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Planting the 350 Gallon Paludarium (Build Part 2)

By SerpaDesign on


00:02 Tanner: Yo, what's up, Serpa squad? Tanner here, and I'm back with part two of the 350-gallon paludarium build. In the previous episode, I installed the background and placed the hardscape elements. If you missed that video or are new to the channel, I'll link it up in a card and in the video description. It's definitely worth watching to see how we got to this point. Enough on that, though. Let's bring this setup to life with the plants.

00:28 Tanner: Being that this is a paludarium setup, it's going to be planted somewhat unconventionally. I can't just pour in substrate and add the plants for a number of reasons. The tank is 4 feet tall, we'll have just over 2 feet of water and I'm using predominantly terrestrial plants. Because of that, most of the foliage needs to remain above the waterline. Luckily, I took all of that into consideration while placing the hardscape. I set up the driftwood so it creates a shelf for the plants that's just below the waterline. I utilized some portions of the shelf to hold substrate and others to hold plants that can be placed directly in the water. To complete the substrate shelves, I used a few items, including geotextile fabric, cyanoacrylate super glue and stainless steel staples.

01:14 Tanner: First, I placed a sheet of fabric in recessed areas of the driftwood. In this way, it acts almost like a hammock. From there, I applied glue along the edges of the background and on the wood. With this alone, it was pretty secure but I figured it would help to staple the fabric to the driftwood itself, the end result being something that's very secure. Prior to adding the substrate, we'll address a few of the plants. Don't worry, I'll show you specifically what plants I'm using later in the video. For now I'll get them prepared for use. First, I removed them from their planters and cleared the substrate from the roots. Soaking the root ball ahead of time can expedite this process.

02:11 Tanner: If possible, I also separate the plants into smaller sections. A lot of times, what looks like a single plant is actually multiple plants in a single pot. Splitting them up can make planting more manageable and give you better mileage. I also removed undesirable or dead foliage and trimmed the roots to stimulate new growth. This, too, makes them easier to plant. From there, I took the plants outside and sprayed them off. I started with the roots. Ideally, I want all fluid substrate gone so we have completely bare root plants.

02:48 Tanner: After that, I go back and spray the entire plant. For a more thorough approach, the plants can be sanitized, but I find that these steps are usually sufficient enough. I'll link up a video that goes into detail on this subject. Anyway, after cleaning the plants, I put the roots in a bag so they don't dry out. For the substrate, I have a few items, including Seachem Flourite, Fluval Stratum and pre-soaked Leca. I mixed these together with Leca being the primary medium. I set it up this way for a few reasons. Leca is long-lasting and works well in hydroponic applications. It alone would be enough. I added the other substrates for nutrients to jump-start the plants. Long-term, I want the plants to draw all of their nutrients from the water column and not the substrate. Doing so will allow me to create a low-maintenance environment that is ideal for the inhabitants.

03:45 Tanner: Prior to adding the mixed substrate, I put down a base layer of Leca to add height to the planters. Then I went on to add the large plants. The majority of them were placed on top of the Leca base layer. A few were also planted outside of the substrate within crevices of the scape. Like I said before, the majority of the plants don't need substrate to grow, and will root onto areas within the tank. With these plants situated, I capped off the planting area with the substrate mix.

04:28 Tanner: At this point, I still have a lot of plants to add, but I need to fill the tank with water so the current selection doesn't dry out. I did that and continued to plant. I added a lot of small detail plants throughout to soften the transition into the water feature. As with anything, the big plants wouldn't look big without small plants to give them a sense of scale. The combination of various sizes and textures makes for a strong design. Each of the plants are situated a little differently. In some cases, I use stainless steel wire to secure them to the driftwood. In others, I wrap the roots with damp sphagnum moss. I did this so they could be nestled into crevices in the background. The marginals and aquatic plants were placed directly into the water feature. And that should do it for now.


06:19 Tanner: To make this scape happen, I've selected a few different groups of plants. I have aquatic or marginal plants that grow around bodies of water. I also have plants that can adapt to growing in semi-aquatic environments. The combination of the two allowed me to create something that resembles an overgrown riverbank, perhaps something like you would see near the Amazon River. I like the current selection, but there are more plants I wanna add, such as bromeliads and air plants. I'll add those over time and make adjustments. Long-term, I want the area above the waterline to resemble the look of this vivarium. You may be wondering why I didn't plant inside the water feature itself. I will at some point, but there's more I need to do before I can. And yes, you will actually be able to see in the water once I'm done with the setup. It's just cloudy right now from not being filtered.

07:13 Tanner: Anyway, what plants am I using? First, we'll go over the semi-aquatic and marginal plants. I chose parrot feather, water hyacinth, variegated water celery, and Bacopa caroliniana. Most of these should do well and will really soften the edge between land and water. Ideally it shouldn't be visible at all once the tank has matured. What about the plants that can adapt to a semi-aquatic environment? I have a peace lily, Swiss cheese plant, rattlesnake plant, Never Never Gold Mosaic, grassy-leaved sweet flag, gold pothos, aluminum plant, peacock spikemoss, lemon button fern, bird's foot fern, sword fern, creeping Jenny, white butterfly arrowhead vine, Dragon's Tongue, gryphon begonia, and a crocodile fern. Somewhat of an eclectic selection, but it should create a lot of texture and variation that will make the design stand out.

08:17 Tanner: I know right now things may look a little sloppy, but give it time. Some of the plants are still droopy from the process, and overall they need to upright themselves toward the lights. I imagine that a lot of leaves will be popping out of the tank in no time. Something else I'm looking forward to is the network of roots that will eventually make their way down into the water column. They will create a unique and natural look that the inhabitants will really enjoy. Also, I know many of you will be wondering where I got and get my plants. The simple answer is, wherever. I've been collecting these plants over the past few months from local nurseries, home improvement stores, local fish stores, etcetera. I don't shop from any one location, and get items when I see them. There's more I could say, but I need to get to work on the other components of the setup. At this point, it's really coming together and maybe my vision is starting to make sense.

09:10 Tanner: Everything I'm doing is very specific to what will live in the setup. I can't wait to see that interaction and share it with you. A huge thanks to Custom Aquariums for providing the tank itself. Again, it was obtained for free, but I don't receive financial compensation for talking about it. Anyway, that's all for now. If you like the video and would take a moment to give it a thumbs up to help support the channel, I'd really appreciate it. Stay tuned for the future installments of the series, and let me know what you think about it thus far. Until next time, Serpa squad, take care and peace.

About SerpaDesign

"Hi I'm Tanner! I am an artist, designer, photographer, nature lover and DIY fanatic. My passion is to bring nature indoors and share my projects/ideas with others."

"The focus of my channel is to show how I use nature as an artistic medium. If you want to make a beautiful, long-lived terrarium or a bioactive vivarium, then this is the channel for you! I go in depth on every topic, teaching you exactly how and why I do what I do. I also push the boundary, in hopes to create some of the most unique projects you'll see on this side of YouTube."

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