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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I'm a long time aquarist, both fresh and salt with a recent interest in Darts.

I've done a ton of reading on this site, but still have some questions that need answers.

The burning question right now is around frogs in groups. I see the phrase "does well in groups" used for a few different frogs, but there is never a followup explanation of what that means.

Lets take two frogs: Ranitomeya ventrimaculata, dendrobates leucomelas

One is more of an intermediate species, but both labelled "does well in groups". Josh's Frogs identifies them as such and makes a suggestion for minimum tank size.

Both have a 10 gallon listed as suitable, but the recommended is 1-3 in an 18 x 18 x 18. I know that grammatically both two and three frogs could be considered a group, but, well, that is not really what "does well in groups" implies. Also, these are different frogs, with one being a climber. Recommending that size of tank for these two frogs for a pair or trio seems not quite right.

So can one keep these frogs in groups of more than three? Under what conditions, what enclosure size and design?

I've searched quite a bit and not found any sort of explanation of group size and under what conditions. For Ranitomeya I've found people who described their enclosures, but that's just what a few people have described, not an accepted/recommended practice.

FYI I do understand this may not be a good idea for a beginner, but I like to establish both short term and long term parameters for any hobby I enter. More knowledge is a good thing.
 

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Both have a 10 gallon listed as suitable, but the recommended is 1-3 in an 18 x 18 x 18. I know that grammatically both two and three frogs could be considered a group, but, well, that is not really what "does well in groups" implies. Also, these are different frogs, with one being a climber. Recommending that size of tank for these two frogs for a pair or trio seems not quite right.

So can one keep these frogs in groups of more than three? Under what conditions, what enclosure size and design?
Being really general here, but “suitable” means you can make it work…but it’s probably not ideal nor recommended (by hobbyists, but a vendor you’ll note is more comfortable suggesting minimum parameters for newcomers) for longer term. Kind of like, 2-3 people can live in a 300 square foot apartment, but probably not super comfortably, even if they are people in a stable social unit who might get along.

And then 10 gallons might be “suitable” for a frog, but it’s still better to have more space, if you can (it’s also an issue at that volume especsilly, the amount of space taken up by substrate and drainage layers…what you start out with as ten gallons is always much less). Some people say 5-10 gallons per frog, but it’s usually better to aim for more than 5, if you can…but then it also depends on species‘ needs and tank design. “Suitable” here means more like the minimum you could possibly work with, and the “recommended” is also toward the minimal parameter, either way what a vendor wouldn’t mind people buying (more tank space is better for the frogs, but a harder sell, price-wise).
 

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Hello and welcome to Dendroboard :) .

There is no "accepted practice" for tank size, lots of recommendations and ideas, but no generally accepted practice.

I would warn against taking tank sizing advice from a vendor, they have a specific interest in selling you things. Profit and proper animal Care can sometimes be in conflict for large vendors.

The recommendation that I'm going to almost always make, as far as size of tank goes, is: get the biggest tank you can afford/have space for. More space, even for the same number of frogs, provides a more enriching habitat for the frogs as they have additional areas to explore and use.

For my Ranitomeya I keep mine as follows:
Ranitomeya imitator: 1.1 pair in a 18x12x36" tank (my one oddball tank that was an aquarium conversion)
Ranitomeya uakarii: 1.2 trio in a 18x18x24" tank
Ranitomeya sirensis: 2.2.4 in a 36x18x24" tank (sirensis are very sociable for a Ranitomeya)
Ranitomeya amazonica: 0.0.3 in a 18x18x24" tank
 

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Welcome to DB! Interesting questions. :)

Also, these are different frogs, with one being a climber.
Speaking of semantics, there's some untangling to do with the term "climber". All dart frogs climb, really high -- and the species that climb higher in the wild aren't the ones you might think of; D. auratus has the highest documented climb that I've seen published (60 meters; link in this thread). The differences in climbing strategy between species is the interesting part. Ranitomeya climb fairly acrobatically, and on quite thin branches and leaves; some Dendrobates such as leucomelas actually climb, and do so pretty well, but they're more clumsy, at least on objects that are too thin or flimsy; others like tinctorius walk up branches and plants and so need viv-scaping that accommodates that movement.

