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how strictly do we adhere to biotope 'correct' Vivariums ?
#1
I'm still new to the hobby, but I wanted to start a discussion on how closely we really attempt to recreate all facets of an animal's biotope. I don't want this thread to deteriorate into a mixing discussion - assume one species of animal and the discussion focuses on plants / viv design. Coming from the aquarium hobby, there are some biotope violations that I find acceptable, like plants in a Tanganyikan tank because it (1) improves water quality and (2) provides a more visually appealing display for non-enthusiasts.

I did not give this question much thought during my viv build, and I'm wondering if many hobbyists invest significantly in selecting plants from the animal's specific region versus what "looks nice". My main focus, and what I saw from my research, was on providing a safe environment, adequate hides, the correct moisture and humidity, and visually interesting plantings. So, how true are most folks to plant selection, vine / tree designs, rock work, and accent selection for a viv that are true to the biotope? I was not :oops: but it seems acceptable if we maintain the key environmental parameters while taking some liberties on plant selections or visually appealing landscape designs. Either way my frogs seem quite happy, er, at least they are growing, plump, and visible Smile

I don't see a right or wrong answer here, in fact I fully expect a spectrum of responses. I'm just curious about what the general trends are in the hobby. So I'd love to hear opinions!
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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#2
I myself, don't see many hobbyists trying to create a biotope. Some do and hats off to them. I don't have the plant selection available here to even try it. I have to admit that it doesn't really appeal to me though... When building a viv, I plant what is appealing to me, but always have the frogs best interest in mind. For instance, I use almost no terrestrial plants. IMO they just take up valuable space unless kept small. I prefer to use epiphytes and try and build a canopy and hides for the frogs. I use wood and leaf litter on the floor. This is primarily what I see in their natural environment.

Cheers
Glenn
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#3
When I first got started. I designed my tanks on what looked nice and what provided proper habitat for my animals. I guess it took me about a year to really pay attention to the plants' origins. I still don't adhere strictly, though. I try to use Neotropical species in my tanks as opposed to Old World Plants, and find it really makes a nice show tank. Most of the frogs I work with are arboreal, so I typically do a thin BG with moss and shinglers, climbers, ferns and plants that cascade. I use a few species of Selaginella and moss, then maybe a few ferns and epiphytes on my branches. My floors are mostly leaf litter with maybe a clumping plant like Calathea, Begonias or some of the terrestrial New World orchid. I also plant things like Syngonium rayii on the floor near a branch, so it will eventually grow up it.
ZG
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#4
I'll guess that 98% of all Dart Frog Hobbyists do not participate in any sort of Biotope design. Partly due to ignorance and partly due to lack of specific plants available or more likely, the abundance and ease of OTHER plantings that while not location / 'Biotopically' correct, are just as aesthetically pleasing and just as useful to the husbandry of the dart frog.

That said, we should all strive for a correct biotope, IMO, as it leads to further study of the animal and it's surroundings /relationship with the native flora.

In the end, it's all about (aboot, for our Canuck friends) aesthetics more so than form over functionality. We all have a decent grasp and access to numerous excellent vivarium tolerant plantings. Every shape, most colours and forms. It's like a furniture craftsman, to me. You can make exquisite furniture, even reproduction antique stuff that is impossible to discern as not original at 10 feet away....but SOME master craftsmen, can produce the whole thing down to the screws and lacquer to make it a masterpiece. That would be a 100% Biotopic Vivarium design with a specific animal - right down the each plant being 'correct'. THAT would be a true work of art. I'd continually applaud it. I'd pay 200% more for it - easily, as well.
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"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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#5
Todd S. came up with a really cool derisive term for taking the easy way out with plantings...

He refers to all the really really common plantings - pothos, ect as "Lowes plants"

and calls the viv they are in....the "Lowes plants Viv"

Funny but USEFUL, if you think aboot it. Lowes and Homedepot DO provide plants in a pinch, but they also spray or buy sprayed plantings and their soil is full of fertilizers and perlite each.

