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  • 6 Post By Apoplast
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:59 AM
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Default Appreciative beginner/returning enthusiast

Hello. I am in the very early stages of exploring starting/getting back into raising dart frogs. I would describe my experience with dart frogs as novice-adjacent. I have kept them before, but that was over 20 years ago. I currently have no frogs but have been more than casually thinking about it for a year or so. When I last had dart frogs they were part of my amphibian menagerie. I was most interested in newts, but enjoyed my frogs as well. Of course, changes to the Lacy Act have essentially put a stop to any newt hobby.

It’s pretty clear things have changed since last I raised dart frogs. For starters the availability of food for them seems much greater. At the time, I had to get my mom who is a school teacher to order from Carolina Biological to acquire wingless fruit flies, and collembola allowing me to have cultures for my frogs. I haven’t had fruit flies since I created colonies in my mom’s old canning jars. However, because I grow carnivorous plants, I’ve gotten quite adept at maintaining colonies of collembola again. Nothing impressive, just a typical 4-stage colony rotation. You know, regular colony maintenance stuff.

This board has already been very helpful, so thank you to all the contributors! I feel generally confident about getting back into the hobby. I’m a botanist, who is in charge of a botanical collection, so I have access to all of the live terrarium plants I could ever want. I already have a Mist King from my carnivorous plant efforts, which is not currently in use. I still need to decide if I want to get a new enclosure, of if I should dismantle my 46gal acrylic, bowfront aquarium, and repurpose it. The top on that one is not as secure as I’d like though and I might have to fabricate a set of more secure openings.

I suppose my main areas of inquiry relate to my local climate, and predilection for what are apparently more challenging species to keep. I am currently living in a climate that if far colder in the winter than the one where I grew up. Here, it is neither economically nor environmentally advisable to heat my home in the winter to the requisite temperatures for dart frogs. This means I’ll need to heat the enclosure itself. This is also an uncertainty for me when it comes to the acrylic, as I am not certain how it will fair with a heat mat. The other issue is that, to begin with at least, I should probably just content myself with one of the big easy species. However, I certainly prefer many of the Oophagus species. Part of the attraction is the arboreal nature of some of these species, as well as their louder calls. What can I say? Who knows why we like the things we do.

Anyhow, I am likely a year out from getting frogs, if I end up doing so at all. I’d want to have my enclosure setup for a couple months first as well as my feeder colonies well established before considering getting any frogs. In the meantime, I’ll likely be lurking here trying to learn what I need to do make my decisions. Thanks again to everyone who has lent their expertise here and created such a great resource for people like me.
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Old 03-19-2020, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Appreciative beginner/returning enthusiast

Welcome to the board, Apoplast, and welcome back to the hobby! It sounds like you have a lot of expertise to offer on the board. You seem to have a pretty fair idea of what you want. Oophaga are lots of fun, but they aren't the only dart frogs that suit your desires. Even the most heavy-bodied dart frogs will climb given the opportunity and well-designed vivarium. Many have beautiful calls, as well. Ranitomeya are typically arboreal, too. Just trying to offer you alternatives if you are hesitant to drop Oophaga money on your first dart frog outing. As for the tank, I would sure rather have a purpose-built (by your or a manufacturer) front-opening tank over a top-opening bow front that could be tough to frog proof. I don't have much experience with heating tanks, so I will let others help you with that.

Best of luck!

Mark
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:46 AM
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Hello Mark. You are far too kind. My experience seems quite outdated to me. I do appreciate the suggestions for alternatives. I'll likely end up with one of the beginner 3 species: Dendrobates auratus, D. leucomelas, or D. tinctorius sensu lato. It's a good point about the tank too. If I am going to go to the trouble and expense of setting this up correctly, I should use a proper enclosure. All good advice. Thanks!

P.S. - Great screen name "Encyclia"! Is that a photo of your E. cochleata?
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: Appreciative beginner/returning enthusiast

You mentioned that it would be difficult to keep your house (or a room) at dart frog friendly temperatures. I'm in Canada, my house is 70F in the winter, the frog room is a little cooler than that usually, around 68F most of the winter, not uncommon for us northerners.

