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What is a Paludarium?

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What is a Paludarium?

Paludarium at the Shedd Aquarium

Shirlie L Sharpe
If you've been to a pet shop recently, you've no doubt seen a paludarium. Scratching your head and wondering what they are? The term paludarium comes from the latin words for marshes (paludal), and receptacle (arium). In other words, a paludarium is a receptacle that is patterned after a marsh, with part water and part land.

They provide an interesting alternative to the fully aquatic life that is seen in standard aquariums. Paludariums are also an excellent project for classrooms.

Paludarium Habitats
  • Beaches
  • Bogs
  • Jungles
  • Marshes
  • Rainforest
  • Riverbanks
Paludariums may represent a variety of marsh-like habitats, from bogs to riverbanks to rainforests. Everything from a waterfall to the rapidly flowing water of a river can be replicated if one wishes to put some effort into it. The popular river and riffle tanks are both forms of paludariums that replicate habitats with constantly flowing waters. The possibilities are endless. Personally I believe a good approach for fish lovers is to choose the type of fish you want, and then build a paludarium that matches the natural habitat for the fish.


Paludarium Inhabitants
  • Eels
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Lizards
  • Newts
  • Salamanders
  • Snails
  • Snakes
  • Toads
  • Turtles
The inhabitants of each paludarium will vary based on the habitat that is being created. Thriving paludariums contain a variety of living creatures, each of which contributes to the ecosystem. Creatures that may inhabit a freshwater paludarium include: eels, frogs, lizards, newts, salamanders, snails, snakes, toads, and turtles. Keep in mind that some of these critters will eat the others, so do your research before putting them together.

Paludarium Plant Life
Plants are a key part of every paludarium. Because the paludarium has an abundance of the basics plants need, a wide range of plant life will thrive in them. The key is researching the habitat that is being replicated, and choosing plants that match. For instance, Amazon Sword plants would not be found in a West African habitat, but would be perfect for a South American Rainforest display.

Building One
Paludariums require careful planning to ensure success. Let's build one together. We'll start by choosing the inhabitants, followed by the structure, plants, and additional equipment. Check back later this week to find out what I chose for inhabitants.

Readers Respond: What Is Your Paludarium Like?

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