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Beginners: Getting Started

When thinking about getting into Darts there are many things to consider. I am going to go through each step from choosing the right frog for yourself to what to do if/when things go wrong.

The best thing that anyone can do BEFORE buying any Dart is to read. Do some research. Do a lot of research.
Most D. tinctorius, D. leucomelas, D. azureus, and D. auratus make good beginner frogs. D. pumilio DO NOT make good starter frogs and should be left to froggers with some experience. I do not care if the price comes down to $25 a frog, do not get into D. pumilio as a starter frog.

Once you have picked a good starter frog (the afore mentioned frogs will cost from $20 to over $100 ) you need to have a quarantine container for your little ones. Almost any airtight, 1gal to 3gal, clear tub , will work. Line the tub with unbleached, chemical free, paper towels. Pothos clippings work great as vegetation/hiding spots. There are a number of reasons for quarantine. You will be able to watch your new frogs actions closely. You will be able to catch a sick or stressed frog much easier. But a biggie is the fact that EVERYONE should get fecals done on any frogs they purchase. How many posts have been started this way: "MY frog is sick , I have done everything I can. Please help!!" ? Well before it comes to that plea for help, get fecals done on your animals. Fecals cost about $15 to $30 and are a must. One fecal done on one tank with six frogs is still $15 to $30. If one frog has parasites, they all do. If you can afford the frogs, you can afford fecals. Get them done by a VET. Please do not rely on someone who used a microscope for a few biology classes back in collage. Leave the practice of medicine to the professionals.

After a period of about a month your frogs may be ready to be placed in a permanent enclosure ( depending on what is found in your fecals). I would also add that , much as in humans, the state of health with your frogs does not remain constant so it is a good idea to continue having fecals done on your frogs on a somewhat regular basis. Two or three times a year should be fine , barring any problems. There is a bare minimum "rule" of 5gal per frog. This topic is going on right now on Dendroboard and is covered very well. When in doubt shoot for more than 5gal per frog. Do not go crazy though. The frogs need to hunt down their food so a "gigantic" viv can be counterproductive.

There have been multiple posts on false bottomed vivs. We usually build our "show" vivs, ( or vivs that are not plumbed into our auto misting system) with a variation of a false bottom. Our vivs differ with most out there in the fact that we only allow a small area around the pump ( we use circulating water featured in almost every free standing viv) to be "open " to water. We build a structure around the pump (Aquarium Systems make decent pumps for the money. Make sure the flow will reach the height needed) only large enough to let the proper amount of water get to the pump. The reasoning behind this is simple. Peat bricks( we use peat bricks in EVERY single viv we own) are extremely beneficial to the viv and the health of your frogs. The more peat used in the viv , the better the chance to have a healthy tank. Peat bricks act as an antiseptic, they add tannins, they help with the processing of waist, ect., ect. You want to use a lot of the stuff. With a " standard" false bottom you are creating a void that , in my mind, should be filled with something other than water. I have read that this is a cost saving measure for some. I would say it equates closer to corner cutting.

There are MANY ways of making structures, backgrounds, and other features for your viv. We use Great Stuff low expanding foam in all of our "show" vivs and have had great results. It has not broken down for us at all , we have some tanks that have been running for about two years now with "stuff" and we have no plans to stop using it. As building backgrounds and such is as much an art as it is science, I will not go into great detail on different styles. There are TONS of sites to get help and ideas from .

Once you have your viv built and the frogs are done with their quarantine period, they are ready for relocation. Most people (beginners anyway) buy froglets. Many species (including the afore mentioned) will do well in groups as froglets. There are many species though, that upon reaching sexual maturity, will fight. Fighting is not always a bad thing. Sometimes a pecking order is established this way. I would definitely separate fighters if the fighting is a common occurance. You need to watch your frogs for problems ( beginner or expert).

Feeding. Your frogs need the right food with the right supplements. Dart frogs do not need to be fed every day. I feed every other day , dusting with a Repcal-heptevite-calsium mix. Hydie eye (large) flies will be taken by any large ( non-thumb) Dart. Melanogasters ( Turkish Gliders or other) will also be taken but are much smaller. One downfall to feeding Hydies is the fact that they are movers. Those suckers will get out of a dusting cup, viv, culture, ect., and GO, GO, GO. Melanos are more content to stay put. I hate having a billion Hydies walking around my place. The amount of flies I decide to feed goes like this: I usually feed what I think to be an adequate amount, come back in two days and inspect for uneaten flies. If the viv has no flies walking around, I fed too little. If the viv has tons of flies all over it, walking with impunity all over our frogs, I fed too much. If there are a few flies to be found( with a decent amount of searching) the amount fed was just right.

This covers a small amount of the info needed to start off with beginner Darts. There are books out there. Many are outdated and have some inaccurate info. There are supposedly a few new , up to date, books coming out within the new year. The three book set by Siegfried P. Christman is a great read but is not a beginners series and does itself have some out dated stuff ( it was written over a long period of time). For beginners the best reading may have to be the internet. There are some great breeders out there doing some wonderful stuff with Darts. Read through sites, ask questions, read through sites some more, and then buy some frogs.

I would love to answer any serious questions posed by any new comer or old timer. I have read too many posts where frog deaths, hybridizing, or bad husbandry in general , could be avoided. I am more than willing to try to help any frogger with questions.

Once again, please excuse my crappy spelling. I write and hit "post".

Rich Frye


Well said Rich I think everyone will take the time to read your article. With all the things going on It is nice someone would take time out of their day to try to help so many people..

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