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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

First I am so excited to get started with Dart Frogs! I have been doing reef keeping in small nano reefs for 15 years so far and have it down fairly well I feel.

Dart Frogs have always been a goal of mine. My wife and I are ready to get started. We are in Milwaukee and have a local Dart Frog vendor called MKE Rainfrog. The owner seems knowledgeable and it’s great to have a local business with the specimens to look at.

With all that being said we plan to go a little different route. We are not going to go with ExoTerra. I have been doing a lot of research and while exoterra seem to really alleviate the headache of management and pruning access etc etc I believe we can be successful using with a 29 gallon fish tank 40 gallon breeder. We are going to get some custom glass cut for the top to maintain humidity levels too. We are familiar with the flora that is required and plan to have pothos, monstera but are also researching more plants that we haven’t personally kept like bromeliads.

For the specific frogs we are looking we either 2-3 Azureus, Patricia, or Bumblebee. Forgive me for not writing out their scientific names I just know these ones offhandedly.

We also live in a colder climate (Wisconsin) and are concerned about heat. Is a heat pad needed or recommended at all? Also we may invest in a Mist king but not sure yet. We are confident in growing our own fly cultures for feeding too.

This is just the beginning of this so I welcome all suggestions and recommendations!

Thanks!
 

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Azureus and Patricia are both Dendrobates tinctorius; they get big (for a dart) and as adults are almost always best kept in pairs due to aggression. The Bumblebees aka Dendrobates leucomelas are an excellent choice given they're a hardy frog and can be kept in groups. Bold, interesting, pleasant call.

The interior of a tank is usually a couple degrees warmer than the ambient room temperature -- what would be the min-max ambient room temperatures for you?

The thing about glass tops is they can create too much humidity and hamper ventilation; it's kind of an outdated way of dart frog keeping. Most contemporary keepers aim for around 70% relative humidity and good air movement. But even with that said, your individual room's parameters will dictate the best solution, so maybe set up well before you get the frogs and see what needs tweaking.

20 years ago I started keeping darts in fish tanks, later in fish tanks with modified lids to accommodate their ventilation needs etc.; but the very first time I used an Exo with front-opening doors I was immediately spoiled. You still need to modify the lids on Exos because they're all screen, but that's not so hard to do.

(I still use fish tanks as grow-outs or transitional housing).

I prefer the 36" x 18" x 36" Exo Terra, but the 36" x 18" x 24" would still work well for leucs. They use every inch and surface of the tank and will climb, so the bigger the better, as always.

Can you be successful with a regular fish tank? To be honest, yes, but it's not ideal from a functional standpoint. If you're married to the idea look into using ventilation fans to move air, and maybe avoid doing a fully glass top, that would address most of the issues aquarium tanks create.

Given your reef experience I'm guessing you're not afraid to tinker so you'll make it work, one way or the other.

There are a ton of experienced keepers here that know more than I do (I've been in and out of the game and spent the last year catching up on what I missed) so you're in a good place to take in recommendations from people who've been there, cheers!
 

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Hello and welcome. @Fahad has given you some great advice above (he beat me to it).

Most of us avoid using converted aquariums as our dart frog tanks because they don't allow passive ventilation the way that an exo terra or similar terrarium does (I tend to use Atasuki sliding door terrariums, they're my preferred tank).

I'm in Canada and don't provide supplemental heat for my frog tanks. My frog room often has ambient temperatures in the high 60's but the inside of the frog tanks are in the low to mid 70's.
 

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We are not going to go with ExoTerra. I have been doing a lot of research and while exoterra seem to really alleviate the headache of management and pruning access etc etc I believe we can be successful using with a 29 gallon fish tank 40 gallon breeder.
If you are attached to the idea of using one of those tanks have you considered flipping either of those tanks on the side and making them a vert with a front opening.
There are a plethora of instructables/conversions available on this site, and with the reef experience i'm sure you could knock one out.
A 29 gallon tank ends up with about 292 sq inches of floor space, a 40 approx 310. They are of course better suited for PDF that will use some of the vertical height.
 

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Its tempting to want to use a tank you already have. If you are a keeper, builder of biomes one will, when looking into that glassy space, see visions materialize of its future strategy and life. Its what we do!

But the air exchange and great dimensions available aside, nothing beats the husbandry experience of a front opening environment.
 

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Hello and welcome!

I found dart frogs to be super easy to keep compared to a freshwater planted tank. The level of maintenance required for dart frogs is almost non-existent outside of feeding.

For heating they do really good in room temperature and really bad at temperatures in the 50s and below or 80 and higher. If the room you are keeping them in is in the mid 60s to mid 70s then you are good to go.

I would also advise you not to go with pathos in a vivarium. This is a personal choice as many successful keepers (including those on this forum) do keep pathos in dart frog tanks but I find that the plant grows WAY too quickly and is too big as well. The result within a few weeks is a tank that is so full of pathos its hard to see the frogs or other plants. Thus you will turn an almost no maintenance tank into a pathos trimming tank every week if you want it to be kept under control.

