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Dendrobates tinctorius:
  • Difficulty: Novice.

    D. tinctorius is 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. tinctorius (Schneider, 1799) - Distributed thru Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and part of Brazil. (2)
    D. azureus (Hoogmoed, 1968) was formerly a full species, and is now recognized as a D. tinctorius morph.

  • 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.

    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.

    Due to the large geographic range of D. tinctorius, many morphs exist.

  • General Care:

    As with most captive dart frogs, temperatures of 70-80º F during the day with drops as low as 65º F at night are best. Nighttime lows under 60ºF or highs above 85º F should be avoided.

    Being larger frogs, tinctorius require a good amount of floor space. Known sexed pairs of the smaller locales should not be kept in tanks smaller than 18 x 18 x 24; larger locales or frogs of unknown sex are much more adequately housed in larger vivariums. In much larger enclosures, small groups of frogs consisting of 2-3 males to a single female can be stable for long periods of time. Multiple females are discouraged as female-female aggression, perhaps the most intense of all dendrobatid species, is a serious problem. Care should also be taken when introducing (or reintroducing) mature animals into established groups, when aggression can be greater.

    Tinctorius do use all heights of the vivarium quite frequently, and hardscape should be designed to accommodate and encourage this behavior. Sloping ramps are especially useful, as tincs don't so much climb as walk. As many tinc morphs are quite large frogs, plants should generally be sturdy and broad leaved to offer both climbing surfaces and hiding spots. As with all dart frogs, a copious amount of leaf litter covering the entire substrate is beneficial.

    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:

    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

    Discussion of 'True Sipaliwini' at oneillscrossing.

    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: 1/3/22 by @Socratic Monologue.
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