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first vivarium...lots of questions
#1
Hey everyone, I'm new to the hobby, and have just built my first vivarium. I have a bunch of questions and was hoping you guys would be able to help. First off, I'll give you some details and pictures of my vivarium so you can get a better idea of what I'm working with.

It's a 20 H tank, with a kitty litter clay background, small water feature, and currently planted with Neoregelia 'Chiquita Linda', Neoregelia 'Eoz', Neoregelia 'Fireball', Button Fern, Dischidia ruscifolia, Philodendron scandens, and Selaginella kraussiana. I'm planning on hopefully housing a group of 4 male Auratus. Will this be enough room to house that many darts, and is it fine to house auratus in all male groups?
[Image: IMG_0008.jpg]

The lighting I'm using is an exoterra hood, housing two 5000 k cfl bulbs, which sits directly on top of an aquarium glass lid. I'm worried that the bulbs sitting on top of the glass lid will heat up the vivarium too much, and potentially damage the plants or frogs. Is this enough or too much lighting?

Here is a pic of the light set up,
[Image: IMG_0011.jpg]


As far as ventilation, this was a topic I was a little on the fence about. The humidity and temperature are currently steady at 85% and 80 degrees. I put a small screened strip at the front of the vivarium lid to allow some fresh air to enter and keep the front glass from fogging up. Will this be enough ventilation? and is the current temp. and humidity good enough for the plants and auratus?

Here is a pic of the ventilation screen and lid,
[Image: IMG_0012.jpg]

As far as the current plants that I have, I bare rooted them, and planted them directly into NEHerp vivarium substrate mix, and as far as the broms, two are in potters with substrate mix, and one is planted in a hole directly in the clay background. I also have NEHerp moss that I put around the water feature, and also directly onto the vivarium floor and parts of the wood. Will this planting method work for the moss and the broms? and do you guys have any further tips or input into care such as watering and lighting levels?

Here is a pic of the left section of the clay background,
[Image: IMG_0015.jpg]

That just about covers some of the main questions I've been wanting to ask. If you guys could help, that would be amazing. Hope to hear form you soon.
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#2
Welcome to Dart Den !

VERY good start you have going on. I'm impressed with the level of knowledge that I've seen in several newb posts and I can only hope this forum has given many of you new guys and gals that kind of head start that we are seeing lately. Good stuff.

Now on to the questions:

1. 4 male auratus....all males should not be a problem at all. Be sure to include 1-2 coco huts or similar retreats so that frogs can 'vanish" from time to time. Out of sight = no more frog, which is always a good thing.

2. 1 adult frog per 10 gallons - that "rule of thumb" is an approximation and a starting point- and can be increased and decreased by 1 or 2 based on hardscaping. If the frogs can 'use' the entire background of the viv then you have a little more leeway for instance.

Based on your level of experience (new) and that 20 gallon tank...I would recommend 3 male D.auratus.

Buy a $40.00 temp gun with a red lazer...it will tell you EVERYTHING you want to know about heat and those lights. They may be too hot especially resting right on the glass top.

When you get temps upwards of 80F and more....start to worry. You want to stay under 80F.

your ventilation looks good - position and size although the screen holes look too large and may not prevent FF from getting out. Look for "no see-um" screening. Tiny. Black. Almost 'cloth-like' .

I think that's most of the questions.
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#3
Hey thank you so much for the input, I can't tell you how helpful all these forums have been. There's a local reptile show this coming weekend, so hopefully,( with your advice) I can get the temp and light situation under control so I can finally get my first darts!
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#4
emallard25 Wrote:The lighting I'm using is an exoterra hood, housing two 5000 k cfl bulbs, which sits directly on top of an aquarium glass lid. I'm worried that the bulbs sitting on top of the glass lid will heat up the vivarium too much, and potentially damage the plants or frogs. Is this enough or too much lighting?
FWIW I had 4x14W CFL's over an 18x18x24 Zoomed with a slight (about 2 degree) increase in temp when placed directly on the lid. I solved this by cutting a 1x1x18 inch wood strip (and painting it black) to use as a stand off for the hood. As Phil noted, I'd monitor and if you do encounter temp issues and you don't want to lift the hood, then you can move to LED's and make some mods like removing the reflectors and adding fans (I posted on this recently). These allowed me to get rid of the stand offs (which I really did not like) and drop the hood for a cleaner look. My problem was being here in Texas, it's hard to keep our room temps below 78 during the summer, so I wanted to reduce/eliminate as many extra heat sources as I could.

If you find the temps rising, it's pretty easy to remove those Exo reflectors, so you could give that a go. It lets light escape, but it seems to allow for better air flow within the hood. You might not like the look of it though because you do get a good bit of light coming out the vent unless you use directional bulbs (like some LEDs).

In terms of screens, multiple layers of offset screens worked for me to keep down on the escapees. But my two azureus are ravenous, so flies don't last long in my viv Wink

I don't have tips for watering - my viv' has only been up for about 7 months, so I think it's still relatively new. I am running a Monsoon (wouldn't recommend it though due to its timer issues) 4 times per day for 20 seconds. I also manually rinse the viv about once a week and drain the false bottom. That's it for my watering. Humidity is about the same as yours, 75 to 85 up top, 80 to 90 down low. Plants seem to do well. My live mosses are questionable, my understanding is it takes some time to determine how well they will grow in certain locations, so it might end up being a bit of wait and see for you.

Your viv looks great! It looks like you modded a stock Aqueon glass top? That looks pretty slick. Good luck with your auratus!

philsuma Wrote:VERY good start you have going on. I'm impressed with the level of knowledge that I've seen in several newb posts and I can only hope this forum has given many of you new guys and gals that kind of head start that we are seeing lately. Good stuff.
I give this forum credit Phil! This has been an invaluable source of information, and I believe the tone of this forum is inviting to beginners.
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
One thing I always keep an eye on with light bulbs in general is their wattage. Most CFL's (Exo-Terra, to Home Depot brand) come in two wattages, 26 watt and 13 watt. I personally recomend going with the smaller wattage for most applications. Unless you have a really big viv you probably don't need the 26 watt just because of the extra heat it will produce. I have all 13 watt CFL's on my vivs, even multiple bulbs on the big exo's. I recently found a nice little CFL at WalMart, in the pet section. It's a nice little 6500K CFL rated at only 10 watts. Perfect for small vivs!! I believe it was cheap, under 5 bucks. In fact I have a 20 high just like yours that houses a breeding pair of D. tinctorious Cobalt. I use two of the small 10 watt CFL bulbs AND the light fixture is raised 1 1/2" off the glass just to dissapate the extra heat.
emallard I would recomment the smaller 13 watt CFL's to start. Keep an eye on your temps. Even though CFL's put off much less heat than incandesant bulbs, a 26 watt, puts out twice as much heat as a 13 watt. You could always upgrade to the 26 watt bulbs in the winter if you need some additional heat for the frogs.
Jon
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