Dendroboard banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I realized the longer I put this off the bigger of a job it would be to start this thread so I better get to it asap ;)

I've had an interest in dart frogs for 10 years +/-, and loved the idea of natural spaces "indoors" since I was a little girl (although my younger daydreams involved massive atriums and central courtyards...maybe some day XD), but was not really in a financial position to put money toward a build. Recently a friend of mine got a baby gecko and reignited my interest in herptiles, and I figured it was time to finally do it!

Have been researching and ordering stuff for months. Was kind of hoping to get a 36x18x24 but the local store that had tanks at all didn't have that size so I got the 24 inch long instead. Got some plant starts from someone local who used to be in the hobby which I've been growing out for a while, and also ordered some from an online vendor more recently.

Original plan was one of the green or turquoise and black varieties of D. auratus (the colors are amazing, love the green metallic look) but fishingguy12345 convinced me to look at Ranitomeya, specifically R. sirensis and I was convinced ;) The exact morph may depend on what's available when I am ready for frogs, we'll see. (R. amazonica is another possibility but I haven't looked into them as much.)

Finally I got the glass drill bit a week or two ago and could drill the tank for overflow bulkhead and start working on it! (Just in time, it's properly autumn now as of a couple days ago, was much nicer to stand in a puddle in the driveway in warm weather than it would be today)

I'll include select photos here but I have more up in my Flickr gallery.

I originally wanted to include a water feature with a pond (what newbie doesn't?) but over time looking at builds and playing with pieces of cork and marking things out in the tank I finally realized that the pond I had in mind would be way too small for anything fun, and generally a waste of space as far as frogs are concerned. I can't quite stop myself completely, though, and am building a "waterfall" that will operate at a slow trickle and flow into a separated, highly draining part of the substrate to hopefully not cause saturation issues. Worst case scenario I can run it intermittently/infrequently if it causes too much moisture, and hopefully my design will allow it to still be useful roaming area for frogs, especially when it's not running.

Here's the most recent picture of the tank, with the two pieces in the middle "mocked up" to where I think they will be in the end (this picture doesn't show the manzanita branch I'll have on the right, either):
295303


I'll make a couple follow up posts here with some details of various stages.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Plants:
As mentioned above I received a handful of starts from a local, mostly pretty basic stuff but I got a few orchids and some other interesting things and I'm happy (I didn't pay anything for the plants themselves except the orchid starts so hard to beat free).

My favorite out of those is Trichoceros muralis, just because it's so tiny and different:
295304


I also got an Encyclia ionophlebia which so far is fantastically happy and vigorous:
295305


She also provided me with a couple paphiopedilums, some creeping fig (which I'm hesitant about using - how much of a weed is it if you decide you don't want it anymore?), a reddish cryptanthus, a start of Pellionia repens, a streptocarcus which seems quite happy, a tiny bit of some episcia which barely hung on (BUT I noticed the other day a couple leaves coming up in that pot! excited :) ), a bit of ludisia discolor (which is probably the same as the houseplant I already had, but maybe not, we'll see) plus a couple other things that probably won't be suitable for the terrarium. (More photos in flickr!)

I also started a handful of cryptocorynes out of the aquarium. Predictably they lost all their aquatic leaves but starting wee little emersed leaves now.
295306


My mother also donated a paphiopedilum which she's been having trouble with. It has no roots but still three large happy green leaves. We'll see if it can recover in a terrarium environment, it sure wasn't as a houseplant.

I purchased a variety pack of ferns and of bromeliad starts, which I mentioned in another thread. (The broms looked terrible when I got them in, but are doing much better now) As well as a macodes petola which I'm so excited about:
295307


And I'm trying to convince this Anubias nana to grow onto this rock. It will be placed where it can root into the substrate under the waterfall.
295308


It's not real happy at the moment but I didn't really expect anything different. Just a question of how it does over time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Now a couple shots from the progress stages, although it's already done and is less exciting to me than where it is now, maybe interesting to some of you ;)

Oh, I meant to include this with the plant post, this is where my plants are currently living. I got some crispiness on the ferns like this though which I took to mean it was too much light, and put some white trays over the top to diffuse the light some.

