As a general rule of thumb, a pair of dart frogs should be housed in no less than a 45 x 45 x 45 cm enclosure. The larger the better as most dart frogs are quite active. An increase in size is required for each additional frog. The design and planting of the enclosure is entirely up to you however the more diverse and well planted the more it will be appreciated by your frogs. Living walls, coco husk panels and growing plants are all great additions. Dart frogs are great escape artists. Ensure that any enclosure is secure.
Substrate is key to good plant growth and humidity for your frogs. There are many different options for substrate. Most will use a deep layer of leaf litter, sphagnum moss and coco fibre or chemical free soil. The ABG mix is a good solution which can be made yourself. This is comprised of:
- 1 part sphagnum moss
- 2 parts tree fern fibre / perlite (alternative)
- 2 parts orchid bark
- 1 part peat moss / coco fibre (alterative)
- 1 part charcoal
A good enclosure will also have a drainage layer. This is a layer of a few inches of coir balls or hydro balls. This allows for excess water to hold in a reservoir that can be emptied, but most of the time will evaporate back into the tank. A fine layer of weed barrier on top of this will prevent he substrate mixing.
Most species of dart frog will accept similar food items. Flightless fruit flies (D. hydei), springtails, pinhead crickets, bean weevils and small isopods are all readily available and accepted by dart frogs. Fruit flies are the easiest to breed yourself and rear in large numbers. Feed your dart frogs every 2 days of so (younger frogs may need fed every day. Ensure all livefood is dusted with a calcium supplement such as repashy, nutrobal or anything equivalent offering.
A well planted vivarium or frog enclosure not only looks spectacular but will be a huge benefit for the frogs. It is wise to choose species that do well in damp, high humidity conditions such as bromeliads, mosses, ferns and orchids. A few nice hides and rotting lots and cork bark pieces will all help in making your frogs more comfortable and in doing so more visible.
Most dart frogs spend most of their lives on the forest floor, under a thick canopy cover. With this is mind they do not require huge volumes of direct UV lighting. They will however benefit from a small amount of UVB rays to help with bone growth (especially when growing). There are a variety of lighting available on the market currently and all have varying levels of usefulness. We would recommend an Arcadia jungle dawn. Alternatively a 2-6% UV light with good plant cover. Your planting will require a bright LED light to encourage growth especially if you are growing live moss in the frog tank.
TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY
Most dart frog species do well at just over room temperature. We keep most of our frogs around 20-24 C. Do not use direct heating on your frogs as this will dry them out. Background heating works best.
The ideal humidity for most species is around 80%. This can be achieved by regular misting or spraying with chlorine free water. An automatic spraying system is great if you have multiple frogs or a large enclosure. However spraying once-twice daily by hand also works well. High temperatures and low humidity will kill your frog. Live plants, moss and a deep leaf litter base will help keep the enclosure humid. Ensure good ventilation as well however. This can be achieved by a small fan or a vent in the enclosure.
Ensure your dart frogs always have access to a small pool or bowl of water. Some species will actively search out water to sit in or when breeding move their tadpoles into.
Please note the information above is a basic guide and we would always advise reading up thoroughly before acquiring your first dart frog. There are many fantastic resources online and forums that will offer more specific guidelines on dart frog and setting up a living vivarium or enclosure.