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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello to all you dendro enthusiasts and experts. This is my first post and first time at trying my hand with dart frogs, and I'm very excited to get into the hobby. I'm a long time herp enthusiast and keeper, having had a slew of reptiles over my life including Water Dragons, Bearded Dragons, Ball Pythons, Red Tail Boas, Red Ear Sliders, Veiled Chameleons, Sulcata Tortoises, Softshell Turtles, and Alligator Lizards. This is my first time with frogs though, so I've really been trying to read up heavily on this forum and others to get a good grasp on how to approach my first setup. Thank you all for the invaluable info provided herein! I have a few questions that I would love some advice on... maybe some of you mother hen types can take me under your wing ;) I apologize in advance for the long post, as I tend to carry on...

I recently purchased an Exo Terra 18x18x24 tank for my first paludarium I want to build and house a few frogs in. At the time of this posting, I'm working on the back wall using a corrugated pvc board partition so I can easily reach down and access my water pump behind the wall without messing it all up. I bought a Repti Flo 250 (which I've heard mixed reviews on, but it was only $13 so I figured I'd give it a try and it won't be hard to replace if it fails). I plan to finish the background this week with cork bark, mopani wood and great stuff, adding the coco fiber to the wet great stuff and then of course some moss and plants once it's all cured. In fact, here is a vivarium/paludarium I found on YouTube that was exactly what I had envisioned wanting, so I'm shooting for something very similar as an end result. I'll probably add in some more color with some bromeliads, and maybe an orchid. Also, I plan to have a bit larger water section at the bottom to house a few little killifish/tetras and shrimp - just to add another dimension to the enclosure. There will be a waterfall, and hopefully I'll get the fog machine as well. I'm not sure though if I want to install a misting system now or just use a manual mister at first.

That's the enclosure I'm envisioning. I know the frogs need plenty of surface area, so I plan to keep the "pond" minimal and have plenty of surface area and hiding nooks throughout. Any thoughts or advice on the aforementioned video and setup I'm trying for? Does anyone see any red flags that should be avoided or thought about?

I originally wanted to have variety in the frogs I wanted to get. I was thinking about a bumblebee leuc, blue azureus tinct, and a green auratus - just to have a lot of color and I wasn't too keen on getting 3-4 identical frogs. Having read all the posts and opinions on mixing species, I have heeded your combined wisdom and changed my mind about it. I still really want some kind of variety, so I'm now planning on getting 3-4 Green Sipaliwinis that will hopefully vary in color from blue, green or yellow. I've read a few posts on here about the opinions on housing multiple sips, and it seems the true verdict is still out, but most people think it just fine to mix them as they are so closely related. I don't plan to actively try and breed them, but assuming nature could likely take it's course, those should be ok together.

Ok, so some questions for you fine folk:

1. Given that tank size (33 gal) and set up, how many Sips will be comfortable in there? I was wanting 3 (possibly 4), which I'm thinking would be fine.
2. Sexes. I know most the majority of sellers stock and sell more juvies, and they are hard to sex that early. For Sips, if I have a few, should I get 1 female and a couple males? Vice Versa? Is there a good way to know what I'm getting that early on?
3. Colors. Again, wanting a variety of colors, I read that most start off fairly green and can morph over time to blue or yellow (or green). Is there a good way to pick when they all look pretty close as juvies?
4. I will of course allow them as much surface area as I can, seeing they are pretty terrestrial guys, but still want a usable water pond for some marine life. I will make it so they have plenty of escape routes should they venture in. Any hesitations with those specific frogs and the pond?
5. Regarding Sips in particular, and advice on certain plants or land features they prefer?
6. Breeding. While not actively hoping they'll breed, if they do, what should I do with the tadpoles, and if they mature, the froglets? At this time I'm only planning on having the one enclosure (if all goes well, I'd love to do more later), so I can't have it overfilling with frogs. Do I give/sell them to my local herp store?

I think that's all I've got to ask right now. Again, I'm really hoping some of you out there can give me some sage advice specific to my frog choice, and paludarium situation and ideas. Even after all the research I've been doing (and will keep doing), I'm sure I've missed things.

Thanks in advance for any replies and help. I'm grateful there is a community out there like this that can offer so much great information and advice. Keep it up!

- Josh
 

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Welcome, Josh!
Nice, detailed post, there. I appreciate you doing your research :)

The only comment I had was that Sips are tincs, and therefore, not the best group frogs. You could probably get away with a 1 female and 2 male setup, but a pair would be safest, in my experience, for tincs.

On the other hand, my green and brown auratus do great in a group (I don't even pay much attention to the ratio of males to females) and they vary a LOT in color from blue to different shades of green. You might take a look at some pictures of them and see if you like them. They would be a lot easier to have a greater number of frogs safely and demonstrate the color variation you were looking for.

Just a thought :)

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Mark - thanks so much for the advice. I'm not 100% set on the Sips, but I really liked their coloring and markings and that they had a lot of variety in that same species. I will totally look into the auratus' as you say. I'm not looking to house a lot of frogs... possibly 4 max, but I understand the possibility of aggression with more than 2, and I want to avoid that if possible. I'm also hoping that the size of the tank and providing them with a lot of visual breaks and physical hiding spots will help to have more than a pair.

One reason for having 3-4 frogs is that I've got 4 kids (one is only a yr old), but the 3 older ones all want "their own" frog. ;) They won't be handling them of course, but will inevitably want to name and pay close attention to their own, so I was hoping for more than a pair.

Thanks again for your advice and kind welcome!
 