Rather than heat the vivarium you're better off heating a room entirely, safer and more effective. Plus, when you get more vivariums you don't have to redo the heating all the time :-)

Welcome aboard/back to the hobby.
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Old 03-21-2020, 03:26 PM
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Default Re: Appreciative beginner/returning enthusiast

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Hello Mark. You are far too kind. My experience seems quite outdated to me. I do appreciate the suggestions for alternatives. I'll likely end up with one of the beginner 3 species: Dendrobates auratus, D. leucomelas, or D. tinctorius sensu lato. It's a good point about the tank too. If I am going to go to the trouble and expense of setting this up correctly, I should use a proper enclosure. All good advice. Thanks!

P.S. - Great screen name "Encyclia"! Is that a photo of your E. cochleata?
That sounds like a good plan, though you aren't limited to those species. There are exciting aspects sometimes of having the littler fellas (Ranitomeya, Pums) but overall, they aren't terribly more difficult to keep on a day-to-day basis than the bigger frogs are. Maybe It's just that I have done it for long enough that I don't see a difference, though.

Indeed, good eye on the cochleata, though the scientific establishment have since changed the genus name to Prosthechea leaving me with an outdated screen name and photo. That suits me in many ways, however :-)

Mark
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Old 03-21-2020, 04:43 PM
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Another issue with heating a vivarium in a cool room (regardless of heating method) is the annoying condensation. Don't get me wrong, the frogs will love it, kind of like a privacy screen. Its only a drawback is to those who want to view the colorful captives. But soon after you get your frogs you'll become accustomed to people visiting and wanting to see them, and they're nowhere to be found. Terribilis are great to begin with for this reason: they are large, colorful and almost always out. I have over 20 vivariums and 16 species, and more often than not, visitors get to see orange and mint terribs, and little else.
You can start now by just putting a label (species of your choice) on your bowfront and no frogs, to get "the feel" for it. Our hobby is one of rare glimpses and beautiful sounds.
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Old 03-22-2020, 01:19 AM
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Hi Mark - Thanks for the frog tips! I figure I have a bit to look around, but it's good to know that I have options. Conversely, having options makes selecting more challenging.

I heard that the genus had been changed. Occupational hazard for being a botanist. Besides my friends at the Fuqua Orchid Center at the Atlanta Botanical Garden would never let me live it down if I didn't remember those things.

Hi Fishing Guy - Thanks for the reply! Most of my carnivorous plant friends are in Canada. Sadly, nearly all of them live in a climate with warmer winters than I. I appreciate the advice, and it is well considered. Unfortunately in my situation I can't really heat the room. I can only heat the house, which would be a pretty substantial increase from 17C to get it to 21C. Doesn't sound like much, but it would be a lot of extra money and energy. Especially on the nights where the temperature difference between my house and my freezer is less than that between my freezer and the even colder cold outside.

Hi Ravage - Condensation is a good point, I do want to see them. This heating issue is perhaps a more serious issue than I thought. However the P. terribilis idea makes me rather want to figure out the heating issue. More inspiration and food for thought.

Thanks all!
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Old 03-23-2020, 11:54 PM
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Could an oil-filled radiant space heater work for you? I love mine. I'm in a warmer climate, but my herp room is in the basement, which is cool in the summer and downright chilly in winter. I use the space heater to set the lower boundary of herp-room temps. In the day, the cage lights give a decent little bump above that lower boundary.

Just a thought. What Province?

cheers
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Old 03-24-2020, 01:17 PM
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Could an oil-filled radiant space heater work for you? I love mine. I'm in a warmer climate, but my herp room is in the basement, which is cool in the summer and downright chilly in winter. I use the space heater to set the lower boundary of herp-room temps. In the day, the cage lights give a decent little bump above that lower boundary.

Just a thought. What Province?

cheers
jgragg, do the oil-filled space heaters still pull the same wattage as the other coil and forced air kind do? I was always scared of the fire hazard from running one of the coil kind, not to mention the addition of 900 to 1500 watts has on the electric bill! Are the oil-filled ones any better on either count?

