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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I keep posting questions in the Planted Tanks forum, but I feel like I'm spamming them with this one project, so I figured I'd just put it all here instead. I'm going to warn you now: this first post is gonna be long.

So, you're probably asking: what's a riparium? It's basically a semi-aquatic NPT--or, at least that's a good enough description for my purposes. I've no idea how far the definition extends, since it's not nearly so common a hobby as fully-aquatic NPT keeping. I'm pretty sure the word can be used to describe what I'm doing, so I'm using it.

I'm including a badly-drawn sketch of what I'm planning, since that's easier than describing everything.

Basically, I stupidly bought a semi-aquatic plant (a peacock fern) for Felix's tank, and this whole plan is a result of trying to figure out what to do with it. Currently, the cuttings are sitting in a little vase of old tank water and they seem pretty happy.

I have a 5-gallon off-brand Kritter Keeper on the way. It's coming on Wednesday.

Oh, and speaking of which! Something that made my day was reading the reviews on the different Kritter Keeper-like tanks and seeing that there are several people who rescued bettas and put them in 3+ gallon KKs. ^u^

I myself am not going to put fish in this thing for a while... once it's established, I'll try putting Felix in it for a week and see if it's okay. That way, I have his other tank on hand so that if it doesn't work out, he has somewhere safe to be put back.

In order to cycle the thing, I'm probably going to put his nerite snail in there. The snail's a bit of an overload on his little 1.5g even with my conservative water changes anyway...

I have a feeling that Felix is not going to be terribly thrilled about a tank without a filter. He loves his filter. In fact, he's kind of obsessed with it. But I think he could stand to test drive this riparium for a while... he loves plants. :p

So, as of right now:

1. Tank: check.

2. Organic potting soil/topsoil: probably check. I'll have to see what kind we have.

3. Plants: got the first few... the peacock ferns, a lucky bamboo cutting, and the crazy number of extra java ferns in Felix's tank. I also have some spearmint rooting in a glass of water that I could probably put in the semiaquatic part.

4. Light: a west window. But I can put a CFL in one of my octopus lamp's light sockets and aim it at the tank if I need extra light. (Which I probably will.)

5. Livestock: got 'em. I may put one of Chard's lovely yellow bettas in the new one--they're really tempting. It depends on how Felix takes the riparium, I guess.

6. Sand: I'll probably steal some from Felix's tank. It's nice white sand. Might not be enough though, so I may have to go back to PetSmart and get more.

7. Cycling: Felix's tank is probably cycled, so I'll just bring over a couple rocks or something from that tank.

8. Testing: Don't have a test kit. Gotta fix that. Are koi pond test kits the same thing? Are they cheaper? I'm gonna have to do some research.

9. Lid: I'm going to get rid of the Kritter Keeper lid once I can replace it with one I'm making. I'm going to use clear plastic "fabric" from Jo-Ann's and see if I can't stitch something together. I'm thinking maybe a triangular sort of top to go over it, and I'll have to figure out a way to hook it down securely so my snail doesn't go for a walk.

10. Heating: Felix's tank stays at 80F unheated, at least in the warm months. It's because of the temperature of my room and the small size of his tank. The 5gal Kritter Keeper is bigger, but it'll be in the sun. I'll have to see if that's enough. If it's not, I have two small-tank heaters ready to go, and I have black rocks that can help to hold in some heat.

I have some trial and error to go through, but I think this'll be fun.
 

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Nice! It seems like you are actually making more of a Paludarium which is land/water. Riparium more has floating docks which houses semi-aquatic plants. It's a super blurred line and Paludariums tend to have more regular terrestrial plants rather than semi-aquatic so you're combining them lol.

Are you going to have something under the soil to build it up? You can't have more than 3 inches of substrate if you're going NPT because it will become anerobic and possibly gas your fish; killing them >.< but you can use rocks, slate, bags of gravel to prop up the hill. It will be difficult to hold the hill there so I suggest you look into false bottoms, a little more work but it will hold for much longer without much issue! ^_^
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ahhhh... all these words! XD That's interesting, though. :)

I was thinking I'd probably need to dump some rocks in there or something, yeah. I don't know what I'll use... those false bottoms, are they just craft mesh or something? That's what I'm seeing on Google Images, I think. Or is it eggcrate?

