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Hi, I'm new to PDFs. I just got my first frogs at a reptile expo two weeks ago, 0.0.3 P. vittatus. I have them in a ten gallon aquarium while I get a twenty-nine gallon setup.

The top layer of their current setup is moss which came from a brick I got at a pet store. Today I took some of this moss out, soaked it in a cup of water and tested the ammonia levels and they were eight ppm or more (it maxed out the test kit). I had some moss in a bucket that I had expanded yesterday to use in the twenty-nine gallon so I tested it the same way and the levels were two to three ppm.

I've searched for ammonia related issues and the only threads that come up are about tadpoles. I've seen plenty of people say you can build a viv and put frogs in right away and I haven't seen anyone say that you have to wait for any sort of ammonia cycle to establish.

So what I've done is I've taken some of the moss that I expanded yesterday and put it in an empty ten gallon aquarium. I mixed up a concentrated solution of microbe-lift special blend and sprayed it down. I'll measure the ammonia over the next few days to see what happens. I'll try to be as scientific as possible.

But my overall question is, should I be concerned about the ammonia buildup? The frogs themselves seem very healthy, I see all three of them out and about hunting fruit flies several times a day, they are always very active and alert. The only odd behavior I've noticed so far turned out to just be them shedding their skin.
 

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I don't claim to be an expert, but I've done quite a bit of reading and I have never heard any sort of mention of ammonia in a vivarium. I would not worry about it.
 

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If the substrate has been in contact with live plants or other materials that contain bacteria, then the substrate has the ability to uptake and convert ammonia far in excess of what can happen in aquatic systems. This is part of the reason why it is virtually never a concern for terrestrial setups. A second reason that ammonia is rarely an issue for the frogs in enclosures is that the vast majority of substrates are acidic which pushes ammonia to convert to ammonium which is relatively non-toxic. So if you actually are using peat or sphagnum moss the pH from those materials will push the ammonia to ammonium making the enclosure safe for the frogs.

I have not tested the pH of materials like compressed coconut "earth" products.

Some comments

Ed
 

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The ammonia is created by bacteria breaking down organics so its no surprise that you got high readings from some moss that had access to bacteria and time to begin decomposing. I am sure that if most people tried this with some rotting moss or organics form an enclosure they would also test positive for ammonia. It shouldn't be a problem for the frogs like explained above.
 
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