Mark
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Old 03-24-2020, 03:54 PM
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Mark, You can get oil filled ones that are smaller/ more energy efficient. I used to have one that was about 400W that I used to heat a 6x6x6' (or thereabouts) space at my parents' house. It kept the space nicely heated at 70F when the rest of the house was around 60- 65F in the winter depending what room you were in (no central heating)
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:23 PM
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jgragg, do the oil-filled space heaters still pull the same wattage as the other coil and forced air kind do? I was always scared of the fire hazard from running one of the coil kind, not to mention the addition of 900 to 1500 watts has on the electric bill! Are the oil-filled ones any better on either count?
They pull the same wattage, yes (700 to 1500W; I have a 1500W one in my ~10x13 basement herp room). But I believe they use the electricity much more efficiently, thus are cheaper to run. This is due to the thermal inertia & thermal mass of the oil. Even when the heater shuts off, the hot oil radiates warmth for long after.

I completely agree about fire concerns. I'd never run any other kind of space heater without being present in the room. The oil-filled just feels safer - for one thing they don't get nearly as hot to the touch, they have "cooling fins" to dump heat into the air, which also serve to keep you away from the hotter core. Also, the oil-filled heaters are just about silent. No annoying fan on, fan off business. This is probably safer too - the heat dispersal mechanism is passive convection of the oil, and radiation into the atmosphere. No chance of the heating element working and the fan crapping out.

Due to the insulation I built into the herp room, and also the thermal inertia & mass, I've just got mine set to come on for about an hour first thing in the AM, and then again for about an hour before lunch. After that the lights seem to do the trick, both for heating the individual cages and also to some extent the room. When the lights click off around 5:30, the room slowly cools back down to its NTL. Even at midnight or so the room is noticeably comfortable, versus the rest of the chilly basement.

These heaters really don't cost much - maybe just give one a whirl? Mine's a DeLonghi, with a very useful, finely-graduated analog timer on the face and a pair of temp settings. First being H/M/L (which I think corresponds to some stated wattages, like 1000, 1250, and 1500???), then those are stepped down with a slider thingie.

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Old 03-25-2020, 11:29 PM
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Hi jgragg - Good thought! I have an oil filled radiator heater. It's brilliant. I use it in my tropical room (I have 3 plant grow rooms purpose built in my basement for different climates - whole other story) because my understanding is that they are far less of a fire hazard than most other types of room heaters. I have it plugged into a plug-in thermostat, and I have zero complaints about it.

That said, I want to have the dart frog enclosure in my house, and not my basement. I already have to go downstairs and through the garage to see my plants. I was hoping to appreciate my frogs in my living space. My very open floor plan living space.

I'm thinking about using the acrylic tank - downsides be... Darned (I don't know my way around this forum yet, so please excuse my language here). I believe I can get the op secured as I know an acrylic fabricator who can custom make appropriate lids for me. The advantage of acrylic is I can drill into it. The tank currently uses an overflow with a wet/dry trickle filter. Works brilliantly. My thought is that I could drill a much lower hole to act as a new drain for a false bottom and then run that through a much smaller wet/dry trickle filter, keeling the waste removed, and allowing me to place a heater in the water. Then I would return the clean, warm water through the current return line to a waterfall and creek for the frogs. The current drain line port would be used with the screen for an ultrasonic humidifier hooked up to a humidistat. The hope is that would allow for the air space to be buffered from both temperature and humidity fluctuations. It should also allow me to maintain the water level and quality.

Okay, so here is where people with far more experience let me know how and why this is a terrible idea. Lay it on me. I'd rather learn from the experts up front rather than endanger frogs a year out from now with my harebrained ideas.