295310



Our elaborate drill press setup for drilling the tank:
295309


Drilling success! Totally appreciated all the threads on here about how to do it. It took us about an hour and a half from being set up and ready to start, to having the hole drilled.

295311


The hole turned out super nice though!

I'm building an internal circulation fan setup into the background. Like the waterfall, if it doesn't work like I want I can always run it intermittently and infrequently, but I wanted to have the option. I covered the intake and output vents with plastic canvas onto which I stitched no-see-um mesh and then used gorilla glue to attach to the PVC (designed to draw air up from substrate level and exhaust it at the top of the tank). Here is an in progress shot of the assembly:

295312


And in place with the first, big chunk of cork and the waterfall framework:

295313
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
Looks like a great start! It will be interesting to see how your waterfall feature fairs out, I'm interested to see how to set it up to prevent the water from saturating the substrate. Plant selection is great! Can't wait to see it all planted.

I truly enjoy your drilling setup. A drill press would make this drilling process for a lot of people a ton easier. I was going to use one in my shop to drill some panes, but with all the shards and metal splinters from all the metal work, I didn't want to risk cracking glass. What you did is a perfect MacGyver solution!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
These are two of my three favorite pieces of cork that I received in my order (the third is the piece I have taped upright in some of the shots, don't seem to have a photo of it specifically):

295314


The little nook in the center of this is great. I'm anticipating frogs might enjoy hiding in it, but we'll see. I made sure to silicone the back of it thoroughly, since it seemed to go basically entirely through the piece of cork (some of the other nooks above and to the left are similar). The overall texture of the piece is great!

The second piece I just love the wide open mouth on it. It has a nice inner texture (not all of the rounds do). I think I will leave it open as a big cave for them to use as a hide. Pretty stinking big for ranitomeya, though. I guess I will see whether they like it :)

295315



I liked the layout of the main pieces like this, but the left side in front of the waterfall looked really empty to me. I had some other cork branch tubes but they are all so big, none of them fit the space without overwhelming it.
295316


(The two pots on the waterfall are slated for emersed cryptocoryne, btw)

A friend of mine pointed out that "plants take up space too" and lead me to my ultimate answer: some nice textured cork and a planter that I can put a bromeliad and/or another plant in!

295317


I'm leaving the sides partially open glass and just filling in the back. Planning to apply vinyl wrap across the back / covered part of the sides once I am sure I plug up every hole a frog might sneak into. You can also see in this picture my basic false bottom setup (it's not yet attached but helped with positioning and visualization). I was originally planning leca but after reading various threads on here, and having plenty of egg crate leftover, I decided using egg crate was likely a better choice. It sits just above where the top of the drain bulkhead will be so there is a nice air gap.

I'm attaching screen to the front edge of the false bottom so I can put a thin layer of substrate between the egg crate and the glass on the part that will be visible:
295318


Either leca or the fluval substrate that I'll be using under the waterfall.

You can also see in the picture above the gap where the under-waterfall substrate will be. I still need to attach some plastic canvas/screen on that side of the structure to keep substrate in, and the false bottom platform needs some adjustment for the piece that will separate the two substrates, but should give an idea where I'm planning that to be. I think I'll attach that part this afternoon so maybe that will give a better idea.

Finally, where I left it last night with the right side siliconed and curing:
295319
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the comments guys!

I'm also interested to see how the water feature turns out. I'm going to construct it out of great stuff, painted in drylock, and try to separate the substrate areas with the same. Hopefully it does what I expect...it's a bit of an experiment. I noticed a lot of people have trouble with the silicone+coco fiber backgrounds wicking out of water sources, so I'm not going to apply that (or sphagnum) anywhere it seems like it might touch the water. (Mostly I'm trying to minimize great stuff in the background, but there are a few places it seems like the best choice - like the waterfall and around the fan tube. otherwise I'll stuff the cracks between cork with sphagnum.)

