I built a Paludariam – Part I

I can’t believe it’s really been this long since I last posted anything there. I will attempt to do better in this new year.

Let’s start out 2014 with a project that started something like this:

So I’ve had a few different pets over the years… dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, snakes, scorpions various types of freshwater fish, etc. Now I’ve found a new hobby…

It started this past spring when some amorous tree frogs decided to have the sexy time in a tub that was left on my deck which was full of rainwater. Sortly there were hundreds of tadpoles, it seemed, who happily feasted on the algae growing in the water, and eventually mosquito larve as well. As the summer wore on, the tadpoles became froglets and eventually left their sheltered little pond to go out into the big, wide world. But then fall came and with it the first freeze, leaving a crust of ice covering the tub of rainwater that had become the ersatz frog pond.

I actually felt kinda bad that these little things were soon destined to freeze to death in a block of ice once winter set in and the temps dropped below freezing for extended periods of time. So, I scooped them up and put them into a large mason jar. A week later, I realized I had no plan, and had a jar full of tadpoles. So began the odyssey. First, I bought a cheap, small fish tank so the tadpoles would have better, cleaner water, room to swim and could live out their lives and I could watch them grow and metamorph into froglets and eventually frogs.

So the first step was setting up that aquarium.

The next step, once the tadpoles have become froglets (they now have all four legs and can climb if they need to, but still have tails) they no longer need to eat. The tail is slowly re-absorbed during the metamorphosis. At this stage (once I see they have all legs), I remove them from the tadpole tank and put them in a simple plastic tub. The tub is filled with enough water from the tadpole tank to give them a habitat to live in until the lungs develop and are ready to breathe air. The tub is sat at an angle so that when the frog is ready, it can easily emerge from the water.

The tub is very important, or at the very least, the tadpole tank would need some sort of floating platform for the frogs to climb onto. Once they get their legs, the lungs start really developing and if they can’t get out of the water easily, they’ll drown. I lost one this way early on because I didn’t provide a good enough platform. Thus, I went with the tub instead as it’s much safer for the froglet.

This is the tub, sitting on a deck of playing cards to elevate it as I mentioned before. It’s empty right now as I don’t have a froglet ready to change.

Once they’ve emerged from the water, I put them in a small transitional terrarium. This is little more than moss and a tub of water. Here, they’re fed some small flightless fruit flies and I just make sure they aren’t gonna die after just a few days out of the water. I had one die on me like this already. This terrarium is one of the medium sized “critter keepers” you can find at Wal-Mart or any pet store. I did buy a mosquito net head cover from Wal-Mart and glue it to the inside of the top of the critter keeper to ensure any fruit flies didn’t get out through all the vents at the top. Word of advice, that’s very important, unless you like having little fruit flies crawling all over.

This is the temporary terrarium:

The temp terrarium is pretty easy to maintain, just make sure the water in the tub is fresh and mist the insides every day or so to keep the moss moist and the humidity acceptable. These are all tree frogs and they need good humidity and a pool of water to keep from drying out.

Finally, they are moved to the paludarium. A paludarium is just a vivarium but has water as well as landmass. The one I’m using is a converted 36″Tx24″Wx18″D snake terrarium that I’ve converted. This is my first time trying a mixed environment like this, and there are already things I want to change when start really redoing it later on. But for now, it looks pretty nice and so far is running well. The next time, I think I’ll use a real aquarium, though, as I can make the water feature a lot deeper for better fish colonies. Maybe I can talk the spousal unit into letting me convert her old 75 Gallon tank into a huge paludariam. I’ve already got a great idea for one that has a pond on one end and a waterfall, plus a recirculating pump that pushes water to the other end, letting it travel like a small stream back into the pond.

This is the paludarium. It’s about 50/50 water to landmass. I didn’t do the substrate as well as I could have, instead using only aquarium gravel and moss. If/when I redo it, I’m going to do it more properly with a bit of plexi to separate the water from the land, then do real soil so I can plant more fauna. But for now, this should work until I have time and money to really put into it.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *