(Your shopping cart is empty)
ARIZONA DENDROBATE RANCH - BASIC 10 GALLON TANK SETUP FOR DENDROBATES
Dart Frog Tank
A BASIC 10 GALLON TANK SETUP FOR
A SEMI-SELF SUSTAINING
by Gregory J. Sihler
The tank setup described below is the one that I use for my breeding and rearing
tanks. Itís primary purpose is to provide the Dendrobates with an environment that is
heavily planted, high in humidity, and uses the plants to filter and clean the water that
is constantly available to them. I have been using this set up since 1996 and
once the Pothos become heavily rooted in the Green moss and water, then the water
that is available for the frogs always looks good (I have not had it tested). I do not
believe that I have had any frogs go down because of this type of tank setup and I do
not have to change water dishes regularly. I will strip a tank only when I
believe that a diseased frog was in it. My maintenance involves spraying the tank heavily, and then siphoning out all the old water and adding new
water. If this works for you too then I am glad, if not, then I am open to better
suggestions. Also, my display tanks are all just variation of this theme.
|STANDARD 10 GALLON FISH AQUARIUM
|BAG OF Ĺ INCH PVC SPACERS
|SHEET OF EGG-CRATE LIGHTING PANEL
|SHEET OF LIGHTING PANEL (LITTLE PYRAMIDS)
|BAG OF GREEN MOSS
|6 INCH POT SIZE OF POTHOS (DEVILíS IVY)
|QUICK-COUNT 7-MESH CANVAS
|1 GALLON OF SPRING, or REVERSE OSMOSIS, WATER (NOT PURIFIED)
|18 INCH FLOURESCENT LIGHTING FIXTURE
Everything listed above can be purchased at a hardware store like Home Depotô,
except the 7-mesh canvas which I get at a craft store (Michaelísô), and the
aquarium of course.
Also note, that there will be left over materials that can be used on other setups, so
that each tank will not end up costing $46.
- 1. Begin by cleaning the aquarium and the plastics that will go in it. I have found
that it is sufficient to simply rinse them off real well, but feel free to use a cleaner
or soap. Just make sure that you rinse everything off well. Dry the glass of the
tanks so you will not get any mineral deposits. This will be avoided after the tank
is set up by the use of the spring or RO water.
2. Using a pair of wire cutters, snip a section of egg-crate panel so that it is the
same width of the interior of your tank, and then make it 4 inches shorter. We
will be using this for the area where the frogs will be able to get down to the
water. You can fine tune the width by trimming the individual tongs from the side
that you snipped. Snip the end for the length you cut close to the next square so
you have an even edge.
3. Place five spacers on end, at the bottom of the empty tank. They should be
oriented in a rectangle with one in the middle. Now, put the egg-crate on top of
the spacers. The egg-crate should be flush with one end of the tank so you can
still see about four inches of the bottom of the tank on the other end. There is a
variation of this that I use for my bigger tanks (40 and 55 gallons); I cut the egg-
crate even shorter (proportionally) and place it in the exact center so that there
will be areas of water available to the frogs at both ends. I have another tank
where the water is in the middle and the ends are flush, so you can begin to see
the possibilities. Use your imagination.
4. Now, take the 7-mesh and trim itís width so that it sits nicely on the egg-crate. If
you bought the small sheets then you will have to trim the length of one, using
part of another sheet. That is OK, but I always hang the longer piece over the
end of the tank without the egg-crate (it should reach almost the end of the tank).
This will give it more stability. Notice, that this will keep the frogs from getting
under the egg-crate and drowning. You can now secure the mesh to the egg-
crate using wire (I use a small-grade, copper-insulated wire), so that it wonít
move around. Another benefit of doing this will be seen when you break the tank
down (the mesh will stay attached to the egg-crate and the Pothos roots will have
intertwined with both).
5. Put everything back in the tank, and using a sharp knife (I use a steak knife) cut
holes in the mesh where you will want to put your Pothos clippings. I usually
space my holes all along the perimeter and pretty heavily between the water and
a clear area at the other end of the tank (this is where I place my hut). One note,
I use my ten gallons for breeding tanks (like the National Aquarium in Baltimore),
so I have them on shelves side by side, deep or lengthwise. I can fit four 10 gal.
aquariums on a 48 inch shelf this way (I only have to use a single 48 inch shop
light for 4 tanks then), so my water end faces outward and the hut end is in the
back, giving the frogs some privacy. On the bigger tanks I donít cut holes,
because I donít use Pothos cuttings, I plant African Violets, Ferns, and other
plants directly into the Green moss, and their roots work through the mesh to the
6. Take your Pothos plant and collect cuttings from it. Rinse the cuttings in not-to-
cold tap water to remove any pesticide(s) (the chlorine in the tap water helps
sterilize them too). Place the cuttings in the holes of the mesh.
7. Soak the Green moss in the spring water and then place it on the mesh, working
it around your cuttings. Make sure you pack it fairly tightly so that it is up against
the three sides of the tanks and supporting the cuttings. I donít put any green
moss in the water end, but I suppose you could put a little. The mesh should be
hanging over the end of the egg-crate, touching and covering the bottom of the
tank to almost the end of the tank, and you can now put pebbles and bigger
rocks to make a little beach for your frogs. I will usually just place one river rock
to hold the mesh down, then I donít have to add as much water to the bottom of
the tank, and the frogs seem to prefer this.
8. Add some more spring water to the tank, but do not fill it to the top of the
spacers, you do not want the green moss sitting on the water. I usually only have
about a 1/4 inch of standing water when I first set up a tank, so that I can mist or
spray it down a good many times before I have to siphon some off.
9. For the lid, measure the width and length on the inside lip of the top of your tank,
and using a marker trace lines on the smooth side of the panel. Using a utility
knife score the panel, and then snap of the piece. Test it to make sure that it fits
snugly on the top lip of your tank. You can leave it as one piece, in which case
you should drill some air holes in the middle, or I cut that piece in the middle so
that I only have to lift one end to feed, and the gap is big enough so that I donít
have to make any air holes. I live in Arizona where the average humidity is about
20%, so using this type of lid I can create an environment with about 80%
humidity, which is perfect for the average Dendrobate. I suppose you could use
a screen top if you lived in a high humidity area.
10. At one end of the panel drill two holes about ĺ of an inch apart and use some
more wire to make a little handle (I have used plastic ties in a pinch). Put the
lid(s) on the tank and place you light fixture on top and you are done with the
necessities, from here out it is up to you to customize. Good Luck Amigos!!