I've been gradually moving all my frogs into larger enclosures (yeah, a lot of teardowns), and I really like something 18 x 18 x 24 for a pair of Ranitomeya (about the same size as an InSitu Amazonia, a viv I highly recommend). I've found that size viv to be OK but not fantastic for a 2.2 of thumbnails or a 1.1 pair of leucs or tincs of the smaller locales, and this even with careful attention to maximizing usable space (jungle gym branches), and minimizing the wasted space of substrate/drainage (minimal or no plants in the substrate; drilled vivs with </= 2" foam drainage) and foamed backgrounds (I don't use them). For more thumbnails, or larger Dendrobates, bigger is much better. For Phyllobates, I think people get them their own apartment. ;)
 

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Like everyone else said, the bigger the better for tanks. I consider 24" high to be a minimum for height. Substrate and false bottoms take up a good 6" of that vertical space.

Regarding "does well in groups" -
Some frogs can only be kept in pairs. Tincs, pumilio, and imitators for example. Those frogs become too aggressive to be housed together. To the point where a dominant frog will kill his rival.
A frog that does well in groups doesn't guarantee you won't have aggression issues. It's just significantly less likely, or they're not aggressive to the point that it negatively impacts the health of the frogs. Leucomelas, auratus, and certain ranitomeya species are good in groups.
 

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Lots of good advice here. I'd just mirror many others in saying: Use the largest enclosure that you possibly can, for any species. They will appreciate it, and so will you. As you gain more experience, you will be able to determine size requirements with more ease, and be able to test out different parameters while knowing when problems are arising. As a newcomer, you may not be able to notice aggression or bullying at first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi all. Thanks for the welcome and the answers.

Fishingguy. I do understand that vendors have a basic conflict. In the aquarium and orchid worlds I've always found some that are genuinely concerned about the organisms they sell and much more honest about requirements. I thought Josh's might be a candidate.

SM. The juxtaposition of tropical forest reaching heights of 70 meters vs large vivariums 5 feet tall is not lost on me. I recall one reference to a 'ground dwelling' species being mostly found in the first two meters of the under story. It seemed like Ranitomeya liked to climb more, but maybe that is more a function of vivarium design? That's something I will keep in mind.

As to 'as large as possible', I don't think my landlord would be happy with me converting my living-room into a vivarium so I'll have to scale back my ambitions somewhat. :D

I happen to have glass from an old 65 gallon I had planned to turn into a sump and was looking at 18 x 18 x 48 for a first setup. If things go well I will scale up (well, maybe more out than up).

That leads me to how I got here. I'm a plant guy and have recently taken a liking to tropical pitcher plants as well as having kept orchids for quite a while, so this setup will be as much about plants as frogs. Always wanted to keep one of the long petal Phrags and a vivarium would be perfect for this. There are also some Bulbophyllums with really interesting flowers that I think would work nicely in a vivarium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Back to frogs. I chose vents and leucs because I like the look of them and because I can find them local or somewhat local to me. I really don't like the idea of shipping animals. I also like the idea of seeing animals and the conditions they come from first hand before purchasing, though covid does complicate that.

I see vents are rated as intermediate because of "size and speed". Do these frogs have a habit of escaping through open vivarium doors? Are they otherwise relatively easy to keep? Could I reasonably put a group of four in an 18 x 18 x 48 enclosure?

Leucomelas would seem the obvious choice as a solid beginner frog. Would a trio comfortably fit into my chosen enclosure? The big question I have here is what size enclosure I would need to scale beyond a trio?

I am leaning more towards vents in part because I find them more intriguing and in part because I'm thinking if they are relatively non-agressive and will do ok as a group of four I don't have to worry about sexing and getting rid of an unwanted male/female. Is that a reasonable expectation?

Thanks again for your help.
 

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Do these frogs have a habit of escaping through open vivarium doors?
I've had flying sirensis (a lot like vents) twice. So, yes.

