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Old 11-20-2009, 02:54 PM
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Default What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

In September I set up a 90 gallon tank with a false bottom and a waterfall in one corner. Temperature at that time was 76, and has steadily dropped to 72. Humidity in the driest part of the tank is just over 80, I use a fogger and vent fan on timers. I stocked the tank with mixed juvenile frogs that I never observed fighting with each other or preventing feeding. Stock list:
2X azureus
4X leucomelas
2X auratus green and bronze
2X auratus CR green and black
2X imitator
2X tricolor (mated pair)
1X man creek pumilio
2X dwarf chameleons, which I use to eat the flies that get into the drier upper corner of the tank

****A preface: This tank is housed at University, and is fed most days by student caretakers; I found out yesterday that the frogs have been overfed, especially as the numbers have decreased, but in a tank this size I have difficulty believing that that could be the problem. The problems began while I was away for a period of two months; I had pictures sent to me and traveled back once to see what I could figure out, but am still stymied. On to the description.****
About a month after stocking, frogs started showing up dead, often but not always in the pool of water. The frogs looked healthy and I did not see them soaking, though the male epipedobates set himself up in a corner of the pool.
The frogs would die 1-3 weeks apart, a couple times two at once but usually just one. Two weeks ago, the smaller (female) chameleon also died, interestingly near the water where it never goes. As of yesterday, I had only the pumilio, a leucomelas, and a green and bronze (and the chameleon), all looking healthy although the green and bronze was shy. I assumed it to be normal shyness since it was out of a group, but this morning I found it dead, in the water. I have been testing the water, checking temp and humidity all around the tank, but unable to find the problem.
In none of my books or experiences have I seen something that causes frogs of different species to drop off one by one like this while the remaining frogs look so healthy. I am kind of at my wits' end here; any ideas?
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

wow thats too bad. im definetly no expert, but maybe its an environmental problem. i say that because i didnt think there were many diseases that could spread from amphibian to reptile. it could also have to do with the mixing of species. again im just a beginner.
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Last edited by hukilausurfer; 11-20-2009 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

I would guess that some of the frogs were beating up on the others & drowning them in the water. i've read of other people having animals drown each other.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

You have alot going on there. Here are a couple thoughts:

-Frogs probably came from different sources. Were they tested for disease and quarantined prior to being added? One frog could easily have been ill and infected the others.

-That is alot of species to try and mix together and even I would not attempt that in an enclosure 10 times the size of a 90g setup. Probably too small of a setup for that many frogs of that many different species.

-Stress from overcrowding and the looming eyes of the chameleons overhead.

-aggression, any setup has the potential for aggression as the frogs mature. typically juveniles are not capable of being sexed, a standby enclosure is needed for this reason

-Chameleons do not do well in enclosed environments. The humidity was probably to high and the turn over of fresh air is too low.


This to me is an example of why mixing is frowned upon. The combination of this many species in a tank not adequately sized and or setup to accomodate them is a recipe for disaster. Hopefully you will get the answers to the questions you ask so if you decide to try a mixed tank again in the future you will have better results. Please PM me with any more specific questions and I will help out the best I can.

Good Luck

Last edited by Jellyman; 11-20-2009 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Overcrowding -stress - disease - mortality
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:14 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Arent Pumilios notoriously violent to other species? Its seems odd to me that Ive read that many times, and he is on the list of remaining, healthy looking frogs.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Quote:
Arent Pumilios notoriously violent to other species? Its seems odd to me that Ive read that many times, and he is on the list of remaining, healthy looking frogs.
The pumilio is the "bully-er" and not the "bully-ee". There is a cool picture of pumilio with a tinc in a headlock in Jewels of the Rainforest.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:58 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Wow, thanks for the replies. I have been meeting with frog biologists and mycologists at said university to work on the problem from that end. Some responses:

"I would guess that some of the frogs were beating up on the others & drowning them in the water. I've read of other people having animals drown each other."
I too was worried about aggression between and within species and as ready to pull frogs if I saw aggression, especially interspecies. However, despite careful observation I did not see any. Also, the living frogs and recently dead ones did not looked bullied, i.e. stomachs not hollow, gregarious in life, not listless.

"Frogs probably came from different sources. Were they tested for disease and quarantined prior to being added? One frog could easily have been ill and infected the others."
Frogs came from two reputable breeders, all cb, all quarantined but not tested as they appeared healthy.

