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I have kept several reptiles over the years, Chameleons, Geckos, Snakes, etc.

however, I have never really done much with amphibians. All of my animals receive a lot of care, and i really spare no expense when it comes to their needs, so you can guarantee that a dart frog tank would be no different for me.

I live in Fresno, CA. Some of you may be familiar with it, we have very hot summers, 100-110 daily, with a night time low in the 80's usually, our winters are pretty average, never cold enough to snow, and rarely cold enough to freeze, because of the cost of AC/Heating, in the summer we dont run the AC until after 6 PM, so the house can get somewhat warm, usually in the low 80 to mid 80's, not uncomfortable, but not very cool either. In winter, it can get a bit chilly at night, but nothing bad, probably low 70's in the house, but we do run the heater before noon and after 6 PM to help save energy and save money while we're at it.

Anyhow, now that you know my temps, I would really like to setup a small planted vivarium for frogs,nothing too large, maybe a 20 gallon to start. What is the best way to go about doing this? are there any real bullet proof designs that are good for beginners? does anyone have a step by step guide, i have reef tanks, and my crested gecko tanks are all planted, so im very good at planting and decorating tanks, but the only plants i generally keep are ficus, and scheffelera, which obviously are not used in dart frog vivaria.

so, after this really long post, my main question is, what is the best way to go? what frogs should i start out with? which ones should i mix in a tank that size and how many? are there any good plants that are easier for beginners?

and i guess the biggest questions is, like my topic says, are dart frogs for me? i think i can handle it, but i want your honest opinion.

thank you all for your time, i appreciate any help i can get, and please feel free to comment and ask me any questions if you feel i may have left something important out.

THANK YOU!

p.s. i really like creeping fig if that could be worked in somehow :D
 

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Ok let me try to answer some of your questions:

1. Your summer temps maybe a bit high, unless you ran your lights at night when it was cooler. Most darts don't like much over 80 and with the lights they can raise the temp 5-10 degrees or more. Example: I keep my house at about 70-74 all year, and my tanks run about 70-78.

2. Beginner pointers:
- do not mix, it can stress the frogs and cross breeding can take place which
is NOT a good idea.
- Start small say a 20gal tank or so, with simple plants, and there are a
number of creeping plants that will do just fine in tanks.
- Good starter frogs are the following:
- Leucs $35-55 each
- Auratus (green, the blues can be shy) $15-45 each
- Azureus $45-70 each
- Food, culturing fruitflies is easy, but it is a good idea to start a month or
so before you get frogs so you have the hang of it.

I hope that clear up some of your questions, please check out some of the sites in the links section for a ton of information.
 
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Also make sure your tanks are escape proof. Darts depending on size are good at escaping. I think the food is what you want to focus on as well. Fruit flies aren't hard, but they require some getting use to. Good idea' to play with the food before you buy your darts unless you got acess to fruit flies at a pet store locally.
 
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i built some tanks for clients in that area and found that as long as you have some waterfeature and a good fogger; untrasonic by walgreens, your temps can stay lower. also, keep the tank in a cooler room with tube lights and not compacts, a few fans for circulating air and plants.

i suggest you have your tank set up, for a few months first. if the plants and such are going good, and you can keep the temps at a lower degree then outside, like 80 degrees then you should be able to house a few darts.

Whites has some nice tanks, but that's the only place I'd trust.
there are some supplies you can get that will help build your tank but just do a search on google for naturalistic vivariums as a start.

a few of those i built for, have swamp coolers. do you have one?
 
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Where is Whites? if you meant Whities in Fresno, I work there! :D

thanks to everyone for all of the help, are there any other pointers you can suggest? any tutorials? what is a good substrate? what are some good plants to try out first?

we dont have a swamp cooler either.
 
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ummm saurian.net has some good info and sells nice frogs too, im new to the hobby and i bought some of his auratus. Ive had them 2-3 months and theyre still going strong. The step by step guide is gonna be different depending on how you set your tank up, if you want a false bottom youll need to do the egg crate thing (i tried that with a tank) and if you dont just use graveldeep enough for good drainage and it allows you to build a pond alot easier then with eggcrate (tried the gravel to) both methods seem to be about the same for me.
 
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whats a good way to build a little pond? tank will most likely be a 20 or 30 gallon tank.
 
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i put gravel a few inches deep and put an indention in the ground in the corner and put water 1/4" deep and then put a 50/50 mix of peat moss and coco bedding on top of the gravel.... im thinking of getting some pics and posting them so i can get some opinions....

o yea try to make the gravel high enough that your soil isnt sitting in the watter and the height of the soil is high enough to allow good drainage... hope that didnt get confusing...
 
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so you are basically filling the whole bottom of the tank until the water level rises high enough to fill your pond right? and what you are saying is you dont want your water level to come up and hit the soil, you want plenty of gravel in between as a barrier.

is that right?
 

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You have already received some good advice. As you have recognized temperature is going to be a huge issue for you. Get a digital thermometer
with a remote probe. Radio shack sells a nice dual display model for about $20 and you can get the single display model at Lowes or Home depot for about $10. This will allow you to closely monitor the temps in the enclosure. As others have said, do not rush into getting your animals. Get your enclosure setup and planted and then wait a few weeks for your fruit flies to start producing, plants to be come established, etc. By waiting a month to get your animals this will allow you to trend the temperatures inside the enclosures and to develop some type mitigation strategy and implement it if the temps too high. If you have the animals in the enclosure and the temps go into the low or mid 90's it can kill your frogs. I have had it happen to me. I usually recommend P. terribillis as a starter frog, but they seem to be more sensitive high temps than Dendrobates (or at least mine were). I'd go with Kyle's suggestion of leucs or auratus as your first frogs. Tincs and azuerus are great, but the adult females could fight if you have them in a 20 gallon tank. I had a 1:2 group of tincs in a 30 gallon and got both females to breed with little if any damage to each other's eggs, but the tank was heavily planted and multi-tiered with a stream running thru it so there were a lot of physical barriers in the enclosure. Regardless of what frogs you get, make sure that you have multiple hiding spots, it will definitely help them acclimate better.

As far as plants: There are many good places to get plants on this site, and I can personally recommend Peace of the topics. You mentioned Ficus benjamina, I actually have one of these in my terribillis enclosure right now. I have to trim it every couple of weeks, but the terribillis like to sleep in the upper branches. It is the only time that I ever see them off the ground and looks pretty neat.

The thing about just stacking the gravel and then putting an indent in it for the pond is that you are making the enclosure really heavy, plus the land area becomes that much higher. Four inches of gravel + 3 inches of soil in a 20 gallon tank uses over 1/3 the height of the tank. You can also drop down a part of the false bottom (I think you said you were using one) by making it a slanting section that goes to the bottom of the tank. Still cover everything with the fiberglass screen and then cover this and the ramp with gravel.

Good luck with your enclosure and frogs!
Ed
 
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