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Getting Started in the Dart Frog Hobby

This thread has come out of a thread by Mike ( Dartfrog) pertaining to the need for basic "start-up" info for Darts. I would love some input on topics in which newbies may be having a hard time getting good info.

These are a few topics I would like to go into:

Beginners frogs

I am not sure how to get started , but I feel a need to hit each of the above concerns (along with others I have left out).


Well, even though I am still new to darts, I do have quite a bit of experience with mantella's, in which the basic same type of care can go into some of these topics.

Topic 1: quarantining- This is very important for new acquistions to a colony, or new frogs in general. If they are new frogs being introduced to a colony, I highly advise that you quarantine them for atleast 1 month. This is the time to observe, medicate if needed, and get fecals done. Keept he quarantine chamber simple, maybe a coco hut, a plant or two, and a few places to hide. I have even used little disposable glad ware containers for froglets.

topic 2: Housing - This is where mantella's and darts really differ. I have heard that for darts, make sure you have 5 gallons per frog. I would have to differ with this however, and say that it depends on the personality of the specific frog species, or even individual. SOme thumbs can be raised in much higher population to conainer size than others. Vents may do well with 4 in a 15 gallon. I myself am going to try 5 which have been raised together in a 10 vert. Then, when you get into the bigger frogs such as the tincs or azureus, I would have to say atleast 10 gallons per frog. Keep in mind this is for adults, froglets can be housed in tighter quarters until they become sexually mature/aggressive. I have 8 mantella viridis right now in a 55 gallon, viridis being comparable to about the size of a hawaiian auratus. I would not feel comfortable keeping more than 10 in a tank this size. Then you have pumilios. They are very aggressive towards each other, and should not even be kept together in more than a pair unless they have PLENTY of room. I have a 75 gallon I am working on, and I don't think I will put more than 4 pums in it. Please correct if I am wrong all you dart experts.

Topic 3 Meds: This is not my field, talk to Dr. Frye

Topic 4 Fecals: Talk to Dr. Frye

Topic 5 Food/supplements: This is one of the most important aspect to keeping and breeding darts. The more types of food you have the better. In the wild, they would naturally have their selection of hundreds of different types of isopods, insects, myriapods, etc. By sticking them singly on fruit flies, or crickets is not a good idea. It is however hard to rear many types of insects, so we get stuck with just flies or crickets. Here are other options : Spring tails (best for froglets or thumbs), mini mealworms (best for larger frogs ie auratus, tincs, azureus), waxworms, confused flour rice beetles, and I have heard of people feeding lobster roaches, but they seem to big to me. Another source of food is field sweepings, but this can be the most dangerous method of feeding. When I give my hand at it, i am going to the top of a mountain next to my house where few people ever travel. I have heard that even the most reluctant of eaters will take field sweepings though. Also, the more species of flies you keep, the better. I have 2 subspecies of d. melongaster, and 1 species of hydei. Small houseflies can be used as well. Even if you find a egg sac from a spider, you can hatch it and feed the spiderlings to the frogs. This is not the best method to use with thumbnails though.

Topic 6 Beginners frogs:This is a tough question as well. What is the best beginner dart? Most people would disagree with me here, but I would say to first start with mantella's. They are cheap, relatively easy to keep, and are beautiful. This is where I got my start with darts, and have yet to lose a dart in the last 8 months I ahve been keeping them. If you want to go with darts first though, I would say get some auratus. They are $20 or less usually, and are rather bold, and get big enough where you can feed them crickets on food shortages. ONce you get the mantella's or auratus down, then you can move on to better looking frogs, such as leucs or azureus. Also, for thumbnails, I have come to the conclusion that d. ventrimaculatus is the best to start with. they are built like tanks, and are quite easy to breed.

