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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

first - as this is my first post on this forum - I'd like to introduce myself:

I go by the name of Claudia, I am from Germany (so please don't look to closely at my English :eek:), I am 39 years old and I would like to get some M.laevigata for the Paludarium I am currently building. I absolutely don't want WC (although I don't think, I could get those here anyway;)).
I am not totally new in the vivarium - hobby, as I allready care for 0.1 Phesuma robertmertensi but I am definitly still a beginner - surely as far as frogs are concerned.

Before I get serious about looking for the Mantella (it seems questionable, that I can get my hands on any here in Germany anyway) I would like to check with some experienced M.laevigata - carers (is that even a word?:)) if my Paludarium would be suited for these beautiful little frogs.

The land-part of my tank is 90 cm wide (about 35,5 inches) and 56cm deep (ca.22inches) - the latter is an average measure as it has a curved front end.
The hight is just above 90cm ( ~36 inches).

It will have a waterfall which ends in a little stream meandering down the land-part into a reasonably shallow Aquarium (which will be richly planted with 'floating' plants). I will provide a tree-root and some Philodendron- or other vines for easy access out of the Aquarium. The waterfeature can be turned off for a simulated dryer season.

So here come my most urgent questions:

*are M.laevigata o.k. for a "frog - beginner"
*Are those measurements suited for M.laevigata at all?
*Is the waterfeature going to be a problem?

As the "guide to owning a mantella" by M. Staniszewski and various publications on the internet (and of course this awesome forum:D) have been my only means to gather information so far I am not entirely sure about the right climate.
I believe, that many of the frogs in the hobby come from the lowlands around Masoala.
So warm and humid should be o.k. -right?

In case I only get offers of "highland"-laevigata: do they actually need low temperatures during the winterseason (in which case I simlply couldn't keep them here:( ) or do all laevigata just tolerate those in general? (I won't be able to reach temps below 17 °C (62.2°F) at night and around 20°C (68°F) at day.

I hope, I can reach one or two pro's this way who can help me perfect the tank:) - or otherwise tell me, to just leave the little creatures in expert hands for their own benefit:(

thanks for any help:)
Claudia
 

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Hi Claudia! Welcome to Dendroboard.

I'm by no means a professional when it comes to Mantella and I honestly don't know enough about them to give you a suitable answer. However, I do have a group of six laevigata. I keep my laevigata in a 20 gallon tank. My laevigata are sexually mature but have not breed as of yet. We just got some bamboo in yesterday to get their tank setup for breeding. Their tank temp ranges from about 21 C to 24 C, perhaps a little cooler at night.

I feel that the laevigata are easy to keep, I haven't had any loss or any particular concerns. As far as your first frog or mantella, I would not recommend them as they are extremely reclusive. We work with a lot of frogs and our laevigata are by far the most reclusive. Simply put, we never see them as ours live within the leaf litter.

As far as mantella go, we work with crocea and aurantiaca. Both of these are relatively bold in our setups. We can always see at least half of them when we look in their tank at any time. The laevigata, I've never looked in the tank and saw them, not once.

Hope this might help a little.

Brad
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi Brad!

sure: anything helps - thanks a lot!!! I have been trying to get into contact with people who keep laevigata in Germany for allmost a year now - with zero success.

So a real live person to "speak" to is a giant improvement:D

So the Temperatures, you keep yours at are quite moderate. According to climate data from Toamasina and Masoala , the alleged habitat of lowland - M. laevigata, I thought they could tolerate higher temps ...

However - I can keep temperatures in my tank in that range - so that shouldn't be a problem:)

I am especially interested in M.l. because they are supposed to be the only climbing Mantella and because of the interesting breeding habits.
But as you say they keep hidden in the leaflitter: yours don't climb at all?
Do you have a waterfeature in any of your mantella-tanks?

I don't know, if it really puts me off them, that they are reclusive - I am a quite patient person - I will have to give that some thought.
My husband could have a problem with that though. Putting frogs in the new tank was the only thing, I could bait him with, so he would give the o.k. for this big projekt of mine:D. He loves any kind of frog...and not ever being able to see them could indeed be a problem for him...

Damn - I so wanted mantella:(...

