Tanks, vivariums and habitats can take many forms only limited by size and your imagination. in this section we will be discussing many of the possibilities, basic techniques and requirements for setting up your new dart frog environment!

It is possible to spend $1,000's setting up a fantasy vivarium for your frogs. State of the art LED lighting, water falls, fog machines. While these are all nice and Im sure the frogs enjoy some of them. They are not essential for frog health and well being.

There are two basic tank setups used for dart frog keeping. False bottom tanks and Gravel soil based tanks. Each has is advantages and disadvantages.

 
 

     

 

 

 
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False bottom tanks have several advantages over soil based vivariums. We use them here because of the high number of tanks required to house our large collection. The maintenance is greatly reduced over a tradition soil viv. We change the water and wipe out our tanks on a bi-monthly basis. These tanks can go for up to a year without needing to be disassembled for a deep clean. Soil based tanks should be completely taken apart and cleaned every two months. There are less problems with fungus, bacteria, and nematodes inherently present in decomposing soils.

Although some plants do not do as well in a false bottom tanks, there are many that thrive. Patho's, Ivy, & dracenea to name a few. These are in essence being grown hydroponically with the frog poop as food. The plants love it and you will find yourself needing to trim the plants back on a continuing basis in this environment.

Step-By-Step tank Construction (See Video Above)

Basic Glass aquarium- cleaned and thoroughly rinsed. If you use bleach or any cleaning products on the tank. Be sure all residue is removed before proceding.

PVC Pipe- Cut PVC Pipe sections 1 1/2" - 2" Place 4-5 in the bottom standing up. These will form the pier and level of your platform deck above. Please be sure to never overfill your tank and swamp the deck floor, you could drown your frogs. Also, be sure to monitor your water level when adding any additional water...either directly or through daily mistings.

White Egg Crate Sheet- 2' X 4' (61cm X 122cm) These are used for flourescent lighting covers. It is available at most Rona, Home Dept type outlets for $4-5 each sheet. Measure the width and length of the interior space allowing adequate room for your slanted ramp piece. Using needle nose or small plyers twist and break until you have the desired size.

#7 Plastic Mesh Sheet- This is the hobby craft mesh used for rug making and yarn projects. We get ours at Michaels Crafts. You will need 1 1/2 sheets for a 10 gallon tank. Cut the piece to fit. Cut the second piece to fit slightly under the larger and bend for ramp. Once you have the Egg crate pieces tied together with a plastic binder, place the mesh pieces on top and stap them together. DO NOT use twist ties with metal cores. These will rust and contaminate. Even more seriously, they will snap and can result in a collapse of your ramp, allowing your frogs to get below into the water. Use these plastic straps to secure the egg crate to the #7 mesh. Do this throughout both pieces. We did have a problem once, where the plant roots growing separated the egg crate from the mesh pushing upwards. This allowed a frog to fall down into the water. Luckily the water level was low so he did not drown. Be sure to leave some slack in the straps that secure the ramp pieces to the main level egg crate piece. This will allow the ramp to swivel up like a draw bridge and makes draining the water and maintenance much easier.

Plants- Using a small steak knife, Cut X shaped openings in the mesh at the appropriate spots for plant placement. Plunge the knife carefully through the mesh, making sure you are lined up with the egg crate underneath. Cut 6-10 of these openings. Place the Mesh egg crate piece in the tank. Push your plant cuttings through each hole. Try to get the plant stems to the bottom of the tank so that they will be in the water. Until these plants are rooted and feeding fo the water below, it will be necessary to mist them daily to keep them from drying out.

Underlayment- This can be anything from Sphagnum moss to aquarium gravel. Ground sphagnum moss should be avoided as it ends up below and makes the water look dirty. Professional froggers use Leca balls. You may know this as Hydrostone, which is available at your local hydroponic store for growing hydroponic plants. They are compressed clay balls from Germany. These have the advantage of being clean, producing no molds or fungus, and have a volcanic appeal. Leca balls are also used extensively as the gravel drainage layer in soil based vivs.

Housing- First place upturned yogurt lids where you want your homes to be. This will keep the hut dry and provide a place for breeding for most frogs. On top of the lid place a coconut hut or small plastic pot inverted with a doorway cut.

Rocks, Pebbles, Ornaments, & Gravel- Place your rocks of interest. (Flat rocks are best for frog perching) any wood or ornamental items. Frogs love things to do and climb on. Try to provide them with interesting and fun things to do. Avoid items that can fall over and crush the frogs as well as painted objects or anything that can shed chemicals or contaminants into the water.

Tank Lids- Tank lids should be composed of three elements. The screen, top, and lid. The majority of the tank top should be sealed. This allows a natural state of elevated humidity, which is good for the frogs. Always use some sort of screening at the back end of the tank for ventilation. And finally a functional lid that closes tighlty, allowing easy access for feeding or maintenance. Plexiglass tank tops are nice and reasonably affordable. I recently had some glass lids cut for $33 each. A bit expensive when doing so many tanks. If you cannnot afford a lid at first, try the following. Stretch large saran wrap over the entire tank top. Cut and tape down the entire edge all four sides. Tape the entire surface to make the top stronger. Using an exacto knife. Cut a rectangular opening at the back end of the tank. Place the mesh piece slightly larger than the opening and tape in place. Try to avoid having your screen extend to the sides and back of the tank. The frogs can crawl up and ensnare their toe pads in some screening. We allow 1 1/2" . Cut an opening at the front of the tank for the lid. Make it large enough to remove gravel for cleaning and to get your feeding cups in and out. Cut a cardboard box lid to fit the tank opening. Tape to the rear at the saran wrap. I just tape the entire peice down and then use a knife to go around and free the three sides to allow the cardboard lid to swivel up. This taping reinforces the lid and protects it from the moisture. I have used these tanks tops for some time and they are an inexpensive alternate that still allows light in from the top. Warning: DO NOT completely seal the tank top as the frogs can suffocate.

 

Just add Water & Frogs- For a standard 10 gallon tank we add one gallon of water. Mist the tank and place the frogs in their new home!

These tanks cost us on average $33CDN each to complete.

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