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An 18x18x24 with a thick background and water feature wouldn't be the ideal size for 3 tincs and the less floor space would increase the likelihood of aggression. For bigger terrestrial frogs like tincs and auratus the general rule of thumb is 1 frog for every square foot of usable floor space (144 sq in).

You could get away with a trio of auratus in that size but I'd be hesitant to add more. Also to consider are auratus take some warming up to a new home and may be extremely shy at first.

Have you considered a bolder thumbnail species? They would appreciate the height and you could go slightly larger on the water feature since they won't use the floor as much. You could easily house 4 variabilis 'southern' in that enclosure and they each have unique patterns so telling them apart wouldn't be an issue. They are also pretty big for thumbnail frogs.

As for a misting system, go with a hand sprayer. You can upgrade to a misting system when you have multiple tanks down the road.

You also need to plan on modifying the lid of the enclosure to ensure proper humidity.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much, FrogTim, for the advice. Those southern variabilis sure are cool looking, but I was wanting to stay away from the smaller thumbnails just for visibility sake of my kids. The bigger they are, the easier to spot was my thought process for this. I'm leaning towards maybe 1 female and 2 males of either the Sips or Auratus, again simply for their size and coloring. Of course, I don't want to create a harmful environment for them, and I sincerely appreciate the advice.

The Exo Terra tank came with an all mesh top, so I was planning to buy an 18x18 glass panel from Home Depot to cover it in order to keep a higher humidity level. I say 'was' because I'm now thinking of just buying a glass piece to cover maybe 75% of the top, leaving some screen for air flow and ventilation. I'm not planning to add any fans or other air circulation methods just yet, so I'm hoping that will be enough, along with opening the tank for feedings.
 

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No problem. My first vivarium was a disaster and if I can save someone else the headache then mission accomplished.

Sounds like you are set on the sips or auratus, but I see my variabilis at least twice as much as they auratus. Size doesn't matter much when looking for frogs, it's more important if they are hiding or not. My auruatus hide most of the time while my variabilis and blackwater vents are always out and about. If you go with the sips they will be out and viewable more than the auratus too.

For the top glass inserts are the easiest. I would leave a 1'' uncovered portion of screen along the front. This will provide passive ventilation since you also have the exo terra vent below the doors and keeping it along the front helps with condensation.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Right you are, FrogTim. I know my first vivarium setup will undoubtedly not be completely stellar, but I'm hoping that with good advice, lots of research and creative inspiration, it will be able to come out pretty cool. More importantly, that it will be a habitable and friendly, self sustaining ecosystem for the frogs.

While I'm still not completely set on any frog, I of course still have my personal preference of what I'd like to see/have in there. Now, if the overwhelming consensus is that those frogs won't work here, I'll go another route. But, it seems that with the right set up, the Sips could still be ok? 1 female, 2 males and lots of surface area and visual breaks and hiding spots. I plan to create a couple levels for them to reside.

Thank you for the advice on the top. I picked up a piece of glass and will see how it will situate as you advised.
 

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It's not that the Sips can't work. I just think your odds are better if you choose frogs that are known to be good in groups. Might you get an especially docile group of Sips that get along great together? Sure, it's possible. I think your odds of getting a group of 4 that get along are not that great, especially since you wouldn't necessarily know aggression if you saw it (if you even saw it). You might also not have the experience to recognize stress until it was too late. If you have a high tolerance for risk, go for it and be prepared to intervene if necessary. If you want to have a good chance of success with your first frog purchases, you might want to try auratus or southern variabilis. That is a great suggestion by FrogTim and he is right about auratus potentially hiding quite a bit. Leucs, galactonotus. terribilis and some others are also good possibilities, but they will all look similar (though leucs' patterns will vary enough that you can name them effectively ;-)

Good luck!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks again, Mark. I think I'll plan to stick with just 3 and try for a female, male, male group to help avoid any aggression. I'm still very seriously considering the Auratus and will hopefully create an environment they'll be comfortable enough to be more open in.

You guys are the experts after all, and I came here for that specific reason - to get advice from you all. I'm still far from buying any frogs, so I have plenty of time to soak in some more advice and research.

Both your advice is highly appreciated though, so I thank you!
 

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Hi Josh,

Welcome to the forum! And of course to dart frogs!!! I can't add much more than what the others already have. You can keep groups of tincs together when they are young (usually) without aggression, but you'll definitely run into it once they become adults. I've heard of folks keeping groups of just adult males together longer term. I've managed that up to a point, but it was a temporary housing thing for me and not long term, so I don't know how it would have turned out if I had tried to leave it that way.

Anyway good luck!
Mike
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Hi Mike, thanks for the comments!

Advice duly noted. I mentioned earlier that most of the frogs my local herp store carries are juveniles and I've heard it can be tough to sex them that early. Any advice on how to choose them at that age?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Alright, here is my progress so far. I've been taking photos of the build as I go, just for the sake of having a little documentation. Tonight after work I finally added some water and tried out the waterfall. I'm rather pleased at how it turned out. I still would like to try and direct the flow at the bottom a little better. There is a small stream that kinda shoots back into the "bank" that I would like to shoot directly into the pool. Hopefully I can manage that with some carefully placed rocks and silicone.

I have most my plants now that I got from Josh's Frogs, and am planning to add the ABG mix (NEHerp's original substrate mix) and springtails tomorrow. Then hopefully get some plants in!

I still need to decide on what pair of frogs I want...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HgQHU3fbWY

Any feedback is of course welcomed!
 
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