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March '05

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503suzuki1.jpg (38kb)

March '05 - Rony Suzuki's 44 L Nano-Paludarium. (Brazil)

How's this for contrast with the huge cichlid tanks featured last month? Another creative and innovative setup by Brazilian aquarist Rony Suzuki, who could easily have an entire Tank of the Month section just for himself. The description he sent me of this Nano-Paludarium is so good that I don't need to add anything else here...just read below, enjoy and learn!

Owner:Rony Suzuki, 36, from Londrina (Brazil), 20 years of fishkeeping.
Setup:July 2003
Dimensions:30x40x37 cm
Volume: 44 L (nominal), 13 L (effective).
Filtration:Atman AT-005F internal filter.
Lighting:Dynacon daylight compact fluorescent, 6400 K, 30 W, on for 10 hours a day.
Substrate:1 cm humus, 0.5 cm laterite, 5 cm construction sand sifted through two sieves, one smaller and one larger, to obtain a relatively uniform gravel with about 2 mm grain size.
Decoration:Rocks and driftwood (don't know which types).
Water:Temp 26C, pH 6.4, other parameters not measured.
Others:DIY CO2 injector.
Flora:Glossostigma elatinoides, Micranthemum umbrosum, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, Microsorum pteropus, Vesicularia dubyana, Eleocharis sp., Selaginella sp., Ophiopogon japonicus "variegata".
Maintenance:Partial water changes 30% twice a week, filter cleaning every two weeks, CO2 mix renewal every 10 days, plant pruning as necessary.
Comments: I had the tank itself (glass box) custom made for this paludarium, so it has non-standard dimensions with more width than length! I needed this proportion in order to put the internal filter in the back, otherwise I wouldn't have enough room left to work on a good layout.

Paludariums maintain a very high humidity inside, so a glass lid protecting the lighting is always good, but every day when the lights are turned on the lids should be dried, because the accumulation of water on the lid is so great that it hampers the passage of light through the glass. Another important thing to note is that the humidity on the glass should never be allowed to dry naturally (evaporation) because the minerals and metals accumulate on the glass, it becomes hazy with time and removing the haze is almost impossible later on!

When setting up a paludarium, you should plan well exactly where and how the filter will be placed, otherwise, after everything is up and running, picture yourself having to dismantle the whole thing to clean the filter! In my case I positioned the filter so that all I need to do is displace one rock (just behind the driftwood) and there's enough space to remove the filter.

In the beginning, it's important to spray water on the leaves of plants to maintain their humidity until they've had time to adapt to the new habitat...I had to spray the Microsorum leaves daily during the first week. On the second week I sprayed every other day, and so on until it wasn't necessary any more.

An interesting fact that occurred in this paludarium was the formation of an ant colony!!! Because of the characteristic July cold where I live, the ants search for warmer places and nowhere better than inside the tank, since the warm and humid ambient is relatively constant in a paludarium. Since there was no way I could remove them without dismantling the setup, I just had to raise the water level for a few days! When the level started raising the ants were all over the driftwood, carrying eggs to a safer place!

Paludariums vs. Aquariums:

I've already set up four paludariums, and the experience I've gathered isn't too much but I can already make a brief comparison with normal aquariums:

Aquarium sizes: same sizes are suitable for both, including the rule that larger is better...the difference is that in a normal aquarium, even with a small width, you can still manage a good layout, contrary to the paludarium where it becomes very difficult to get a good result...

Filtration: same for both, except that you can't use H.O.T. power filters in a paludarium, for obvious reasons...

Lighting: in planted paludariums it's generally good to have a bit stronger lighting than the recommend for equivalent planted tanks, but of course this depends on which plants you want to add.

Plants: for making a paludarium layout there's a much wider variety of plant species than for a planted tank, since many aquatic species that don't survive for long under continuous submersion can perfectly live in a paludarium, such as the case of Heteranthera reniformis...besides other plants that are terrestrial but live well in very humid environments such as Selaginella, not to mention that it's very interesting to note the foliage difference on a plant that was submersed and, as it emmerges, the leaves begin to modify their shapes, such as the case of Myriophillum...

Maintenance: Here it depends on each case! Roughly comparing one with another, I'd say that the simplest aquariums in terms of maintenance are more troublesome than the simplest paludariums. But the most complex planted tanks are easier to maintain than the most complex paludariums. Of course it's worth mentioning once again that it'll depend, plant for plant, on what you want to add...

If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.

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Photos taken by Rony Suzuki and displayed here with his permission.

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