Watering the background

One of the tricks I have been using to keep things growing everywhere in the paludarium is by regularly watering the background. In this post I will describe how I made a spray bar and how I mounted it inside.

The idea

In order to get water onto the background and have it nicely sift through I have been using a 12mm PVC tube with a series of 1.5mm holes drilled into it. Really simple, and works well even with the smallest of pumps:

Example from an older setup on how to use a spray bar

Mounting the PVC pipe

Now mounting the pipe has always been an issue: I always used aquarium suction cups for this, and you guessed it: They come loose over time. How to overcome this issue? Glue the pipe in place. But that has a drawback that when the pipe get clogged, you’re in for a project of its own cleaning it (or ripping it out and replacing it). To find a more proper solution, I turned to Fusion360 and the 3D printer to come up with this:

3D printed wall mount with a separate 12mm PVC tube clamp that you can slide into the wall mount.

I printed a two-piece tool for this: A wall mount and a PVC tube clamp. I printed 4 sets of these (for a 120cm distance to cover inside). I glued the four wall mounts in place using silicon glue. Now I can slide the PVC clamps in there, and replace them if needed. Next, I can insert the 12mm pipe:

The 12mm tube being held in place right on top of the paludarium using the 3D printed wall mounts and insert clips. The hole on top is used to feed tubing in and out, one of the tubes will go into this PVC pipe using a tube pillar (ordered but not here yet 😉 )

Finally I can start glueing in the background. Here I am used compressed fern root plates which give a nice nutrition for plants who grab hold to it, and it neatly holds water I pump on top:

Compressed fern root plates are glued under the pipe. These plates are excellent for growing plants on, plus they take on water really well and let it slowly sift through to the the bottom of the setup.

Sucking up water… From where?

Final piece of the puzzle is where to get the water from. In my new setup there is a specific sump-like section where all water that drains through the land portion. It is kept there and transported into the sewer if the level gets too high. Also, the aquatic part flows over into this section.

I will use this water to pump up to the PVC spray bar. Usually I’d put a small aquatic pump into the sump and have that push water up, but as I know now, pumps get clogged and fail over time, and replacing such a pump would be a project of it own.

For this reason I will be sucking water up using a small diaphragm pump like this one:

Small 12V diaphragm pump that will be used all over the paludarium; this one will suck up the water for the spray bar.

One final problem? The water the pump will take in will be “dirty” water; there might be particles in there which I may not want inside the pump, and certainly not inside the spray bar. So back to Fusion360 and the 3D printer once again:

A 3D printed inlet filter will make sure the pump and spray bar don’t get clogged by particles in the (dirty) water I use to spray onto the background.

On to the next tiny sub-project inside this huge paludarium project 🙂

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