After more than two years of relatively worry-free paludarium keeping, I experienced a huge loss. My setup includes a Mini-Jet pump that moves water up to the top of the tank, where it flows through the filtration and out the top of the waterfall. The large amount of plant matter in the paludarium coupled with a heavy fish load meant I had to regularly clean the pump intake of dead leaves and waste. I could usually tell when maintenance was needed because the waterfall volume would begin to lessen and the trickling-stream noise would become noticeably quieter.
Unfortunately, it was over a long holiday weekend that the pump clogged and quit. Many aquarium hobbyists can relate to the terrible feeling of walking up to their tank and realizing that something, somehow, has gone wrong! After a big water change, I replaced the pump and added a Whisper air pump and bubble wand, but it was too late for the few survivors. I ended up losing about ten guppies and two albino cory cats. It seems like a small number of losses, but it was my entire paludarium population, and I really did love those guppies.
Happily, their descendants still swim in office tanks today, and I have a few in my home tank too. After the crash, I tentatively added a few baby guppies back, but they never lasted more than a week. So, rather than tear the whole setting down and start over, I decided to focus on the plant life. After all, the ivy and pothos had been establishing root systems for a long time and were flourishing, sending vines out and over the top. Someone had brought me a Syngonium podophyllum clipping, and its arrowhead-shaped leaves were enthusiastically competing for the light as well.
When a fortuitous sale came along, I upgraded the lighting from a single 24” fluorescent bulb to a Coralife Aqualight compact fluorescent. That meant the tank went from 17 watts to 65! With light now easily reaching the bottom of the water, I was able to add many more aquatic plants, including Cryptocoryne, Java Moss, Ludwigia, and Micro Sword.
The Java Moss has become amphibious, and creeps out of the water all the way up the “log” waterfall, one of my favorite effects. I have several feet of pothos reaching for the next cubicle. I added a “sunlight” floor lamp beside the paludarium to provide for the tall arrowhead leaves, which refuse to stay within the tank. This summer I picked up a Corkscrew Rush, Juncus effusus spiralis, which is typically seen in ponds. A clipping of burgundy Oxalis adds a dash of red leaves and tiny yellow flowers. I am always looking for interesting things to add, although I am rapidly running out of space!
If you have any water-loving plant suggestions, please share!