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.



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.





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.



And when all the peat is in place:



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.







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:




These plants were bought for the paludarium. I don’t know the names but I used orchids and bromeliads:


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.









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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    Hi I recently rescued a lotl (i did weeks of research before rescuing) Hes mabey 5 or 6 years of age..the previous owner could not remember the exact age of him. I got him from her as he was or had been picked on by his tank mate another lotl who was bough with him from every younger age, I noticed one of his gills, a middle one at the end had split in two? And is slightly more floppy? He also appears or mabey I'm just over worried to mabey have lost some feathers, is that normal to lose some?...all levels in the tank are fine, but wondered if theres and advice anyone could give me as an experienced owner to a new one.
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  • Axolotl Queen:
    @Lanalotl Sounds like the gills may have been nipped by the tank mate. If he is in his own tank and the parameters etc are all good, then he should grow them back and they should go back to full health and strength. However, depending on how old the injury is they may not fully grow back if they have been constantly nipped at.
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  • Smknmom421:
    Can anyone tell me why this is happening? We just did a water change and after freaking out and whipping around the tank, an hour later they look like this. It won't let me send a pic. The edges of their gills are white and it looks like they have skin shedding off
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  • Murk:
    That sounds like severe skin damage. If you post a thread on the forum, you can attach pictures.
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    It sounds like something went wrong with the water change, so this could be very dangerous. Did you use a dechlorinator? Could it be there are traces of chlorine or soap in the water? (Or for example, in the bucket you used?)
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    Normally, I would recommend taking them out of the tank asap and putting them in a tub with fresh water, but if there's something wrong with your tap water or dechlorinator, that might not help either. Do you have acces to bottled water or rain water?
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    Update about my axie, unfortunately he has died over night, he looked as if he was bruised allover his belly, his mucus layer had also started to come off.
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    hi.....
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    Hi, so I have 2 male axolotls and about an hour ago they were both perfectly fine and now only one of them has his tail curling up and his gills are slightly curled?? But other than that they’re both acting normally
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    Help! I got my first axolotl two days ago and they have stopped eating. They ate a few frozen blood worms the first day and haven’t eaten or been interested in food since. I feed them frozen blood worms and the tank is around 64 degrees. I do have a filter that moves sometimes and I noticed them swimming up to it, I have a new filter and a fan coming today or tomorrow. I leave the worms in the tank or a little bit before taking them out so I don’t know if they ate when I wasn’t looking. I know it takes a while for them to digest. Does anyone have any tips or knowledge they can share? The pet store I bought them from didn’t have gravel or sand in the tank so I’m not sure if theres an issue or if I’m just impatient. Thank you!
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    @MuggleMiChu, how big they are? also for substrate, i would not do gravel at all I would either do sand or none at all!
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    They are about 2-3 inches long and I have them in a bare bottom tank
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu I would say try live black/blood worms untell they are full or just turn there head away ( that's what mine do) if that does not work try to get some live brine shrimp and see if they eat that. baby axolotl prefer live food over frozen food as the frozen food is too cold for them or they can't eat it in one go( that's if you do the blocks) mine eat chopped up frozen thawed shrimp. as for them not eating from what I have experienced with my second axolotl, I got her when she was about an inch long and she ate every day, when they start getting 3-4 inches long they will gradually slow down there eating. and if you really want to do substrate I would do sand because if they do ingest a little bit it won't hurt them.
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    Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.
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    @MuggleMiChu,your so welcome im glad to be of help! and I'm glad that they are eating as well!
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