Brackish water paludariums are unique tank environments that accomodate both terrestrial and aquatic life, incorporating slightly saline water. And as such, you may be left wondering what kind of aquatic and terrestrial life you can keep inside paludariums that use brackish water.
Brackish water paludariums are ideal for fish like archer fish, mudskippers, and bumblebee gobies. Brackish water in paludariums also accommodate hornwort plants, which do well in the calcium hardness of the water.
Keep reading to learn more about what creatures and foliage you can add to a brackish water paludarium, how a paludarium runs with brackish water, and the right kind of substrate to use. We’ll dive into the specifics so that you can properly assemble your own tank.
What Is a Paludarium?
A paludarium is a certain kind of vivarium tank that immitates a natural swampy or marshy environment. This vivarium houses terrestrial and aquatic elements and lifeforms. One particular kind of water you can include is brackish water, which influences what kinds of fish and plants you can house inside.
In some paludariums, people even keep and care for amphibians, reptiles, as well as birds and insects. They’re vibrant little ecosystems that require a lot of care and attention to maintain.
Since paludariums contain so many elements, there are different ways to style and assemble them, such as:
- Island setups
- Half-and-half setups
- Land with pools
For example, a paludarium may contain a large sandbar/island area of “land”, while the rest of the tank is filled with brackish water. Or, you might have half of your paludarium filled with water and the other half designated for terrestrial life.
Brackish Water in Paludariums
It may also help to familiarize yourself with brackish water. Brackish water is essentially a middle ground between freshwater and seawater. It has more salinity to it than freshwater does, but it isn’t strictly “saltwater” either.
This environment is common in paludariums, both large and small, as many fish that thrive in brackish waters have some terrestrial and aquatic tendencies.
What Fish Can Live in a Paludarium?
When keeping a paludarium, only certain kinds of fish can thrive in the specific environment. In particular, fish like archer fish, mudskippers, bumblebee gobies, scat fish, mollies, and guppies do really well in paludarium environments.
The mudskippers and archer fish especially thrive when you set up your paludarium with brackish water. Mudskippers are a kind of amphibious fish, and over 30 different species of them exist. Because they are both terrestrial and aquatic in nature, they can survive and thrive in a paludarium.
Archer fish live good lives inside paludarium environments because, although they are aquatic in nature, they feed on land-based insects. They can even eat on small, land-based animals in your tank. On top of that, archer fish thrive in brackish water, which is where you’ll find them in the wild.
And of course, gobies are a good choice for paludariums because they can live in brackish waters. Bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius), in particular, resemble bumblebees with their black and yellow stripes. Each of the aforementioned fish will make a great addition to a brackish water paludarium.
Can Hornwort Live in Brackish Water?
In addition to a variety of fish, certain foliage thrives in brackish water. In particular, many paludarium owners keep hornwort in their tanks, within the brackish water environment. Brackish water tends to be harder than freshwater – meaning it has more calcium carbonate in it.
Hornwort plants (also known as “coontail”) thrive in still or slow-moving bodies of water. And this is the exact kind of environment you create in a paludarium.
Furthermore, it’s a free-floating kind of foliage, so you can successfully keep it in the brackish water of your tank without needing something for it to root onto.
What Fish Can Live in Brackish Water?
We previously mentioned that fish such as archer fish, bumblebee gobies, and mudskippers thrive in brackish water paludariums. But which other fish are ideal to keep in brackish water conditions?
You should consider keeping the following fish in brackish water conditions:
- Cichlid chromides – especially the orange and green species (native to South Asian waters)
- Guppies – thrive in both brackish and freshwater conditions, small and hardy
- Colombian shark catfish – silver and white fish that require brackish water once they start to mature
- Mollies – thrive in both brackish and freshwater tanks
- Mono fish – colorful, brackish water fish (note that they require very large tanks)
- Indian glass fish – playful, translucent fish to keep in brackish waters
- Puffers – particularly the green-spotted puffers and figure 8 puffers
What Is the Substrate for Paludarium?
The substrate that you use in a paludarium is also unique, and it should mainly consist of what is called “aquatic soil”. The reason you want to opt for this soil is that it’s a very versatile substrate that serves as a middle ground between strictly aquatic or terrestrial tank substrate. Both kinds of plants can take root in it.
If, however, you would like to distinguish the different areas of your paludarium, you may consider laying a tropical terrarium substrate. For example, you might only use this kind of substrate on the land portion of your paludarium, and then use aquatic soil in the aquatic portion of the tank.
Either way, the substrate needs to be tailored to a brackish environment that mixes both land and water.
When you’re assembling and maintaining a brackish water paludarium, note that this environment is a cross between an aquatic and a terrestrial tank. Both large and small, these vivariums can house fish such as archer fish, gobies, and mudskippers. Additionally, certain foliage like hornwort thrive in this sort of environment, where they can get air, as well as wet surroundings.
Having brackish water in your paludarium means that you want to have more salinity than you’d have with freshwater, but less than you’d have with a saltwater tank. Keeping amphibious creatures and marshy plants is a great idea when it comes to a home paludarium of this nature.