I'm a little more concerned about separating the substrates than the water channel itself, though - the under-waterfall area will go down into the water table and might wick if I don't manage to do a good job. The side toward the center of the tank will be separated with a ridge of GS painted in drylock, the side toward the front will have an egg crate divider topped with the rock I'm growing the anubias on and where that divider slants, the part under it will be just leca on the whole-substrate side. If it doesn't work like that I may have to tear that part out and rethink, but in theory it sounds good to me....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
You can also create a partition with cut glass, you can get cheap sheets at Lowes or HomeDepot and cut them to fit (this is easy!) Once you do that your water area will be 100% partitioned off. My only hesitation with GS is that if an air pocket builds up and you don't see it, it may be a leak point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
This already looks super impressive for a first tank setup! It seems like you've definitely done your research. I'm excited to see what frogs end up living in there (I have to suggest R sirensis green or orange, one of my favorites), they should be very happy!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
The only insight I have frog wise to this is if you're looking for a water feature, go with Auratus. If you truly want Ranitomeya, I'd look into more of a drip wall that's not constantly on OR use this build to influence changes for a followup build for Ranitomeya. Not the best news to hear from someone, but who doesn't want another Viv :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Tihsho is right, Auratus do prefer a water feature (which is uncommon for dart frogs I believe), I was just getting excited about R sirensis.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
You can also create a partition with cut glass, you can get cheap sheets at Lowes or HomeDepot and cut them to fit (this is easy!) Once you do that your water area will be 100% partitioned off. My only hesitation with GS is that if an air pocket builds up and you don't see it, it may be a leak point.
Hmm, that's a thought. I do have some glass available, since the smallest sheet that was big enough to make a new lid for the tank was way too big.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,606 Posts
Where are you guys getting your information that auratus are more tolerant of water features? I was not aware of this (though I learn new stuff everyday, so it might be true). Water features are not ideal for most dart frogs. It forces the tank into a much more humid environment than most darts would be used to in the wild (typically humid enough that you are limiting the frogs' ability to cool using evaporation). It also tends to introduce a lot of moisture into the substrate unless the tank is perfectly designed. This moisture is not great for the frogs, either. The only darts that I am aware of that actually live preferentially next to water are Epipedobates anythonyi or frogs from the genus Ameerega (these typically need a bit more space than other darts, however, so it might not be a great idea for the OP's tank). There are probably more, but those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Most darts typically live in leaf litter-dominated environments, some more arboreal than others.

Mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I'd also seen anecdotal mentions of auratus 'making use of' water features, although as far as being ideal or not...🤷‍♀️

This is why I am focusing design to keep water from wicking through the part where the waterfall drains, and will just run it intermittently if overall, it produces non favorable humidity/water splashing/etc conditions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
Where are you guys getting your information that auratus are more tolerant of water features? I was not aware of this (though I learn new stuff everyday, so it might be true).
I'm basing my information off of a bunch of research as well as after talking to a handful of hobbyist breeders as well as personally seeing D. Auratus in the wild, specifically the Hawaiian variant. One of those key sources I've spoken to that made the information public would be Josh's Frogs. I've spoken to Zach and Thomas from JF's and they had mentioned that in their experience Auratus appreciate small water features. Personally, I've seen Auratus inhabit areas around small streams and a few feet away from a small waterfall. Seeing this in person leads me to believe that they have no issues with a water feature as long as there is drainage and other areas that allow them to dry out.

One thing that a lot of people seem to overlook is what the presence of water brings. It brings life. Based on that you're going to have larger animals providing waste, which in turn draws in some insects, insects are then food. Yes there are other species of prey that inhabit other places that are not as damp, but being around water also means the ambient humidity is higher. With a Viv, as long as there is venting (passive or active) I believe that some species are capable of living within the presence of a water feature without issues.

