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Just started out today.
#1
After years of thinking about it and researching, today I brought home my new green-black auratus, three of them about three months old. So excited to be a new owner! Even though I've read tons, and of course asked the owner of the shop all kinds of questions, it turns out that questions are like hydras, in that one answered brings up two more. Here are a few I have after not even close to 24 hours:

1. How best to properly gauge humidity? My vivarium is of the self-sustaining kind, although you can't see the hydroballs and substrate in the photos I currently have. (The cardboard has since been cut away from the bottom of the viv.) I plan to mist it three times a day, because it is pretty dry here in Southern California, but how will I know if it's enough? I know bromeliads don't want to sit in a lot of water.

2. For just the next couple of weeks I'm feeding little crickets (not pinheads), and probably fruit flies after that. I have a nice, very fine calcium/D3 supplement, but I'm wondering a. do they need other vitamins/minerals than that and b. how many times a week to dust? I'll be feeding them every day and was told to dust three times a week, but another solid source says five times a week while they're young'uns.

3. Suppose you want to feed them but one of them is hidden away. We discovered tonight that Four-Spot has already found an amazing hiding place down inside a bromeliad king (Three-Spot and Splotch are sharing a leaf for the night). Will the sight/smell of the crickets draw them out no matter what, or might they need encouraging? (I'm not even going to get into the actual logistics of feeding, which while I know what to do, is probably going to be a little wacky until I get used to it!)

4. I'm told that my vivarium needs nothing more than misting to keep healthy, but I keep seeing people mentioning springtails. How do I know whether I need these guys to clean the place up?

5. Type of water -- our tap water is pretty hard so I don't want to use that, but I've also read that distilled water is too free of minerals. We have bottled water delivered, but again I've seen a "bad idea" on that. What do you suggest?

Thank you for your patience, and I'm sure there will be many more questions where these come from. As background, I have kept triops and jellyfish in the past couple of years, so I am comfortable with complicated tasks and as I mentioned in my introduction, I am largely housebound so I'm at my frogs' beck and call, should they need it. Below please find photos of the vivarium, the kids, and Three & Four checking out the Buddha just after they were introduced. Thank you!

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A girl named Joey.
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#2
Oh, while I'm here...

The crickets I have are very small but not pinheads. I was told that the frogs should eat for 10 minutes, so ideally at the end of that time they would be satiated and there will be no crickets left. I'm guessing this is going to take a good deal of trial and error. Although I plan to start out small and add more if they're still hungry, if they do get full and there's crickets left running around, is this a big deal of any kind?

Once they run out (or very possibly sooner), I'm planning to start a FF culture subscription at Josh's, with the hope of culturing my own eventually (once I have everything else figured out). I haven't seen anything on here arguing against this; do you recommend it? Thanks again.
A girl named Joey.
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#3
Hello and welcome to the hobby!
Your bottled water will be fine to mist with, did you cover the top of the screen on the viv?
The staple of a darts diet is fruit flys, I would suggest putting a wanted ad and see if there is a local frogger that can give you several cultures so you can feed some and start cultures at the same time. As far as crickets go, yes they will be problematic if not eaten, can crawl on the frogs and stress them. Many of us do not feed crickets to our darts at all, myself included. At 3 months old and feeding crickets larger than pin head crickets is not a good idea. They need fruitfles (I dust mine at every feeding g and use repashy calcium plus, it is an all in one supplement.) Once you open supplements put a date on them, after 6 months replace them with new supplements.
Springtails are great food for young frogs, I seed my vivs with them before I add frogs to help them get established and yes they do help with eating old leaves and detritus matter to help with your viv ecosystem. isopods will do the same and is another good source of food for your frogs, as I said before ffys are the staple of their diet. With 3 frogs you should not need a ffy subscription just make extras until you get the hang of it. I would suggest 3-4 a week at first.
When you purchased your supplements if Rep-Cal you need a form of Rep-Cal Calcium, as well as Rep-Cal Herptivite. Like I stated earlier I use repashy calcium plus it comes in small jars so less to throw away at the 6 month mark.
-Beth
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#4
Hello and welcome! I agree with Beth - try to find some melanogaster. If the shop that sold you the frogs does not have them or if you are having trouble finding a local hobbyist you can try petco. They carry small melanogaster cultures by me and that can get you by in a pinch.

