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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure if I’m posting this right or not, but I’m a beginner I don’t even have frogs yet, I’ve been hit with so many issues it’s not even funny, to the point of contemplating giving the entire vivarium and set up away. After months of research I got my vivarium got the kit added plants etc and a few weeks later these bugs showed up crawling everywhere in the viv, I did research and found out they were dirt mites, no problem. Wrong, they are crawling all over the outside of the viv and on the lid I open the doors and I just see them spread and I know I’m squishing them every time, they’re all over the glass inside and outside and my springtails are climbing the glass. I am not a bug person and in all my research nothing was mentioned that the bugs would get out and climb the glass, it’s very gross. My question is what can I do to keep them off the glass/and inside the vivarium if the bugs won’t stay in then I cannot keep the vivarium and it’s already set up and cost $500+ and I’m a student only working one job and still at home so I cannot have a vivarium with bugs crawling all over the outside of it, and I cannot afford to restart completely to get rid of them. So if anyone has advice on how to keep the creatures inside the vivarium it would be much appreciated!
 

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Since you don't have frogs yet, you can let the vivarium dry out some to kill off the mites. Generally speaking, mites will boom when there's an abundance of food and moisture. Then die off after they eat the food source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Since you don't have frogs yet, you can let the vivarium dry out some to kill off the mites. Generally speaking, mites will boom when there's an abundance of food and moisture. Then die off after they eat the food source.
I’ve let the viv dry out to the point my plants were starting to die and the Sphagnum moss was crunchy but the mite numbers did not go down, I had to mist to save my plants. Do you know of another way? I was told to use olive oil or vinegar and wipe it around the outside because they hate it and would stay in the vivarium but I’m trying to avoid having to paint my vivarium with such a concoction.
 

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Sounds unusual.

Could you post clear photos of the viv -- whole viv shots, closeups, etc?

Could you say what you have for substrate, where you got the hardscape items, plants, etc.

What microfaune did you add so far?

Please tell a little about what your routine has been for caring for the viv so far -- "misting" (watering), anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds unusual.

Could you post clear photos of the viv -- whole viv shots, closeups, etc?

Could you say what you have for substrate, where you got the hardscape items, plants, etc.

What microfaune did you add so far?

Please tell a little about what your routine has been for caring for the viv so far -- "misting" (watering), anything else.
I got a complete tankless dart frog kit from Josh’s frogs that included
Chilean Sphagnum
ABG mix
Magnolia leaf litter
Leca false bottom
A large plant pack
And some wooden branches they add in.
I have a mistiking misting system that has been off for several weeks/at least a month because my humidity gauges were reading a humidity of 99% for the last month or so and there was non on the glass and the moss was crunchy it was so dry, so I believe they are broken but my misting routine is almost nonexistent until today, I noticed some of my plants are dying due to lack of water. I’ve only really turned on the light for the plants and checked the humidity gauges nothing more with the viv. For micro fauna I had bought a thing of springtails but the weather got hot when they were shipped so I thought they were dead out of hopes some survivors were in there I mixed it in with the soil when putting the viv together and just recently this week I noticed a few of them climbing my glass. Those are the only ones I have added the mites have been there pretty much since week one. If you need more specific photos/of certain things I can get them but hopefully these work.
Light Shade Rectangle Automotive exterior Grass
Rectangle Gas Art Glass Technology

Plant Botany Houseplant Rectangle Wood
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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I got a complete tankless dart frog kit from Josh’s frogs that included
Chilean Sphagnum
ABG mix
Magnolia leaf litter
Leca false bottom
A large plant pack
And some wooden branches they add in.
I have a mistiking misting system that has been off for several weeks/at least a month because my humidity gauges were reading a humidity of 99% for the last month or so and there was non on the glass and the moss was crunchy it was so dry, so I believe they are broken but my misting routine is almost nonexistent until today, I noticed some of my plants are dying due to lack of water. I’ve only really turned on the light for the plants and checked the humidity gauges nothing more with the viv. For micro fauna I had bought a thing of springtails but the weather got hot when they were shipped so I thought they were dead out of hopes some survivors were in there I mixed it in with the soil when putting the viv together and just recently this week I noticed a few of them climbing my glass. Those are the only ones I have added the mites have been there pretty much since week one. If you need more specific photos/of certain things I can get them but hopefully these work. View attachment 301685 View attachment 301684
View attachment 301683
So Josh’s frogs tends to give outdated advice, and you don’t actually need that layer of spaghnum in there. Yeah, I got mislead as a beginner with their starter kit, too. Remove that moss ASAP, and that may improve your situation (both short term and long term).

Oh, and you’re probably better off removing that foam background the tank comes with. They don’t hold up well, plus frogs can get stuck behind it. Yeah, it’s frustrating, but these are things I learned over here after setting up, too.
As for your humidity issue, hydrometers aren’t super reliable, especially if they’re just left in the tank 24-7. I’m thinking yours just got over saturated and hasn’t been giving you an accurate reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So Josh’s frogs tends to give outdated advice, and you don’t actually need that layer of spaghnum in there. Yeah, I got mislead as a beginner with their starter kit, too. Remove that moss ASAP, and that may improve your situation (both short term and long term).