"That is alot of species to try and mix together and even I would not attempt that in an enclosure 10 times the size of a 90g setup. Probably too small of a setup for that many frogs of that many different species."
As I said, I too was nervous at the request for a 'community' tank, but I am well acquainted with the head of living collections staff at a local museum, who has maintained a 75 gallon, 4 species tank successfully for over ten years, and who provided quite a bit of advice on tank design and species choice to minimize conflict, which, as mentioned I looked for but did not see. That is what makes the whole thing so mysterious, that none of the usual suspects seem to fit.

"the looming eyes of the chameleons overhead.... Chameleons do not do well in enclosed environments. The humidity was probably to high and the turn over of fresh air is too low."
These are of course the inch long afrotropical pygmy chameleons. I have kept them successfully with dart frogs. I would point to the presence of a vent fan and specially designed 'dry corner' for the chameleons, and the fact that the one still living is growing and appears healthy. Also, was turned on to the chameleons by the German 'Poison Frogs: Biology, Species, and Captive Husbandry,' which has always been pretty reliable.

Josh--I am very curious about the pumilio beating up on the leucomelas. The museum guy I mentioned has kept pumilios with leucs and tincs without a problem, I was initially worried (for the pumilio!) just because of the size difference, but I would really like to know more about the interaction if you have any more to say.

**Thanks again for the responses, please respond to my responses if you think I am still missing something**
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Old 11-20-2009, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Sounds like you have some excellent resources at your disposale. Please post any info they can provide to you as it will be beneficial to anyone attempting a mixed enclosure.

Can you post some pics of this setup?
What University is the display at?

Thanks
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Old 11-20-2009, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Any chance the university can do a necropsy on some of the passed inhabitants?
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Old 11-21-2009, 12:58 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

I was sharing this story with a very well respected person on this board and in the hobby today. (He had not read the story yet) When I told him about your set-up and the animals you were keeping together, before I even told him your problem, he said,"pumilio drowned all the other frogs didn't it? They are known for that".
I don't know about the chameleon and I am not an expert on frogs, but the person I was talking to certainly is. For him to say that, before he even heard your frogs had died, says a lot. It also may not have even been bullying in the traditional sense. The pumilio could have just drowned them outright without any prior confrontations.

Not saying it couldn't have been something else, but I thought I would pass this on to you.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Quote:
Josh--I am very curious about the pumilio beating up on the leucomelas. The museum guy I mentioned has kept pumilios with leucs and tincs without a problem, I was initially worried (for the pumilio!) just because of the size difference, but I would really like to know more about the interaction if you have any more to say.
The picture in the book was a tinctorius (which makes it that much more poignant since tinctorius tend to stay on the ground and pumilio are much more arboreal). Pretty amazing to see a pumilio with a death grip on a frog much, much larger than itself. Bullying is tiring even for the bully, so I'm not surprised that you didn't see it.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:45 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

The "drowning" theory is FAR from conclusive.....

Gentlemen....we have a serial killer on the loose in the viv
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Old 11-21-2009, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Man...killer pumilio. I will move him out right away. That is remarkable, what with the totally different niches and size difference! However, I am definitely NOT going to stop looking at the dead frogs. Phender, any chance you could ask your well-respected friend to PM me?
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Old 11-21-2009, 02:20 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

Were the chameleons dwarf or pygmies? Pygmies are fine kept in a tank and like high humidity. Although if they are Pygmies there's a good chance they are W/C and brought something with them

Sorry for your loss. Thats a lot of frogs
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:02 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

I would just ask where it was that you obtained a recommendation to put so many different species together in a single set-up. I think everyone in the hobby would prefer to have a single large vivarium to house their collections, but most learn (often the "hard" way) that overcrowding stress will cause most frogs to die-off. In overcrowded vivs with D. tinctorius morphs, there can be no noticeable fighting amongst the frogs. They can just stare each other to death. Most pdfs I have raised seem to prefer to be in single pair "committed" relationships, requiring many smaller vivs to house them.
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Old 11-21-2009, 05:49 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

jeffr: Rieppeleon ally, definitely not Bradypodion
and: bought at a trade show, billed as CB and the group looked to be uniform age, float good, but you're right, you can never be absolutely certain you haven't been taken in with these guys

Last edited by LaSelva; 11-21-2009 at 05:51 AM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:09 AM
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Default Re: What could cause frogs to die off one by one?

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Originally Posted by LaSelva View Post
jeffr: Rieppeleon ally, definitely not Bradypodion
and: bought at a trade show, billed as CB and the group looked to be uniform age, float good, but you're right, you can never be absolutely certain you haven't been taken in with these guys

Did the chameleons survive? If they did I would definitely get a fecal exam done on them just to see. You don't see many of these out there that are captive bred.
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