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Dendrobates azureus & tinctorius:
  • Difficulty: Novice.
    D. azureus and tinctorius are some of the most common, colorful and charismatic frogs available. Such characteristics make them one of the best display animals the hobby has to offer.
  • Location & History:
    D. azureus (Hoogmoed, 1968) – Southern Suriname. (1) Azureus is a rather young (geologically speaking) species that was seperated from D. tinctorius during the last ice age and is found on a "rainforest island" surrounded by tropical savannah, keeping it seperated from its parent species. While it still holds a great many similarities to its parent species (and thus included in the same caresheet). D. azureus is considered a true separate species, although closely related.

    D. tinctorius (Schneider, 1799) - Distributed thru Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and part of Brazil. (2)
  • Descriptions & Behavior:
    Note: These morphs represent unique subpopulations in the wild that share general physical characterisitics, and for that reason different morphs should not be mixed. Morphs of tincs can often be confused as certain patterns and colors are repeated throughout the range of D. tinc, and there are some morphs - most noticably New River/Koetari River/Kutari River tincs and Sipaliwini tincs - that can be confused with Azureus. This does NOT mean these animals are the same morph/species as there are similar populations that live kilometers apart, and may even occur in different countries! For this reason if you are not sure on the lineage of your animal, please do not breed it, even if you think you've accurately identified what the animal is.

    Azureus and Tincs are bold outgoing frogs that tend to spend the day out in the open feeding, before retreating to a hiding spot for the night. The pattern on many of these frogs is unique, and do not change once the animal is an adult. They can be used as a “fingerprint” to identify individual animals in collections.

    There are no true morphs of azureus, although some breeders may refer to “sky blue” or “no spot” “morphs” of the species. However, these are not true morphs, but rather individuals displaying mild variations in the common patterning. While this variation does tend to occur more often in some bloodlines than others, it is still not a true morph and some frogs have been line bred for this trait.

    Due to the large geographic range of D. tinctorius, many morphs exist.
  • General Care:
    Temperatures of 70-80º F during the day with drops as low as 65º F at night are recommended.

    Being larger frogs, Azureus and Tinctorius require a good amount of floor space. Pairs of frogs should not be kept in tanks smaller than 10g, with larger tanks preferable (20, 20L). Small groups of frogs consisting of 2-3 males to a single female are ok. But multiple females are discouraged as female-female aggression, perhaps the most intense of all dendrobatid species, is a serious problem. Housing two sexually mature females can lead to the death of the non-dominant animal. This may not be the case in individual situations without the presence of a male, but is not guaranteed. Female aggression is much stronger than male-male or male-female aggression. Care should also be taken when introducing (or reintroducing) mature animals into established groups, when aggression can be greater.

    Individuals can generally be sexed based on the size of the frog (females generally display greater length and girth) and the size of the forelimb toepads (the forelimb toepads of males are usually at least 2 times larger than the forelimb toepads of a female). Please note however, that these are generalizations, and may not always be the case with every frog. Froglets or sub-adults may be difficult to sex using these criteria as the differences may not always be present at younger ages. It has also been noted that some morphs of tinctorius do not clearly show these differences. Males do also call, which has been described as a soft buzz, but this may or may not be audible outside the tank.

    Although large and stocky, these species tend towards smaller prey items, rarely eating anything larger than Hydei FFs.
  • Breeding & tadpole Care:
    Azureus and tincs require approximately 10-12 months to become sexually mature. Initial attempts at breeding typically result in unfertilized eggs or weak tadpoles. After a couple of rounds of “practice”, the problems with producing viable progeny generally resolve, although it may take longer.

    Courtship typically involves a calling male and a female that will follow the male around the tank, stroking his back with her forelimb when the male pauses to encourage him onward. The courtship may go on for a couple of hours before the male will lead the female to a bower where the eggs are laid and fertilized.

    Eggs and tadpoles are typically black (with the exception of albinos), with the tads gaining color only just before the front legs emerge. Tadpoles can be raised communally or individually. If raised communally, it should be noted that these species do exhibit hormone limiting. Tadpoles should be fed a varied diet, including tropical fish flakes, frog and tadpole bites and specialty mixes distributed by breeders (Ed's Fly Meat Tadpole Food, MJM Tadpole Food, AZDR tadpole food, Josh's Frogs Tadpole Food). Do not use completely algae based diets as these result in smaller froglets. Instead algae should be used as a supplement to the above listed base diets.

    Tadpoles typically require about 3 months to morph. They morph looking similar as they do as adults, although the amount of change in pattern with age varies according to morph. Coming out of the water, the froglets should be able to take melanogaster FFs, though springtails can be supplemented for variety. Froglets should be raised in groups (5+) of similar size or alone, and fed constantly. It is generally observed that they do not do well when raised in pairs or smaller groups, when it has been noted that usually at least one will develop serious problems. Young froglets can be quite skittish, but they gradually develop boldness as they age.
  • Links to related information:
    Tinctorius Morph Guide
    Note - the morph guide refers to many morphs that exist in the wild but are rare or absent in the hobby

  • Pictures:
    Azureus Male:

    Azureus Female (note smaller toepads):

    Developing Azureus eggs:

    Blue Sipaliwani froglet:

    Suriname Cobalt Female:


    Yellowback (Black Saul) froglet:

    Oyapok adult:

    Oyapok froglets:

    New River Adult Male:
(1), dart poison frogs, vivaria, plants, together with lots of pictures, films and more. Orchids, bromelia's, mosses, descriptions of dendrobates leucomelas, azureus, pumilio, tinctorius, auratus and how to breed frogs but also fruit
(2) AMNH Amphibians of the World Database

Kyle Kopp (kyle1745)
Corey Wickliffe (kerokero)
Oz (rozdaboff)
Robb Melancon (rmelancon)
Matt Mirabello

If you would like to see any updates or modifications to this care sheet please let myself or a moderator know.

Last updated: 11/29/2006
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