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Paludariums are aquariums that are set up with half land and half water. They are sometimes called “garden aquariums.“ The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is an example of a large scale paludarium. Ideally, a paludarium is a balanced ecosystem with many different plants and animals. They simulate the real environment and may represent a rainforest, bog, mangrove flat, jungle, a river’s edge or a beach - as long as they incorporate a submerged area and dry area within the same tank. A paludarium can be as simple or as complex as you wish. You can even include a waterfall in your tank. River and riffle tanks are forms of paludariums that replicate habitats with constantly flowing waters - much like a rushing river. An elaborate saltwater paludarium could even include an area with waves crashing upon rocks and tide pools. A paludarium with a circulating current through multi-leveled pools is called a “riparian.”

The animals you choose for your paludarium depends on the type of habitat you’re creating. Ideally, they should contain a variety of living creatures, each of which would contribute to the ecosystem. A freshwater paludarium may include frogs, lizards, newts, salamanders, snails, snakes, toads, turtles and eels. It is advised that you do your research on any creatures you are considering for your paludarium because some of the aforementioned ones may eat the others. This is something you need to know before putting them together. Amphibians such as newts and salamanders make great species for a paludarium because they thrive in a high-humidity environment and spend time on both land and in the water. A saltwater paludarium might contain encrusting mollusks, crabs, starfish and sea urchins.

Plants are a very important part of a paludarium. There is a wide range of plants will thrive in a paludarium, but the key is researching the type of habitat you are replicating to select the best matched plant life. For example: if you are building a South African rainforest display, find out what type of plants grow there. You wouldn’t try to grow plants found along a Florida riverbank. Just be sure to include both land and aquatic plants. Plants that love humidity make good choices for a paludarium, such as various types of ivy and java fern. Kits are available for the beginner that include an aquarium/terrarium with built-in lighting, integrated filtration and all the components you need to get started.


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