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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

My name's Dan, and over the past month or so, I have decided that I would like to set up a few vivariums with dart frogs. I grew up with herps, my father being established in the trade, and even breeding veiled chameleons and owning a few panther chameleons while in early high school. I moved out of my parent's place and went to college, where I picked up an albino pacman frog, and he has been my only herp since then.

I've been doing my research, asking my dad, and reading the boards quite thoroughly over the last month, and approximately a week ago I set up my first vivs. They're only 10g, but I'd like to make sure that I enjoy the hobby as much as I hope I will, and that I am capable to care for the animals properly before I commit myself any more.

I purchased all the plants from a Rona garden center from the 4 inch pots, not knowing what would really work with the humidity levels, and the size of the cage. I have a large amount of Pothos, as even I would struggle to kill those off. The rest of the plants I'm not overly sure about species or ideal conditions apart from the "tropical 4 inch" which was listed on the label. The basic idea is to see if they would survive in the conditions which I plan on keeping the frogs once I eventually get them. If they do, awesome, if not, try, try again. (I'm quite sure the plant with the pink and green leaves will die, but I grabbed those for a splash of contrast from the green).

I've tried to add some leaf litter, though I could probably add more, and the areas without substrate or leaf litter I hope to add some aquarium gravel for some small ponds, but the more I look at them, and other vivs here, I think I should fill one, if not both of them in and make more floor space in both vivs.

I plan on getting a trio of P. Vittatus for one tank, and likely two or three D. Auratus for the other, undecided between the microspot or the camo.

I don't have any intention of adding any frogs into the tanks until at least christmas, likely a bit after. I've purchased a few fruitfly and springtail colonies, as well as some locally caught isopods which I hope to use as a calcium boost for the frogs, and I would like to get these colonies established before buying any frogs as well.

Any hints or criticisms would be greatly appreciated, as I would like to do this right the first time around, instead of trying to play catch up once the animals arrive.

Thanks!

Dan

(I apologize for the picture quality and photo editing. MS paint can only do so much with cell phone shots.)
 

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Hello Dan and welcome;

Looks to me like you need to add a substrate layer right now you have the hydroball layer and no "soil" layer. I use a false bottom approach to separate the drainage of water from my substrate layer. I think most people will recommend AGB mix. You should go to the parts and construction part of this forum and read through some of the construction journals to get some ideas on how to construct a vivarium your plants will do much better with a substrate layer as well. There are many great ideas of vivariums that very experienced froggers have posted.

Good luck...
 

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Welcome Dan! Sounds like you are going about this the right way by doing lots of research and taking your time.

A couple of things to consider.

1) I think you're on the right track with staying away from any type of water feature. Tens are so small that design is critical to protect every usable square inch of space possible.

2) If you haven't done so already, you need to install a drain or a way of removing water as most PDF tanks are flush type systems. Something as simple as a small piece of pvc pipe with a cap. This also keeps your water level below your substrate level. If they touch, then you end up having a bog which is not the best environment for Darts.

3) As NVfrogger stated, most people use ABG or an ABG-like substrate. The easiest thing to do is to purchase it pre-mixed from one of our vendors. If you have have access to all of the ingredients, you can make your own.

4) Buying plants from garden centers can be tricky. The three biggest potential issues off the top of my head are unwanted tank pests, chemicals, and vermiculite.

Many of our members here look for steals and deals at garden centers. They usually strip all substrate from the plant and wash in a bleach solution. Once rinsed and dried, most recommend that those plants be replanted outside of the tank (or in a plant grow-out tank) and allowed to grow out for a time in order to allow fertilizers/chemicals to dissipate.

Continue reading and asking lots of questions. We have so many fantastic people here that will do everything they can to help.
 

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I like the design of the tanks. Yea, cover the pond areas as your frogs will want more land. I can't tell if you have substrate under your leaf litter. If not, you'll want to add it to the tank as the others have said.

In my small tanks, I make a very small 'pond' area by pushing down one corner to the bottom of the tank and putting some pebbles on top. This gives me access to syphon out the water if it rises too high. I'll try to find a picture to show you what I mean. It might be easier than tearing everything out to put in pipes or drain holes.

eta:
Ok here are some pics. Sorry the tank is so dirty. A frog lives in there :p

Here I have access to syphon water. The pebbles slope up to give more ground area
100_1424.jpg

I hope you can see what I did here. There is screen above the LECA. Then in the corner, there is no LECA below the screen. It's pushed to the bottom of the tank with the pebbles on top.
100_1425.jpg

Top view. I use clay in the tank, in addition to the substrate, so the dark bottom of the pond area is actually clay settled there.
100_1430.jpg

There's my girl! You can see I made a poor choice of plant color for her tank. Sometimes I can't see her when she's sitting right there in front of me. :D
100_1431.jpg

On her way to the pond. She likes to take a little soak in the mornings. I always have some source of water in the tanks for them and they all seem to take advantage of it.
100_1435.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have some substrate on top of the balls, but I made a mistake with one of them, and put the substrate on prior to rooting the plants, so it mixed it a lot with the balls underneath.

I was told by my father, who bred PDFs a looong while ago, that he didn't believe the substrate was overly necessary, that he had great success and healthy frogs without. I put a small layer down, mostly because I plan on seeding the tanks with springtails shortly, and thought it would be much easier with a substrate of some sort. I didn't plant that part as well as I should have, and it turned out to be a bit of a mess.

The water level is proving to be a bit of an issue. I tried to siphon it out, but the tanks are too high, and I wasn't able to provide enough suction, so I've proceeded to the next logical step... and began using turkey basters to remove the excess water. It works, but it's slow and a pain now that I've filled in the mini ponds and covered them with the substrate (which is just mostly a saturated block of coco-fiber). I'll try to work out a better system, using pill bottles or some such, once I'm able to find something that would work well.

I have no idea what the pink and green plants are. They were listed as "tropical plant" in the garden center.

Thanks for all the pointers! It's very appreciated.

Dan
 

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Hi Dan

Turkey baster is too small to siphon off water. Find an auto parts store and purchase a hand held fluid pump. I bought mine for $15. It is small and primes the water via gravity or you can just pump it out if its close to the floor.

Take Care
-Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So a bit of an update. A few days ago my girlfriend and I took apart my old vivs and made a few improvements (I hope) to the designs following some of the ideas here.

The first tank:



The second tank:



The little plastic lid on each cage is a small plastic solo cup with holes in the bottom. It has a completely sealed top, which I've included to decrease the water level if it gets too high. If the lid starts breaking once I take it off a few times, I'll get something a little bit more hardy.

My substrate is now a 50% orchid mix I found, it says completely natural, with fir bark, igneous rock and charcoal, and about 50% coco husk. It seems to drain a bit better than the 100% coco husk I had previously.

There was a question earlier about the green and pink flower. After a bit of searching, my girlfriend was able to identify it as "Joseph's Coat Plant" it seems to be doing decently in the viv, which surprises me. I was expecting it to have died quickly.

I've also just made my first fruit fly colonies, and will try to ensure they do well before I get any darts.
 
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