I hope this helps someone out. And please, rich, I know you have WAY more experience than me, so correct me on anything that you feel is incorrect information. I am still learning as well, so I would not be hurt by anything Big Grin . Good luck to all you beginner dart- ers

Ed Parker

As Ed mentioned in an earlier post, it would be great to hear from a few of the well respected, more experienced froggers visiting this forum.
It would be cool to hear from a number of froggers before coming back to the table.
Nice post Ed.


I think it would be good to have information not only on types of foods but problems that you can have with them such as the mite infestation of my fly cultures.

Here is what I know about foods.

Fruit Flies : They can crash big time due to mites. If you have cultures infested with mites, throw them out and start fresh. If you have to use them to get by until the new cultures get going, keep them in a separate room from the new cultures.

Pinhead crickets: It is hard to crash these, but it may be difficult to keep a steady supply of them until you get a good breeding program going.

Confused rice flour beetles: I know that CRF beetles can be carriers of I believe a type of nematode (may be some other parasite), but I have not researched it enough to see if it is effective to amphibians. I believe that it is a mammal parasite in its intermediate stage in the CRF beetle.

Springtails: These cultures easily become infested with white worms. Once the whiteworm population takes over, you might as well dump them and start all over.

Mealworms: Very easy to propagate, I know of no parasites that infest them or kill them. The only problem is getting small enough mealworms for Dart Frogs to accept and even then, I would not use this particular feeder insect as a staple.

That is about all I have worked with so far.

Ed Parker

I mean infective to amphibs, and a mammalian infecting parasite (can't think of any other mammal parasites other than the vampire bat)

Well, after reading a number of posts I thought it time to re-start this thread.

Choosing your first Darts.
There are a number of very good beginner Darts easily available in the U.S. Most are just as beautiful as their "uber rare" counterparts. With that , take a look through the umpteen sites and forums for a frog that grabs your attention, then find out if it is a good candidate for your first frog/s. Good beginners would include( but are not limited to) :
Auratus (although some are a bit skittish and may leave a bit to be desired), terribilis (any color morph), Leucs (any color/spot morph), most tincs, Azureus, E. tricolors (most morphs) , and Bi-colors. Some of these morphs are more cryptic than others, but all are relatively hardy and easy to take care of. I would say the best way to find out if you would like a certain frog or not is to ask in a public forum for the general consensus and read up on the different morphs. Some can be kept in "herds", others breed younger/easier, some are just prettier than other IMO. These little guys can live over twenty years in captivity, remember this.


Every single person in this hobby should quarantine every single CB frog that comes into their hot hands. There is little room for argument here. It is one of THE, if not THE single most important thing to take care of early on.
A quarantine tub can be any tiny aquarium, plastic tub, what ever. I use 1.5 gal tubs with nice fitting lids. I cross four un-bleached whiteish paper towels for the flooring (changing these when dirty) moisten the towels(with RO or de-chlor tap water), add pothos clipping a few film cans and food. Take a fecal sample after a couple days ( this is much more difficult if the frog/s have been placed into a viv) and see where you are at. Let's say the fecal comes back with hookworms like a new frog I recently acquired. I Panacur for about three days straight (depending on the worm burden) changing the paper each day(the frogs are shedding hookworms/eggs at this time) and run another fecal. If they are still contaminated , I dust more FFs with more Panacur. If they are clean, I like to take one more fecal after stopping the use of the Panacur to make sure any nasties are totally gone.
You can watch each and every froglet/juvi/frog you would never find in a big-ass viv.
Some problems take a bit of time before symtom occur, you should quarantine for AT LEAST a month. Watch them. You will learn things about them in a small tub that you will never see/know from watching them in a vav. When you have two froglets in a small tub and are feeding them ten-fifteen melanos a day, each day for a month, and each time you open the tub for feeding you see that your little guys have eaten almost every fly , you now know that they are eating and exactly how much they are eating. Try to decipher this info from a couple of froglets in a lushly planted 29 high.
You also will find it much easier to catch your beauties ( if problems do arise)in a 1.5 gal tub than a 29 high.
Once you put a diseased, sick, poorly, nematode infested, coccidia riddled , frog into a viv, that viv has pretty much every possible contagious (MANY more are contagious than not) contaminant that ANY frog hopping about would be carrying. It is sort of like when people say "if you have un-protected sex, you are having sex with every partner that person has had un-protected sex with". Not quite true but scary none the less. When you put a frog into an infected viv, every frog will have the same nematodes, coccidia, what-ever is a contagiuos contaminant. Scarrier than sex! A moist viv will spread disease faster than having un-protected sex. Every frog viv X has every single possible contagious problem any frog in that viv has, it is just a matter of time.