And sorry, I'm not in Canada. Yankee. Sorry. It's just most of my CP friends are in Canada, and I've mostly interacted on that forum. I live in Minnesota. Thus the extreme climate comments. I'd add that here, but as of yet, I don't have permission to edit my profile. C'est la vie.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:13 AM
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I don't like acrylic for vivarium construction, but it can work if conditions are right. The differential between the humidity inside vs. outside generally causes warping. This can be minimized with thicker acrylic, but I think it can still happen. It's an even worse idea for lids and sliding doors, etc. The bowing can result in escapes which is bad. Having said all that, I don't know enough about your situation to say whether you can get away with acrylic or not.

I do know that non-tempered glass can be drilled and I have done that plenty. It works great. See Doug's excellent tutorial:

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pa...our-glass.html

Don't if any of that helps, but there it is :-)

Mark
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:39 AM
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I'm in the process of getting some pics of my recent experience with attempting a viv with open water -- tads got deposited in it, bad things happened to them...

Before you commit to a feature in the viv that does not, at all, benefit the frogs and is solely for your own intuitions about what a frog viv should look like, please do try to find out all the downsides. They are numerous.

Also, do decide on a species (or at least genus) before you finalize the viv plans. DIfferent frogs do much better in different vivs, and I don't think you'd want to build yourself into a genus that you come to learn aren't for you.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:08 AM
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I'm in the process of getting some pics of my recent experience with attempting a viv with open water -- tads got deposited in it, bad things happened to them...

Before you commit to a feature in the viv that does not, at all, benefit the frogs and is solely for your own intuitions about what a frog viv should look like, please do try to find out all the downsides. They are numerous.

Also, do decide on a species (or at least genus) before you finalize the viv plans. DIfferent frogs do much better in different vivs, and I don't think you'd want to build yourself into a genus that you come to learn aren't for you.
Please do post. I'm very interested in your experiences with it. I've got a number of updates and pics to post myself from recent observations.
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:15 PM
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Hi Mark - Totally agree that glass can be drilled. I even have the drill bits for the purpose. Unfortunately, it seems that the commercial front opening terrariums are made of tempered glass. Drilling into tempered glass, as I am sure you know, is a fool's errand.

I'm not sure I agree with the humidity gradient issue, at least in this case. The tank is filled with heated water right now, and I can't imagine there could be more of a gradient than that. Your point about escapees is well taken though. I still have concerns about getting a proper fitting top that allows access.

Hello Socratic Monologue - Thanks for the input! I'll look forward to your thread about the open water issues. That is news to me. Again, I'm a beginner in virtually all ways and so much will be news to me. Given the number of builds that have open water included, I'd not anticipated this as a problem, nor come across concerns voiced. I'm eager to learn from your experiences.

Your points about deciding on species are well taken as well. I wish there were a guide to various species needs, and/or basic setup types with the costs and benefits. I find it's much easier to put this type of knowledge together for aquaria than for dart frogs. I'm sure it's all out there, but if someone could point me to a single source, that would be great. Is there a book? I like books.

In terms of species, I most like Oophaga histrionica, which I realize is not an option as a beginner. I get that. I still like them and can't help it. That said, I think perhaps a good spot for me to begin might be Phyllobates terribilis.

With that on the table, does anyone have any photos of a "ideal" setup for them, or opinions on what would be ideal?
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:44 PM
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Hi Mark - Totally agree that glass can be drilled. I even have the drill bits for the purpose. Unfortunately, it seems that the commercial front opening terrariums are made of tempered glass. Drilling into tempered glass, as I am sure you know, is a fool's errand.

I'm not sure I agree with the humidity gradient issue, at least in this case. The tank is filled with heated water right now, and I can't imagine there could be more of a gradient than that. Your point about escapees is well taken though. I still have concerns about getting a proper fitting top that allows access.
I am actually not sure about the bottoms of most front-opening terrariums. I am sure the manufacturers could tell you. I can tell you that I have drilled most of the backs of my ZooMeds and ExoTerras (including my 36x18x36) without difficulty meaning those weren't tempered :-) Maybe drilling low on the back would work?