Could you just hot glue down a Glad container or two (food safe plastic) and fill in the spaces with gravel?

Also, would burrowing trumpet snails help? I don't know much about that kind of snail, but I've heard they're a common feature in NPTs. Would just one be enough? I read they reproduce like mad.

A ton of questions, sorry :p
 

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Generally they are made form egg crate and something to support them like PVC piping or I saw one guy do air filled water bottles but he obviously covered them up. You could as well if you wanted, you could use craft mesh or steel mesh to make a slope and put a bunch of mosses on it to grow, make sure nothing can get through it and get stuck though!

So say you went with the egg crate method, you'd support with something and if you wanted to you could cover the egg crate and supports with Great Stuff expanding foam, it's safe for the aquarium. Then you can carve it into things like tree roots or something natural looking, then you can paint them with Drylok cement paint and tint it with cement tint to make naturalistic colors. OR you can go with the mesh slope thingy, although it might still be good to cover the supports since you can see through the mesh for a while.

For the top part, you cover the egg crate with usually a weed mesh to keep the soil up top, then cap off with sand or whatever, or just leave it open if not much water will be up there. You can use the expanding foam to make a barrier so the soil doesn't come out and then you can have mosses or other plants like Dwarf Baby Tears growing up there if you keep it moist!

OR you can just keep going with your idea to keep partially aquatic plants up top there and keep the false bottom submerged a bit, just make sure you have a cap over the soil or it will go everywhere!!

MTS are great for aeration, they mass produce if you overfeed but if you don't overfeed they usually don't take over your tank terribly. But again, 3 inches is the maximum depth you can go with most substrates that are more compact like sand and soil. Gravel bundles underneath the hill will work for a time but if you don't have anything to really keep the hill there like a false bottom would, it will eventually fall over time with the movement of water, fish, and of course you ^_^ The plants will help hold it but they need to establish their roots first which of course does take time.

Or you can go take a look at http://ripariumsupply.com/products-page/ and they have a bunch of floater things you can float plants on in the back of the tank.

As far as I understand it:
Aquarium: full water
Riparium: full water with land feature or floating docks with land/bog plants
Paludarium: any combination of land and water, can support animals that need both.
Vivarium: More land than water, usually a small water feature.
Terrarium: land based

I could be a little off with that but that's how I understand it at least, makes sense in my head lol.
 

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Welcome! I have a paludarium. I call it a terrarium, it's just easier to convey what I'm talking about.

I made a false bottom and covered it with landscape fabric. Do NOT do that, the fabric wicks too much water. Use fiberglass screen instead.

I also used great stuff to make a background. It was a lot of fun and turned out well.

You can look at my journal to see what I did and the results.
 

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This sounds very interesting! Good luck! I'm very interested in seeing your final result!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yep, it showed up! And in one piece! (Whew. I was a little concerned, what with the reviews on it.)

Guess what showed up today? OPPORTUNITY.

Normally, my mom doesn't like to go across town to PetSmart. (Which is probably a good thing; otherwise, I'd never have money.) Since we were grocery shopping at several stores, one of which had a garden center and one of which was right by PetSmart, I managed to get:

1. Topsoil
2. Aquarium gravel
3. Aquarium sand
4. Water wisteria
5. Aquarium ferts--by Seachem, no less, so they're probably good ones

!!!

Of course, I had to solve the slipping problem. For now, I have some larger rocks kind of jammed into the gravel near the bottom... hopefully they'll keep things stable. If not? Maybe later I'll need to get more of them. I had to keep some for the hardscape, but I think this'll be pretty decent for now.

Despite my liking to get things right, I think if I tried to do a major project with false bottoms, my mom would be like

ಠ_ಠ wat

She isn't very much into fish. This may be in part because I always have been. XD When you raise a kid who tries to keep paper goldfish in your Tupperware and gets upset when they fall apart fifteen minutes later, I can see how you'd end up with kind of a grudge against aquariums.

