Sunday, June 28, 2009

Early Finch Fledge

This little guy seems to have fledged out of the nest
just a little too early (he can't fly). Jonathan took
these pictures of him just after he came out of the nest.

His nest is just above in a sweet gum tree.

He tried to go up the tree.

But he couldn't.
We hope his parents were watching and took care of him
after we left (we did not touch him).

Paludarium Update!

Here's a shot from the front. The system seems to be stabilized. I pulled out two plants that just couldn't hang in there. We have some minnows now (compliments of another trip to the creek), but I haven't figured out what kind they are yet.

View on the left.

View on the right. You can see the waterfall area.

Close up of minnows and driftwood.
(I've ordered some "medicine" for my plants)

The cave area.

I have to admit that this project has turned into "my" summer obsession, but the boys are at least interested now that we've added the minnows!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paludarium Moss

Well, it's not really moss but I didn't know that! We have it hanging off trees here in South Alabama - mostly close to the river but I managed to snag some from a nearby tree this afternoon. I decided to research so I would know what to call it, and was completely shocked when I saw the words "Tillandsia usneoides". If you look at my last post you will notice that all the air plants I received begin with the same name. Spanish Moss is actually not a moss at all but an air plant - who knew?

It will also flower just like the other air plants.
A tiny green flower is just getting started in this photo.


This is just a miscellaneous photo I found of Spanish Moss growing on an Oak Tree.




Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Airplants for the Paludarium!

I ordered a sampler pack from Black Jungle and received 5 plants. After checking their website I think I have figured out the names of the ones they sent me.

Tillandsia caput-medusae
(This one is my favorite)
Tillandsia aeranthos Hybrid
Tillandsia juncea
Tillandsia araujeiThis one I haven't figured out
(If you know - tell me please!)
I think all of these are suppose to bloom. I've got to figure out where to place them on the land portion of the tank. I think they are all suppose to bloom. You can learn more about air plants at Tillandsia International. They have a lot of photos.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Paludarium Panic!

Some of my plants are dying!! So, I threw together a solution of sugar, baking soda, and yeast in a coke bottle, made it airtight and have the CO2 gas going into the pump to hopefully add some to the water - maybe the extra boost will help these poor, pitiful plants. There are some that are doing pretty good though. Here's the CO2 bottle...

I have two plants in this shot that are actually growing and seem to be healthy!


The one in the corner is doing really well.


The water is still a bit cloudy so I am doing daily water changes right now and waiting for the dying plants to decide to live! If they aren't better in a couple of days I might have to consider adding some extra nutrients to the water.

Here's the new filter box. You can see sponge in the first section, then bio balls and I've just taken the carbon out of the last section. You can also see the waterfall to the left - the box feeds a tube out of the bottom that goes back into the tank but there is a hole in the side to feed the waterfall. I'll have more pictures later!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paludarium Filter, Substrate, Water and Plants!

Yes! I did get a filter built out of some small plastic containers (no, I'm not going to let you see it - it is pretty ugly). The filter has three sections - sponge filter media, bio balls and I added some carbon to filter out any chemical residue left over from building the background. I am planning to build another plexiglas filter box as soon as I can get to it.

We added flourite as the bottom layer of the substrate and then put some additional creek rocks over that. Once the water was added we started the pump - the waterfall is working! The filter has a few leaks but it is okay since it just leaks back into the aquarium.

The aquatic plants arrived early this morning so I had to hustle to get them in the tank. When I stirred up the flourite to get the roots down, the water got very cloudy!

As you can see I have also added some of the driftwood. We have got to get a hood built. Right now I just have the lights laying across the top of the tank. I'm not sure what kind of plants I got since I ordered a variety pack to get a better deal, and the company did not send me a list. Now for the hard part - figuring out what kind of plants I have and keeping them alive!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Progress on the Paludarium

Well, I decided to stop while I was ahead on the background and not put any more of the resin on it. I repaired some areas and patched some of the "rocky" places with silicone. I decided to put some natural bark on the back of the land area - hoping to get some vines to crawl along the bark. I have the background in the tank and am anxious to move to the next stage, however, there is a problem with the filter box that I built...


It is really a terrific box and would work perfectly except (now remember that I am NOT an engineer) when I changed the dimensions of the background - I didn't change the dimensions of the filter box. I'm going to try to do some creative engineering and build a new filter out of some different materials before I decide to get some more plexiglas cut, borrow some more solvent and rebuild another filter box. There may be a little hurt pride in the mix too.


To help my feelings a bit, I decided to go ahead and put some plants in this hollowed out piece of driftwood. They are currently growing under my kitchen light until we can build the lighted hood for the aquarium. (Yes, I did say...build - I'll try to get the dimensions right on this one!


We've got to make a lot of progress before Thursday of this week - that is when the aquatic plants will arrive and they will need a tank with some filtered water (they will also need light)!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introducing...

The happy couple. Mr. Bojangles' second visit was much friendlier! Now we wait to see if any puppies arrive.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Uh, Oh! Crisis with the Paludarium Background

Well...when I put the epoxy resin on the foam...it started eating away! My first clue of immediate crisis was when it ate through the foam cup that I mixed it in - what a messy mess! Fortunately it didn't eat all the way through (except for twice). Stephen thinks all the extra nooks and crannies will give it a more natural look but I'm waiting to see how it finishes up to make a final decision.

We are sifting the creek sand that we gathered to get the larger pebbles out. Then we are baking it until it is completely dry. Once I get the epoxy on then we are sprinkling it with the sand mixture - we have about 10 minutes until the mixture hardens. I'm really hoping that the second coat of epoxy won't eat through the first coat.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Paludarium Background 1st Coat

I painted it with some Fusion spray paint that I already had around the house (the color was "river rock"). I don't really have to worry about the fact that it isn't aquarium safe since I will be sealing it with a resin sealant. I also didn't worry much about the paint eating into the styrofoam just a bit since we are going to put a rock/sand texture on.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Introducing "Mr. Bojangles"

Meet "Bo". He is a silver schnauzer and I'm hoping he is going to help us with some schnauzer puppies. He will be visiting several times this next week. So far, Honey doesn't think too much of him. I performed a quick marriage this morning so that everything would be legit!

Paludarium Redesigned

I visited with a friend yesterday who had a whole treasure trove of driftwood! I found a few pieces to go along with the ones we have collected and completely redesigned the set up. We will actually be able to put some plants in the largest land piece. I have carved two waterfall areas and one hidden cave so I am looking forward to getting the background finished so we can see it it "works".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Carving the Paludarium Background

This was a VERY messy job!


Testing the fit in the tank
and checking the driftwood placement.


We will add some texture to the background next.


Collecting Driftwood for the Paludarium


Enjoying the cool water at the creek.


Driftwood collection.


The beginnings of the Paludarium background.