You maybe right about thick acrylic in aquariums. The humidity gradient thing is more in the context of thin acrylic lids on glass tanks. That situation will almost always cause bowing. Maybe the heat from the lights comes into play, too? I know that pretty thick acrylic can bow over time, though. In CA where I grew up, acrylic tanks are more popular and I saw my share of bowed fronts on acrylic tanks as they got older. Maybe that is something they have corrected in the ensuing decades :-)

Terribs are a great starting point. I would design a tank with plenty of leaf litter (for Tijl) and relatively large (again for Tijl) :-) They will actually climb in spite of their weight (compared with other dart frogs so having some hardscape for them to go up and down on would be helpful. I would also make sure your substrate is well-drained because I have read that Terribs can be prone to foot rot issues. Mine are also pretty hard on plants that are planted in the substrate, so I would avoid anything delicate. They don't require bromeliads (for breeding or otherwise) but they look nice so you can put them in if you want to. I would also take a look at the care sheet on this board for more information, too.

Mark
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:31 AM
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Hello Socratic Monologue - Thanks for the input! I'll look forward to your thread about the open water issues. That is news to me. Again, I'm a beginner in virtually all ways and so much will be news to me. Given the number of builds that have open water included, I'd not anticipated this as a problem, nor come across concerns voiced. I'm eager to learn from your experiences.
I'm not sure that we read about all the problems people have with certain designs; I'm not even sure people always realize that there are problems.

I have (ongoing issue, but I don't think I can resolve it) R. sirensis that deposited 2 tads in a small water area. Not only should the parents not have deposited 2 tads in the same body of water, but they should have preferred the ten (yes, ten) provided deposition sites (broms and canisters). The tads got into the drainage layer (Matala mat), and aren't coming out. I can't tear the viv down, since there are almost certainly other tads in various sites (like broms that I can't even see into). I put a tube through the substrate into the drainage layer to give the tads (one is morphed now...), but the parents go into it; I can't risk an adult getting down there.

The fact is that even if these sorts of situations are rare, there is no flip side; water features don't benefit the (well, virtually all species of) frogs. Not at all. It is completely aesthetic, and I could kick myself for giving in to looks over husbandry. I knew better, I really did. I thought I could make an exception. I was wrong.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:37 AM
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Is there a book? I like books.
For all its faults, I like Lotters.

https://www.amazon.com/Poison-Frogs-...5272765&sr=8-2

It is already taxonomically dated, some now well-known species are barely touched on, and the authors like water features in the vivs.

But it is academically rigorous, has lots of photos, and reminds me of the reason I really like darts -- not because they are pretty, but because they are fascinating to get to know.
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Old 03-28-2020, 01:04 AM
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Hi Mark - Hard on plants? Oh no! That's not exciting news. I'll admit, a big part of the allure of dart frogs is getting to have cool plants in there with them. Indeed, I've already started getting plants ready for a tank. I have access to loads of great broms too, which it sounds like becomes less of a bonus for them. This is causing a rethink.

Sadly, I still don't have enough permissions here to click on anyone's screen name and get to their threads, which makes trying to follow any individual's threads, like the suggested Tijl, rather more challenging. Do I need to post enough to get those sorts of permissions? Just curious.

It's interesting that you associate acrylic aquaria with California. I grew up in California as well. Worked as the herp guy in a mom & pop pet shop for a few years. Perhaps this is the origin of my obsession with acrylic enclosures. Interesting if true.

Hi SM - First off, thanks for the book recommendation! I'll grab one.

I think it's a good point that failures don't get publicized the way success do. It does add to the steepness of the learning curve. Your points about prioritizing husbandry over aesthetics are well taken. I also agree that getting to know an organism (I find this true for many plants too) is really the big joy. Each one has a whole story of their existence; where their needs overlap with their origins, and sometimes not.

That's it. If I am going to do this, I need to do it right. Do the deep research (already enjoying the discussion about clay baths/substrates), and try to succeed out of the gate. But if I am going to do that I need to be honest with who I want to get to know. I think, despite the well meaning cautions, I should setup for and try Oophaga. Except for the warnings about how challenging they are, I love everything about them. They seem like the thing to make the extra effort for.
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Old 03-28-2020, 01:53 AM
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California to Minnesota is quite the change (climatically as well as culturally, I imagine). We lived in South Minneapolis for a few years -- really enjoyed our time there.

