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Office Paludarium

Discussion in 'Aquascaping' started by JDowns, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Waiting on the building engineer to approve the first tank that is going into this office space. We decided to start with the smaller lobby tank. The office has a very Japanese feel with lots of waterfalls for ambient noise, and sculpturs.

    The tank will be a 134.65g, 72x24x18(t). Custom tank from Lee Mar.

    We want no visible equipement. So the tank will be bottom drilled. I was planning on each back corner having a glass partition for the intakes, 4x4x6t. This way I could isolate the intakes and have them hidden by the slope and plants. One side would be the main instake, the alternate would be for optional surface skimming with clear pvc pipe if necessary. I want to leave that option open.

    Then have 4 outtake ports, two on each side 12" apart starting 12" from each side and 6" from the back in. I can use the 3/4" loclines to position them from there to be hidden behind rocks.

    I plan to utilize another Reeflo pump like I have done with my 150g, Nu-Clears, UV, modded pump for CO2, etc.

    I may just use AS, instead of going through the hassle of making another large batch of worm castings. Although I'm still largely surprised by how clean the ZeoSand stays. Growth has been wonderful, so thats an area I'll have to decide on. Plus keeping slopes is a challenge, so thats a decision point also.

    I'll be making a trip in the near future to Aqua Forest to look for some stones.

    Not sure on the lighting just yet. Black fixtures are out, and silver is my only option. So I'm looking at a Geisemann fixture. Tom how do you like the 4ft fixture on your 180g? I would like to stay away from MH if I can.

    Plants are yet undecided.

    I'll swap out some Zeolithe from my Nu-Clear to speed up biological. I'll also be tearing down a 30g to start over and use that soil as a bottom layer. This should give me a good boost on bacteria.

    First month will be twice a week wc's. From there I'll scale things back to once every two weeks or so. With less plant mass and lower lighting I should be able to stretch this out some.
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Jdowns,

    Sounds awesome.....

    If it helps any on choosing a MH fixture...

    I have a deeper tank than yours at 24" depth. I have a Current Outer Orbit fixture with 3 150w 6500k bulbs.

    At 21" ABOVE the surface, I can get average 100 or so micromoles at the surface and average of 50 or so at the substrate. When the lights were hung 7" LOWER you can easily double the PAR readings.

    So MH can be VERY bright and produce intense light and are very responsive to height adjustment. Spread leaves something to be desired but the extra height above the tank alleviates this somewhat.

    My tank sides are LESS dark with the greater height.

    I would go for T5 fixture to get a nice spread. I doubt you will need MH unless as a burst or for a specific grouping. If you get a 2-4 bulb fixture you can do any combination of intensity and temps/colors bulbs and should be plenty to grow whatever your choices are.

    Is it too much to get a black fixture and make it silver somehow? Duct tape? Just kidding lol

    I concur with the choices for plumbing and filtration.......I used the 3/4 loc-line for my outlets and it works wonderfully. Make sure you get some y splits and connectors/elbows. Here is a good site to get a nice collection:

    ModularHose.com - Loc-Line Modular Hose System

    What about ADA and DSM based on layout and plant choices? Nice challenge but does the client have the patience?

    If you add a sponge or two to an existing mature tank for even a few weeks it will help seed the new tank.... I have often done this. Not sure if I have 1 or 1 zillion bacteria, but anything can help.

    Hope this helps and keep us posted.
     
  3. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    I threw out the DSM, and gave the pros and cons, especially if HC is used as the main foreground. There was some initial hesitance, and was told in the end do whatever I want. If I end up the HC route then I will DSM this tank. I do have a large collection of E. Tennellus 'red micro' I would love to use as the background grass mixed in with some Tennellus that tends to go gold as it does in my tank. Use that as a backdrop to some HC. With black stone that would be a really nice layout.

    Basically only requirements I've been given is, hide the equipment as much as humanly possible, and get input on fish species when the time comes. Otherwise I have free reign and a large budget.

