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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I used to keep a 75 gallon aquarium and was under the impression that vivarium were cheaper. My 75 gallon cost me about 600-700 to get started. I'm up over 450 and that's just to get the basic tank components to build a background. Doesn't include substrate, plants, or animals. It's also for a small 24x18x18.

I've seen backgrounds on just the back wall and backgrounds that included the side walls as well. Is this more personal preference as it seems it would take up a bit more real estate?

From what I've read here, water features are bad. I see them setup quite a bit though, and seen somebody who didn't have a water feature but used a water bowl that I seen a frog just sitting in. Does that mean the humidity wasn't high enough if that's not a normal behavior for these frogs.

Love the bright blue Azureus and was looking to put two in the 24x18x18
 

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Hello, and welcome.

That's a good choice of frogs for you to start with :) .

Setting up a vivarium can be costly.

I'm going to outline the cost for my most recent builds to give you a sense of what it CAN cost, not what it will cost. I suspect that I do things cheaper than many people.

My two newest builds were 36x18x24" Atasuki tanks. (These are my preferred terrarium tanks, personally)

Tanks: $300
Lights: $120 (I use very cheap lights compared to many people. I'm trying some new lights out now and in a couple months will write up a review of them)
False bottom (egg crate) $30
Substrate: $25
Cork bark (I do cork bark mosaic backgrounds/sidegrounds and use cork in the middle of the tanks) $100
Leaf litter: $40
Plants: $75 (I'm fairly cheap with plants too, usually a nice Marcgravia and then cheap filler plants)
Acrylic to place over the lid screen to keep the humidity in: $25
Odds and ends: $20
Total $735 for two tanks, so, $385 or so each.

You can do it both cheaper than that and more expensively than that.

Whether to do a side wall is personal preference.
I prefer to either do a covering on the side wall, or paint the outside of the tank and then silicone some dirt on the inside to give the frogs some extra comfort.

I avoid water features at all costs, they do nothing for me visually, they're not easy to maintain, and they pose a risk to the frogs (the risk depends on the size, scope and scale of the water feature).

I've never seen any of my feels sitting in the water dishes I have in my tanks (primarily film canisters for egg depositing).

I hope this is helpful information.
 

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450 for a 18x18x24 and the resources for substrate level and background still seems high. What are you doing?
 

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The comparison I've heard is that keeping dart frogs is inexpensive compared to reef tanks. My 90g reef would take at least $5k to replace, and it is not remotely a high end setup; upgrading lighting and keeping some fancy livestock could get that closer to $8k.

I'd be curious to know what it costs to build a background -- I don't have backgrounds in my vivs. And yes, I'd also recommend to skip the water "feature". :)
 

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I have heard that dart frogs are cheap as well but honestly I think this is just misinformation. They can be quite cheap once you are completely setup to maintain. Electricity for lights, RO or distilled water for spraying, fruit fly media, and fruit fly cups and lids are the only recurring costs for literally decades if setup right. Even these costs can be reduced if you reuse cups and lids and make your own RO water. But I honestly don't think its possible to go from zero to fully setup, planted, frogs, feeders, etc for less then 500 dollars without getting stuff for free or at deeply discounted used prices. Even 500 is a struggle. Whereas you could have a very nice small low tech freshwater aquarium for under 200 fully setup with fish and plants. My Insitu tank fully setup probably cost me around 800 dollars.

As for water bowls. I've seen people put these in tanks and I think it comes from seeing them in pet stores with water bowls. In poorly setup pet stores they won't keep the humidity high enough for the frogs so they supplement with a water bowl. A proper vivarium with humidity 60-80% does not need a water bowl. Water features in dart tanks are a whole rant which is not worth rehashing here unless you really want to know about it. I will say I think a 24" long tank is too small for a water feature and you should just skip it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sounds like the tank I'm spending more on. $180 for an Exo-Terra 24x18x18. I do like the idea of the side opening doors for these.

Sounds like lights are about the same. I believe it's $40 for the fixture and $80 for the led bulbs. Plants I figured $80

The idea of culturing their food is fascinating as well. So I'm sure I'll probably save money doing that also.

But yeah, I'm trying to do a 3d background. figured on 3 manzanita branches, 3 cork bark pieces, net pots, foam, silicone, coco fiber, and maybe some fake rocks.

That makes sense. Dart frogs being cheaper than a reef tank than freshwater.

Without a water feature is there a more natural looking way for them to deposit their eggs instead of film canisters? Just my preference as I'm even on the fence about using coco huts for shelter for a more natural look. Another reason for the water is my place dries out fiercely in the colder months and I wasn't sure how well I could keep humidity up. For an idea of dryness, my shirts will keep sticking to me and I have to keep getting them wet.

I've noticed 24 high seems more common than the 18 high. Is there a more specific reason for this? Like lighting, plant growth, or frog comfort? I picked this size due to the space it would sit in.
 

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What species are you going to be keeping? That helps make the decision on tad deposit issues. (Oops -- looked back, saw tincs. That'll help people give suggestions. I think many folks pull eggs, not tads.)

The commonality of 24 high is because once there is ~6" of drainage layer and substrate, an 18 high viv loses a lot of height. Most dart species climb at least tens of feet in the wild, so the higher the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Is it better to go tall over wide? 18x18x24?
The place I had picked out for the tank has a shelf at 20.25in so to go higher I would need to work out another system.

What is meant by pull eggs, not tads?
 

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Building and more so adding to what what already exists gets worse and worse the lower the ceiling.
 

