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What you need:
  • 20-gallon aquarium
  • Bricks
  • 12" plastic sewer grate
  • Filter fabric
  • Small water pump
  • Clear plastic tubing
  • Potting soil
  • Pea gravel
  • Miniature water lily
  • Marginal aquatic plants
  • Oxygenating plants
Paludariums are water gardens that incorporate both water plants and bog plants. A raised platform is used to make a division between true water plants and marginal aquatics.
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Start by placing 2 bricks at the bottom of a 20-gallon aquarium.
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Place a small water pump between the bricks. This provides circulation for the tank, as well as adding a nice focal point in the paludarium.
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Use a 12" grate as a platform for the bog plants. Find grates such as this one in the plumbing section of your local hardware store. Lay the grate on top of the bricks and insert the plastic tubing from the water pump through it.
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In order to keep soil from falling through the grate, cover it with filter fabric. Filter fabric like the type used in air vents in houses works great. Arrange the fabric so the water pump's tubing protrudes.
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Start adding plants. Place a few bog plants on the far side of the grate. Choose plants that don't grow too large or vigorously, and be sure to include 2-3 bundles of oxygenating plants. A mini-water lily can be placed in the far side of the tank.
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Add soil to the tank, covering the root ball of the water lily and the bog plants. Standard potting mix is sufficient.
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Top-dress the soil with a 2-3" layer of pea gravel. Avoid using acrylic coated aquarium gravel, as it lacks the minute crevices and pockets where beneficial bacteria can establish.
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Half of a 1" bamboo placed under the outtake tube from the water pump serves as a mini-waterfall.
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Once everything is in place, fill the tank with water. If the tank is not sited in its permanent location, move it to its final destination before filling! Fill with a light stream of water so you don't disturb the soil. It takes a few days for the water to settle and clear. Wait a week or so before adding fish to the tank.