I am actually pretty sure I've seen your old paludarium/ finch enclosure on google before! There are not too many palidarium finch enclosures around.Welcome to the next level.
I too had the reef aquarium but i did so in the days before kalkwashers . The infancy of bio balls and live rock. My avatar here is actualy a picture of that the next step that was divorce she got my money and the salt talk and i built a planted tank. And i heard the same there you can do that you cant do this it won't work. if you weren't detered by 15 years of fish keeping i imagine you know the fundamentals and can make about any design work. The planted tank i had was open toped where i started with desk lamps quartz halides. not only did it work i placed 148 in the ada competition. sorry i don't remember the year but the tank can be found typing padarium vivarium i am unsure but i think you'll like. . The next evolution was to build a waterfall on the top of the open fish tank . which then became a water proof shelf basicly creating a bog with peat long long long before this bog stuff ever came out. and to top it off i placed two finches in this area by simply running window screen down from the ceiling.
But enough there the point is don't be affraid to give things a shot i believe strongly i can make my system work with minimal effort but to someone else not so much and vise versa.
You have some fantastic top soil there and lots of it . how ever thats something you'll need to be very carefull with as n matter how much compaction you may add just add enough water and it will wash out. On the plus side sprinkle a little grass seed and the roots can stablize your soils rather quickly.
Your bottom drain for it to work really well you may want to concider the bottom of the pond as a bowl with the drain at the deepest point. which brings the next point. and a member here back then gave me this tid bit that by code i had to have two drains on the sam pipe so if someone got it the deep water they could no get held down by a drain check with your local building codes.
You have the shelve all around you build but they are very even and round did out a corner even if it's only a foot deep and three feet as a jog can do A lot to make it look natural and it was always there. Whoops just noticed the closest wall is not rounded.
I don't know your particular soil but as was mentioned if it is as i believe i would have a tarp to cover the pond and keep the water from ever seeing the edges of your selves.
If you dig out one area of your middle self and bring it down to the bottom of the pond it's a fish cave you only need a large piece of flag stone or similar and trust me your fish will love it especially in the winter.
Ok enough of my two cents nice bones thus far looking forward to your build.
Oh yeah and i whole heartedly back the bog as well.
i to make a area / island for bog plants but as they will absorb through there roots they can do what a bog filter does.
If you think this response is long my build can be found this in the blue text below
Heres my planted tank.
Thanks for the tips. I'll check out your build.
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