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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So many (many) years ago I became interested in dart frogs, and decided I wanted to try my hand at the husbandry of R. Imitator. Yesterday I picked up an 18x18x24 exo-terra "aztec" vivarium (I'm assuming it's the same as the others, just with a different background?). I've assembled the following items :
29 gallon frogcube conversion with a drainage bulkhead (but it needs glass for the door)
18"x18"x24" exo-tera
Assorted small cork-bark pieces (and a couple larger pieces)
Numerous "medium" mopani wood pieces (most of which sadly have obvious cut edges. The trials of ordering online)
Mist-king system (I forget which one, but likely the most basic) with a seconds timer
NiCrew 12" LED light and timer (bought for when I was planning a 29g conversion rather than the exo-terra) - I'll probably pick up an 18" one for the exoterra.

My initial plan was to do the 29 gallon conversion but in the end i decided I'd rather have the larger footprint offered by the exoterra. My tentative plan is to do a similar styled cork mosaic background on the exo-terra to include several bits of wood (I was planning to use mopani, but now wondering if I should get some manzanita or other wood). False bottom and either something fast-draining like turface or a calcium clay based substrate (the 29g conversion has turface).

Do y'all have any advice on plants to pursue, things to avoid, or changes in my plans to suit an eventual pair of R. Imitator (probably starting with a handful of juveniles, removing and rehoming the ones that don't get a rose).

My background is in aquaria (tanganyikan cichlids in particular), this will be my first foray into the land of herps.

thanks,
Rick
 

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Dendrobates tinctorus "Patricia"
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For viv plants, check out companies that specialize in vivariums like Glass Box Tropicals and Verdant Vivariums, or once you've been here for a bit, check the Plants for Sale section on this site. Some of my personal favorite species for vivarium culture are pellionia, episcia, vining peperomia (like jamesoniana, emarginella or prostrata), and pearcea, along with small vining begonias like thelmae or prismatocarpa.

Be cautious of houseplants in a viv, as many get too large. If you do shop the houseplant section, look for stuff that can be easily pruned like fittonia, peperomia, and pilea.

Also remember to disinfect any plants before adding to your viv to avoid pests, disease or other issues. Personally, I prefer to keep the potted plants out of the vivarium as "mother plants" from which to take cuttings, as those cuttings can be more easily cleaned and then grown out in a prop cup for planting in the viv, which avoids the hassle of trying to wash root balls.
 

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tanganyikan cichlids in particular)
Always loved these, never kept any.


NiCrew 12" LED light and timer (bought for when I was planning a 29g conversion rather than the exo-terra) - I'll probably pick up an 18" one for the exoterra
I use the 12-18" nicrew lights for my 18x18x24" builds.


changes in my plans to suit an eventual pair of R. Imitator
Lots and lots and lots of leaf litter :) the entire floor should be covered in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry for the rapid-fire questions, but my search-fu is failing me. What are the prevailing thoughts these days on use of a coarse filter-foam as a false bottom in place of LECA or eggcrate? (my plan is to drill a hole for a drain bulkhead, just haven't decided if i want it on the back or the bottom yet). I worry a little about wicking with the foam vs the solid air gap that eggcrate would provide, but the eggcrate is might ugly if you don't hide it somehow.

-Rick
 

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What are the prevailing thoughts these days on use of a coarse filter-foam as a false bottom in place of LECA or eggcrate?
It's what I use. If you use matala filter media there's no wicking.
my plan is to drill a hole for a drain bulkhead, just haven't decided if i want it on the back or the bottom yet
Back. Less chance of breaking it if you ever have to move the tank.

How big a deal are things like calcium clay substrates and "internal ventilation" (though I plan to do it externally via a channel on the lid) in a R. Imitator viv?
If you're using an exo terra or other terrarium that has ventilation low down at the front, then so long as you don't cover the entire top with glass / acrylic then you shouldn't need internal ventilation / air circulation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, fishingguy. I do indeed have an exo-terra and I plan to leave a vent at the 'front' of the tank on the top.

I've been browsing the pictures of other peoples' tanks, and I've been intrigued by some of the flowering plants. Do y'all have any recommendations for a beginner-friendly, R. Imitator friendly, 18x18x24 vivarium friendly plant that flowers?

thanks,
Rick
 

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Dendrobates tinctorus "Patricia"
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Any episcia is a great choice. They're super pretty, have great foliage colors, very easy to grow, and bloom freely.

Almost as easy are pearcea (which are related to episcia). They also have great blooms and cool colors and fuzzy texture on the foliage.

Episcia are short (generally) and pearcea are taller, so I use both in different areas.
 

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Any episcia is a great choice. They're super pretty, have great foliage colors, very easy to grow, and bloom freely.

Almost as easy are pearcea (which are related to episcia). They also have great blooms and cool colors and fuzzy texture on the foliage.

Episcia are short (generally) and pearcea are taller, so I use both in different areas.
I am not very keen on gesneriads ex-situ (large rainforest specimens can be spectacular), but my favorites are Columnea spp. and Monopyle spp. I think Espicia and Pearcea can be a little bit to gaudy.
 

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Dendrobates tinctorus "Patricia"
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I am not very keen on gesneriads ex-situ (large rainforest specimens can be spectacular), but my favorites are Columnea spp. and Monopyle spp. I think Espicia and Pearcea can be a little bit to gaudy.
Lol, I'll totally grant you that some episcia cultivars are pretty over the top. I have one with pink and white cow spots and another that's basically cranberry-pink and purple; they're fun as potted plants, but I agree they don't really fit the vibe of a naturalistic vivarium. Those ones are kept in my funky plant terrariums or in cloches around the house.

However, there are a lot of them that aren't so gauche. I have an unidentified ecuadorian episcia species that is simply a crisp apple green fading to a brighter lime border, with a bit of darker green shading on the centers of the softer new leaves, and a cultivar that's just a solid very deep green, almost black, with a slightly glossy appearance to the rounded leaves. Very classy. And a recent acquisition, a pearcea species, is plain green all over but the hairs are purple, so there's just a faint lavender blush to an otherwise understated plant.

The unhybridized ones tend to be a bit more moderate looking overall, but they still bloom easily, and I feel like the little pop of color from the flowers is nice.
 

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Lol, I'll totally grant you that some episcia cultivars are pretty over the top. I have one with pink and white cow spots and another that's basically cranberry-pink and purple; they're fun as potted plants, but I agree they don't really fit the vibe of a naturalistic vivarium. Those ones are kept in my funky plant terrariums or in cloches around the house.

However, there are a lot of them that aren't so gauche. I have an unidentified ecuadorian episcia species that is simply a crisp apple green fading to a brighter lime border, with a bit of darker green shading on the centers of the softer new leaves, and a cultivar that's just a solid very deep green, almost black, with a slightly glossy appearance to the rounded leaves. Very classy. And a recent acquisition, a pearcea species, is plain green all over but the hairs are purple, so there's just a faint lavender blush to an otherwise understated plant.

The unhybridized ones tend to be a bit more moderate looking overall, but they still bloom easily, and I feel like the little pop of color from the flowers is nice.
Fair enough. When push comes to shove, everybody has their own taste, and if the plant makes them happy, who am I to tell them not to buy it :)
 
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