Category Archives: Paludarium

The stuff Paludariums are made of

People are often confused what things are all in the paludarium, what they are called and what they do. In this blog post I’ll explain the different components (sub projects if you will) that make up the paludarium today.

A quick overview

In order to get the paludarium working as it works today, I had to run several different projects and put them all together. First I’ll quickly list all the different components:

  1. The Cabinet – The custom-built cabinets that hold the paludarium;
  2. The Paludarium – The glass structure that holds water and air (the paludarium is a closed construction);
  3. The Land part – The part above water. Filled with tropical plants, and for now no animals here;
  4. The Aquatic part – The front underwater part of the paludarium, where the fish live;
  5. The Sump – The rear underwater part. Any excess water from the Aquatic part is dumped here, and the plants living on the background panel get their water from here (and return it there too);
  6. The Waterworks – The board in the cabinet that holds all the plumbing (water valves etc);
  7. The Canopy – The intelligent armature sitting on top of the paludarium;
  8. PaluPi – A standard Raspberry Pi with an RS232 level converter that sits inside the Canopy and handles all the “smart thinking”;
  9. Apollo units – Named after the god of light, there are around 12 of these units inside the Canopy, each handling up to 4 leds, halogens, TLs or fans;
  10. Neptune module – Still under development, this unit controls all pumps, valves etc in the Waterworks;

Quite a list right? Everything in this list had to be tuned Read more »

Paludarium planted!

Just a quick post to show of the new plants in the paludarium! I just finished planting the non-aquatic plants, and I am very happy with the results:

non-aquatic part planted as well!

non-aquatic part planted as well!

I could not resist this VERY cool orchid when I saw it in the shop. Hopefully Read more »

Bringing all technology together

As the paludarium slowly got all parts in place, I set myself a goal: I wanted to have it filled with water on my birthday! That proved to be a LOT of work; but it paid off! In this blog post I’ll show you the final tidbits that made the paludarium ready to contain water.

background and waterfall

The background now has two layers of epoxy where I poured this jungle soil over the epoxy. The result is almost covering the background, and not that much white is showing (from the styrofoam). Now it was time to glue the background in! I used aquarium silicon glue for this:

The background being glued in place. Note the stick under the background to make sure it stays in place.

The background being glued in place. Note the stick under the background to make sure it stays in place.

Note the stick that holds the background in place while the glue dries. With that done, it was on to Read more »

Building the Backgrounds using Epoxy resin

After a really busy time, I finally have had some time to work on the paludarium once more. This time I have started working on the various backgrounds using epoxy resin.

Preparations

Preparing to work with epoxy resin isn’t that hard, but you need to sort out what you will be doing and have all tools required at hand: The epoxy resin starts to set within an hour, so once you have mixed up the components you need to be ready to go. This is what I used:

Preparing for the first epoxy resin layers.

Preparing for the first epoxy resin layers.

It is VERY important that Read more »

Taking a chance: Adding lianas to the background

Sometimes you have to take a chance. I wanted some realistic roots worked into the background (above water). But how to find nice pieces that will not rot too quickly?

Contestants for a wooden background above water

I have been looking at a lot of different types of wood to use in the background on land. The wood should not rot too quickly, so my first thought was to use driftwood, or rather the sinking type used in aquariums all over the world.

But it proved to be very hard to actually find pieces that Read more »

Styropor construction of the background and waterfall

Finally I had some time to build pieces of the paludarium again… This time the background above water, the land portion between the aquatic part and the sump… And the waterfall! In this blog post I’ll discuss the technique used in more detail.

The background

The background is made from a large, single piece of styropor foam:

Starting out with just one big block of stryrofoam... And some cutters.

Starting out with just one big block of stryrofoam… And some cutters.

I took several styrofoam cutters to it before it became a little bit in the direction of what I was looking for. I made several Read more »

Aquatic background glued in

Now that all the water stuff has been built and tested, I emptied the paludarium again. High time to start working on the backgrounds and waterfall.

The Aquatic background

It makes sense to start with the aquatic background, as I bought this background and do not plan on building it myself. As the paludarium will be amazonian, I choose the amazonian version from Akwaline, and after glueing it in it looks like this:

The Akwaline background glued in place.

The Akwaline background glued in place.

I decided to align the background to the right (as I look straight into the right side of the paludarium as well. So the right side is glued directly against the Read more »

Rain Down On Me

One of the last things to build and test with all the water stuff, was rain. So I added a small installation with sprinklers that get fed directly from the tap water.

Rain Down On Me

The rain installation is controlled electronically (duh!). On the WaterWorks under the paludarium, I have one electromagnetic valve that can be opened to feed the rain installation:

The magnetic valves on the WaterWorks. The one on the left controls the osmosis filter, the center one inputs tap water into the aquatic part, and the rightmost has now been connected with a thin black tube to allow for rainfall.

The magnetic valves on the WaterWorks. The one on the left controls the osmosis filter, the center one inputs tap water into the aquatic part, and the rightmost has now been connected with a thin black tube to allow for rainfall.

The valve on the right has now been connected as well with a thin black tube. This tube is fed upwards, and Read more »

The Paludarium Completely Filled

Today I filled the paludarium fully. Now the water levels are exactly as projected, and overflow neatly into the sewer if there is any surplus.

Filled up

Fully filled, the paludarium weighs around 370 kilos right now. And I still need the Canopy on there, sand inside… But the cabinet is holding up perfectly. Nothing bending through, nothing giving way.

If the tap water or the reverse osmosis unit is turned on, it fills the aquatic part. The aquatic part overflows in the dirty-water part in the rear. If that overflows, it is dumped straight into the sewer:

Detail of the sewer pipe in the paludarium. Any access water will flow straight into the sewer. Note how the water is exactly leveled to the edge of the drain.

Detail of the sewer pipe in the paludarium. Any access water will flow straight into the sewer. Note how the water is exactly leveled to the edge of the drain.

The inside of the paludarium is a bit of a construction site right now. It looks like this:

Water in the paludarium fully filled. The aquatic part left is about to overflow to the dirty-water part (right) and in turn that water is drained to the sewer.

Water in the paludarium fully filled. The aquatic part left is about to overflow to the dirty-water part (right) and in turn that water is drained to the sewer.



Hoses ‘n stuff

There are a lot of hoses inside the paludarium Read more »

Water for the First Time!

Today it was finally time… All the puzzle pieces for the WaterWorks could be put together! After testing the WaterWorks for leaks, it was time to mount the board under the paludarium, hook things up and test… For the very first time actual water inside the paludarium!

Mounting the WaterWorks

The waterworks were build on a separate board, outside of the paludariums cabinet. All parts that need to be under the paludarium that handle water are mounted here. The WaterWorks look like this:

The Paludarium WaterWorks. This board is mounted under the paludarium and it handles the water household.

The Paludarium WaterWorks. This board is mounted under the paludarium and it handles the water household.

Today I mounted this board in the cabinet under the Read more »