Sticky on supplement rotations - consider a variety of supplements:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=5096

Sticky on culturing fruit flies - this was helpful to me when I was getting started:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4210

Personally I would culture flies and avoid regular shipments. I found that I had around a 50% success rate shipping flies. Either they died because it was too hot, shipping delays, or they got turned upside down. I'd definitely order culturing supplies ASAP but source your flies locally if you can.

Rich has provided an excellent tip to me in the past - once you get your flies you can sprinkle or blow them around the viv. That should give all your frogs a chance to get a meal. If you dump in one spot your hider may not get as many. I also think this approach makes my frogs a bit more active as they have to hunt around the viv for their meal.

I use distilled water for misting. Here's another sticky with more info that you probably want on water:
viewtopic.php?f=65&t=338

You can go nuts measuring humidity Smile. I have a couple USB loggers ($70) that I use to track humidity over time but you don't need to be fancy. As Beth said you will need a glass cover over the top screen usually covering 80 to 90% of the top. You can leave a front strip vent to help with air flow. With a cover, one or two listings per day should be fine. Don't bother with those cheap round plastic humidity gauges. They are not accurate and they will break. Here's a link on humidity gauges that my help:
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=742

Good luck and welcome to the hobby!
Jim from Austin --- Lorenzo keepers PM me about a US breeding program
lorenzo | nominant fants | highlands | summersi | bakhuis | azureus

http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs
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#5
BcsTx Wrote:Your bottled water will be fine to mist with, did you cover the top of the screen on the viv?

Half of it is covered by the light, and the other half is open for circulation. Should I cover more?

Quote: With 3 frogs you should not need a ffy subscription just make extras until you get the hang of it. I would suggest 3-4 a week at first.

Good point; if a culture produces for a few weeks I shouldn't need them super frequently. I'm not sure what you mean by "make extras" and "3-4 a week" though.

Thanks for your other comments and suggestions! They have been noted. :-)
A girl named Joey.
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#6
joneill809 Wrote:Hello and welcome! I agree with Beth - try to find some melanogaster. If the shop that sold you the frogs does not have them or if you are having trouble finding a local hobbyist you can try petco. They carry small melanogaster cultures by me and that can get you by in a pinch.

Sounds good, I'll look into that. And thank you for all the other advice and stickies! I admit, I realized I was repeating some of those questions, but figured it might be helpful if someone local had specific information.

I definitely will cover up most of the open screen. That eases my mind a bit about the humidity.
A girl named Joey.
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#7
I would recommend making 3-4 cultures a week (some new Froggers have problems in the beginning) which is why I suggested making extras to be on the safe side.
-Beth
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#8
No worries on repeating questions! It's not always easy to find topics when you first jump into the hobby so I try to provide links that will get you going. Typically it's been said already way better than I would have summed it up!

On culturing flies - melangaster start producing in about 10 days and you will get a few population booms out of a culture. Generally you can keep a culture for about four weeks - after that you may start to see elevated populations of mites that can lower your yields.

Beth suggested 3 to 4 a week to start out which is good advice. You can experiment with different amounts of water to see what works in you house / local climate (I have to use more water than most commercial instructions recommend). Reduce the culture count as you get more comfortable.

Expect a few crashes or mold or mite booms when starting out and don't get discouraged. That's also why it's fairly easy to find local Froggers that can give you a culture - a lot of us keep more flies than we need hedging against a crash - my freakin hydei seem to crash every July - still trying to figure that one out. After a while you will find culturing flies is a piece of cake and you will have friends laughing at you as you rattle off the different species of flies you raise :lol:

There lots of good build threads showing some top vent modifications. You may want to consider using a different type of top screen (if you have not already) to reduce fly escapes. Standard screen is not small enough to contain fruit flies. You would have to find stainless mesh, noseeum mesh or solar screen. I use a 1" solar screen strip along the front of my exo's and zoomeds.