I'll attach pics next--I have to get them off my phone first. You'll see the water is kind of cloudy because of the sand; I'll probably steal Felix's filter for 15 minutes and make him mad.

Questions...

1. I have spearmint cuttings rooting in a glass of water. They seems pretty happy... can I put that in? They've got great roots.

2. This plant fertilizer. Do I just use a dropper? It's strong stuff. 5mL for 60 gallons? Yikes. I need, like, .5mL, and even that's more than it recommends.

Pics in the next post...
 

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Sure, the cuttings should be fine as long as it stays upright and doesn't fall into water :)

Is it Excel or Flourish? But for the most part, yes, follow the instructions. You can use a pipette to dose if you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It's Flourish. Is there much of a difference?

Pics!

1. My materials... those black rocks are there to try and hold stuff in place. I have my doubts as to whether they'll be enough, but it should be okay for now.

2. Got the dirt in. I used a trash bag to take it up to my room... I just eyeballed how much I needed, and it was pretty accurate. Could've gotten more but that's okay.

3. I rinsed off the majority of the sand I used in this Glad container with filtered water from our tap. (No, it's not hard, and there aren't any fish going in today. I'll put in water conditioner when I put in the livestock.)

4. Got my sand.

5. So you can see how deep it is...

6. Some of the water in. Oops. Could've been worse.

7. Fixed.

8. Okay, that's full enough...

9. Plant time!

10. There are plants in there. Really.

11. Mint roots! We ended up with these on accident. My mint plant sucks water like nobody's business, so when we went away for four days, I gave it a trim before we left and stuck the cut stems in a glass of water. We come back? They've got a bunch of roots. You can't see how many there are in the crummy phone pic, though.
 

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Subscribing. :) This looks like a fun project. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh, and I asked about burrowing trumpet snails at PetSmart, but they said they didn't have any. Maybe I'll just have to ask someone with MTS to overfeed their tanks a bit and send me some next time I get babysitting money. :p

I did get cuttlebone for my nerite, though. I need to grow his shell up a bit to make sure that he doesn't wander out of the tank. He just barely doesn't fit through the feed gap... but if he finds the right angle to slide out, I know he's gonna be G-O-N-E unless I strengthen his shell.
 

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Yes there is a difference, Flourish is a liquid fert and Excel is a co2 supplement. So flourish is the one you want so you're good ^_^
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Good... I actually read the label this time before buying! :p

Flourish is a pretty word. :)

In other news, Adagio the snail now has... probably two gallons of swimming space all to himself right now. I added the water conditioner so I could put him in and start the thing cycling. He's even got a piece of cuttlebone in with him. Snail heaven!

I deliberated for quite a while on that snail's name until Adagio struck me a few days ago. The little dude is quite fast for a snail at nighttime, so it fits pretty well. And I just like how it sounds. :)

More pictures!

1 and 2: Stole Felix's filter for 20 minutes to clear up the water a bit. Boosting 3M a bit here. My duct tape has grown legs and walked out with my father, so it's Scotch tape this time. Can you tell I'm fond of paperclip and bubblegum fixes? (And Red Green. But I live in Iowa, so you probably knew that.)

3. That's my octopus lamp. The light aimed at my new tank has a CFL in it. So my plants won't suffer when the sky's overcast or it's wintertime. Nifty, huh?

4. That's Adagio, going to town. There's not much for him to eat in there, but I set him in Felix's filter cartridge for a little while, so he should be pretty well fed for the time being. If I need, I'll just pull some algae from Felix's filter or give him some lettuce.

5. Ahhhhhh... everything's neat and clean again. Sprayed down the desktop plastic with Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface (pretty gentle stuff as long as you don't get it in the water) as usual after working with my fish, so everything's all shiny. :) The plants on my desk aren't even half of all the plants in my room.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Aaaaaand there's light!

It looks better. You can see inside.

I took an unused toothbrush and scrubbed up the sand dust off the waterline. I also added some of the low-grade fish food that came with Felix's tank for an ammonia boost. Adagio probably isn't producing a ton of ammonia with not so much food in there.