Fecals are a must. Some would say otherwise but I never got the gist of not wanting to have good medical info on any person or animal I gave a flying Fulgritus about.
Fecals can/will help to tell the state of a frog on many levels. It is not a cure-all/fix-all , but you can find out if you frogs are worm burdened. There are many other things that can/will show up in a fecal.
Vets charge from about $15 to $25 per fecal. But remember, if one tank in a tank of six has Hookworms, they all do. You just ran a fecal for six frogs for $15 to $25.
No excuses, run fecals. Even if your frogs "look fine and breed like rats".
We looked fine and breed like rats a hundred years ago. What was the average life span back then?

I read more people giving out med info like they were passing out candy.
Each med will do X for Y situation. Batryl is not a cue all, neither is Metronitesol, or Panacur. I am not a vet, I do not suggest treating ANY Dart with ANY drug until you have talked to a vet. Not your uncle Jeb who fought in Nam, a person who will not throw a drug at you randomly expounding its wonder-drug properties. There are more than a couple really good vets out there to talk to .

I now have exceeded my index finger callous record so I will have to finnish up at a later time.
I hope this opens this thread back up to some of the "beginner" questions floating around here. I have noticed it is becoming a bit jumbled.
Food, ethics, meadow plankton, ect, all need to be discussed in-depth yet also. Other important stuff also.


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: and new phone number is 773 577 3476

OK, I have to add:

Again, I am going to have those who will disagree but peat bricks work great for an all-around medium. I will occasionally add some NZL sphagnum and fern root, but mostly peat brick. Peat brick is cheap, it has tons of tannins ( good for the Darts, the more important thing than plants) and is not super compact so it drains well. I have a decent variety of plants going , none of which seem to be in need of better "soil".

Fertilizer is an absolute no-no/not-need.

Most plants used to stock a viv are very hardy, easy to grow plants. If you want to go exotic, leave out the frogs and concentrate on the plants. If you want exotic frogs, concentrate on them first. Peat brick works wonderful.
Darts produce plenty of Fertilizer (poop).

I really need to go back to the heater-in-the-viv thing. The ONLY reason/s to have a heater in your viv is for a back-up incase you have a questionalble furnace, or if your frog room temps are always in the 50s or below.
If you need a heater to add humidity, your viv is set up wrong. I can elaborate or answer any questions on this. Frogs do better with cold than with heat. Believe it.

Dart Frog Breeders Union
Something that is in dire need of being formed.
Rules and guidelines for Dart breeders in an attempt to have a more common ground.
The Breeder's Union thread needs to be started separate from this thread though.


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: and new phone number is 773 577 3476

Another good Beginner thread.

Also, Dart Breeder Union discussion, circa 2005

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

This was very helpful to me thank you! I'm just in the process of setting up my tank. Ill be going to a reptile show next week and hope to find a trio of D.Leucs. I am worried about properly quarantining though and how to keep them warm and fed and do cultures properly for FFs. I've done oodles of research and still a little wobbly on it all. I'm also looking or a vet that deals with frogs in my area. I live in Vancouver BC.

Frogs, fish and soon to be ferrets!

working my way up to 3 little leucs soon! :3

yes indeed , a good thread started by Rich. I just sticky-ed it.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

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