Tag Archives: paludarium water household

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 🙂

Adding the sewer-dump

If you want a paludarium where plants will grow under water, I have learned you need to separate the aquatic water system from the “land” water system. The sewer-dump does just that.

The idea is that any water you add in the aquatic part which is too much will overflow in the sewer-dump. Watering the backdrop for example comes from the sewer dump. Any water falling on the (yet to build) land portion will be dumped here as well.

This accomplishes two things: A steady water level and a clean aquatic water world!

1. A steady water level

Anyone who owns a paludarium will know: The water levels tend to fluctuate constantly. Evaporation, adding water, it just varies all the time. How to solve this? Well, just add water on a regular basis (aka automated!) and make sure the water can overflow from the aquatic part. Like some cool infinity pool that keeps the water level at a constant. Excess water overflows into the sewer-dump section.

2. Clean aquatic water

Over time inside a paludarium soil will form. You can choose to add soil, or to leave it out… But as the paludarium becomes bio active rotting leaves will form soil. Lots of nutrients, but that will simply overpower the aquatic section. Too much nitrates and phosphorites will kill fish, ruin plant life, and if you are unlucky cause algae to massively bloom instead.

How to make sure that won’t happen? Divide the water systems! The sewer-dump recycles any water for the land portion. Any water from the land portion should flow back into the sewer-dump as well. Aquatic water that is “too much” flows in there as well.

What the sewer-dump looks like

So the sewer-dump in itself is pretty basic: It is a sealed-off portion of the paludarium by glass. I used to have a glass “wall” 10cm from the rear for this, but in order to maximize the aquatic water section this time I decided to make a really small sewer-dump:

The sewer-dump: Nothing more than three glass plates separating the aquatic water system from the “landmass” water system

The trick is of course that these pieces of glass have the exact height of the water level you require inside; in my case it is 5mm below the front window vent.

You can see that there are three PVC feedthroughs; one outside the sewer-dump and two inside. The one outside is used to draw water from the aquatic part into the external canister filter (notice the 3D printed filter cap on the right) so it obviously needs to sit in the aquatic part.

The one in the middle is used for the canister filter return line. Water gets pumped in through the long PVC tube you see in the picture above, which ends up in a (yet to construct) waterfall. That waterfall flows back into the aquatic section closing the loop. It is vitally important that no water gets “spilled” into the sewer-dump in this process!

So where does the excess water in the sewer-dump go?

The PVC tube on the left in the picture above is the real trick: Any excess water will flow through this pipe (in the picture the 20mm PVC tube is too short; I need to order more 😉 ). It will flow out of the paludarium eventually into the sewer (the real world sewer that is). I will capture excess water into a small canister under the paludarium which I will empty using a pump with 6mm hose that goes to the sewer (unfortunately the location of the paludarium is in the mancave, meaning it sits lower than the sewer system in the house).

Paludarium 2.0 definite glass specs

After checking, evaluating, changing, re-evaluating and changing again, I finally came up with the final design of the glass paludarium. I had already put up preliminary specs in the older blog post “Paludarium 2.0: Ordering glass“, but now specs have changed and are definitive. Bring forth the offers from different paludarium building companies!

Changes in the new design

Some adjustments were made in when finalizing the design for the glass. The most important changes: Read more »

Separating the aquatic system from the land system

When I built Paludarium 1.0, I was positive on having solved the water poisoning by not using potting soil anywhere in the landmass. As it turns out, the plants on land rot away leaves and build their own soil inside. Very nice for the plants, not so nice for the fish inside. since the water streams through the soil, it picks up a lot of chemicals that aren’t very healthy for the fish in the aquatic part.

Read more »