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Hello All

Well, I feed my frogs on a diet of melo, hydei fruit flies, dusted of course, with bean beetles when I can get them. However... I believe a varied diet is essential to long life of any creature, and I want my frogs to have the best that I can provide.

To that end... can we make a list of good alternative feeders other than what I mentioned?

Please specify if it is for larger or smaller frogs. For example, could larger frogs like Tincts or Terriblis eat Black Soldier Fly Larvae? BSFL?

I have already tried tiny chopped up earthworm, but not with much success. My Cobalts - Grom and Tiddlemuncha did not approve and did not eat the wriggling bits LOL.

Looking forward to your suggestions!
 

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There are no 'alternatives' to supplemented (with Repahsy) fruitflies.
These always should be the main dieet since the supplements will provide everything the animals require to maintain their health.

All other insects are 'additions' to their dieet, but should never be their main scource for nutrition. Rather the occasional sidedish.

Once a week all my frogs receive either ; aphids, springtails and when on hand : meadowplankton or thermobia domestica (firebrats?).
 

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I'm pretty sure the jury is out on whether a varied diet is necessary for the long term well being of all animals, or of a certain species. Some of that belief is fallacious anthropomorphization (generalizing from the diet of an omnivore -- humans -- to that of a relative dietary specialist). There are also plenty of counterexamples among captive animals.

Darts may be one of those counterexamples, in part because of their natural diet but also because of the fairly uniform deficiencies among captive raised feeder insects. An educated decision on what feeders to add to the diet might be made by looking to the available data on nutrient analyses (such as here: Nutrition of Common Reptile Feeders), although AFAIK there really isn't any information on how much of anything other than calcium is needed by frogs.

There is also the increased risk of pathogens to consider when expanding the range of offerings. Adding another prey item to the menu increases that risk (by how much, I don't think we know). A parasitological evaluation of edible insects and their role in the transmission of parasitic diseases to humans and animals

Do keep in mind that bean beetles are anecdotally linked to an increased incidence of cloacal prolapse. My tincs didn't care for them the couple times I offered, but they do eat rice flour beetle larvae. Rice flour beetles are a troublesome feeder to deal with, though, because of the difficulty in separating out the adult beetles (and so I haven't offered these to any of my thumbnails) -- I just happen to have them around anyway for feeding other herps that are too small to take much else. FWIW, the species I do feed the larvae to (Hemidactylus imbricatus) do pretty poorly on Hydei -- another reason not to infer prey choices from one species to another.

All darts kept in typical vivs get at least some springtails and isopods, so they're already getting more of a variety than many other captive herps.
 

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I think dart frogs do just fine on a varied diet or just dusted fruit flies and what ever they find crawling around in the leave of the tank.
I have to disagree since this is not the case as a 'varied' diet(*) won't get them all the essential vitamines and minerals the animals actualy require to thrive long term. The term varied diet has also quite the possibility of interpretation.

'just dusted fruitflies' is also a poor choice of words I think. Proppet supplementation is probably the most important part of keeping frogs healthy. Again, long term.
 

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I have to disagree since this is not the case as a 'varied' diet(*) won't get them all the essential vitamines and minerals the animals actualy require to thrive long term. The term varied diet has also quite the possibility of interpretation.

'just dusted fruitflies' is also a poor choice of words I think. Proppet supplementation is probably the most important part of keeping frogs healthy. Again, long term.

Sorry. What I was trying to convey was, Dart frogs will be just fine on properly supplemented fruit flies. Or properly supplemented fruit flies and what ever handful of other feeders you decide to mix in as long as properly supplemented flies are the staple.
 

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Yeah, tbh I know quite a few frog keepers who feed the animals occasionaly meadowplankton
This seems to be more common in Europe.

There was a discussion a while back (that I can't seem to find now) about whether that practice might entail a pathogen risk. The article on parasites of edible insects that I linked above was a pretty strong counterargument to the idea that captive raised insects are cleaner than wild collected.
 
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How can there be any doubt about the benefits of a varied diet when the heavily restricted captive diet is what necessitates supplementation in the first place?
I don't keep dart frogs but I conducted an experiment years ago with Rana temporaria froglets where they were fed either on dusted fruit flies or exclusively on non supplemented meadow plankton and the froglets receiving only wild collected meadowplankton grew far larger, faster and were far more vigorous than those fed on dusted fruit flies and I've observed the same in other species too.
I'm not suggesting people could or should avoid supplementation for captive animals but I think it's obviously worth providing a varied diet. Studies on wild dart frog gut contents mention things like "83% Formicids,11% Acari" but it's easy to overlook that these figures represent a very diverse range of prey species.
 

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How can there be any doubt about the benefits of a varied diet when the heavily restricted captive diet is what necessitates supplementation in the first place?
Supplementation is not necessitated by a variety-restricted diet. Supplementation is necessitated by a diet of captive raised (in the typical ways; whether those insects could be raised in a way that addresses some of those deficiencies is an interesting but distinct question) insects whether of one species or many. All captive raised feeder insects have basically the same deficiencies (bad Ca/P ratio, lack of vitamins A and D), and so varying the diet of captive raised insects cannot remedy those deficiencies.