Newbs will be newbs....but very soon after entering this hobby....we should ALL be able to do Much Much better than "Lowes" plants.
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"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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#6
I appreciate the replies! It's interesting to see the different states people are at in their viv design methodologies.

frogfreak Wrote:I myself, don't see many hobbyists trying to create a biotope. Some do and hats off to them. I don't have the plant selection available here to even try it. I have to admit that it doesn't really appeal to me though... When building a viv, I plant what is appealing to me, but always have the frogs best interest in mind. For instance, I use almost no terrestrial plants. IMO they just take up valuable space unless kept small. I prefer to use epiphytes and try and build a canopy and hides for the frogs. I use wood and leaf litter on the floor. This is primarily what I see in their natural environment.
It probably "semi" appeals to me. More of a curiosity as to how their actual environment looks. However, not sure that curiosity outweighs others like weather data and environmental control. I too plant for visual appeal, to me, it's like a mini indoor garden.


goods Wrote:When I first got started. I designed my tanks on what looked nice and what provided proper habitat for my animals. I guess it took me about a year to really pay attention to the plants' origins. I still don't adhere strictly, though.
I'm probably still in the early stages here. I selected species from frog vendors that were appealing to me. I did not pay any attention to the actual origin of the plant, or if it was a hybrid (e.g. broms and begonias).


Philsuma Wrote:I'll guess that 98% of all Dart Frog Hobbyists do not participate in any sort of Biotope design. Partly due to ignorance and partly due to lack of specific plants available or more likely, the abundance and ease of OTHER plantings that while not location / 'Biotopically' correct, are just as aesthetically pleasing and just as useful to the husbandry of the dart frog.
Well stated.


Philsuma Wrote:That would be a 100% Biotopic Vivarium design with a specific animal - right down the each plant being 'correct'. THAT would be a true work of art. I'd continually applaud it. I'd pay 200% more for it - easily, as well.
It would be interesting to see a build thread on a viv that attempts to construct a "100% Biotopic Vivarium". It would also be interesting to see the commercial vendors spend more time providing details on the sources of their plants. I can do the research, but it would be worth a bump in price to have them perform the leg work on the plant site data. Probably a lot to ask, but as you said, I'd pay extra for that.


Philsuma Wrote:Newbs will be newbs....but very soon after entering this hobby....we should ALL be able to do Much Much better than "Lowes" plants.
Agreed. I followed this path progessing from Lowes plants (my viv 1.0 had a few) to specimens from commercial vendors (in my 2.0 viv) raised specifically for vivariums, purported to have been grown correctly for a sensitive environment. Beyond picking interesting crypts, broms, selaginella, ferns, begonias, I don't have any knowledge on the origins of my stock…guess I have more Googling to do Smile
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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#7
We don't really go for the biotope,definitely not with the planting. We do try to study as many pictures of where our next chosen frog lives and make efforts to build for them. I've often wondered,about the feasability of planting out one specific big brom for some species that frequent specific big broms. Scale of plants i think is the biggest handicap,trying to pop a rainforest in a tiny glass box is no mean feat,so designs are always based on what we THINK!! a frog will require,to the best of our abilities,as much as we try i always feel we'll come up short. Walking where our frogs live would be the ultimate inspiration for viv design for us.
Lots of our darts are leaflittler inhabitants,and there fore this features heavily in our tanks,i guess plants are of secondary importance to these frogs,other than the aforementioned broms in some cases, for breeding purposes. My only other thought slightly irrelevent but maybe worth mentioning is we are not great fans of the blousey colourful plants,give me some shades of green,different leaf shapes,like i see in all those habitat pictures. I'm really not sure whether the biotope viv and exact planting from a region will ever be as important to me as the other factors effecting viv design:leaf litter (not containing biotope leaves) hiding, climbing and breeding sites etc etc .
Oh just a wonderful note of irony relevent to lowes plants,we have similar stores here banging out broms most would shun for a viv, some 100% straight CB red head histo,in the hands of a great breeder here, use this as their brom of choice to breed in always makes me smile that Big Grin
Stu

Stu
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