Good luck! Keep us posted!
Jim from Austin --- Lorenzo keepers PM me about a US breeding program
lorenzo | nominant fants | highlands | summersi | bakhuis | azureus

http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs
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#9
Ah, thank you Beth and Jim, I see what you mean now. Well, the crickets are indeed a no-go; most are too big for these guys and even the ones that aren't just seem to confuse them. I only tossed in a few but now I suppose I have the fun job of getting them out again. And two of my guys are clambering along the front of the viv as if to say "Wasn't there supposed to be FOOD??" so like a proper Jewish mom I feel I've failed. ;-) Going to go hunt for flies in my area.

Great advice about the screen. I hadn't considered it would be a problem with the flightless ones but I suppose they crawl.

Amazing how you think you've learned everything you need to know until the actuality of the viv shows up. Good thing I never had kids I suppose!
A girl named Joey.
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#10
Welcome, Joey! Good to have another female frogger on board!

Beth and Jim gave great advice, they definitely have more experience than I! Of all your good questions, I thought there was room for more info on springs. You ask about them being needed to clean up your viv, but they are also great food for frogs, especially smaller frogs! When you get a chance, definitely seed your viv with springs. They clean up the detritus, but also frogs love to eat them. The more feeders you use, the better for the frogs, IMO. Each bug we feed must have slightly different nutritive value, right? And once you have enough in the viv, they are self sustaining, so in case of emergency, etc, your frogs still have food, even without a human giving them ff's. You should also consider seeding with isopods, same idea. Clean the viv, also self-sustaining and a good food source.

I also noticed you said something about cardboard being cut away from your substrate? Sorry, but what do you mean?

Your viv looks good, and I love your frogs! 3 spot, 4 spot, and Splotch, awesome! My first PDF's were green and black auratus, I love them! Just last month they finally gave me eggs/tads! I have 7 tads right now, my fingers are crossed I won't have any losses and in a month or so will have new little froglets.

Hopefully you found some fruit flies on your search today. Petco/Petsmart sometimes carry them, in small little containers, not the usual 32 oz containers. In the beginning, when you are getting used to everything, you may have to buy your ff's. But it's much cheaper (and more reliable) to make your own! You can buy the "kits" at Josh's, if that's who you use, or any other supplier, once you are ready. Most froggers who make their own, make them once a week, I make mine on Mondays. As you get used to it, and more secure with your technique, you will figure out how many to make. Beth and Jim are suggesting you make 3 or 4 cultures per week, in the beginning. That is a safe number, so you hopefully won't run short. Now, in the beginning, just buy Josh's (or whoevers) mix. Once it all becomes "easy" for you, you may want to experiment with making your own (lots of recipes here on Dart Den). The recipe I use has become easy, routine, I could make it in my sleep, and my flies really "pop", and I think most froggers have similar success with their own recipe! And it is TONS cheaper than buying ff's!

Once again, welcome!
Diane
P. Terribilis orange, R. Imitator Cainarachi Valley, D. Leucomelas, D. Auratus, D. Azureus, P. vittatus, D. cobalts, D.Oyapok, Bombina Orientalis
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#11
Hi Diane, thank you for your welcoming post!

Your mentioning that springtails are especially good for smaller frogs is very helpful. I was wondering whether the froglets, who while small aren't tiny, are big enough to eat them yet. Now I know they live in leaf litter (I'm becoming so thankful for Josh's in the absence of a local store), but will new leaves be good enough for them, or do they need to break down a bit first? Also, do you continually culture them or just use one culture to start and then add more if they don't propagate?

DianeCarter Wrote:I also noticed you said something about cardboard being cut away from your substrate? Sorry, but what do you mean?

Oh, by bottom I mean the outside bottom, that has the cardboard wraparound with all the branding and stuff on it. Without it you can see the layers of dirt and mesh and hydroballs (or whatever they are).

Quote: Your viv looks good, and I love your frogs! 3 spot, 4 spot, and Splotch, awesome! My first PDF's were green and black auratus, I love them! Just last month they finally gave me eggs/tads! I have 7 tads right now, my fingers are crossed I won't have any losses and in a month or so will have new little froglets.