The example given above regarding fruit flies vs meadowplankton is an example of captive vs wild insects, not one vs many species of insects since the insects in the varied condition were of a categorically different nature than that in the unitary condition.
 

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How can there be any doubt about the benefits of a varied diet when the heavily restricted captive diet is what necessitates supplementation in the first place?
Your argument doesn't hold water. All herps need supplementation in captivity. There are many lizards, snakes, and larger frogs that can be offered a large variety of prey items and foods and they all still need supplementation outside of what those food sources offer.
 

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Varied prey insects = 100% unnecessary for optimal health of dart frogs

Quality superfine dusted calcium (and vitamins) at every dusting is necessary

There are Dart Frogs from the 90's still alive and breeding on nothing but properly dusted FF. There are several generations...many generations of large frogs -terribilis breeding on just FF

There is always the urge to wonder if an animal is ok eating nothing but a cheeseburger every day for 12 years. It's a human urge to wonder this...
 

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Supplementation is not necessitated by a variety-restricted diet. Supplementation is necessitated by a diet of captive raised (in the typical ways; whether those insects could be raised in a way that addresses some of those deficiencies is an interesting but distinct question) insects whether of one species or many. All captive raised feeder insects have basically the same deficiencies (bad Ca/P ratio, lack of vitamins A and D), and so varying the diet of captive raised insects cannot remedy those deficiencies.

The example given above regarding fruit flies vs meadowplankton is an example of captive vs wild insects, not one vs many species of insects since the insects in the varied condition were of a categorically different nature than that in the unitary condition.
Doesn't this then suggest that you could totally elliminate the need for supplementation in captivity by sufficiently gutloading feeders? That if you were to take something with an ideal Ca/P ratio, or close to it like solider fly larvae, and feed the larvae a sufficiently varied diet, you would no longer need to dust them before feeding? I struggle to believe thats the case. Your point is a good one but I still suspect a combination of both diversity of prey species and quality of the prey species diet influences the need for supplementation.
There's absolutely no doubt whatsoever that dart frogs are eating a really significantly more varied diet in the wild.
 

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Your argument doesn't hold water. All herps need supplementation in captivity.
I raised dart frogs for years with out supplements. About 10 months out of the year my frogs got 100% meadow plankton and wild collected termites. During the 2 coldest months here in Georgia they got undusted fruit flies.

It was in the 90's when we were still sorting out vitamins and it was easy to over/under do it with what ever combo of reptile vitamins people recommended at the time..

I think what constitutes a varied diet is where the issue lays. 4 different kinds of captive raised feeder is not the same as 1000's of different kinds of bugs from the yard with varying gut contents.
 

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All herps need supplementation in captivity
Reptiles that eat whole (rodent, bird, lizard) prey do not need and should not be given -- contrary to another bandwagon gaining steam in certain corners of herpetoculture -- additional supplementation. Rodent prey has sufficient-to-ideal levels of Ca, P, and D, and actually has excess Vitamin A.

Doesn't this then suggest that you could totally elliminate the need for supplementation in captivity by sufficiently gutloading feeders?
In theory yes, but in practice gutloading rarely works. See the last section here for info and citations.

Your point is a good one but I still suspect a combination of both diversity of prey species and quality of the prey species diet influences the need for supplementation.
Amphibians are accepted to require a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.5/1 in their overall diet. This is why we supplement calcium: because most CB insects have little calcium and a higher level of phosphorus. Take a look at data on feeder insect Ca and P levels (such as here), and try to figure out a varied diet of insects that will sum to that ratio. For most herps (darts, for sure) it can't be done -- there's nothing to 'suspect' -- it is simple math. And that's just calcium; finding a combination of CB feeder insects that will fulfill all the basic vitamin/mineral needs of any insectivorous herp species simply isn't mathematically possible, and it isn't even close.

Here's a study that looked at nine feeder species (eight insects, and earthworms) and found these percentages of samples overall to be deficient in the following: calcium (100%), vitamin D3 (100%), vitamin A (89%), vitamin B12 (75%), thiamin (63%), vitamin E (50%), iodine (44%), manganese (22%), methionine-cystine (22%), and sodium (11%). It doesn't matter how many different species of deficient CB feeder insects a keeper rotates in -- the need for supplementation remains.
 

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Reptiles that eat whole (rodent, bird, lizard) prey do not need and should not be given -- contrary to another bandwagon gaining steam in certain corners of herpetoculture -- additional supplementation. Rodent prey has sufficient-to-ideal levels of Ca, P, and D, and actually has excess Vitamin A.
You are correct. I never supplemented my snakes but I did make sure my rodents were raised on high quality feed and got lots of greens and veggies.