Oh, and you’re probably better off removing that foam background the tank comes with. They don’t hold up well, plus frogs can get stuck behind it. Yeah, it’s frustrating, but these are things I learned over here after setting up, too.
As for your humidity issue, hydrometers aren’t super reliable, especially if they’re just left in the tank 24-7. I’m thinking yours just got over saturated and hasn’t been giving you an accurate reading.
The soil won’t stick to the frogs? And I’ve realized some of their information is definitely outdated, and they make it seem so easy but I knew it definitely wasn’t easy to set up a dart frog vivarium properly but this has been extremely challenging. I did not know you couldn’t leave it in the whole time🤦🏽‍♀️ I watched lots of videos and read up on it and nothing said to put it in periodically. Do I just put it in daily? Or every few days to test it? The ones I bought are said to take at least 24hrs to acclimate/properly read things. I definitely can’t remove the foam background it was pretty much stuck in there when I got the tank and now it’s definitely not coming out. The substrate barrier I have won’t reach the back either/it only makes it to the foam background so if I took it out soil would go everywhere. I should have joined this forum a long time ago.
 

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We're glad you're here now :)

The thick layer of leaf litter will keep the frogs from coming into contact with the substrate (or will greatly reduce their rates of contact). (There are other benefits to the leaf litter, I could go on for days about it ... ).

I left the foam background in my second tank. I only removed it because it was all kinds of ugly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We're glad you're here now :)

The thick layer of leaf litter will keep the frogs from coming into contact with the substrate (or will greatly reduce their rates of contact). (There are other benefits to the leaf litter, I could go on for days about it ... ).

I left the foam background in my second tank. I only removed it because it was all kinds of ugly.
Do I cut the leaves up? So they make a good dusting/ground cover or just place the whole ones all over where I can?
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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The soil won’t stick to the frogs? And I’ve realized some of their information is definitely outdated, and they make it seem so easy but I knew it definitely wasn’t easy to set up a dart frog vivarium properly but this has been extremely challenging. I did not know you couldn’t leave it in the whole time🤦🏽‍♀️ I watched lots of videos and read up on it and nothing said to put it in periodically. Do I just put it in daily? Or every few days to test it? The ones I bought are said to take at least 24hrs to acclimate/properly read things. I definitely can’t remove the foam background it was pretty much stuck in there when I got the tank and now it’s definitely not coming out. The substrate barrier I have won’t reach the back either/it only makes it to the foam background so if I took it out soil would go everywhere. I should have joined this forum a long time ago.
Yep, as @fishingguy12345 said, the leaf litter provides a barrier from the soil. A good, thick layer and you should be good to go! No need to break them up (unless you wanted to a little, since magnolia leaves are a bit big). They break up themselves, over time, and you just add fresh ones on top every now and then. I’ve gotten into layering with oak leaves (smaller) and then some magnolia leaves on top. But totally just a preference thing.

Hydrometers are a weird thing, because you would think they should be just a permanent installation…but they don’t seem to actually hold up well in such small, humid spaces. I’m sure someone else could explain the issue more technically. I’ve kind of just learned to “feel” it out. In that you can feel humidity, sort of see it, and smell factors in as well (smelling fresh, not rotten). That’s something you can probably find threads on here about as well.
And maybe not worry too much about the background, if it’s not budging for now. Might be difficult to remove with everything in anyway. I got rid of mine by partially breaking it down, then slipped in a cork background in its place, which has been better for plants to grow over…but maybe next time, in your case?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yep, as @fishingguy12345 said, the leaf litter provides a barrier from the soil. A good, thick layer and you should be good to go! No need to break them up (unless you wanted to a little, since magnolia leaves are a bit big). They break up themselves, over time, and you just add fresh ones on top every now and then. I’ve gotten into layering with oak leaves (smaller) and then some magnolia leaves on top. But totally just a preference thing.

Hydrometers are a weird thing, because you would think they should be just a permanent installation…but they don’t seem to actually hold up well in such small, humid spaces. I’m sure someone else could explain the issue more technically. I’ve kind of just learned to “feel” it out. In that you can feel humidity, sort of see it, and smell factors in as well (smelling fresh, not rotten). That’s something you can probably find threads on here about as well.
And maybe not worry too much about the background, if it’s not budging for now. Might be difficult to remove with everything in anyway. I got rid of mine by partially breaking it down, then slipped in a cork background in its place, which has been better for plants to grow over…but maybe next time, in your case?
I will definitely try the leaves then! Hopefully it helps! And for smelling the Viv definitely smells! I open it and it smells like earth/the woods it doesn’t stink like it’s rotten unless smelling like earth is a rotten smell. Do you have a specific hydrometer you use? Or recommend?
 