On top of all of this I've seen Froggers who keep darts within their green houses. Besides Epipedobates anythonyi I've stumbled upon handfuls of articles over the past 10 years showing free range darts within greenhouses that contain much larger water features. I wouldn't condone keeping darts in something too deep or being around a water feature with current, but as long as the scaling is right to the enclosure I'm confident it can be done without harm. The issues in regards to this are making sure we compensate for the loss of floor space with scaling up the enclosure to accommodate and again, keeping an eye on ventilation and working to make sure that it's managed.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,443 Posts
I'm basing my information off of a bunch of research as well as after talking to a handful of hobbyist breeders as well as personally seeing D. Auratus in the wild, specifically the Hawaiian variant. One of those key sources I've spoken to that made the information public would be Josh's Frogs. I've spoken to Zach and Thomas from JF's and they had mentioned that in their experience Auratus appreciate small water features. Personally, I've seen Auratus inhabit areas around small streams and a few feet away from a small waterfall. Seeing this in person leads me to believe that they have no issues with a water feature as long as there is drainage and other areas that allow them to dry out.
One reason I've seen mentioned as to why terrestrial frogs are found more near water is simply because the in situ microclimate is more suitable near water. In a viv, we don't need to have standing water to control humidity or substrate moisture or prey availability -- but in wild environments, standing water does do all this. So it doesn't follow from the fact that wild frogs are found near water that a captive animal would benefit from standing water -- though it might follow that whatever benefit the frog gets from living near water in the wild ought to be provided in captivity (which we do, though other means that are more suitable to captive culture). The pros and cons with standing water simply aren't the same in situ and in captivity. Also, there have been no wild frogs observed to be forced to live their entire lives within 18 inches of water -- the ability of wild animals to self-regulate is a huge difference from captive culture.

The same sort of argument holds about other issues, such as temperature -- wild frogs routinely experience temps that are reliably fatal in captivity. This is because other factors influence how frogs deal with temperature -- just like other factors are at play regarding the benefits of standing water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
One reason I've seen mentioned as to why terrestrial frogs are found more near water is simply because the in situ microclimate is more suitable near water. In a viv, we don't need to have standing water to control humidity or substrate moisture or prey availability -- but in wild environments, standing water does do all this. So it doesn't follow from the fact that wild frogs are found near water that a captive animal would benefit from standing water -- though it might follow that whatever benefit the frog gets from living near water in the wild ought to be provided in captivity (which we do, though other means that are more suitable to captive culture). The pros and cons with standing water simply aren't the same in situ and in captivity.

The same sort of argument holds about other issues, such as temperature -- wild frogs routinely experience temps that are reliably fatal in captivity. This is because other factors influence how frogs deal with temperature -- just like other factors are at play regarding the benefits of standing water.
Agreed on all points. That's why I said, we have to look at ventilation as the big thing here as well as how we can work on separating the water from the substrate. If we have the ventilation to provide adequate humidity values as well as make sure the substrate isn't water logged and able to dry out for both the flora and fauna, there shouldn't be an issue. If we're talking about a 'set and forget' process then this environment isn't suitable for a water feature, but if someone is going to dedicate the time and effort into dialing everything in, I strongly believe we need to revisit the whole 'shun water features' approach.