    Thanks for the link from ModularHose. I'll definatly be ordering from them. Great prices.

    Main reason I want to stay away from MH is the heat issue. Even though the lobby area is large , I don't want to add any unneccesary heat. With an 18" tall tank T5's are perfect if not to much for the rate of growth I want. The dimensions should give a nice field of depth and height for doing a Iwagumi. But seeing the pictures of the wood Tom's collecting I just might have to drive back and go the wood route :p.
     
  4. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well I made the mistake of showing the client some Paludarium photos while we are waiting on the engineering report for insurance for the office space.

    Plan B.

    405g Paludarium is now the choice of the week. :p Which is great since I've wanted to do another for a long time, and it fits the feng shui of the space better.

    Kinda makes my trip to AFA a waste for this project. But I haven't been there in almost a year, so it will be a fun trip anyways. This time I'll not plan on going on Tuesday. :p

    But a DSM for HC will definatly happen.
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you decide you need a Plan C, here is a suggestion: 120 gallon Mexico river riparium. I haven't seen any of these in person, but they seem to be extraordinarily beautiful to me.
     
  6. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom who do you use for custom tanks out there. I'm getting conflicting information on LeeMar's willingness to meet my needs in designing the tank. So I figured I'd research some options, or I just order the shell and have it predrilled and do the customization myself, which might be the best option.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd not hassle with MS, go with the ADA AS, and use the Tek 5t lights, you cna switch off 1/2 of them easily, and likely will after you see they do a fine job at 1.5-2 w/gal for every type of planted tank, they also give a nicer spreay over 24" widths than say 2 cheesy smaller lights.
    Looks better etc.

    If you do not like the color, then simple tape it up and then spray paint to suit.

    Easy.

    Get a plumber to put a drain and fill line directly to the tank for WC's.
    This will save everyone a lot of pain.

    Semi manual, you can turn a valve to do the change and turn another to fill.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

    For stones, make a trip to any number of good rock landscape supply places and look around. There are so many good volcanic rock and other types in CA, particularly in the foothills and desert areas.
     
  8. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well finally got approval, and the office expansion is now complete. Added an additional 3000sqft. So things have finally settled down so the owner and I can concentrate on this project.

    Stand is now complete and was designed and finished to match existing furniture.

    Footprint for tank is 6' x 2'.

    Body is quartersawn verticle cut Narra with Tropical Mahogony inlays, top and bottom trim.

    Multiple layers of self tinted stains, finished with multiple layers of tinted finishing waxes. I prefer finishing waxes rather than polyurethane. Gives more depth to the finish without that "plastic" appearance that poly clear coats can give.

    Rather than hardware pulls I opted for Salice self opening hinges for a cleaner look.

    Before Finishing

    [​IMG]

    After Finishing

    [​IMG]
     
  9. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Starting to get really excited about this build. I have an appt later this week with Tenecor to go over the final build requirements for the tank.

    A leak test and layout build will be done here at the house prior to moving it into the office space. I want to be able to setup over a weekend without any hitches. This will also give me plenty of time to get plants ordered in and in temporary enclosures.

    I'll take plenty of pictures of the build process.
     
  10. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tank specs have been finalized and delivery is in 2-3 weeks. I built a mockup so I can get started on hardscaping. This will allow me to get started on the build without the tank and less of a chance of damaging the tank with any unforseen mistakes. This will also aid in predesigning equipment layouts effeciently.

    I've pretty much decided on equipment.

    First of all there are three seperately contained areas. (Pics later, dead camera battery). Two land areas and a contained water area.

    All components will come in or go out of the bottom of the tank. So a completely bottom drilled tank so everything is hidden.

    Filtration will be a NC 533 with a Zeolite bag in the center driven by either a Blueline 30 or 40 series. More than likely a 30 series. This will input from an 1.5" intake to two ouputs driven by a squid to alternate currents. (more on this later).

    Lighting will be 4 3' IceCap T5's with their dimmable ballast controlled by an AquaController. Upper range PAR will be dialed in nicely this way. I might have to add another two but this is a retrofit into a hood so adding light will be easy.

