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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone! I decided to hop on here and create an account in search for some help. I’m new to keeping dart frogs, and a few months ago I set up a vivarium. I have an exo terra 18x18x24x set up with a mist king and I’m housing 4 Santa Isabel dart frogs and 1 mourning gecko. Keeping my plants happy and alive while maintaining the proper humidity for the frogs has been extremely difficult. I’ve tried many different schedules and I just can’t seem to find the sweet spot, it’s either my dirt is soaked and my plants get root rot and die or the humidity drops too low and I don’t want to harm the froggies. I’ve just constantly been tweaking the schedule to no avail. I’m wondering if anyone has a similar setup and has a good solid schedule they’d like to share or any advice at all. I have a mesh top that I had fully covered with plastic wrap and now it’s only half covered since my plants were rotting and I tried to give it more ventilation. Currently, the mister is going off every 2 hours for 20 seconds which seems crazy but it’s the only way I can keep my humidity above 75. I’ll attach some pictures. Any help would be incredibly appreciated !
Purple Wood Mesh Rectangle Gas

Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Groundcover Flowering plant

Plant Flower Terrestrial plant Flowering plant Herbaceous plant

Plant Terrestrial plant Houseplant Flowering plant Annual plant

Plant Houseplant Flowerpot Pet supply Terrestrial plant

Plant Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant Flowering plant

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Terrestrial animal Amphibian

Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Organism Groundcover

Plant Flower Green Leaf Terrestrial plant
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
First things first, we highly discourage mixing of species on this forum. Dart frogs and mourning geckos do not have the same care requirements and interspecies aggression can/will occur.

On to your asked question: is there anything on top of the screen lid? (Anything to hold the humidity in?) From the pictures it doesn't appear so but in your text writing you say it's covered in plastic wrap.

Your drainage layer looks to be full of water, do you have anything set up to drain the water out of it?

Here's a good reference guide on creating a dart frog terrarium
Vivarium 101
Ahhh, now I feel bad lol. Everyone told me it was okay to house them together including every reptile shop employee and info online. Won’t make that mistake again, I want to keep my animals happy and healthy. I’ll try to fish my gecko out.

Yes, half of it (the back half) is covered in plastic wrap and the front half is open mesh (it’s hard to tell in the picture but the back is completely covered). It was fully covered at one point but as I mentioned the plants were rotting.

The drainage layer is moist but there is no water pooled at the bottom, and no I do not have a setup to pull water out yet but I can install a straw in case I do need to.

If you have any more advice let me know and thanks for the reply!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would cover more of the screen with plastic. Retaining enough moisture for the frogs is, for me, more important than melting any plants (in my experience plants will recover from melting leaves after they adapt to the conditions).


My recommendation, in most walks of life, is to take information from people who are incentivized to sell you things with a grain of salt. Reptile shops have an incentive to sell you things that don't necessarily work well for you, or aren't needed, because it increases their sales.
Yes I’ll try completely covering it again. Maybe just turn the misting down and keep trying, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This isn't intended to be snarky at all, but aiming for more than 'okay' is best when it comes to animal care. Starting with the question of what is best for an animal is a better way to proceed, and mixing species is not going to be best for any animal in any sort of hobby keeper (no matter how experienced or advanced) setting.

Reptile store employees are never deeply knowledgable in all the species they're peddling; there simply isn't enough room in a human life for that much experience. They're also typically quite slim on dart knowledge, and nearly everyone keeps mourning geckos poorly (too cold, in too small a viv) since they tolerate abuse quite well, unfortunately for them.
I think you took my “okay” out of proportion lol, I didn’t mean it like that. Obviously I wanted what was best and spent hours researching everything. I asked employees, read online, and talked to a seasoned frog keeper and everything pointed to yes so that’s what I went with. I’m glad I came to this forum to learn more and improve for the future. Did you have any advice for my main question though?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Regarding the humidity and wetness:
What is the substrate? Some materials retain much more water than others.
If this is your first dart terrarium, I think it would be beneficial to hand mist - I do, and its easy to ease up or mist more, depending on what is needed.

I also think playing around with different levels of top coverage and seeing how fast the leaves dry is a good idea. In the summer it is much warmer and more humid, so I have the back half uncovered, but now as it gets colder and the heat kicks and brings the humidity lower, I only have about 2 inches uncovered. Chances are, unless you live in a very constant climate year round that different seasons will require different amounts of ventilation.

