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 the waterfall and beach.


Waterfall and beach

The Waterfall and beaches have been under constant work. Every day I added some epoxy somewhere. As gravity will make the epoxy leak away, I could only do relatively horizontal surfaces. So every day I turned the pieces over and worked on another part of them. Now that they were finished only a few steps remained in order to get them fitted.

One important one was a way to mount an IP-68 RGB strip under the beaches and waterfall. I decided to use plastic caps from the molex connectors of a PC power supply. I cut off the end, and what remained was a plastic “belt loop” which I glued under the beaches and waterfall:

"belt loops" were glued under the beaches and waterfall to hold an RGB strip later.

“belt loops” were glued under the beaches and waterfall to hold an RGB strip later.

Next I needed to find a way to feed through all cables from the outside into the paludarium without creating a leak. I decided to use a standard 20mm feed-through just like the ones I used for the water. I glued a piece of tube into the feed-through. By filling a piece of PVC pipe with sand and heating it using a small torch I was able to bend the pipe slightly downward. That should keep the water from going out:

Feeding cables and tubes through the glass background without it leaking proved to be difficult. A bent pipe solved the problem.

Feeding cables and tubes through the glass background without it leaking proved to be difficult. A bent pipe solved the problem.

Next I needed to mount pipes and knees to the water feed throughs. As I have two feed-throughs that I use, I needed to make two of these that both will run into the waterfall. After some trial and error (I need to be able to mount and unmount the waterfall if needed with these pipes in place!) I managed to build something that worked:

The water feed-throughs that deliver the filter water and tap water from the outside into the waterfall.

The water feed-throughs that deliver the filter water and tap water from the outside into the waterfall.




Filling the paludarium!

Now I was getting real close. After fighting with several issues I finally got to the stage where I could put in the aquatic soil. As I did before, I just use unwashed sand from the local DIY shop. First I put in a layer of “brekerszand”. This is a very coarse type of sand that caries a lot of clay, perfect for aquatic plants to feed on, not so perfect for clear water. That is why on top of this layer I put a layer of “metselzand”. This sand is much cleaner, less coarse and resembles the bottom of some of the south American rivers I visited (a great example is the burro burro river in Guyana). On top of the sand I put in a normal dish to keep the water from punching a hole in the sand when filling.

When that was done, it was a very very exciting moment: I Opened the tap water valve. Water filled the inner basin of the waterfall, the basin flooded and the water came out and into the aquatic part of the paludarium:

Filling the paludarium with water for the first time!

Filling the paludarium with water for the first time!

It did not take long before the water flooded the aquatic part, and water started to fill up the sump as well. When the sump was filled, the water started to overflow into the sewer. Success!

Completely filled paludarium. Note how the beaches are half-flooded, exactly how it was planned.

Completely filled paludarium. Note how the beaches are half-flooded, exactly how it was planned.

Final touches where getting the filter to run so the water would circulate, and switching on the heater to get the water to a normal temperature. Next to find some pieces of wood for the aquatic part, and of course plant some plants in there.

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