If you've been to a pet shop recently, you've no doubt seen a paludarium. The term paludarium comes from the Latin words for marshes (paludal), and receptacle (arium). In other words, a paludarium is a receptacle that is patterned after a marsh habitat, with part water and part land. Paludariums provide an interesting alternative to the fully aquatic life that's seen in standard aquariums. Paludariums are also an excellent project for classrooms—they help students understand different wildlife habitats and ecosystems.
Paludariums may represent a variety of marsh-like habitats, from bogs to riverbanks to rainforests. Everything from a waterfall to the rapidly flowing water of a river can be replicated if one wishes to put some effort into their creation.
The popular river and riffle tanks are both forms of paludariums that replicate habitats with constantly flowing waters. The possibilities are endless—most any land and water scenario that occurs in the world can be replicated in a paludarium.
If you're a fish lover and want to include them in your project, a good approach is to choose the type of fish you want, and then build a paludarium that matches the natural habitat for that specific species. The same scenario occurs if you know you want to create a home for a turtle or any other type of creature.
Paludarium habitat variations include:
The inhabitants of each paludarium will vary based on the habitat that is being created. Thriving paludariums contain a variety of living creatures, each of which contributes to the ecosystem. Keep in mind that some of these critters will eat the others, so do your research before putting them together in the tank.
Common paludarium wildlife include:
Paludarium Plant Life
Plants are a key part of every paludarium. Because the paludarium has an abundance of the basics plants need (like food and water), a wide range of plant life will thrive in them. The key is researching the habitat that's being replicated, and choosing plants that match. For instance, Amazon Sword plants would not be found in a West African habitat but would be perfect for a South American Rainforest display.
Since plants are a key element to any paludarium, it's crucial that they receive some sunshine or light from an alternative growing lamp. However, direct sunlight is not recommended and you'll want to be sure that the environment does not warm up too much. Be sure to check your paludarium's temperature several times throughout the day and move it to a new location if it feels too warm. Once you've found an ideal spot with some diffused light, you won't have to worry much about this issue going forward.
Paludariums require careful planning to ensure success. Start by choosing the inhabitants, followed by the structure, plants, and additional equipment. If you're not exactly sure what you'd like to include in your paludarium, ask someone who has made one before where to start or ask for advice at your local fish and aquarium store.