Are Paludariums Hard To Maintain?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / BLUR LIFE 1975

Paludariums have taken the world by storm. They may not be as widely used as fish tanks and terrariums, but they’re more popular than ever. So, are paludariums hard to maintain?

It’s easy to maintain paludariums with frequent plant trimming and water changes. Change the water at least twice per month and prune the plants as needed, so they don’t become overgrown. It’s also essential to install a filter in the bottom section and avoid overpopulating the water. Avoid overfeeding the animals in the top section and fish in the water.

Paludariums also rely on consistent humidity and lighting for optimal plant growth. Install a mister or spray the leaves often to keep the humidity level at between 60% to 80%. Follow along as we explore everything you must know about paludarium maintenance.

Is It Hard To Take Care Of A Paludarium?

It’s much easier to maintain a paludarium than it is to set one up when you first get the tank. Much like fish tanks, paludariums require basic maintenance such as water changes. Paludariums carry the same risks as aquariums, such as algae blooms, pH imbalances, and infection.

Each of these problems is easy to avoid with basic maintenance. Everyone who owns a paludarium should keep pH test strips around. If the pH level isn’t between 6.8 and 7.8, then you'll know something is wrong.

How To Maintain A Paludarium

You likely know many of the golden rules of paludarium maintenance if you’ve ever owned an aquarium before. That said, paludarium maintenance comes with more nuances, as you also have to deal with an upper, dry level. Luckily, you can keep your paludarium in great shape if you stick to a few basic rules, such as:

1. Maintain Humidity

Humidity is essential for any paludarium to thrive. You can increase humidity in your tank with misters, bowls of water, and spray bottles. Some people simply spray the plants in their tanks to maintain humidity.

Others buy or build misting systems to provide consistent moisture. Misting systems for paludariums are often interchangeable with misters for reptile enclosures. They provide steady and consistent sprays of mist that help the plants in your paludarium.

You can also install waterfalls in your paludarium to boost humidity. It’s a great idea to keep a humidity monitor in or near your tank. There is no standard humidity level, but many people keep their tanks between 60% and 80% humidity. The number fluctuates between day and night.

2. Frequent Cleaning

It’s essential to clean the top, dry part of your paludarium just as thoroughly as the lower level full of water. Both parts of your paludarium are susceptible to mold, algae, and harmful bacteria. Trim and clean the plants as needed and check them for mites.

This helps you catch infestations early so you can protect the plants, animals, and fish in the tank. Some people fill their tanks with living organisms that help keep the environment clean. For example, isopods, beetles, springtails, and earthworms can keep the tank clean.

That said, you must still clean up after them as they leave waste behind. Simply inspect your paludarium each day and clean it as needed. It’s no harder than maintaining a fish tank.

3. Install A Filter

Without a filter, your paludarium can quickly become dirty and uninhabitable. The filter belongs in the bottom aquarium part of the tank. Filters remove bacteria and waste to keep your fish healthy and happy.

Aquarium filters are easy to install and maintain. Without a filter, the fish in your paludarium can quickly become sick and die. The nitrate and ammonia levels can rise to dangerous levels within your tank.

4. Don’t Overpopulate The Tank

Overpopulation is a common problem for people who haven’t had a paludarium before. Whether it be too many animals in the top section or too many fish below, it is dangerous. The fish will struggle to get oxygen, and the dry animals up top will grow unhappy.

Most paludarium hobbyists only put 1” of fish per gallon of water in the tank. That way, the fish won’t have to struggle to get food and oxygen. This also helps improve their quality of life, and you notice they will be much happier.

You also don’t want to put too many plants in your paludarium. It’s hard to maintain too many plants at once, and it adds lots of time to your maintenance routine. You may even struggle to see what’s going on in the tank if it’s overpopulated with plants.

5. Never Overfeed Your Fish

Overfeeding your fish is not only bad for them, but it’s bad for paludarium overall. The fish can’t likely eat all of the extra food you give them. Instead, extra food sinks to the bottom of the tank and slowly rots if none of the fish eat it.

Nitrates are quickly released into the water when the food decomposes. That can raise the nitrate level to a dangerous degree, and it can harm your fish. Algae are more likely to form in your tank, and that creates more problems.

Remove the extra food by hand if you overfeed your fish and it sits there for over 10 minutes. Cut back on how much food you give your fish and carefully watch how they react. Healthy fish can typically finish food within 5-10 minutes. You can tell you overfed your fish if it takes longer than that for them to eat it.

6. Consistent Lighting

Consistent lighting is essential for the plants, animals, and fish in your paludarium to thrive and be happy. Keep the lights on in your paludarium for 8-12 hours per day. You must install lights in both the top and bottom parts of your paludarium.

Look for adjustable lights so you can dim or brighten them as needed. This takes some trial and error. For example, you may not want the top part to be as bright as the bottom water section, and vice versa. It depends on how many plants you have up top, and how much water is at the bottom.

How Often Should You Change The Water In A Paludarium Tank?

You must change the water in your paludarium tank at least twice each month. It’s the same principle as an aquarium where the water becomes dirty and full of bacteria quickly. You only typically need to change 10%-25% of the water at once.

It’s rare to need to change 50% of the water in a paludarium. That’s only necessary if the water is full of nitrates, algae, and harmful bacteria. Ideally, you should maintain crystal-clear water quality to ensure your fish and plants are healthy.

Scrub your tank as needed when you change the water to manually remove scum, algae, and even mold. Try to pour the water into the paludarium from up high to increase the oxygen level.

Summing It Up

Paludariums aren’t hard to maintain if you change the water at least twice per month. It’s also important to trim the plants in the top layer and keep them moist. Try to maintain a humidity level of 60%-80% to ensure your paludarium thrives.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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