    Undecided on a water feature as of yet (ie stream/waterfall), hardscaping will determine the need later.

    Ten gallon sump for auto top offs with a float switch, and anti-siphon. Water changes this way can also be done completely outside of the tank. Water added back in from sump, and drained from NC port.

    Cold water ionic mister will be humidity regulated for on/off to maintain humidity levels. (Not sure on the probe yet for this). The ionic mister holds 3 gallons of water which should last a significant amount of time before refills. This will also add a nice rolling fog effect a few times a day when it kicks in. Humidity loss/ventillation and the amount of times this has to run per day will have to be a work as you go scenario.

    Tank will be setup for CO2, whether or not it gets used, is another story. but with this type of build coming back later to add items like this would be difficult. I highly doubt it will ever be needed given the plants I'll be using.

    Each dry area will be seperated with a false bottom to allow drainage with about 4" of true soil. (In reality the land area sits up 10"-12". A drain port will be plumbed to drain any buildup over time. I'm currently experimenting with a few wicking options that should help eliminate the frequency of this.

    Soil will most likely be AS for the water area and quite possible AS with a mix of sphagnum for the land areas. So far the AS/Sphagnum mix is doing well in a test tank. By the time this actually gets setup I should have a good feel for its viability. The land area will also have a 1" layer of Turface for water retention as a final layer before the false bottom.

    Land area plants: I'm pretty sure on quite a few of the species I want to utilize some aquatic some not. For the aquatic area it will themed around slow growing low maintanence plants. Primarly Windelov, Anubis, Crypts, mosses, etc. All in all the hardscape will end up determining what plants I end up using. Tomorrow I'll be foraging the forest for wood.

    Air Circulation? More on this later. I have a few ideas I'm testing with waterproof dc powered fans, and is something I need to finalize next week. This is to aid in the air not becoming stagnant and will be directed towards the front glass to keep condensation to a minimum.

    Initial pics later and more to come in the following weeks. :)
     
  11. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Oh and can Tom or Greg when you get a chance retitle this thread to "Office Paludarium" . Since this is no longer an Iwagumi project.
     
  12. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Title changed :)
     
  13. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    A couple quick shots of the start of the mockup. Overall dimensions once again are 72" x 24" 30"(h)

    Made a simple backdrop to visualize height and dimensionality.

    Both land areas left and right are built in and permanent from the center water area which holds 32 gallons of water. The top walls are 10" and will be black. Anubis, ferns, wood, and rockwork, for the most part will hide these walls. This should give me a nice water area for a school of small fish and shrimp.

    1 and 2 are going to be the locations of the outputs via a squid. I'll use loclines here with a wye. Each side with have a spade facing fore and aft. The squid will alternate the current from each side. This should give me good circulation.

    3 is the location for a built in overflow box which will house the float switch and intake.

    Blue tape is the substrate line. The sides will slope up on each end. Moss will do good here to hold the slope along with some other erosion measures.

    [​IMG]

    This is a side view showing the land area of the right side. Eggcrate covered in weed block screen will hold the initial 1" of Turface then the next 3" will be a soil/moss layer. 2" pipe is used to hold the eggcrate up and is foam filled to keep water from collecting and holds the eggcrate to the pipes.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    FInalized the wood mockup and water feature. Most of the water feature gets covered in coir, and then moss, so the only thing really visible is the falls, and the two streams.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now to finalize the ventillation/circulation. This will be somewhat of a challenge given our dry climate, and balancing keeping condensation off the glass.

    I'm playing with an idea to pump air under the land area via two waterproof voltage regulated dc fans. This will be fed from a closed sump tank with an air stone to pump up the humidity. This should force air through the substrate and act like a humidifier. The mister will keep the soil consistently moist. Two other fans will be in the tank to aid in circulation. The sump will serve multiple purposes, auto top off for the water area via a small pump, fresh air pumped under the substrate, and water for the misting system.
     