Wouldn't my land-part be too small for a group of the grounddwelling mantella?
(There are other species in the genus I could settle for if push comes to shove ;))

regards,
Claudia
 

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Your land area of 90x56 cm is very big, for mantella or any dart frog.

You are correct about the climbing part. I have not seen mine climb but I also do not have any bamboo in with them, which I understand they like very much. I think I mentioned my bamboo came in yesterday and it'll go in the tank today. I'll be sure to keep an eye out to see how that changes their behaviors, I suspect it will. The males in the group call fairly actively, so hopefully I start seeing some more activity as they are setup to breed.

Temperatures, you are also correct that they can be warmer and don't need to be as cool. However, I wouldn't base tank temps on the local weather from where they originate. The local climate is a relative average. There will be a lot of micro-climates in the forest where the frogs live. They'll be able to find warmer or cooler places as temperatures change. For example, they can take refuge deeper under the leaf litter, closer to the cool ground, as day time temperatures sore to unsafe levels for them. Also, typically, tank temperatures need to be lower than what the frogs would normally tolerate in the wild. This is in part due to air flow through the tank.

Your tank setup sounds perfectly fine to me. I do not have a water feature in any of my tanks. You'll hear mixed advice and views on water features. The frogs don't care much for the water in most cases, although they don't dislike it being there. Most water features are for aesthetic reasons alone - which is an important reason, after all, most of us pick our frogs for aesthetic reasons.

My personal advice - You seem really excited and interested for laevigata. Embrace that and run with it! It sounds like you've done a lot of research and are likely much more prepared than most people are who get their first mantella or dart frogs. Reclusive frogs have a unique charm to them that some understand, and some don't. Laevigata themselves are very unique and I'm happy to have some of them, I think you would be as well.

Brad
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Hi Brad,

thanks again. Your answer just lifted my spirits considerably:).

I did read the part about the bamboo in your first post - only I didn't conclude from that, that up to now the frogs didn't have any "climbing thingies"...:eek:

What you said about the micro-climate sounds absolutely logical I really should have thought of that myself! Well - as I was planning to try and create different temperature-zones with my lighting, I think I should be able to build a comfy home for the frogs.

About the tank size: it seems you have some different views 'over there' regarding sufficient tank sizes than most people do 'over here' - when I asked around in a german forum, I was told, I needed a minimum of 90cmx60cm 'floor area' for e.g. a group of M.aurantiaca or actually any grounddwelling other species of Mantella :eek:.

But I will follow your advise and try and get the ittle greenlings. I just told my husband that they might hide a lot and he said: "You get whatever frogs you like - I'm o.k. with them hiding.' - Isn't he the best :p:D So all signs are on "GO" *thumbsup*

Now all I need to do is to find someone, who breeds the little fellas :rolleyes: which could proof extremly tricky... but I'm allready poking around and my tank won't be ready 'till mid-augustus anyway.

Thanks again (can't say it often enough:D),
Claudia
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi - it's me again :D,

Brad (or anyone else keeping M.laevigata:)), may I ask what kind of lighting you use for yours?

I did plan to use something with UVA but will they profit from that at all (do you know if they are tetrachromats?). And is ist adviseable to use a mild UVB-source too?

So many questions still spook around in my head - I hope I'm not too annoying:rolleyes:

greetings from cold and rainy Germany,
Claudia
 

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Guten tag Claudia,

I also have a group of 6 that are fairly close to breeding age and since we were moving haven't moved them from their temp tank. The lighting I have had on them has been a CFL that is sort of indirect lighting.

The lighting hasn't impeded much on the activity and mine seem to be fairly bold when it comes to the two males. I have no complaints about them even though they are reclusive, they have the natural beauty and satisfaction every time you get a glimpse of the little fellas.

Brad has hit the nail on the head though!

I would def like to hear how things go when you get some!
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Hi Richard (and a very good day to you too :)),

I'm so so sorry, to reply this late. Somehow I didn't get informed via mail as usual about your answer and this is the first time, I'm back on here.

I have completed my tank a couple of months ago now and have acquired 0.0.6 beautiful little M.laevigata (then about 4 months old).
They spent some weeks in quarantine and moved into their "permanent residence" about two weeks ago. As was to be expected I very very rarely saw any ofthem since then, so I can only hope, they are all right with their new surroundings and are eating enough.
As I am an absolute beginner as far as frogs are concerned, I am still very insecure and virtually not seeing the frogs doesn't really help calming my nerves.