Wow, that's great! I can't even think about breeding just yet but it's always a happy story to hear. I'm afraid that although those names are temporary, Splotch is sort of growing on me. (Not usually a good thing.)

I did find flies today, thank you, just the crummy little ones that come with lots of dead flies, but more than enough until my order from Josh's comes in. Unfortunately not even the chains around here carry flies, so by all means I plan to start culturing my own down the line. But yes, for now I'm just going to buy them, especially since getting these guys awkwardly coincided with the rare event of my being out of town twice in three months. (Usually it's zero in zero months.)

After running through all this with my husband, I have a few other questions . First, understanding that FF cultures stop producing eventually because of mites, I'm wondering how these mites affect the frogs as well as the viv? I see that the dusting/swirling helps knock some of them off, but is that good enough?

Secondly, when covering up most of the mesh to improve humidity levels, does it have to be with glass? Or would acrylic work? Currently the back half of the top screen is entirely covered by the hood light, but there is a bit of a space where a cover would fit. Should that be completely covered or is the light good enough to keep the humidity high? I'm also not sure whether acrylic so close to the fluorescent lights would be a problem?

(I'm throwing these out to anyone, of course, not just piling on Diane. If I should be putting these questions on the relevant boards, please let me know; I assume these all count as noob Q's.)
A girl named Joey.
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#12
Joey--No worries, you started this thread, so you can really ask anything you'd like.

As far as springtails go, they are the smallest foods that we feed PDFs. So frogs can eat springs before they can eat crickets, or fruit flies, or anything. That is one of the biggest reasons that we seed our vivs with springs, so all sized frogs can eat them, particularly tiny froglets!

As for leaves.............yes, we need a thick layer of leaf litter in our vivs, but it does NOT need to be broken down at all! It is purely for the "comfort" of our frogs, a place to hide, if you will. It helps keep the humidity in, and gives them a place to hide and feel comfortable. Doesn't need to be broken down at all, so you are good on the leaf litter.

As for covering the screen top to keep humidity in, it does NOT need to be glass. Acrylic is fine. Some people prefer glass, cause they say that acrylic eventually warps. My feeling is, fine, if the acrylic warps, I can replace it. Glass can break, that could be very bad for the frogs! So, glass vs acrylic is a personal preference. Some of my tanks have glass, some acrylic, no big deal, in my opinion.

I am sorry, I still don't understand what you are saying about cutting away cardboard. Did you buy a viv that came with cardboard covering the substrate?

It seems, from reading your posts, that you don't understand the whole idea of culturing fruit flies!? If not, I am happy to help! I set up my cultures every Monday. To set up cultures, I need several 32 ounce culture cups with vented lids, culture medium, yeast, grass, and flies. First, mix your media, put in culture cups. Add a pinch of yeast to each cup. Add grass, add flies. Put lids on cups. Put dates on containers, so you know when to expect flies to hatch. Put cups on your fly shelves. In 10-16 day, the flies will hatch, and you can start feeding. After 30-35 days, you should get rid of the cups, cause mites are likely to take over the cultures. Each week when you make new cultures, just add some of your existing flies to each culture. I have read that it is best to use the second batch of flies for new cultures.

By starting new cultures once a week, you will always have a good supply of flies, unless your cultures "crash" and die, or unless they are taken over by mites. I have kept PDFs for over a year, and have never had mites! Be sure to get rid of cultures after 30-35 days! That is what helps eliminate the chance of mites, more than anything. (Some froggers report keeping cultures for over 40 days without mite problems.)

Please let me know if you have any other questions, Joey! I am so glad that you have decided to get into PDF's! It is a very rewarding hobby, I love it!

