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Discussion Starter #1
Hello folks,

I'm new to the forum and am converting a 500 gallon reef tank into a vivarium to keep as many dart frogs together as are confortable. I know that everyone frowns on mixing species in small setups, but I wonder who has had experience with big setups and reasonably how many frogs can be comfortable with 24 sq. ft. of bottom area. I hear that the American Museum on Natural History has an exhibit going on now with something like 250 frogs.

Thanks,

Dave
 

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I suppose if you follow 1 frog / 10 gallons, that's gonna get you 50 frogs? I've got a 250 gallon frontosa tank I'm thinking of converting too...hehehe...
 

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Dave,

I think it depends on what frog you want to put in there. If you want to go with something like azureus or tincs I wouldn't put more then 20 or so. You may be better off forgoing the more agressive darts all together and go with something like auratus or galactonotus. They do better in groups. If you want to have more then one species I would recommend that you only mix species that occur together in the wild. Example, pumilio and auratus. But don't tell anyone you heard this from me. :wink:
 
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First I would ask have you kept any darts before? If not I would really suggest starting out with something smaller, so you can see firsthand what does and what doesnot work. Maintaining a viv that big could be difficult, culturing the amount of food necessary for such a viv would be a production in itself. I suggest going and buying yourself a 29 gallon or a ten gallon and starting small, you will want smaller tanks to grow out froglets anyways (unless you plan on spending $$ on adults, which are often 4x as expensive).


-Tad
 
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Tad and Brad,

Thanks for the good advice. No, as a newcomer I have not kept any darts before. But doesn't a large viv generate its own supply of food? If I keep a stocking density as low as you suggest (one dart per 25 gallons) and use lots of leaf litter and dense plantings, won't the darts be hunting natural plankton? And while we're on that subject, what plankton could I seed other than springtails?

To draw a correlation to my former reef tank (which was lightly stocked with fish but heavily stacked with reef rocks) I seldom fed the tank and kept many "difficult fish" happy. Won't the same be true of a large vivarium? You have good advice to start small and learn dart habits before I graduate to a larger viv, and it would be cheaper. But I also have to consider the time lost to starting small, when I could be enjoying the larger viv sooner. Would a compromise be to start with a few adults in the large viv, let the darts and viv "mature" together, and then grow out froglets until a an optimum population is reached?

Dave
 
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I think you could easily culture springtails inside the vivarium and maybe some isopods. Those however are not enough to keep the frogs well fed. You would need to do fruitflys and maybe crickets. Getting a selfsustaining population even in a vivarium that large would be difficult (I would think, hell I'm a computer programmer not a biologist). All of this leaves out the possiblilty of calcium/vitamin supplementation.

I would setup a smaller tank or two, and after doing that start working on the large one. You could keep/have a few frogs around you while you work on what I'm assuming would be a labor/time intensive task of planting/landscaping the 500 gallon vivarium.

-Tad
 
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In that size of a tank you could definitely have a semi-sustainable supply of food. You would have to sacrifice aesthetics a bit for a mound of rotting fruit, but it would work. In the Ranario I worked at for a while in Costa Rica they never fed flies but rather just threw in broken pieces of bananas weekly. They did supplement with crickets, but there was enough flies and they were breeding several species even at such high elevations. I would definitely keep a good amount of organic matter on the bottom and add fruits in different places to help congregate the food.
j
 
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That sounds a little scary piles of rotting fruit ;) you would probably need to do that even if you weren't aiming for "sustainable" food supply, just so the frogs can learn where to hunt. I would think you'd want to start the ff's in there for a month? before adding the frogs?


-Tad
 
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Tad and J. Yeager,

Sorry if I gave the impression of a "self-sustaining" habitat, I only want enough wild plankton to supplement the regular food. Your advice is good to keep some rotting fruit in the tank for flies, just to the point that the smell doesn't become offensive. Which isopods do you recommend? Sow bugs (rolly polies as I called them as a kid) are common in the midatlantic area (Wash, D.C.) where I live. What is the possibility of parasite introduction if I seed the tank with forest compost and leaf humus from my area? It should be filled with small food organisms.

Dave
 
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Have you thought about dividing the tank up in thirds or something like that? Just get a sheet of glass and go to town. I did this to a 70 gallon and it has worked out great.
 