Of course I know and am absolutely o.k. with them needing some time to adjust and getting to know their new home but still: I am a little worried.
I don't want to forage around for the little fellows and disturb them, but on the other hand I really would like to see some proof they all are o.k and well fed....:rolleyes:
As I wrote earlier: I don't mind them being reclusive in general, this is only my insecurity talking;)

Can anyone give me an estimate about the time they will probably need to settle in, and start to show their sweet little green backs a little more?

For anyone who might be interested: I posted some pictures of the whole thing here (they are living in a paludarium. It includes two fishtanks, the lower and bigger of which contains a pump that pumps the water up into a casacde. From there the water flows across the "landpart" into a smaller fish tank and through an overflow back down into the bigger tank.)

Again: sorry, I didn't write back sooner, Richard!

regards,
Claudia
 

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That's a beautiful paludinarium. On the down side, it has so many hiding spots for the frogs that they can easily hide - but in the long run, they may be happier and healthier that way. I love Dendrobates auratus, but many of them are secretive as well. That just makes me enjoy them more when I do see them.

Let us know how things progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Hi LoganR,

thanks :)

About the possible problem with too many hiding places: with my little gekko I have made the observation that a certain amount of hiding places seems to give her some security so that she is actually more out in the open. That may of course have been a false conclusion and her change in behaviour might have had other reasons back then when I had slightly changed her tank setup, or it may not be the same with frogs. But I hope it is :)

I will try and keep you up to date here.

Claudia
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi mendowallacae707,

Thanks a lot!:) I did spend months building it (and even more time planing)...

greetings,
Claudia
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi folks,

I just spotted one of them sitting on a Philodendron-leaf. He even was so kind to wait for me getting my camera.:D finally some proof: post # 48

I hope this means all six of them are well and in good shape:)

regards,
Claudia
 

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Hi Claudia,

I think your English is just fine!
I own 7 different species of mantella and I certainly wouldn't call myself a expert ,but I do have some experience that I hope you will find helpful. I think Laevigata are OK for beginners so long as you have had some prior experience with darts. I have found them to be a bit shy at first ,but they have wonderful personalities (and calls) that once established make them very appealing.

I live in Las Vegas where it gets pretty hot here ,but have not had any problems ,but then again I have not had any breeding success. I do agree with you that cooler is better. You didn't mention how many you wanted to keep, but I think your enclosure would work well for a group of 4 to 6 individuals provided your viv is well planted and has an emphasis on being vertical with plenty of visual barriers so they can establish their own territories.1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter bamboo mounted vertically is recommended for climbing and they are known to use the water filled hollows for their tadpoles, so you want to drill holes in the sides so they can have access. I would also caution not making the drill holes too high above the natural partitions in the bamboo so that the internal pool is too deep where they could potentially drown. I have heard there being some success with film canisters as well. Even though they are known as the "climbing mantella" they do spend a fair amount of time on the ground so lots of leaf litter on the floor I think is important. Mantella are also better in groups that are male dominant. I can't say I have seen many captive bred individuals available for this species and it appears that much of the stock from Madagascar is on lockdown so they are a lot harder to come by these days, but I applaud your choice to get captive bred individuals.
A water feature is important to help simulate the seasonal changes that they are accustomed to during monsoon season ,but I would be careful not to make any pools too deep to prevent accidental drowning. During the dry season you will want to reduce feeding and shorten the amount of daylight they receive so that there will be a clearly defined change that will hopefully encourage breeding. Finally, if you can not get any Laevigata I would recommend Aurantiaca. They are bold, good feeders, and captive bred individuals are available. These would certainly be the centerpiece of almost any collection. Veridis are also very beautiful and much more readily available
I hope this information has been helpful. Sounds like you have done your research and should do well.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi Steve,

thank you for sharing your experience. :)

As I wrote earlier I have meanwhile acquired 0.0.6 of CB M.laevigata (then about 4 months old) and after a few weeks of quarantine moved them into the viv. I would say, it is fairly well structured by plants, roots and (fake as well as real) stones. And on the hole it correlates with your description.

