Fishstery's 20L DIY paludarium build for crested newts

Fishstery

Well guys, I finally took the leap on something I have been wanting to keep for a long long time! Something different than typical aquariums, kind of side stepping into a different portion of the hobby. Now that I worked the kinks out of my first co2 injected setup, MTS struck again (hard) and after drooling over paluariums online I managed to snag two juvie danube crested newts off a hobbyist on a Reptile forum. They will arrive on Wednesday, and I will be temporarily housing them in a bare bottom 10 gal until their permanent home is done. I will be making my first DIY setup, a 20 gallon long paludarium.

So far I have the cork bark background siliconed in place, as well as the corrugated plastic structure for the water feature built and siliconed in as well. I cut 4 5inch pieces of 1/2 in pvc pipe and some land platforms out of egg crate covered with more corrugated plastic. Covered it in some fine pebble to help blend into the background. Doing this instead of building solid walls to support the land platforms will allow me to utilize the entire bottom of the tank footprint for the water portion of the paludarium since my newts are fully aquatic and can be kept so for their lifetime. The land areas will be accessible to them but are mostly for aesthetics and I don't expect to ever see the newts on it. The water will be 5 inches deep, with a waterfall that will run down a diagonally placed piece of driftwood and into the water portion, which will also serve as ramp for the newts to climb in and out of the water if they choose to. Both land and water portions will be planted.

On the to do list yet is to secure the platforms with silicone, and then once I recieve the driftwood it will be time to use great stuff to create "bowls" to hold the soil in the land areas as well as a faux background for the waterfall. I will them trim the great stuff, slather black silicone over it, and press some coco fiber on to make it look natural. Im having a custom table made for these guys to be placed in my living room (God bless my boyfriend and his patience lol!). Once I get the table, I can plant and add a springtail culture. I'll let the system run for about 2-3 weeks and then I can move my newts and their cycled sponge filter over. I'm hoping I can lay the sponge filter on its side and slide it under the floating land area to conceal it. More pictures to come as I progress! Hoping to have the build complete by the first week of August and the newts in by the first week of September :) this will also serve as an update thread on my newts and my experiences keeping them for the first time for those who are interested in that venture!


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Fishstery

Got the newts temporary home set up, simple undersized sponge and an acrylic turtle dock i bought on Amazon. Tossed in a huge anubias nana plant from my killifish tank to give them something to hide in. They will live here until the paludarium is complete. The breeder shipped them out today and they will arrive tomorrow--im so excited to see them!! I will post pictures once they settle in. In the meantime, I decided I'm going to name them....any suggestions? Preferably dragon related, since crested newts look like little water dragons. Or anything cute for a newt :)

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barbiespoodle

Can't wait to see them. I have no idea what they are, but in my eyes, if they are amphibian or reptile, they will be beautiful.
I envy you. I would love to be able to do what you are doing. But I'm a bit on the older side and have to keep with what I can take care of at my stage of life (7 aquatic tanks, but tanks so well balanced that they are very easy). Even so, I sure miss my amphibians, reptiles, arachnids and insects I kept in my younger days. Now I just enjoy them in my gardens which I keep organic so I can enjoy them.

keep us up to date!
 

Fishstery

Well, the newts have arrived! It didn't take them long to get into the water. They were packed in a tub of damp sphagnum moss, so instead of drip acclimating them I just set them ontop of their dock and let them drop in on their own time. Apparently newts are an escape risk and it was stressed to me to keep a lid on their enclosure...although I'm unsure how these guys are considered escape artists. I read how newts are quite derpy, and oh boy are these dudes derpy! They move around the tank quite clumsily. I'll try and feed them before bed and see if they are hungry. They have bright orange bellies with black spots and some blue striping and white spotting down their sides which is pretty cool! One is larger than the other, not sure if that is a tell on gender or if one is older, the breeder didn't specify. Anyways, tonight I am going to silicone the land platforms in on their paludarium, so I will post pics of that later. In the meantime enjoy the newts! Thinking of some names still...possibly Monty (Monty python reference) and Fig (newt-on) :)