Some additional key things I would be looking for in an enclosure that a water feature was going to be in:

  • Non converted aquarium
  • Active ventilation (using fans to create breezes within the enclosure so that fresh air is able to circulate multiple times a day)
  • Making sure that water within the enclosure isn't stagnant and has a slow flow
    • Making sure that water is maintained with regular water changes
    • Making sure that there is some form of biological filtration to keep the water within the viv from getting to high with Ammonia or Nitrites.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I fully intend to either get the water working in a way that works for producing decent conditions in the viv, or remove as much as I need to for it to work out....before I get frogs. (I have loads of time especially because I'm hoping to get a new job soon and then move - so I'd rather move before I get babies, honestly.) There's nothing waiting to go in but plants, so I have the flexibility to mess with it, for a while if need be (although hopefully not killing any plants in the process either ;) )

As far as Tihsho's list relating to my build.... it's a front opening Exo Terra, so the ventilation is available; I'm planning to glass about 2/3 or 3/4 of the top and screen the rest (thinking about it now, probably better to leave more screen, and make a movable cover as some folks have mentioned, especially since it might take a bit of work to dial in humidity/ventilation balances)

I have a fan ready to go for circulation, although it's a pretty tiny little guy. If the CFM is inadequate I can upgrade to a higher flow fan later, just might be more work to set up (had a hard time finding anything I could just plug in with USB). On the other hand, being a low flow fan might be advantageous as far as just leaving it running a large part of the time. Will have to see how it balances.

Water wise, although I am planning a spot where it can pool shallowly on the path of the waterfall, mostly it will just go into the substrate and eventually fall down the drain tube. The intention is to have it cycle through a sump before pumping back up - and I can put a fair amount of water in there to help stabilize parameters and provide area for biological filtration. Also easy to change water from there. (I have done aquaria in the past, also.)

I have looked at various wild environments for darts and they seem to rarely be very wet at all - just humid. So I will be doing my best to create a similar environment. We'll see how hard I'm making it on myself ;)

I also got a MistKing, although I won't set it up until I have a handle on misting manually.

Set it upright again today, attached the rest of my armature for the fall drainage area. It's looking built enough to be exciting now! :D

295321


I'm a bit skeptical of how well these pieces stayed in place while I was arranging things, though. Seemed like every time I touched anything everything moved :/ Guess I'll see how difficult it is to wrangle the front of the false bottom in :X

295322
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Update. Have discovered I hate GreatStuff. Will look deeply into alternatives for any future builds XD More pics uploaded to the Flickr album, here are some highlights.

Before GS:

295370



Order of operations error. Should have foamed all around the PVC tube before installing the cork piece. Caused myself many headaches with this mistake. But, this view through the cork is really cool, and if I can adequately disguise the GS around this end of it, I intend to leave it "see through" when I vinyl wrap the outside.

295371


This crevice was the bane of my yesterday morning. I spent like an extra hour trying over and over to shove the dispenser tube through the foam on the front to fill in the gap, because I could see the tank bottom through it at a certain angle and was plenty big enough for a frog to get lost in. Who knows where all that foam went, it wasn't there and I didn't see it anywhere else o.o

Finally I sacrificed a pipette and finagled it around the back of that cork, made sure it was lined up then shot foam through it:

295372


It was ultimately successful though, fortunately!

295373


Made a huge mess fixing the gaps caused by putting the big tube in too soon :mad: But I got them filled at least.

295374



I, uh, think this is just diseased. o.o

295375



And curing GS looks terrible, honestly. I can't help but feel like I've ruined everything at this point, lol, even though I'm sure that's not actually the case!

295376


Started to carve a bit, some of this will need more layers, next time I bust out a can of GS I will also need to attach the big upright tube in the center. Hopefully I'll be more clever about filling behind it first than I was last time...

Edit, somehow lost this image:

295381


.... and, I overfilled it, already. Started to crack :( I only filled the bottom 1/2 or 1/3, the top I'll put substrate in and plant something.

295378



That's it for now. Probably get back out there this afternoon and mess with it. Realized I should probably fill in underneath the planter to the right of the waterfall area, maybe I will use some of the trimmed GS chunks and tack them in with gorilla glue so I don't have to wait for a solid block of GS to cure in there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
Looks great! Don't let GS bother you, it can always be trimmed. Worst case if you ever need it gone a few hours and a razorblade will leave everything back as new.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top