Diane
P. Terribilis orange, R. Imitator Cainarachi Valley, D. Leucomelas, D. Auratus, D. Azureus, P. vittatus, D. cobalts, D.Oyapok, Bombina Orientalis
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#13
I agree 100% with Diane.
I would get your ffy's locally, they don't ship well and it's very expensive.
An added bonus to getting them locally is meeting Froggers in your area and seeing their set ups.
I agree you can purchase your media plus you will need ffy containers and vented lids.
-Beth
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#14
Hi Joey,
you will absolutely want to get the crickets out of the viv.
Some reasons why;
Crickets , be they pins or full grown are a vector for parasites, lots of different parasites. If you are not 100% sure of the health/cleanliness of the specific crickets don't use them.
Crickets eat anything and are nocturnal. Darts are diurnal and fall into the "anything " category.
I'd wait until night time and then try to capture every cricket in the viv.
Darts with parasites are analogous to mixed tanks, there are no known benefits to the frogs with either.


If tone is more important to you than content, you are at the wrong place.

My new email address is: rich.frye@icloud.com and new phone number is 773 577 3476
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#15
DianeCarter Wrote:As for leaves.............yes, we need a thick layer of leaf litter in our vivs, but it does NOT need to be broken down at all!

I will get some straight away, although my three are pretty excellent at finding hiding places, especially in the bromeliads. The guy who I thought knew what he was talking about just told me "springtails aren't really necessary," which may be strictly true but with all the benefits, that seems an inane statement.

Quote:As for covering the screen top to keep humidity in, it does NOT need to be glass. Acrylic is fine.

That's great news. My husband can cut the acrylic himself so that makes this a very easy and inexpensive project. And as you say, if it should warp, it's easily replaceable. I finally got the bright idea to cover some of the mesh with a towel temporarily, and wow what a difference!

Quote:I am sorry, I still don't understand what you are saying about cutting away cardboard. Did you buy a viv that came with cardboard covering the substrate?

If you look at the first picture in my top post, at the bottom of the viv there is the manufacturer's packaging, yellow with photos of animals and the dimensions of the viv and "ExoTerra" on it. Not inside the viv, but just how ExoTerras are sold.

Quote:It seems, from reading your posts, that you don't understand the whole idea of culturing fruit flies!?

Thanks for those details! I do actually understand it (in theory, anyway, of course practice is something else again!), I'm just choosing not to do it right at this moment. I don't disagree with Beth at all, it's just that being quite physically disabled, I cannot take on too much at once and my top priority is getting the basics of care down, especially due to having to reverse some of the bad advice we got from our (highly well respected!) viv/frog guy. As far as I've been able to tell, there is no good place to get flies locally and I can't drive for an hour to get them; I've contacted someone who was in SCADS but I haven't heard back yet, and even then meeting up would have to be a very infrequent activity for me. Making my own cultures is just going to have to wait until October or so. I can shoulder the expense of buying cultures from Josh's a few times till then. Smile

About the crickets, Rich, I'm nocturnal myself and have been looking for them in the vivarium when I mist at night, but haven't seen or heard a thing. I will definitely continue to look for them although I suspect a bunch may have been eaten in the end.

