The first completed enclosure in my new fish room (side note: at what point do I need to start calling it an animal room instead? lol) is the bioactive vivarium for my group of four Dendrobates tinctorius “Patricia”. These poison dart frogs are native to Suriname, a small country on the northeastern coast of South America. My four frogs however have been bred in captivity and are no longer poisonous, since a particular prey insect they have access to in the wild is what makes them poisonous. Here in captivity, poison dart frogs are simply fed flightless fruit flies, rendering them unable to produce the dangerous poison that their wild cousins are named for.
Getting the frogs
I got my group of four Patricias at the Daytona Reptile Breeders’ Expo in Daytona Beach, FL in August of 2017 and kept them in a 20 gallon long aquarium with a glass lid as their quarantine tank until their bioactive vivarium could be built. Even if their vivarium was built and ready, I still would have quarantined my new froglets for a couple of reasons; 1) small, young froglets may have a hard time finding food in the vast expanse of a fully setup bioactive vivarium, and 2) even captive bred frogs can harbor parasites, bacteria, or viruses that you wouldn’t want to introduce into your bioactive vivarium. The biggest risk with bringing in new frogs is internal parasites. It’s best to quarantine new frogs until at least two consecutive clean fecal exams can be done by a veterinarian.
My four Patricias were kept on moist paper towels (changed weekly) with rinsed pothos clippings and sanitized leaf litter hiding spots. Shortly after getting them, I sent off two consecutive fecal samples to an amphibian vet in Michigan, which both came back negative for parasites – yes!! My frogs did great and even grew a ton during their 8 month stay in their quarantine tank. Then, in April of 2018, my new amphibious tank from Custom Aquariums arrived and I was finally able to set up their bioactive vivarium!
Setting up the tank
My frogs are clearly so happy now to be in their bioactive vivarium! They love exploring every square inch of the viv and finding new cozy hiding places. These guys are nearing maturity now, so I have to keep a watchful eye to make sure there’s no female-female aggression going on. If any problems start, I may have to split up my little group of four, but so far they’re doing great. They have learned the routine quite well too and they know when it’s about to be feeding time. They all congregate near the front doors of the vivarium and wait for me to dump in their fruit flies at every feeding!