vivarium - generally tropical; high humidity, well planted, running water features
terrarium - generally arid; low humidity, dryer climate animals, little water (suited well for frogs)
paludarium - vivarium or terrarium with a large body of water. 50/50 water/land type tanks
A paludarium is a specialist style of aquascape where part of the aquarium is above water and the other part is submerged. Although not as common or popular as alternative styles of aquascaping, paludariums are particularly useful to those wishing to keep amphibians or keep a terrestrial environment within the aquarium.
As a paludarium presents an environment where a combination of land and water is possible, many different varieties of species can be kept together. Examples of paludariums would include some habitats that mimic a sloped beach, river's edge or a flooded forest. The mixture of land and water means that if you would like to keep amphibians, they will have both the access to land and water they require for optimum health. Some examples of alternatives to fish would include frogs, newts and crabs.
Substrate is normally built up in a way that some of the terrestrial regions are above the waterline and the tank or aquarium is only filled with water part of the way. If desired, it is possible to include a biotope theme where a natural environment is mimicked in the paludarium, of species of animals and plants which would normally be found together in their natural habitat. Hardscape and rocks can also be placed in a way that raises a surface above the water and a combination of these ways of raising land above the water could be used together.
One major reason to consider a paludarium are that they allows the hobbyist to keep a much greater degree of species that would be found in alternative styles of aquascaping and aquarium care. A lot of research should go into a paludarium however, particularly is a wide range of different species are intended to be kept in the finished aquarium. Biotope paludariums should be particularly successful, because the conditions needed for everything to do well should be broadly similar.
A paludarium should be an attractive option to a hobbyist who has considering or is thinking about keeping amphibians. It is important for a lot of background research to be done into the individual species that the paludarium will hold, as particularly with amphibians, some of them can be quite delicate or have specific needs. There is no reason why however that will some good research and a caring hand, that a paludarium would not be very successful. If you would like to start a paludarium but are uncertain it would do well, a biotope paludarium that combines species with similar needs would be a lot easier to keep happy and healthy.
With live aquarium plants you can overcome all the problems of a non-planted aquarium. You can improve the quality of your aeration, filtration, food and algae control. You can improve the lives of your fish.
Written by: Sean Norman