Dart Frog Habitat: Setup Guide & Ideas From Owners

Dart Frog Habitat setup guide

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Are you interested in keeping such a brightly colorful poison dart frog as a pet? Then, you must ensure its proper habitat first. For this, you require an accurate setup guide and helpful ideas from owners.

So, firstly you need to know about the ingredients to set up. Then, you can proceed with the guidelines. In addition, you need to know all conditions, requirements, and the processes of setting up a dart frog habitat.

Thus, I’ve conducted some researches and got some ideas, setup guides too. Besides, you might have many curiosity and questions regarding dart frog habitat. So, let’s jump into the list.

What Do You Need For A Dart Frog Vivarium?

Before stepping into the habitat setup process, you need to know all the necessary items. Hence, I’ve summed up what you need for a dart frog vivarium. Let’s take a look-

  • Tank (size varies upon the number of dart frogs)
  • Glass Lid
  • Moss
  • Hydro-balls
  • Plants
  • Larger stones
  • Small and medium-sized stones (optional)
  • Lights
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Water pump and hose (optional)
  • Misting system
  • Distilled water
  • Bio bag

This list will help you buy everything at once that you need. Now, it’ll be easier to understand the further setup process.

How Many Dart Frogs Can You Keep Together?

You might have known that dart frogs are territorial by nature. Hence, there remains confusion about whether you can keep dart frogs together or not. If you can, then how many dart frogs can live together!

The number of dart frogs you can keep together depends on the dart frogs’ age, species, and tank size. You can easily put 15-20 juvenile dart frogs together in a large vivarium. On the other hand, it’ll be better not to keep more than three adult dart frogs together.

Because the adult dart frogs will end up fighting among themselves. Moreover, many dart frogs in a single vivarium cause stress on them too.

How Do You Make A Dart Frog Terrarium: Dart Frog Habitat Setup Guide

Step 1: Choosing And Placement Of Your Terrarium

When you start setting up a dart frog habitat, the very first essential thing is choosing a terrarium. Hence, you need to know the right size of your terrarium. Then, you can proceed with its placement.

What Size Tank Do Dart Frogs Need?

As I stated before, the length, width, and height of a tank or terrarium vary. These depend on some important factors. They are –

  • The number of dart frogs you want to keep
  • The age of the dart frogs
  • The species of the dart frogs

Hence, I’ve found out some authentic information about the right size of terrariums.

Besides the information in this chart, you can follow a basic rule for choosing a tank or terrarium.

It is to keep at least 5 gallons for one dart frog. But, this habitat is suitable for 2-3 months old baby dart frogs. As they grow fast, they need enough space.

Hence, you should shift them to a larger tank. Till then, a 5-gallon tank is fine.

But, it’s safe and better to keep one adult dart frog in a 10 gal terrarium. If the amount of dart frogs increases, the tank size should be increased too.

 However, the more you give space to your dart frogs, the more they get healthier.

Let’s check out the following chart for this.

  The number of dart frogs    Size of terrarium
  An adult dart frog  10 gal or 12” x 12” x 12”  
  1-2 bumblebee or thumbnail dart frogs    12″ x 12″ x 18″
  2-3 commonly kept species of dart frogs    18″ x 18″ x 12″  or 18″ x 18″ x 18″
  3 dart frogs can easily adjust    18″ x 18″ x 24″
  2-4 dart frogs (best suited for Phyllobates species)    24” x 18″ x 18”
  4-5 adult golden poison dart frogs    36″ x 18″ x 24″
  5-6 dart frogs (specifically, if male and female dart frogs are kept together)    80″ x 50″ x 50”

So, you should research a while on your own. According to your dart frogs’ amount, species, sex, nature, you need to choose the perfect tank for them.

Moreover, you need to check if the floor space is enough for your dart frogs or not. Otherwise, the big gallon terrarium won’t help much.

Again, if you think to keep different species of adult dart frogs together, a large terrarium like 75 gallons can be perfect.

But, I’ll discourse you to mix them up, in a single terrarium, because of their territorial nature. If you’re a beginner, take your time as well.

