or branches

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