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chddjohn,

Dividing the tank is a good idea if I have no other choice for dart compatability. Aesthetically, the tank is 9' long and 30" high and built into the wall like a big TV. The whole picture would be more impressive without dividing up the big space, but I may not have a choice if I keep a number of species together. Perhaps I could put dividers just 24" high in a hope of preventing darts from scaling the glass yet enabling large plants to spread their leaves over the divider to give the lush effect I want.

Dave
 
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I'm not sure I'd want to divide a big display tank either. With a little of experience, it won't be too hard to set it up so you could have a few different species (which can't hybridize) and have niches for all of them. It is a shame the tank isn't taller, but you can still do a lot of great things with it.
j
 
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I'm thinking you could get away with putting some thumbnails, then a larger dendrobates, and then maybe a phyllobates or epidobates? But aesthetically speaking I think it would be best to find frogs that actually would be found next to eachother in the wild.


I'm curious what frog species *can't* hybridize? I've never heard much discussion on this.


-Tad
 

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Tad- Start a thread. I'm interested in that too.
Mike
 
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I would ague that to a layman sympatry would not matter as much when seeing a 500 gallon tank as pretty colors. As far as what couldn't hybridize, I would say any egg feeder and faculative egg feeder/non egg feeder. I would also say that size restrictions would certainly keep a D. quinquevittatus group from mating with anything much larger than it. Different genera would also be things that couldn't hybridize. Also, some of the tree frogs that are around now would make decent candidates for this size terrarium as well.
j
 

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Wow, 500 gallons!
Jumping right into the hobby with such a big project is pretty risky.
The experience one gains by doing things in succession is key. There are thousands of little things that a new hobbyist will learn as they begin to try new things and learn from their mistakes. These things will dictate the success or failure of such a project. I’m not saying it’s impossible… I would just try something smaller first. Also as time goes on, your talent as a “terrarium constructor” will grow and you may end up hating your first few tanks. At least that's what happens with me...
 

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Mid-Atlantic Dendro Club

The DC area is going to be having a group meeting soon (Sun. Dec. 12, 7pm or Fri. Dec. 17, 7 pm). I think this would be a fascinating topic. You would have the input of about 20 people! Also, you would probably get some free plant clippings to get that monster started and definitely frogs to buy! From what I have read, I would start the vivarium with no frogs in them to get the plants going and work out the feeding situation/schedule and make sure all the tank parameters (temp, plumbing, lighting, misting, etc.) are in order. You could also buy the frogs at the same time and grow them out in multiple 10 gallon tanks to check the health of frogs and make sure that they are all eating properly. With a tank that size, I think it would be hard to see all of them on a daily basis. Follow thiese threads for the DC group meeting:

http://www.dendroboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3960

http://www.dendroboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4047

Thanks,

David

StevenBonheim said:
Wow, 500 gallons!
Jumping right into the hobby with such a big project is pretty risky.
The experience one gains by doing things in succession is key. There are thousands of little things that a new hobbyist will learn as they begin to try new things and learn from their mistakes. These things will dictate the success or failure of such a project. I’m not saying it’s impossible… I would just try something smaller first. Also as time goes on, your talent as a “terrarium constructor” will grow and you may end up hating your first few tanks. At least that's what happens with me...
 

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Dave,

If you are just getting into the hobby I think it would be a better idea to start with just a few frogs. As far as putting them in the 500 gallon or a smaller terrarium I don't really know what would be better. I started out in this hobby with 3 frogs and a ninty gallon terrarium. Not quite a 500 gallon but still pretty large. All three frogs did well for me and even bred. There were LOTS of springtails in this tank and I am sure they contributed to my success with these frogs. Definitely don't start with more then 3 or 4 frogs.

Brad
 
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Brad, David, Steven, JYeager et. al.,

Thanks for the good advice. I'll plant the vivarium first and seed it with small invertebrates, then give it a while to stabilize before adding timid dart species. Perhaps they can find a niche before more aggressive darts are introduced. Either way I hope a lot of cover and some wild plankton will keep less dominant darts in good health.

Regarding tank height, I kept it at 30" so I could still reach the bottom of the reef tank. I don't mind rolling up my sleeve to work in a tank, but draw the line at getting my armpits wet. (If anyone ever builds a large tank, please measure your arm reach first so you can work on the bottom of a tank without crawling into it.) Because the tank is fiberglass it would be easy to raise in height, but the glass window is limited to about 30" high.

I'll see all the D.C./Balt froggers at your first meeting in December.

Dave
 
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