Today all three frogs are peppy and out exploring the viv, which is nice to see. I suspect it might have to do with the improved humidity but what do I know. :lol:
A girl named Joey.
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#16
Joey,
Seran wrap is better for keeping the humidity up temporarily until your husband can cut the acrylic for you.
-Beth
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#17
Good call! To the kitchen I go.
A girl named Joey.
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#18
Hi Joey,
I understand totally about not wanting to take on ff culturing yet! I didn't either, I bought my flies from Josh's when I first started with pdfs. Once I got the basics down with the frogs, then I took on the culturing, buying my culture media from Josh's. Once I got THAT down pat, then I started experimenting with making my own culture media, trying some recipes I found here on DD, then "perfecting" it over time. I think everyone finds their own recipe they like best. It makes sense, since we all live in different areas of the country/world, have different temps/humidities, etc. My recipe works great in my house, here, but it probably wouldn't be so successful in different areas, right?!
Glad to hear your frogs are out and about, full of vim and vinegar! Your "frog guy" might not have had everything right, but sounds/looks like the frogs are in good shape!
One other thing I wanted to mention, re: screen tops and covering with glass/acrylic. I would cover under the light fixtures, not leave it open. I just don't feel comfortable with the misting going thru the screen, up onto the light bulb! It might be a personal thing, but I just don't think the wetness of misting should mix with the electricity of the light bulb. I think it burns out the bulbs quicker, too. You don't want to use bulbs that are "hot", there are several threads on DD that deal with specific light bulbs that are good to use for vivs. So having a bulb close to acrylic (or glass) shouldn't matter, with a somewhat cool bulb.
I am sorry that your disability is such that you have a hard time getting out and about! Keeping PDFs is really a great hobby under these circumstances, in this day and age we can order and get most anything in the mail, etc, from Josh's, (and other suppliers,) usually over night, if needed that quick!
When you seed your vivs with springtails and isopods, you may need to add more occasionally. It depends on a few factors. For example, last year when I built my grow out viv for R. imitator babies, I seeded it heavily with both. Then it sat for months before I HAD any imitator babies. While it sat, being misted daily, not only did the plants grow in heavily, so did the isopods and springtails! My first baby went in in September, second in April, and 3rd last month. I have NEVER had to re-seed with either springs or isos! Still have plenty of them in there, visible to the eye when ever I look! Same with a couple of my other vivs. A few vivs I put together in a hurry, and they weren't heavily seeded before frogs went in. In those vivs I have replenished with springs and isos a few times, until they are visible.
P. Terribilis orange, R. Imitator Cainarachi Valley, D. Leucomelas, D. Auratus, D. Azureus, P. vittatus, D. cobalts, D.Oyapok, Bombina Orientalis
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#19
DianeCarter Wrote:Once I got the basics down with the frogs, then I took on the culturing, buying my culture media from Josh's. Once I got THAT down pat, then I started experimenting with making my own culture media, trying some recipes I found here on DD, then "perfecting" it over time.

That's exactly the plan I have! A bit oddly, I will be culturing springtails first, when I get back from next week's trip, because I really want to get the viv seeded for our next trip, when my husband won't be at home to feed. And of course I want to have more on hand in case, as you say, it doesn't seed right away. Thanks for your comments about your experience there!

Quote:Glad to hear your frogs are out and about, full of vim and vinegar! Your "frog guy" might not have had everything right, but sounds/looks like the frogs are in good shape!

Yes, thankfully as far as I can tell they are doing great. I didn't get any fecals done since this is the only place I've found that recommends doing them before introducing new frogs to a new viv, so I'll just have to hope that they continue to do well. The one who hid all day yesterday (but watching me!) is now strutting around and taking possession of the viv. I will say that "the guy" was very picky about the health of the frogs he selected to sell -- why I have auratus instead of azureus -- so I have at least a little hope that he did know what he was doing there.

Quote:One other thing I wanted to mention, re: screen tops and covering with glass/acrylic. I would cover under the light fixtures, not leave it open.

Completely agree, that's just what we did! We have two pieces of acrylic, one completely covering the back screen under the hood, and one up front that leaves about two inches for ventilation. (If that ends up being too much, we can always cut another strip.) I have two 2.0 Repti Glo bulbs currently, which seem quite cool, although I expect eventually I'll look for something that allows for a lower light in the evening.

I gotta say this place has been marvelous for replacing my growing dread about all my misinformation with confidence and excitement instead. I'm already in love with my three funny, amazing, fascinating little froglets, and my husband's just lucky that there's literally no more room in here for another viv!
A girl named Joey.
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#20
Well, I know I pretty much already said this, but I want to thank everyone again for all your friendly, speedy assistance. My three auratus are lively, energetic, and surprisingly gregarious -- they don't really hide much until nighttime. They seem to be adapting to the viv, and me walking around the room, just fine. I wish I weren't leaving for a week tomorrow because even though my husband will do an excellent job caring for them, I'm still quite control-freaky when it comes to this sort of thing. But I would probably have cancelled my trip altogether if not for all your super advice, which has made me confident enough to leave my babies for a week. It really is a desert for froggers where I live, and I hate to think what might have happened if I had followed my frog guy's advice. (His latest tidbit: "You really don't need springtails. They'll die if you introduce them now.")

I hope someday to be in a position to either return the favor or pay it forward! Big Grin
A girl named Joey.
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