Snails are awesome, you know? You don't have to worry about them being poisoned quite so much when it's a snail-in cycle.

This is going to be a beautiful place for a fish to live when it's done...

Also, a picture of my cat Jake. He wanted to be photographed too, he gets jealous of the fish sometimes.
 

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5. Ahhhhhh... everything's neat and clean again. Sprayed down the desktop plastic with Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface (pretty gentle stuff as long as you don't get it in the water) as usual after working with my fish, so everything's all shiny. :) The plants on my desk aren't even half of all the plants in my room.
I haven't done this myself, but I've heard of people using screen wipes for computer/television screens, 'cause you're not spraying anything. Therefore no risk whatsoever for possibly getting it in the tank water.
 

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Your tank looks pretty good so far! Jake is just too adorable!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Okay, so, guys? I didn't post yesterday, but I put Felix in the new tank and he seems to be pretty cool with it. Haven't noticed any adverse effects--actually, he seems to be enjoying himself.

I came home after church and walked up to his tank wearing a turquoise shirt, and he gave me a HUGE flare and proceeded to swim around with his fins all fluffed out, flaring at some other stuff. Possibly to tell me he wanted his afternoon snack, which he devoured immediately.

He likes resting at the top of the slope, where there's enough water for him to swim back and forth but enough space for him to sit and rest. Like a betta hammock! I wonder if a tank set up like this would be helpful for a fish with SBD--enough room for them to hide and have fun, but with a nice big safe place that's easy to get to as well.

I think he actually doesn't miss his filter! That surprises me. I was really expecting to hear it from him about that, in the form of flaring at the surface and fins with specks of blood on the tips. But he hasn't nibbled at all and seems to flare more at his rocks and plants than at the water line.

I'm more comfortable keeping him and his snail buddy in the 5gal, even though there's only 2 gallons or so of swimming space. It's just that the ammonia levels seem safer.

Oh! And he seems to be in the starting stages of a bubble nest. In his old tank, if I didn't top it up for a few days and it was hot, the water level would dip enough for the filter not to disturb the surface and he'd make nice little nests that I'd have to destroy. I put a little extra water conditioner in to help him out. He seems to be kind of abstract in his bubble nest making, though. Like... oh, this spot could use a bubble. Now I'll blow a few over here. Hmmm... I don't feel like going back there to build, maybe I'll just stick a few here. It looks more like abstract art than a single nest.

Basically, I'm thinking he might like to stay there permanently.

His old tank is a perfectly good tank, though, and I'm thinking about converting it to a basic low-light NPT with and rescuing a fish from PetSmart or PetCo to put in there. While I love Chard's bettas to death, I'd feel bad about putting such a big, healthy fish in the little 1.5g when he would otherwise be adopted by someone with a nicer place for him. (Most people, I think, won't pay $25 incl. shipping for a fish but not pay attention to its care. ...Most people. I hope.)

But PetSmart bettas can't often hope for more than a big bowl on a kitchen counter, weekly water changes, and a plastic plant. You know? That and PetSmart's cheaper, and I'm a teenager. Not that Chard's fish aren't worth it--because come on, they are--but it's kinda hard for me to string the cash together when I get paid maybe $10 a week.

So I'll put converting the 1.5g on the agenda. Then, next time I'm at PetSmart, I'll pick up a dull, stress-striped fish and take him in and find out what color he turns in nice warm water.

I'm keeping the cycle (if there is one?) going in the 1.5g with the crummy Aqueon food. (Other thing on the agenda: get a test kit.) Between the filter and the plants, I think there's probably a cycle going, but I can't be sure. Fish food won't hurt an empty tank, either way--I'll just change most of the water once I get the new fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I haven't done this myself, but I've heard of people using screen wipes for computer/television screens, 'cause you're not spraying anything. Therefore no risk whatsoever for possibly getting it in the tank water.
I'm cleaning more because I want to sanitize stuff--I mean, I am removing waste with water changes--than because I want it to be shiny. I just spray away from the tank so it's not a problem.

Nice idea, though. Oh, and welcome to the forum (even if that's a little late, all I can see is that you joined this month).
 
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