Read about how my paludarium got started in Part 1!
Once it was established, the paludarium ran very smoothly for several months with only a few changes. The firebelly toads were dubbed “Spots” and “Dots” by one of our copywriters, much to my amusement.
Both toads learned to eat from forceps, which was important since crickets could not simply be dropped into the paludarium without quickly drowning (they’re not bright). Plus, crickets that aren’t immediately eaten have the opportunity to escape and grow, and are soon able to produce the classic cricket chirp that is not desirable in an office setting!
While looking pretty, both the ferns slowly dropped leaves until they were completely gone, so I replaced them with yet more water-loving, basically maintenance-free ivy. Luckily, Hedera helix comes in several shapes and color variants. Perhaps less luckily by paludarium standards, it can grow ferociously. I had replaced the regular fluorescent bulb with a Flora Sun bulb, so despite my pruning, the ivy and pothos (Scindapsus aureus) were racing to see who could fill the tank first. Pretty soon nobody in the office needed any more cuttings, but I couldn’t bear to tear out or replace the plants I’d kept alive for that long either.
Eventually, I decided to relocate the toads to their own 20-gallon tank at home, where I could really experiment with the vivarium setting. That meant I could remove the paludarium’s lid and allow the plants to grow up and out freely. It also meant the water portion of the tank was ready for new occupants. Fellow blogger and coworker Felicia provided me with a few absolutely gorgeous guppies from her own collection. I already had a submersible heater for the toads, so after a big cleaning and water change, I was ready for fish to move in.
Although easier to feed, the guppies required a bit more upkeep than the toads. I had to be diligent about water testing and changes, because the actual gallon capacity is fairly low in my setup. The extra bucket-lugging was worth it to watch the gold guppies dart among the new Anubius nana and wisteria (Hygrophila difformis). They must have loved it as much as I did, because before long I was giving away baby guppies by the dozen. There was hardly a freshwater tank in the building without at least a few of them, and they all proved to be as beautiful as their parents.
Still more changes were to come to my cubicle! I’ll share what my paludarium looks like today in another post.