When it comes to darts, we know what's safe and what works. Nothing can take the place of regular feedings of dusted fruit flies. Your frogs should be getting plenty of springtails, isos, and mites from their vivarium to munch on along with flies
 

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Mantella baroni, Dendrobates auratus, Dendrobates azureus, Afrixalus dorsalis, Theloderma corticale
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This seems to be more common in Europe.

There was a discussion a while back (that I can't seem to find now) about whether that practice might entail a pathogen risk. The article on parasites of edible insects that I linked above was a pretty strong counterargument to the idea that captive raised insects are cleaner than wild collected.
I also feed meadow plankton on a regular basis. I noticed that the benefits are not necessarily health/supplement related, but mostly behaviourally as it greatly enhanced the feeding response for my Mantella. They would do ok on fruit flies and aphids but never gained much weight because they quickly lost interest shortly after feeding. The greater range in motions of different bugs in meadow plankton keeps them interested until everything is eaten.

Varied prey insects = 100% unnecessary for optimal health of dart frogs

Quality superfine dusted calcium (and vitamins) at every dusting is necessary

There are Dart Frogs from the 90's still alive and breeding on nothing but properly dusted FF. There are several generations...many generations of large frogs -terribilis breeding on just FF

There is always the urge to wonder if an animal is ok eating nothing but a cheeseburger every day for 12 years. It's a human urge to wonder this...
Considering your post above concerning correct terminology, I would be careful about saying that a varied diet is 100% unnecessary for optimal health of dart frogs. For the record I totally agree that correct dusting at every feeding is absolutely necessary. I would further add that a varied diet is definitely not necessary for adequate health of dart frogs, but given that a lot of frogs in captivity are smaller and are more "fragile" compared to their wild counterparts, we cannot rule out that diet plays a role in this (there are also lots of genetic and environmental arguments for this, but we don't have any research to differentiate between them).

Supplementation is not necessitated by a variety-restricted diet. Supplementation is necessitated by a diet of captive raised (in the typical ways; whether those insects could be raised in a way that addresses some of those deficiencies is an interesting but distinct question) insects whether of one species or many. All captive raised feeder insects have basically the same deficiencies (bad Ca/P ratio, lack of vitamins A and D), and so varying the diet of captive raised insects cannot remedy those deficiencies.

The example given above regarding fruit flies vs meadowplankton is an example of captive vs wild insects, not one vs many species of insects since the insects in the varied condition were of a categorically different nature than that in the unitary condition.
Reptiles that eat whole (rodent, bird, lizard) prey do not need and should not be given -- contrary to another bandwagon gaining steam in certain corners of herpetoculture -- additional supplementation. Rodent prey has sufficient-to-ideal levels of Ca, P, and D, and actually has excess Vitamin A.



In theory yes, but in practice gutloading rarely works. See the last section here for info and citations.



Amphibians are accepted to require a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.5/1 in their overall diet. This is why we supplement calcium: because most CB insects have little calcium and a higher level of phosphorus. Take a look at data on feeder insect Ca and P levels (such as here), and try to figure out a varied diet of insects that will sum to that ratio. For most herps (darts, for sure) it can't be done -- there's nothing to 'suspect' -- it is simple math. And that's just calcium; finding a combination of CB feeder insects that will fulfill all the basic vitamin/mineral needs of any insectivorous herp species simply isn't mathematically possible, and it isn't even close.

Here's a study that looked at nine feeder species (eight insects, and earthworms) and found these percentages of samples overall to be deficient in the following: calcium (100%), vitamin D3 (100%), vitamin A (89%), vitamin B12 (75%), thiamin (63%), vitamin E (50%), iodine (44%), manganese (22%), methionine-cystine (22%), and sodium (11%). It doesn't matter how many different species of deficient CB feeder insects a keeper rotates in -- the need for supplementation remains.
Concerning the Ca/P ratio, some feeder bugs such as isopods, mites and amphipods do have a better ratio but lack in other areas. Firebrats however can be raised to have both a good Ca/P ratio and proper vit D levels, but are lacking in vit A (see here). But this definitely does not mean that those should become staples or that supplementation is no longer necessary. Just wanted to point out that some feeders can be raised to have better ratios compared to many commonly used staples.

As a side note, I believe that springtail nutrient compositions are relatively unknown, and they might also have higher Ca/P ratio. I also wonder wether some of the micro roach species could have good gutloading results considering their eating habits and body/gut size ratio.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hello all:

THANK YOU for your excellent, scientifically approached explanations! I currently live in the sub-to-urban environment where anti-pest sprays and other chemical loading occurs from a variety of human activity. Thus, meadowplankton is not an option.

I really appreciate all your information! I dust with supplements at every feeding, and "gut load" my fruit flies as well by growing them on Repashy Superfly medium, which I am sure contributes some micrometric to their benefit as a feeder. I also offer bean beetles occasionally to my Tincts and springtails.

I will continue to feed as I have been with FF mains and occasional other feeder! I am curious, if anyone has had success feeding black soldierfly larvae to their dart frogs and what is the smallest species of frog would actually be able to eat them. I have no experience with BSFL.

Thanks!
Drach
 
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