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good lord, where is the ventilation? looks like cloud city re that star wars movie.
 

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Hydrometers are a weird thing, because you would think they should be just a permanent installation…but they don’t seem to actually hold up well in such small, humid spaces. I’m sure someone else could explain the issue more technically.
There's nothing too technical about it -- the sensors simply aren't designed to have liquid water contact. In an environment that periodically condenses (that is, where the dewpoint exceeds the temperature), the sensor will have liquid water condense on it.

Hygrometers (a) aren't necessary to keep dart frogs, since the actual RH number isn't useful information, and (b) lead people astray, as in this case, and motivate them to dry out an already dry viv. If there were frogs in there, they would have quite possibly died, and the hygrometer would be to blame.

Well, not entirely: part of the issue is the fully sealed top. Dart vivs need ventilation. I recommend using the stock ExoTerra top and cutting acrylic pieces to fit the recesses on top of the screened parts, cutting them so that you have a range of sizes from fully covered (put one like this on the recess nearest the doors), to one that leaves a decent gap -- 6" or so -- that goes on the back recess with the open area above the back wall of the viv. A range of different sized pieces is useful, since it will take some trial and error to get adjusted (reducing water additions to dry things out doesn't necessarily work, as you've discovered), and since ventilation needs increase as plants grow in (more surfaces to hold water), and since ventilation needs differ seasonally (more in summer, less in winter, in my climate anyway). In summer, my Exos have 50% open screen on top.

Here is a recipe for proper viv moisture that avoids the danger of hygrometers.
 

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good lord, where is the ventilation? looks like cloud city re that star wars movie.
Oh, and the hygrometer is Lando, the double-crosser....who is really only a puppet of the recommender of no ventilation, played by Vader...and the viv itself is Han, who needs most of an entire film for a rescue... I like this metaphor. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There's nothing too technical about it -- the sensors simply aren't designed to have liquid water contact. In an environment that periodically condenses (that is, where the dewpoint exceeds the temperature), the sensor will have liquid water condense on it.

Hygrometers (a) aren't necessary to keep dart frogs, since the actual RH number isn't useful information, and (b) lead people astray, as in this case, and motivate them to dry out an already dry viv. If there were frogs in there, they would have quite possibly died, and the hygrometer would be to blame.

Well, not entirely: part of the issue is the fully sealed top. Dart vivs need ventilation. I recommend using the stock ExoTerra top and cutting acrylic pieces to fit the recesses on top of the screened parts, cutting them so that you have a range of sizes from fully covered (put one like this on the recess nearest the doors), to one that leaves a decent gap -- 6" or so -- that goes on the back recess with the open area above the back wall of the viv. A range of different sized pieces is useful, since it will take some trial and error to get adjusted (reducing water additions to dry things out doesn't necessarily work, as you've discovered), and since ventilation needs increase as plants grow in (more surfaces to hold water), and since ventilation needs differ seasonally (more in summer, less in winter, in my climate anyway). In summer, my Exos have 50% open screen on top.

Here is a recipe for proper viv moisture that avoids the danger of hygrometers.
I read your post and you recommended a pump style mister, would my misting system be putting out too much? Or is it still okay to use once I have ventilation and keep an eye on how long it takes for the water to dry/or stays on top of things.
 

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By 'pump style mister' I was talking about what I'd recommend if a person were going to water the viv by hand (versus a Windex sort of trigger mister, which doesn't really work mostly because the volume emitted isn't sufficient).

MistKings are great tools, and if you use one just set the timer to do what your hand pump would otherwise have done. Hopefully my volume recommendations help dial this in; 5 second misting sessions aren't the way to do this, in my opinion, since it gets leaf surfaces wet (which should be the dry areas) and don't actually water the substrate (which should be the wet area). Too much volume at one time isn't a problem -- it is supposed to be a rainforest (I've read that one part of the trick that helped get Highland sirensis breeding well again was to have rain cycles measured in something closer to hours than to minutes -- though don't take it to this extreme as a general practice). Too frequently is bad, though, since surfaces need to get some drying time in between. All this is IMO and IME, so as always feel free to critique the reasoning behind these recommendations if they call for it.

BTW, after rereading that recipe I added a bit about making sure you mist at least once per day when frogs are in there. When a person ignores RH numbers, and has appropriate ventilation, daily misting needs will be obvious from just looking at the viv, but I thought it worth clarifying. :)
 

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Back to the original issue with mites: frogs will solve your mite issue very quickly ;)
 

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Back to the original issue with mites: frogs will solve your mite issue very quickly ;)
And if they dont you could always throw in a ladybug or two. I had one accidentally crawl into one of my dart vivs and it's been there ever since (over a year now I think). Frogs won't touch them. Never seen a single mite on my orchids.
 

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And if they dont you could always throw in a ladybug or two. I had one accidentally crawl into one of my dart vivs and it's been there ever since (over a year now I think). Frogs won't touch them. Never seen a single mite on my orchids.
Frogs leave them alone? I wonder why that is?
 
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