Mark mentioned this above, but I'll echo it: if you are attracted to Oophaga, do consider Ranitomeya. They are smaller, strongly arboreal (most of them), and some have wicked cool breeding behaviors (monogamy, egg-feeding, cuckqueaning leading to tadpole cannibalism (really!)). I like them.

At any rate, it sounds as if you could adequately care for even some of the less "beginner-friendly" frogs, so if Oophaga really spin you, go for it.
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Hi SM - Thanks for the thoughts! I'll look into Ranitomeya too. You are correct, I failed to reply to all of Mark's very helpful comments on a number of items. It's just been a flood of information, and my learning curve is still so steep. I'm trying to absorb it all and stuff is falling through the cracks, but repetition helps helps it all gel.

It's actually worse than moving from California to Minnesota. Before I moved to the Midwest, I was living in Arizona. I describe the two places as near opposites: Arizona being hot, dry and mountainous, where Minnesota is cold, wet and flat. Some adjustment required, but I've settled in. Other's results may vary.

Just as an idea of what I mean when I say my learning curve has been steep, I thought I'd paste my list of considerations here. You can see in the underlined sections where I still have significant questions, though the others are not set in stone yet (I haven't bought anything but some more plants yet).

I want to do this as best I can right out of the gate - I feel like little captives in my care deserve that at the very least. I am sure I am missing many attributes I need to add as considerations, but I just don't know them yet. I know some of the answers are on the boards, but still not having permissions to do much, I am finding it sometimes challenging to search for here the answers.

Advice from any experienced keeper is more than welcome. Thanks again, all!


Dart Frog** Setup Considerations

Enclosure:
Material (glass or acrylic) – glass, but not tempered to drill bulkhead drain
Size – how much base area is a large enclosure?
Top (screen, glass, blend) – need to use what comes with tank, or is replacement possible?
Stand – sturdy, with doors to hide misting, fogger, and drain water

Substrate:
Aggregate or false bottom – can aggregate increase soil macrofauna population?
Water removal – prefer bulkhead drain
Soil barrier – fiberglass window screening for fast drainage
Drainage layer – Turface and charcoal (both rinsed to low TDS)
Surface layer – believe clay might be best for Ca availability (will need to make)
Leaf litter – which species are best to use? any pretreatment necessary, like heating to sterilize?

Lighting:
Type of light – LED full spectra + NIR if possible
Intensity – 800 to 1000 PAR
UV – depending on top, weak longwave + midwave?
Cycle – 12/12, except UV at 1hr around noon

Interior design:
Backdrop – how long does a foam backdrop last, and how do you replace it?
Water feature – no, can be problems for frogs, despite aesthetics
Wood – cypress sticks, and perhaps cork tubes (but how to secure if no background?)
Stone – pagoda stone to create terraces, especially if no backdrop
Water pools – seed pods and rock saucers
Bathing – clay bathing spot
Breeding hut – what types are best, and what is needed? (then will need to rapidly learn much more about keeping tads and froglets)

Climate control:
Humidity – MistKing system to water + flush pools, and ultrasonic fogger hooked to hygrometer control
Temperature – tank heating might be necessary, but how?
Air circulation – not sure extra is needed on even partial screen top

Feeders:
Collembola – within enclosure population and separate cultures
Isopods – within enclosure population and separate cultures
Ants – local Lasius colony cultured
Fruit fly – cultured, but possible store supplement as needed
Crickets – depending on species, cultured and supplemented from store
Phoenix worms – XS size possible supplemental purchase depending on species?
Flour beetle larva – cultured for occasional feeding and as fallback food source
Mineral supplements – which one(s)?

Plants:
too many ideas to list, this part is too exciting!

**Dart frog species selection will impact nearly all of the above decisions, but still challenging
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Default Re: Appreciative beginner/returning enthusiast

On searching: if the search feature here doesn't work for you, Googling ' "search term" + "site:www.dendroboard.com" ' gives excellent results.
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