I think an 18 x 18 x 48 would be appropriate for four ventrimaculata or three leucomelas, so long as it is designed well.

Getting enough light down to a Phragmipedium from 48" through a little 18" corridor, while maintaining enough area up top that's both climbable and not too bright (darts like it pretty shady) isn't a project that I'd try to pull off. I've not grown Phrags, but my wife does (in natural light), and I grow minicatts under lights, so I think my concern isn't completely off base. It isn't a very usable plant for frogs, either (the area above would have to be wasted space so the inflorescence would have room), so not a great choice.
 

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Welcome to the hobby! I would recommend doing research somewhere other than the website of a big vendor. There are a lot of helpful threads here on Dendroboard about pretty much any topic under the sun. Keep in mind that everybody here has a different experience, and we have all come up with something that works for us. My biggest tip is to go with the largest enclosure that you can afford. Our enclosures are nothing with regards to the scale of the rainforest. These animals will always use as much space as you give them. Sure, frogs will live and breed in a ten gallon enclosure, but their mental health is also an important factor.
-Oscar
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've had flying sirensis (a lot like vents) twice. So, yes.
Hmm, not what I wanted to hear.
I think an 18 x 18 x 48 would be appropriate for four ventrimaculata or three leucomelas, so long as it is designed well.
Good news. I got this part right.
Getting enough light down to a Phragmipedium from 48" through a little 18" corridor, while maintaining enough area up top that's both climbable and not too bright (darts like it pretty shady) isn't a project that I'd try to pull off. I've not grown Phrags, but my wife does (in natural light), and I grow minicatts under lights, so I think my concern isn't completely off base. It isn't a very usable plant for frogs, either (the area above would have to be wasted space so the inflorescence would have room), so not a great choice.
I have to look more into lighting on such a tall enclosure. I'm not impressed with what I see in the way of hobby specific lights. They appear grossly over priced for what they are. Maybe they use quality components though. It's hard to tell.

I'm leaning towards Home Depot plant lights as the most cost effective, or I could go all in and use what the pot growers use: high quality/reliability at a price. That is what I have over my current plant growing area. 100w of high efficiency LED would probably be overkill for this enclosure though.

Spot lighting could be an option for a Phrag in a larger enclosure. It is possible to get narrow optics and reflectors to use on an led cob. Or I could put it up higher in the enclosure for now.
 

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I have to look more into lighting on such a tall enclosure. I'm not impressed with what I see in the way of hobby specific lights. They appear grossly over priced for what they are. Maybe they use quality components though. It's hard to tell.

I'm leaning towards Home Depot plant lights as the most cost effective, or I could go all in and use what the pot growers use: high quality/reliability at a price. That is what I have over my current plant growing area. 100w of high efficiency LED would probably be overkill for this enclosure though.

Spot lighting could be an option for a Phrag in a larger enclosure. It is possible to get narrow optics and reflectors to use on an led cob. Or I could put it up higher in the enclosure for now.
You need to be careful when it comes to spot lighting that you're not adding too much heat into the enclosure. I use a NiCrew led for my 36" high and get decent lighting at ground level. No matter what light you go with, you're going to need plants that thrive in low light for the bottom 1/3rd of your enclosure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Vent's will commonly be around $200/ea, you can try Understory Enterprises. I think Mark has some now.
I did not know Understory was a Canadian company. Guess I should have read their about section.

Hmm, had seen various Renitomeya frogs for between $75 and $200 so had hopes that as one of the more widespread varieties it would be towards the low end. In one of the many searches I did, I came across a seller from Northern Ontario offering them at considerably less than $200. Suspicious?
 

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I did not know Understory was a Canadian company. Guess I should have read their about section.

Hmm, had seen various Renitomeya frogs for between $75 and $200 so had hopes that as one of the more widespread varieties it would be towards the low end. In one of the many searches I did, I came across a seller from Northern Ontario offering them at considerably less than $200. Suspicious?
Depends who it is I guess. I know most of the breeders in Canada. You can PM me for more information.
 
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