If you are a beginner and just starting with dart frogs, I’ll recommend to get a starter kit to keep your costs checked. I’ll highly recommend the Zilla Terrarium Starter Kit. With this kit, you’ll get a 10 gallon glass tank, bulb, heat mat, humidity & temperature gauge as well as odor absorbing liner. A pretty good deal in my book!

Do Dart Frogs Need Ventilation?

As a beginner, you may be curious to keep a ventilation hole in the terrarium. Hence, you need to know whether dart frogs need ventilation or not.

Dart frogs do not need any ventilation. Moreover, they do not feel good if any dry household air ventilates their tank.

Hence, you need not worry about their suffocation. Because there are plants in the tank for supplying oxygen to dart frogs. Again, there will be chances of escapes through the ventilation holes as the dart frogs are too small.

Step 2: Preparatory Work

After choosing the terrarium of the right size, you need to place it where you want. So, choose the right place beforehand. Otherwise, the tank will be heavy after full setup and it’ll be hard to move.

Then, you need to make some preparation to set up the dart frog habitat.

  • Clean and rinse the tank and all necessary materials that you want to keep inside the tank. For example- hydro-balls, stones, plants, a glass of the tank, etc.
  • Don’t use any chemical cleaners or tap water. Rinse everything with distilled water and a towel.
  • Pre-soak the moss until it gets soft and damp.

Step 3: Adding The Pump (optional)

Many dart frogs owner want to add a submersible pump for pumping excess water. But, this step is entirely optional. If you do not add a pump in dart frogs’ habitat, you need to change the water much more often.

  • Firstly, you need to place the pump into a bio-bag. This will save the pump from being clogged up by moss.
  • Make a small hole in the bio-bag.
  • Add the pump on the opposite end of the terrarium, where you have planned to add the water feature, with attached hoss. Such placement ensures its better circulation.
  • Then, attach the hose to the pump through the small hole you’ve made in the bag.
  • If there remains an open end of the bio-bag, tie it off.

Step 4: Adding A Substrate

Before adding a substrate, you need to choose the right one first for your dart frogs’ habitat. No wonder, selecting the right substrate among lots of substrate options is a hard task.

Depending on the types of plants, you need to choose the substrate. Because live plants need such substrate adding nutrients to them. On the contrary, fake plants do not need such support from substrates.

So, if you add live plants to your terrarium, choose any substrate from below.

  • Coconut Fiber
  • Coco Husk
  • Moss
  • Soil
  • Mixes (combination or mixture of different kinds of the substrate)

On the other hand, you should choose a soft and safe substrate if you put fake plants. The sign of a perfect vivarium substrate is that it drains the excess water.

To collect the extra water, you can also create a false bottom. In this case, hydro-balls are pretty popular as a good false bottom.

So, here are some basic guidelines for adding substrates.

  • On top of the hydro-balls, you can add the pre-soaked moss.
  • If you want to add any other substrate instead of moss, fill it up.
  • To promote humidity level, the substrate must be moist. But, don’t make it dripping wet.
  • An important note is to make the substrate 2-3” deep.
  • Adding a drainage layer with it will reduce your hassles also.

The substrate will keep the humidity level perfect inside your dart frogs’ habitat. Moreover, it will help dart frogs save themselves from abrasive materials.

My Recommended Substrates:

For a moss based bedding, I recommend Zilla Moss Bedding.

For a coconut fiber based bedding, My recommendation is Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber.

Step 5: Adding Plants, Branches, Stones

In this step, add some plants in the dart frog habitat in which you’re working on. If you choose live plants, bury their roots in the moss or substrate. You can also add small stones, branches, and other decorative items.

Do Poison Dart Frogs Need Live Plants?

Poison dart frogs need live plants.

Plants supply oxygen as well as provide climbing options for dart frogs. As you’re not going to keep ventilation holes, live plants are necessary for their habitat. Also, this tiny amphibian loves to hide. So, live plants and the leaves can be great hiding locations for them too.

Again, many dart frog keepers shared their experiences that their frogs love to drink water droplets from plants’ leaves than water dishes.

I like these decors for a frog habitat:

-> Natural Looking Bendy Branches

-> Plastic Bamboo Tree

-> Zoo Med African Mopani Wood

What Plants Are Safe For Dart Frogs?

When you think of adding live plants, make sure that the plants are safe. Hence, I’ve conducted some researches to find out which plants are safe for dart frogs.