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LHAquatics

Well, the newts have arrived! It didn't take them long to get into the water. They were packed in a tub of damp sphagnum moss, so instead of drip acclimating them I just set them ontop of their dock and let them drop in on their own time. Apparently newts are an escape risk and it was stressed to me to keep a lid on their enclosure...although I'm unsure how these guys are considered escape artists. I read how newts are quite derpy, and oh boy are these dudes derpy! They move around the tank quite clumsily. I'll try and feed them before bed and see if they are hungry. They have bright orange bellies with black spots and some blue striping and white spotting down their sides which is pretty cool! One is larger than the other, not sure if that is a tell on gender or if one is older, the breeder didn't specify. Anyways, tonight I am going to silicone the land platforms in on their paludarium, so I will post pics of that later. In the meantime enjoy the newts! Thinking of some names still...possibly Monty (Monty python reference) and Fig (newt-on) :)

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I'm obsessed!
 

barbiespoodle

AWW, that newt in the third pic has the cutest face!!!! I'm in love.

They are lovely and seem happy. Again, I'm so jealous of you. I really do love the "creepy crawlies".

Now fill an old lady in, What does derpy mean?

Going to show my age again, I would have named them Sid and Nancy, lol. For you youngsters that don't get the reference, look up the Sex Pistols.
 

Fishstery

AWW, that newt in the third pic has the cutest face!!!! I'm in love.

They are lovely and seem happy. Again, I'm so jealous of you. I really do love the "creepy crawlies".

Now fill an old lady in, What does derpy mean?

Going to show my age again, I would have named them Sid and Nancy, lol. For you youngsters that don't get the reference, look up the Sex Pistols.
Hahaha derpy means goofy/slow/pea-brained but still cute! They aren't the sharpest tools in the shed but they are definitely cuties :)
Another update: got the land platforms siliconed in and my driftwood in the mail...I'm not sure how I feel about the wood now. I'm having a hard time figuring out if it will look natural in the tank or if it will look too "staged" after its done. Any opinions? My plan was to cut a hole in the waterfall column where the tip of the wood is making contact so that the waterfall flows down the side of the wood. I'm not sure if I want to keep the wood, find a new piece, or just build a waterfall and small ramp out of great stuff foam now. All that's left is to make that decision, great foam everything, trim the foam, silicone and coco fiber, then wait until the 6th to get my custom table and plant everything.

Also as a bonus here's a pic of Monty doing newt yoga. Came home from work to find him frozen in this position on the sponge filter lol!

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barbiespoodle

Sounds like you have some good ideas. I so love the planing stages of a tank, I think that's why I'm up to 7 tanks. Aquascaping was my downfall, lol.

If you are like me, it will be very rare if you get what you will end up loving the first time. I'm forever fussing over the tanks, moving this, taking out that, pruning plants, searching the gardens for just the right rock, ect. But it's not work for me, it's therapy. I can't believe how much of a stress reliever it is for me and I sure hope it turns out to be the same for you.

Anyhow, do what ends up pleasing you. You already have the most important part down, you want a good home for your pets. After that, it's all up to your personal artistic eye, In the end, you are the one doing all the work, make it yours.

P.S. Monty is darling. And I can now add derpy to my vocabulary, I know a few people that applies too.

P.S.S. granted I'm talking fish and shrimp tanks, but I love having wood in all of them. The wood give a nice tone to the water and also works as a beneficial bacteria magnet, thus keeping a more natural water condition thus less tank care.
 

Fishstery

Sounds like you have some good ideas. I so love the planing stages of a tank, I think that's why I'm up to 7 tanks. Aquascaping was my downfall, lol.

If you are like me, it will be very rare if you get what you will end up loving the first time. I'm forever fussing over the tanks, moving this, taking out that, pruning plants, searching the gardens for just the right rock, ect. But it's not work for me, it's therapy. I can't believe how much of a stress reliever it is for me and I sure hope it turns out to be the same for you.

Anyhow, do what ends up pleasing you. You already have the most important part down, you want a good home for your pets. After that, it's all up to your personal artistic eye, In the end, you are the one doing all the work, make it yours.

P.S. Monty is darling. And I can now add derpy to my vocabulary, I know a few people that applies too.