  15. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    The fan under the substrate appears to be working. First day on the test tank and humidity spiked without any need for the humidifier. Temps also dropped 2 degrees during the day and 4 degrees at night. So the misting system should keep the soil damp enough and the air flow appears to be acting as an evaportive cooler. I'll give it this week to test stability and to make sure the soil doesn't dry out, but given the amount of condensation under the soil layer I don't think this will be a problem.

    I've also ditched the Aquacontroller. It will not suite my needs. Digital Aquatics controller has "seconds" resolution so this greatly enhances flexibility with the misters for sub 60 seconds on/off times. This will also control and automate everything in one unit. Plus after talking with them I'll be able to integrate MSI's humidity probe to work as a humidity sensor/controller. So if humidity falls out of range appropriate measures can be taken.
     
  16. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Jdowns,

    Great progress so far! Lookng forward to more updates and the final product, as I am sure the client is as well lol

    I can't help but picture archer fish in there........picking bugs off the wood. Since you have land, crickets and such could 'naturally' wander out on the branches.

    Just a thought....
     
  17. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    I would love to do archer fish. The client is pretty set on some killi's. But I always throw multiple options out.

    Most the progress will come once the tank is ready. Right now I'm mostly experimenting in a few spare tanks, and putting together the parts lists. I'll order 90% of the equipment this weekend, (lights, controller, pump, filter, bulkheads, etc).

    All the non aquatic plants besides the moss will be ordered a few weeks after its setup. This will allow the tank to settle in and give me time to dial in any problems before dumping a good amount of money on some rare plants. The moss from the supplier is dirt cheap. $40 worth of various tropical mosses is thier smallest package and is more than enough. I started adding up my anubius cost today and forgot just how pricey those plants are :p.
     
  18. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Completed the "psuedo sump". Air pump on top left to pump in fresh air. 2" output to pump in the fresh humid air underneath the land area (center), any condensation in the pipes will eventually make its way here. I used a spare Mag 5 for the auto top/off pump, the output for this is on the top right with the true union. Straight ahead is the hose fitting for filling the tank. When the misting system arrives the bulkhead fitting will go on the right side underneath the auto top/off bulkhead but at the bottom. This gives me 10-12 gallons of top off and misting water. Due to the nagging fear of a failure the auto top off will have its own output point above the waterline in the tank.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    Heres a few photo's of a grow out tank of Staurogyne sp. prepping for this tank.

    First photo is one of the initial plants planted early to test before I took out my whole stock on put in this tank and has converted to the typical shorter and rounder leaf structure. Second photo is a plant recently put in and shows the typical submersed leaf structure. Third photo is a plant that was overgrown by Blyxa resulting in poor flow and low lighting. Notice the curved leaves. When I had poor Co2 this plant would show this on every single plant along with elongated stems, fixing CO2 caused a change in the leaf structure.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Given its much faster growth rate as a terrestrial plant. My next setup in my 150g will be a dry start Staurogyne Iwagami. Which will be soon since I'll be ripping out all of my Anubius and M. Windlove for this tank. Good timing for a tank change. :D

    (sarcasm)

    I guess I could call this Staurogyne sp. Super Morph. In that depending on the growing conditions it would revert to a completely different species of Staurogyne, according to others assertions on identification. (/sarcasm).
     
  20. JDowns

    JDowns Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is a plant I collected (borrowed) from the BLM on a recent outing to a fortunatly not well known warm water spring in central AZ. Its doing really well in the test tank. Sends out runners as you can see in the picture and spreads fairly quickly and densly. Typical height in nature was 3" and formed a very dense carpet partially submersed but seems to do will in just a damp substrate. I haven't tried it fully submersed yet, but I'm not to confident it will grow aquatically since it wasn't growing that way at the springs.

    I plan on heading back this weekend and bringing my camera this time. Its definatly a little ecosystem that one would not expect to find in Arizona. The springs and the falls give the area a very tropical feel. This time I'll bring adequate containers for sample plants.

    [​IMG]
     
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