In the dart frogs’ habitat, you can add safe plants like bromeliads, pothos, ficus vines, anthurium and calathea species, tropical gingers, ferns, etc.

Step 6: Adding The Lighting, Thermometer, and Hygrometer

Before adding your dart frog, set up the remaining gadgets in their habitat. Dart frogs need lighting to understand their day and night cycle. In this case, you can add fluorescent light to their habitat setup.

Some dart frog owners have given ideas of adding a 20-watt bulb in a 10 or 20-gallon tank. Moreover, you need to turn off the fluorescent light at night hours to mimic day and night.

Don’t forget to add a thermometer and a hygrometer. Because these will help you remain concerned about the perfect temperature and humidity.

With this Exo Terra Combometer, you can measure both temperature and humidity in digital screen. It also comes with a remote sensor as well as programmable memory setting feature!

Step 7: Misting The Dart Frogs’ Habitat

Now, you’re going close to finish the entire setup. You must have known that the dart frogs need a specific humidity (above 80%). For this reason, you need to mist your dart frog’s tank or habitat.

Start misting the entire enclosure including the substrate, branches, stones, plants, and everything else. Besides, you can keep a fogger or misting system. Not to mention, a quality setup must include misting system though they’re a bit expensive.

How Do You Mist A Dart Frog Tank?

It depends on the ventilation system of your dart frogs’ habitat or tank.

If the terrarium is full glass with a glass top, it has minimal ventilation. Hence, mist the habitat twice a day for 5-10 seconds. Again, you should mist twice daily for 10-20 seconds, if the tank is full glass with a screen top.

But, it depends on the humidity of the tank. So, it’s better to check your hygrometer to monitor the humidity frequently. On another note, your dart frogs can survive without misting for around 4-5 days.

Step 8: Introducing Your Dart Frog To Its New Habitat

Be patient and gentle while introducing your dart frog to its new habitat. Sometimes the dart frog may show delay. Wait for it to hop out from its old habitat or container on its own. Calmly add the frog and enjoy!

After that, gently remove the old container or box. Also, don’t forget to close the terrarium door or lid.

Step 9: Adding A Glass Lid

Although you can complete the setup without any cover, adding a glass lid will make the entire setup perfect. An important reason for this is to keep the humidity level accurate.

Another reason for adding a glass lid is to prevent dart frogs from escaping. If your dart frogs find any crack or hole in the tank, they tend to escape. Hence, the openings of the terrarium hoods increase their chances of escapes.

Thus, a cover of glass lid can reduce the chances of dart frogs’ escape.

So, do you think that the entire setup is done? Many beginners ask how do they know that the vivarium is complete. Let’s check out the next following section.

How To Know If Your Dart Frog Terrarium Is Ready For Frogs?

You need to check a few things before adding your dart frog into the terrarium. Let’s check out the following conditions to know if the entire habitat setup is complete and ready for frogs.

  • Humidity of the habitat is within 80% – 100%. You need to confirm this by using a hygrometer.
  • Measuring with a digital thermometer, make sure that the temperature of the habitat or terrarium is stable between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check out if the terrarium has any gap, hole, crack in the wall.
  • If there is an algal bloom or growth, scrub the tank with a paper towel.
  • Make sure to add water on the substrate side of the tank.
  • Check out whether the plants are rooted strongly or not. If you gently tug on the roots, the plants must resist.
  • Ensure the presence of microfauna.
  • To see better results, ensure that the terrarium or habitat has been embedding up for a minimum of four weeks.

Are Dart Frogs Hard To Keep?

Undoubtedly, the dart frogs’ striking skin color makes anybody amazed to pick them. That’s why people ask a common question that if dart frogs are hard to keep.

After researching a while, I can ensure you that dart frogs aren’t hard to keep at all. Moreover, their terrarium will be as accurate as nature with misting system, plants, mosses, etc. In this mimic habitat, the dart frogs do well in captivity.

So, you can also keep a dart frog even if you are a beginner. As a beginner, you can try to keep the green and black poison dart frog.

Final Words

Dart frogs can live long if you take proper care of them. For this, a good setup of their habitat is a must. I hope this article has given you basic guidelines and unique ideas of their habitat setup.

About Muntaseer Rahman

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