As for what plants to consider? Well you have a lot of options. You could go onto websites like glassboxtropicals or blackjunglesupply and just look at their plant selections. Or you could go to your local nursery (even a big box store like home depot) and look at their tropical plants. Broms are great options of course and are easy to keep if you just pin them to your background (don't bury them in substrate the tanks are too humid to keep them alive this way). I went to a reptile show and there were a few vendors selling plants of interest to vivarium keepers and my understanding is that this is common if that is your jazz.

For misting systems its essentially either mistking or a manual pump mister. I went with mistking and I'm happy I did. I go on vacations (more when there is no pandemic on) for a week or two at a time. Its nice to know that my frogs will be fine while I'm gone without having someone come over and manually spray the tank to make sure the frogs don't get too dry while I'm gone.

I have never kept dart frogs in a horizontal aquarium. I do have a 20H that I converted to a vertical using a kit from FrogCube – Convert your Aquarium into a Terrarium. He also sells a 40 Breeder kit which might be a good option for you. For my adults I bought an Insitu Ecosystems tank because it comes out of the box ready to handle the problems of humidity and fly control that comes with owning dart frogs. Its not perfect by any means but its the best off the shelf option for sale in the States I have found thus far. My wife's sister and her husband lives in Wisconsin, we always enjoy our time there in the summer. From what they told us though, AC in houses is not as common there as some other parts of the country. Does your house have AC? If not you may want to put the tank in the basement as its easy to kill the frogs with heat then it is with cold.

Despite what you might see online elsewhere, ideal humidity for these critters is 60-80%. So you will want to make sure whatever tank you have has good ventilation options. Otherwise its easy to make these tanks too humid at which point you end up dealing with skin conditions on the froggies.

Hopefully this helpful, enjoy the journey, there are a lot of new terms to learn but the reward at the end is pretty fantastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
First I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful advice.

With the advice to avoid a fish tank I think my wife and I are going to invest in a Exoterra. We want our animals to be as happy as possible. We are also going to take the plants into account and most likely avoid Pothos. Seems like an easy thing to do haha.

We may also invest in a mist king. It seems like it will really help out in the end. There is an upfront cost but that seems to be worth it for peace of mind.

In regard to the heat in our house it rarely goes below 65 and we have a Google nest that we can put a prob by the tank for ambient temps so that will greatly help. Someone asked about AC and we do have AC so that is a really good thing to know! We’ll be running that on those really hot days and even when it’s not so hot as it seems the temp in the tank is a little warmer.

There is a lot more I would like to discuss like species etc and will post more later but we are taking into account everything and want to do this right.

One last thing. What are peoples opinions on thumbnails (ranitemaya?) for a beginner? I have heard they are easier to keep but then again I’ve just seen people say that.

Thanks so much this has been such a great upfront experience for a first post on such a niche site. Appreciate the welcome and hospitality.
 

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Ranitomeya - here's where your decision to go ExoTerra (the right one, IMHO) will come into play. There are certain tanks in my collection that I am hesitant to open, especially after the lights go out. The top of this list is my Ranitomeya reticulata tank. I have had more frogs jump out past me when I mist and feed in that tank than all the other tanks combined. It still doesn't happen often, and I know exactly what to do when it does, but it's still puts a little bit of fear in me every time I open the tank. I have been keeping frogs on and off since the 90s. I would think it would be terrifying for someone new. Now, this is definitely YMMV territory. Some Ranitomeya flee toward the back of the tank (the smart ones, I think). So, you might get some of those, then again you might not :) Is this one factor enough to avoid Ranitomeya as your first frog? Up to you, but probably not. It should probably be in the discussion, though. It's a lot easier to corral an escaping Leucomelas, Tinctorius, or Auratus, for instance, than any Ranitomeya.

Best of luck in making your decision,

Mark
 

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Ranitomeya vary quite a bit in behavior and tolerance of novice errors. R. imitator are probably the most forgiving, and are bold but not at all flighty. They should only be kept as a pair. I also keep R. vanzolinii and R. sirensis. Both are somewhat less tolerant of parameter fluctuation, but can tolerate group housing. My vanzos are more shy than the imitators, and I rarely see my sirensis (a group of 4 + their froglets in an 18 x 18 x 24; I think they would be more bold with more room).

Leucomelas are much easier to keep than thumbs, IME, and much more bold, but someone who is willing to do the research and design a viv with only the needs of the frogs in mind could keep most thumb species. Leucs are a better display frog, but some thumbs are, IMHO, more interesting.
 

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Ha! I’m a nano reef keeper myself and just joined the hobby as well! Currently building my fist 18x18x24. Very excited about this hobby. I look forward to seeing your progress and sharing my progress. :)
 

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Here's a thread on how I keep my Ranitomeya sirensis "Rio Pachitea yellow" (in a 36x18x24" tank) https://www.dendroboard.com/threads/vivarium-discussion-sept-28-2020.358080/post-3109818

They can be quite bold if you know where / when / how to look for them. They are VERY active first thing in the morning coming out of their bromeliads, same as at night when they are going back into them. And have a lovely call, in my opinion.

My second pair of dart frogs were Ranitomeya uakarii, my third set were my Ranitomeya sirensis group. Both groups have been quite hardy for me, but again, designing the tank well will help avoid them wanting to jump out of the tank when you're working in the tank.
 
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