You may also find that with more leaf litter the water doesn't go straight through to the substrate, and then evaporates so less water makes it into the substrate, allowing for heavier misting without waterlogging the substrate as much.
Hey! I’m currently using an ABG soil mix, with some leaf litter. Due to work I can’t be misting my viv constantly that’s why I invested in the mist king!
interesting about the temperature- I live in Canada so the winters are brutal. I’m definitely going to try covering the top more :) thank you for the advice on more leaf litter too! It makes a lot of sense and I hadn’t even considered that before. I added a bunch today but I’ll be adding more. Thank you so much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No, I don't think I did. :)

I wasn't primarily talking about doing what is barely adequate vs doing what is best*. I was talking about the distinction between two ways of approaching animal care.

(1) Making a list of things a person wants to do re: keeping an animal -- keeping it in a viv they already have in the closet, putting a plastic skull decoration in the viv, feeding it pinky mice for the thrill of the chase, keeping it with another species, and so on. Then, "researching" to figure out if any of these things will harm the animal, excluding all those things that will, and going ahead with the rest.

(2) Choosing a species to keep, and then figuring out the needs of the animal (temps, lighting, viv size, viv design) and meeting those needs the best one is able to.

On (1), cohabbing can slip into the mix -- it can pass the 'won't obviously kill my animal' test. On (2), the issue of cohabbing never comes up, since there is no need of captive frogs that is well served by adding another species to the viv.

* Though I suppose this is relevant. Is it best to have an MG in with frogs, or best not to? Not to, of course, since it avoids territorial issues, food competition, pathogen transfer. There's no reason why it would be best (or even better) to have any other animal -- especially a non-sympatric one that exploits the same habitat and food resources -- in with the frogs. It doesn't improve anything for the frogs.

On your main question, since you asked: get rid of the RH meter. They're misleading. Add water ("mist" but more like 'rain', like a rainforest) heavily once daily, enough water so that some makes its way into the drainage layer. Adjust ventilation (downward, in your case) so that there is enough that the surfaces in the viv get pretty much dried off in a few hours after misting, at which point you can mist again (though perhaps not so heavily; the full soak is only necessary once a day, preferably in the morning).

If the frogs behave normally, and the plants do well, then the watering routine is working. If not, use the behavior of the frogs (they tend to hide when too dry) and that of the plants (more complicated, but rot means too wet and crispy means too dry) to adjust things. If the RH is too low is some spot in the viv, the frogs will go somewhere it is adequate, and so long as the viv is getting at least one good rainstorm a day they'll have (a) plenty of water to drink, and (b) plenty of little spots to hang out until it rains again.

On 'read online': nearly all (95%) of webpages that come up searching 'dart frog care' or similar are simply not worth reading. Amazon Affiliate sites -- which are trying to sell things, not convey accurate, up to date and experience-based recommendations -- have proliferated to the point where a general web search simply isn't useful anymore. Nearly all these sites have been written by someone who has not kept the animal in question, and has cut and pasted from other similar sites. Even the more "respected" of these sorts of sites have these same issues. Big online sellers of animals and supplies also have motives (to sell product, but also less obvious ones such as (a) keeping things simple enough for nearly everyone to understand ("lowest common denominator"), and (b) maintaining their overall public appeal -- telling someone 'no, you shouldn't do that' is one of the best ways to alienate them) over and above conveying accurate and detailed information.

All this is intended to be helpful and friendly -- use what you like, and leave the rest on the shelf for someone else to use. :)
Ok lmao
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The simplest modification that you can make is to restrict more of the ventilation. Measure the exposed screen top and cut a piece of plexiglass that will fit over it. leave a little space for some ventilation to take place Play around with the spacing and see what works. I only leave about an inch wide area of screen top exposed and that works for me. I only mist twice a day with this setup in my 18x18x24s for about 15 seconds each.
That’s an awesome idea, I think I’m gonna try this. I’ve played around a lot and this makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you so much! Saves a lot of water too lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If you can aim for (and properly measure your humidity) 60-70% RH you will likely find you are misting way too much. You have a lot of leniency here, due to the fact that you have bromeliads, which will hold both pools of water and keep micro-climates with higher humidity levels if the frogs find the rest of the vivarium a bit dry.

As suggested, cover up some more of the tank (I'd aim for about an inch open on the front and an inch open on the back). If you are running a mistking, you probably only need 15-30 seconds a day at MAX if you are using one spray head. If using two, you can cut that down even more. Likely a bit of trial and error based on your house and its humidity and temperature.
Yes, I feel like I’m misting way too much at this point so covering the top would definitely help keep that humidity in! And thanks for mentioning the bromeliads as I’ve wondered myself if for any reason my tank got a little too dry my frogs would be able to go for a dip, haha. Didn’t know about the micro-climate thing! Interesting information. I want my frogs to be as comfortable as possible so I feel like having a more stable humidity would keep them more comfortable, since right now it’s fluctuating too much. I’ll definitely cover the top more and mist a lot less. I’ll keep playing with it until it’s the best it can be. Thank you so much, this has been super helpful ❤❤
 
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