You can view it here, in post # 44 is a fairly recent picture of the whole structure.

My little "brook"-tank is quite deep but I provided lots of aids for the frogs for easy exit out of the water. The breeder ensured me that M.laevigata are fairly good swimmers due to their bigger toepads and one of the frogs provided proof by jumping straight into the Water when I moved them into the tank. :D
It swam and even dived for some time to avoid recapture and finally didn't even use the provided roots or plants to get out of the water but climbed up the glass wall of the tank :).

Again: thank you very much for your input! With the little information one can gather in the "usual" way every little bit helps!

Can You perhaps give me an estimate, how long it might take the little frogs to settle in and get a little more bold? (I did see one of them a few days ago , which was the second time since they moved into the big viv about three or four weeks ago)

Kind regards,
Claudia
 

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Hi Claudia,

Yes ,I'm sorry. I replied to one of your posts not realizing that there was a second page to the thread. Congratulations on your new Laevigata. Your viv looks great! I'm sure you will enjoy them as they are very entertaining.

For 6 individuals you have a pretty large enclosure and it will be difficult to keep track of each frog. You sounded concerned about their whereabouts and truthfully the Laevigata are not all that distinctive when it comes to identifying individuals by any unique skin pattern, especially when they are a bit shy to begin with (for me this is part of their charm). My Laevigata settled in by the 3rd or fourth week I had them, but I would be cautious about expecting to seeing them all the time.
The first thing I did was to find out who was a boy and who was a girl and this was done by determining who was calling and who wasn't. This was an easier way to identify at least some of the of the frogs. They do have some unique speckling on their ventral side ,but this is also not that easy to see unless they happen to be climbing on the glass and even then their vent is mostly dark. The green dorsal side does sometimes have a unique termination as you approach the back of the pattern. Sometimes it is rounded. sometimes it is pointed. In this species it does appear that the females tend to be proportionally larger than in other mantella species. Using all these criteria together I hope helps you. Because these frogs are shy, it made me want to see them more which caused me to watch them more closely. With extended observation I was able to pick up on small, subtle differences as I am sure you will too but it will take some time.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Hello Steve,

yes - thank you: your post definitely does help :)

And thank you also for the positive feedback on my tank.

I don't think my Mantella will start calling untill summer next year - that is if any of them are males at all. :rolleyes:

But they seem to get bolder all the time and I do see one of them now and then. But always only one at a time.

Still, I am pretty sure the last three "sightings" were at least two different frogs.

As you are writing about the possible little differences in the dorsal pattern: did you notice if they "change" the hue of green e.g. with mood or temperature?
I noticed, that one of them seemed a little more yellowish than the others and another one had a more pronounced bronze-tone on its legs. Is that a distinguishing factor or does it vary with certain parameters?

Now I see them if not often at least regularly, I'm already much more at ease and can enjoy the rare sightings all the more:).
They are truly beautiful and charming little frogs and I haven't yet regretted putting all the time and afford into finding them for one moment. :)

Thanks for all your support!

Claudia
 

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Hi Claudia,

I have not noticed any changes in my frogs color due to changes in environmental or seasonal conditions . I am not saying that this is not possible though. There are so many variables that might affect a frogs appearance including diet, lighting, foliage in the enclosure, etc. I personally have not noticed any changes with my frogs over the years

I do believe that the variations that you have noted could reflect characteristics unique to individuals collected from different locations.The fact that you got your frogs from a breeder is good since they all originated from the same source. This however does not mean that the parents were necessarily from the same location and these differences could be reflected in the offspring. Mantellas do not have the captive breeding history that darts do so it is likely that your frogs are not too many generations away from wild caught individuals. From what I have heard, I think it is very easy when frogs are imported to get mixed up from who knows where.

I think the bronze coloration on the legs and the more yellow shade of green you observed is a good indicator of specific individuals

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Steve,

thanks, that was the answer I was hoping for! :)
As this means I do see different frogs, if only just one at a time. I'm seeing them more and more now - espacially the biggest one with the bronzed legs (I think ;)).

@ daggekko (are you dutch originally?):

thanks a lot! :)

BTW: which Phelsuma is that on your avatar-picture? Perhaps v-n. pasteuri or possiblyrobertmertensi - one of yours??

regards,
Claudia
 
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