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What is meant by pull eggs, not tads?
You were concerned about tad deposit sites, but many people remove the eggs for hatching and raising rather than removing the tads after deposition. Those are the two ways of removing offspring for artificial raising (tincs don't care for their tads), and since you say you're going for a natural look then skipping standing water entirely would look the most natural.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You were concerned about tad deposit sites, but many people remove the eggs for hatching and raising rather than removing the tads after deposition. Those are the two ways of removing offspring for artificial raising (tincs don't care for their tads), and since you say you're going for a natural look then skipping standing water entirely would look the most natural.
Ah okay. I haven't gotten that far yet.
 

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Price is all relative in basically any hobby. I went well over 1k (probably 2k) to go from zero to frogs in my Insitu Amazonia. I went with a fairly expensive tank, some expensive plants from multiple sources, and payed to ship some more common frogs because I wanted to go with a reputable breeder. I spent a bunch of money on shipping alone because I ordered so many things from so many places. I could have done it all way cheaper with better planning and cheaper plants but you live and you learn. I love the end result so no worries and my frogs are beautiful and healthy.

But now I’ll be able to build my next tank for way less. I’ve got some leftover materials that I can use for background. I’ll be able to take clippings from my plants and never have to buy that 50$ marcgravia again. I’ve got cultures of isopods, springtails, and flys going so I won’t need to pay to ship those.

backgrounds are all preference. For more arboreal species I think there’s an argument for at least one wall being covered though.

Dont do a water feature.

From my research I believe a pair of azureus would be fine in a tank that size. Tincs will utilize horizontal as opposed to vertical space.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Price is all relative in basically any hobby. I went well over 1k (probably 2k) to go from zero to frogs in my Insitu Amazonia. I went with a fairly expensive tank, some expensive plants from multiple sources, and payed to ship some more common frogs because I wanted to go with a reputable breeder. I spent a bunch of money on shipping alone because I ordered so many things from so many places. I could have done it all way cheaper with better planning and cheaper plants but you live and you learn. I love the end result so no worries and my frogs are beautiful and healthy.

But now I’ll be able to build my next tank for way less. I’ve got some leftover materials that I can use for background. I’ll be able to take clippings from my plants and never have to buy that 50$ marcgravia again. I’ve got cultures of isopods, springtails, and flys going so I won’t need to pay to ship those.

backgrounds are all preference. For more arboreal species I think there’s an argument for at least one wall being covered though.

Dont do a water feature.

From my research I believe a pair of azureus would be fine in a tank that size. Tincs will utilize horizontal as opposed to vertical space.
Oh wow. Have pictures of your setup? I figured $80 for all plants.

Debated whether or not to scrap the idea for now. As odd as it seems, I don't have anywhere that could realistically support a 24 high setup at the moment.
 

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A person could plant a 24 x 18 x 18 acceptably for $80. Really, one big rambling pathos pretty much fulfills the frogs' needs. :)

A 24 high viv is much better than 18 high, but 18 high can be acceptable. Keep substrate and drainage layer thin, and use branches and cork tubes to make lots of climbing opportunities all the way to the top, throughout the viv, and that would be a suitable viv, IMO.
 

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A person could plant a 24 x 18 x 18 acceptably for $80. Really, one big rambling pathos pretty much fulfills the frogs' needs. :)

A 24 high viv is much better than 18 high, but 18 high can be acceptable. Keep substrate and drainage layer thin, and use branches and cork tubes to make lots of climbing opportunities all the way to the top, throughout the viv, and that would be a suitable viv, IMO.
I found the medium exo terra compact top for $10, well $18 shipped. Decided to give it a go. I wish there was a place local where I could see in person different plant setups. Figured I'd try one of Josh's Frogs plant kits.
 

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Oh wow. Have pictures of your setup? I figured $80 for all plants.

Debated whether or not to scrap the idea for now. As odd as it seems, I don't have anywhere that could realistically support a 24 high setup at the moment.
It’s not the best pic but I’m at work and this is the most recent pic I have. Some plants are more recent and haven’t started to grow much yet but here ya go.



You could definitely plant a tank for 80$. Plant packages can be really good deals. I bought everything individually but for my next build I’m definitely going with a package.
 

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It’s not the best pic but I’m at work and this is the most recent pic I have. Some plants are more recent and haven’t started to grow much yet but here ya go.



You could definitely plant a tank for 80$. Plant packages can be really good deals. I bought everything individually but for my next build I’m definitely going with a package.
Oh thats a neat idea. Cork tube used as what looks like a cave with moss growing around the entrance?
 

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If you get the right plants you won't need to buy more afterwards. I have cuttings from the same plant groups in most of my tanks
 

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I'm sure people in your area would be happy to give you plant cuttings for free if you just ask them. I keep a couple extra bins of cuttings that I just give people for free. I also would give tadpoles to local people for free or trades. And lastly you can find used tanks in good shape for cheap on the FB marketplace or Craig's list if you have time to wait.
 

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I'm sure people in your area would be happy to give you plant cuttings for free if you just ask them. I keep a couple extra bins of cuttings that I just give people for free. I also would give tadpoles to local people for free or trades. And lastly you can find used tanks in good shape for cheap on the FB marketplace or Craig's list if you have time to wait.
Oh, I don't know anybody around here like that. Somehow I forgot about Craigslist. I checked FB marketplace and Offerup. That's how I found the lighting top for cheaper. Ended up ordering the rest from Josh's Frogs.

Up to I think $380. Tank, glass top, light(not sure if bulbs are included), foam, silicone, coco fiber, 3 cork flats, 1 cork tube, 3 manzanita branches. I might need more cork, but not sure yet. I do like the look of that white stone over the hydroton for a drainage layer.
 
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