P.S.S. granted I'm talking fish and shrimp tanks, but I love having wood in all of them. The wood give a nice tone to the water and also works as a beneficial bacteria magnet, thus keeping a more natural water condition thus less tank care.
Yes I agree :) I have a bad bad case of multiple tank syndrome....hence this project hahaha! Anyways, Monty is a character, Fig the smaller newt just likes to chill. Here's a picture showcasing Monty's coloring since it was hard to see from my first few pictures. I hope Monty ends up being a male so he (or she?) will grow a crest and look like a miniature water dragon! Also, I decided to keep this piece of wood instead of spending money on a new piece, but I adjusted the angle of it in a way that I like much better than the previous pic. More pics later when I get the expanding foam done this evening.
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barbiespoodle

Ah yes, the dreaded multi tank syndrome, something I am also cursed/blessed with, lol. One piece of advice from an old lady who has suffered from this syndrome for 50 or so years. Just make sure you don't get so many that they become just another chore that needs to be done and remain a pleasure. I have reached that limit at my age, which is 7 various tanks. I do a bit of this or a bit of that during the week, but the basic weekly tank care such as water changes and filter maintenance takes me about an hour on 'tank day'. The rest of the time I'm able to just enjoy my tanks and have fun with them.

Monty is one flashy dude, I'm in love. And since it seems Fig is not as flashy, you just might be lucky enough to have a pair. Love the direction their new tank is going.
 

Fishstery

Another update, got my table that I had custom made for this build. It's the exact same dimensions as the 20L, and matches my living room quite well :) I also got the base of the paludarium finished and vacuumed the tank tonight. I bought a cork bark flat that I think I may replace the other piece of driftwood with. I'll determine which looks best when I get the cork bark in the mail. I also ordered some terrarium vines to play with and might use those in the hardscape as well to break up the land area. All of my plants are ordered and I'm off work this Friday to hopefully set everything up given all my orders arrive by then!
 

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Fishstery

Finally got the setup complete...get ready to get bombed with pictures! Newts will be going in after I let this run for about a month. I have a springtail culture in there, running lights for 8 hours (I will be replacing the current one with a twinstar), and my fogger runs for 30 minutes every 2 hours to keep humidity levels. I also have a custom acrylic top being made from etsy that will look much cleaner than my current metal mesh lid. The center piece of driftwood is where the water fall is. Overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out with it being my first paludarim, hopefully I have luck with my first terrestrial plants!
 

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Fishstery

Another update, Monty and Fig graduated their QT tank today and moved into their paludarium! The other big news is that I love my newts so much I bought 4 of a different extremely rare species that I will be getting Wednesday, so expect tons of pictures and another thread for another paludarium build soon LOL. Anyways, as for this one the creeping fig has been true to its reputation of being hard to grow, some strands are holding on but a lot of it died away. The other plants are doing great and after initial setup I added some more terrestrial plants and also a Micro lotus which should look stunning once it grows grows surface leaves. I got my twinstar EA light which is amazing quality (probably the best light I own now) and I can tell the RGB lighting will really make my red plants pop. The legs also allow it to sit much higher up on the tank which is perfect for my taller plants. I have a custom acrylic lid coming this week to help keep humidity which has been a struggle with a mesh lid even with the mister coming on for 30 mins every hour and a half. Monty and fig seem quite happy in here. I'm so excited for another palu build, they are so much fun to make and even more fun to stare at :)
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Fishstery

2 month update:
Monty and Fig are doing very well. I really love keeping newts, just about as much as I love my fish! The paludarium has proved to be very low matienence, a simple 3 gallon water change every week and clip back plants here and there when they get unruly. Even with low matinenece the terrestrial area had grown into a beautiful lush jungle with tons of color. My springtail culture has also taken well, when leaves start to rot I just leave them in there for them to eat. Here's some pictures!

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WRWAquarium

That looks truly amazing. Nice job. Only seen newts in a pond, interesting too see them in a tank.
 

Fishstery

That looks truly amazing. Nice job. Only seen newts in a pond, interesting too see them in a tank.
Thank you! I loved them so much I actually got my hands on another species. They are the rarest species of newts, neurergus kaiseri. They hail from only 4 streams in the entire world in the zagros mountains of iran. I will be building another paludarium for them in November and will be posting another build journal here. Here's a sneak peak of them! They are so beautiful

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Fishstery

Update:

This build has been running for about 7 or 8 months now. It's grown into an absolute jungle which I kind of love. I let everything grown rampant and only trim the hydrocotyle back here and there because it's growing like a weed. Monty and Fig are happy and still going strong! Here's pictures of it taken today

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Also something odd that I didn't even know was possible, I have some hydrocotyle Japan growing emersed and it's RED. Don't ask me what my secret is because I don't know!

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