Build of an paludarium for Dendrobates leucomelas

Jari B

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Jari Boerboom
For the past two weeks I have been busy with building my first poison dart frog paludarium. After an intensive research of how I would build I finally found the set-up that suits me the best. The species I like the most is Dendrobates leucomelas and I designed my paludarium specially for this species. As you can see I am using a 60x40x60 Exo Terra terrarium, although some people dislike using this type of terrarium for dart frogs. The simple reason why I chosen it was that it was the biggest terrarium I had available with good ventilation.

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The next step was thinking how big I wanted the water and land part to be. A big land part with a waterfall and a little stream is in my thoughts the ultimate paludarium for dart frogs. For the land part I used hydro grains (16 liters) and some root canvas to keep the grains in their place, and prevent any kind of substrate to pollute the hydro grains. With some good folding and larger stones the base is done.

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The tricky part is to make side- and background coverings without losing to much space and to still keep that natural forest/rainforest look. Fern root is a good material but too expensive for me to use. That’s why I wanted to use dried peat after looking at some good reviews online. I bought 6 bars of peat and used a saw to make thin slices. To glue them in place against the glass I used glass sealant while I kept in mind that peat increases in size when it gets moist. In advance to making a stream and waterfall I made sure that the intake is hidden at the right side with the nozzle in what the stream will be and the plastic tube and hose covered and hidden in the root canvas. It’s going out of the paludarium in the right corner. The peat is about 3 cm above what will we the waterlevel so it doesn’t gets soaked. The lamps used in the cover are 2 25 watt plant lights which also radiate UV.

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And when all the peat is in place:

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I left the glass sealant to dry for 48 hours before going to the next step, making the waterfall. For the waterfall I used polyurethane foam as it’s cheap and easy to make a landscape from (at least that’s what I thought in the beginning). As I was using the polyurethane foam the first problems occurred within a few minutes, because the hydro grains were in place I was unable to lay the terrarium on it’s back while making the waterfall. One problem is that it’s collapsing and not sticking to the background well while it was setting. A few hours later the waterfall is roughly done. While cutting the foam in the shape of a waterfall I found out that the inside was still very sticky and almost like a fluid. This was in the end in my favour because it was exactly what I needed to put a piece of special wood that I bought at the pet store in place for the water to flow over. At the top I drilled a hole through the foam to put the plastic tube in place. The pump I am using is an Eheim pump for a maximum of 150 liters.

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The next step was to make it look more natural. I did this with tile glue and covered it with a mix of peat and cocopeat. I left it to dry for 48 hours but it wasn’t holding well. But I decided to not change it but to cover it with moss to make it look more natural and the tile glue even made it look like it’s a rock so I kept it this way. The stream I made with lava rocks and I covered the water intake and the aquarium heater with them (but I made sure that the water can flow well on all sides of the heater). As a soil on top of the root canvas I used the same mix of peat and cocopeat as the covering on the waterfall.

With the water flowing for the first time:
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These plants were bought for the paludarium. I don’t know the names but I used orchids and bromeliads:
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The underside of the paludarium is isolated with Styrofoam with an heating mat on top that has a maximum temperature of 28-35 degrees Celsius at its peak. The back is covered with radiator isolating and the plastic hoses are isolated to, to decrease heat loss. The front ventilation is covered with a thin netting to prevent fruit flies to escape. The top is also partially covered with plastic to keep the heat and moisture in. But there is still space left for good ventilation.

When I finished those extra’s I started decorating the terrarium with plants, moss and cork bark. The temperature during the day is around 24-26 degrees Celsius and 22-21 at night.

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Now it’s waiting for the dart frogs, I will receive them next week and will post more pictures in this topic. Sorry for my bad English ;)
 
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  • Not Albino Alex:
    And even .25 ammonia is bad what you want for nitrite and ammonia is 0 and .25 for short periods
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  • faebugz:
    @DarthNyQuil, what's your ph? Ammonia is non-toxic at lower ph so might not need to panic, however if you have hard water (think calcium deposits in a tea kettle), you likely have a high pH and thus should be maintaining 0. Either way, use seachem prime to dechlorinate your water and get the added benefit of making ammonia and nitrite non-toxic for 24 hours, the peace of mind is worth it.
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  • faebugz:
    @DarthNyQuil, to cycle more quickly/safely, see if you have a friend or trusted LFS with some filter media you could add to your filter. It will cycle it almost instantly, far better than bottled stuff. Speaking of bottled insta-cycle, some people swear by tetra safe start, although I've never used it myself so can't vouch for it. And finally to make it more safe, feel free to do larger water changes to get that ammonia lower- 90% of the bacteria you're growing is in the filter, 9% on surfaces, and maybe 1%> in the water column. So even a
    100% water change won't really effect the cycle process
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  • lvlyvoa:
    hey thank you all so much for your help!! i shouldn't have been so careless, but I love my axie very much and her behaviour has improved as I have started a tank cycle and gotten some good food for her
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  • faebugz:
    @lvlyvoa, good to hear, np. They love nightcrawlers and worms if you have access to them, they're the healthiest thing they can eat since they're a complete prey
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  • BrodieBAxolotls:
    hey, does anyone have any brine shrimp eggs??
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    i do!
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  • Jaeger:
    My axolotls were doing fine until the cycle int heir tank crashed. I currently have them tubbed and they wont stop shedding their slime coat, and my golden albino looks a little red, and his gills dont look too good. Theyre both flaoting and im keeping the tub at 18 degrees celsius and doing 100% water changes everyday, any help on anythingelse? can anyone help?
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  • AkemiYousei:
    @Jaeger I would try to double up on Prime to combat the slime coat shed when doing the 100% water changes. Also, if it's bad, might want to consider a tea bath as a preventive measure.
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  • AxolotlMama:
    I just wrote this on the post ^
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  • AkemiYousei:
    Haha, great minds, right?
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  • AxolotlMama:
    They sure do 😄!
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  • Jaeger:
    @AkemiYousei thanks so much. Will do. I have also given them a tea bath before, seems to work their gills are looking so much healthier, my golden albino is swimming around frantically trying to jump out, should i be worried? my wild type is fine
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  • AkemiYousei:
    Might be the stress, or the shedding bothering it
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  • AkemiYousei:
    Make sure s/he can't jump out, and maybe keep her in a undisturbed, darkened place for a bit. See if that calms the goldie.
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  • Jaeger:
    I woke up to my golden axolotl covered complete white. what do i do
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  • Jaeger:
    Just found out, hes dead. :(
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  • mcapanema:
    :'(
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  • AkemiYousei:
    @Jaeger, Oh no! Sorry to hear. :(
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  • AxelTheAxolotl123:
    my axolotl has white balls on its gills and the feathers have shrunk
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    AxelTheAxolotl123: my axolotl has white balls on its gills and the feathers have shrunk +1
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