AJCs Virtual Frogroom: Starting with darts

Starting With Dartfrogs

Over the course of 40+ years experience keeping and breeding tropical fish, and as a long-term internet user, over the years I've developed a simple set of advice for fishkeeping newbies:

  1. Read a good book (or preferably, several). There are lots around, your choice: Amazon or Amazon.UK.
  2. Don't overstock: 1cm fish (ADULT body length, ignore tail) per 2 litres of water. Don't cheat on this rule!
  3. Do regular partial waterchanges: e.g. 10-20% once a week, or 30-40% once a fortnight. Don't neglect this.
  4. Don't overfeed: feed only as much food as your fish can eat in 5 minutes, once a day only.

However, most of what I have learned about fishkeeping is summed up by this:

Keeping fish is really keeping water.

So what's the advice for someone who wants to start keeping dartfrogs?

Keeping dartfrogs is really frogfood.

1. Books:

There's nowhere near as big a choice of dartfrog books as there is for aquarium books, but there are quite a few available: Amazon or Amazon.UK. If I had to recommend one cheap book for someone starting up, it would be:

cover Poison Dart Frogs: Facts & Advice on Care and Breeding
Richard D. Bartlett

Advice on all aspects of ownership, from selecting good specimens and determining sex to breeding, feeding, providing correct housing and health care, heavily illustrated with color photos. (Amazon.co.UK)

2. How big a vivarium do I need? What substrate should I use? What kind of lighting?

There's no one answer to these questions. Different setups work for different people - you'll have to find out what works for you. The most important thing is that any vivarium should be escape-proof, for frogs and preferably for flies too.

3. Feeding:


Dartfrogs are never going to be as "big" a hobby as tropical fish, unless someone breeds frogs that will eat dried frogflakes (please God, no!).

Feed as much variety as possible.

The most important advice I can give you is that dartfrogs are a people hobby, not an international industry like the aquarium trade. Make friends with other froggers on the internet, go to frogdays to meet people and learn from the experts!

British Dendrobatid Group


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AJC 2005.