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Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Posted by Persistence WA (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 28, 04 at 0:41

OK. So what do you people heat your Vivs with? I am planning on a large viv and there will be a good water area. Heat mat or fish tank heater in water?

Second. If I get frogs, are fish out of the question? Is the urine gonna kill the fish or will very good established filtration take care of the urea of the frogs or anoles?

I know I'll have more questions. I research stuff to death before I do anything. I blame my Dad. LOL


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

as usual I'm the speculation master...but at least you get a response! that's worth a lot in this forum sometimes.

It's been a long time since I had Herpetology, but i seem to recall that lizards excrete uric acid (like birds). I don't know if it's significant or not. I think it's just another link in the nitrogenous waste breakdown. Like uric acid becomes urea which becomes nitrogen...with amonia thrown in there somewhere.

I would think that a lot of what the fish can take will depend on the kind of fish. Goldfish can take more urea then tropical fish...and another factor would be the kind of frog and whether or not its likely to use your water feature as a urinal. I would suspect that anoles and many frogs would do their business wherever they happen to be...and I've heard that frogs can pretty easily drown, and anoles aren't aquatic...so your animals may just fertilize the plants for you!!

I think the water that these tanks are trying to duplicate gets stained with peat and coconut shells in the jungle so it looks tea-colored...but in reality is pretty pure. Since it filters through all of the huge amount of plant matter, by the time it gets to the river it's nicely filtered. Plus with all the rain there's constant recharge/inflow of new "clean" water. That's why I was thinking it would be cool to circulate the water through the plants somehow...to nourish them...and to filter it. The best and easiest way would clearly be a false bottom...but I don't really want that design myself.

anyway that's my speech...remember...it's all speculation. your results may vary.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Thanks for the response. I have had many different types of fish tanks in the past. Breed them and all that. With fish the bacteria will break down the waste easily with an established filtering system. My concern would be if the Frog or any animal waste will or can be broken down by the same bacteria.

I plan on have a sealed canister filter for the water and have another pump that will lead to waterfalls and dripping water from the walls.

I would like to make it as "native" as possible. If it's south American plants then I would want some cardinal tetras or rainbows in the tank. Not many but a few would be kind of cool.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

I don't see why the frog/anole urine wouldn't be converted by the nitrobacters, same as the fish waste. I mean fish pee too, and I believe it's quite similar to ours.
As for heating, you proabably won't need to heat your water, as the heat from the lights will probably do a fine job. Unless you want discus (not recommended), which like it somewhere in the high 80's, low 90's. That's cool that you've bred fish. At least you already know that part!
Mr. B: goldfish can NOT tolerate more waste in the water. They are actually very difficult to keep well, and require very clean, well-oxygenated water. Just because you can keep one alive in a bowl for a year or two does not mean it is doing well. A normal goldfish lifespan is 20 years or more. If you lived until you were 5 years old and then died, would your parents think they had done a good job? I think not. I don't mean to sound harsh or anything, but all the misconceptions about goldfish really bug me.
Anyways, yes, some frogs drown easily, but a fire-belly toad should be just fine. It may, however, eat your fish. No, make that it WILL eat your fish, especially if they are nice and small like guppies or tetras. There's nothing wrong with this though, unless you object to buying new fish all the time and never seeing them live to adulthood. . . it's great live food for your frog.
Those submerged plants will be sweet though. Just make sure you have enough room if you get an Amazon Sword! I'm going to put a little anubias in my pond. the flower is nothing to write home about, but I don't have enough lighting for a water hyacinth in this tank. OH yeah, speaking of plants, if you have plenty of plants in your water part that stick out (like Swords or anubias) then your frogs would probably be okay, since they can grab onto a plant if they fall in the water and they aren't the best of swimmers.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

If you use a fountain pump or powerhead to circulate the water through a waterfall and through the substrate, most of your ammonia levels should be drastically lowered, and broken down to accessible nitrogen for your terrarium plants. Darts don't typically defecate in the water, although I have one that used to "hang" over the water (bog) area and use it as a toilet bowl. The Cryptocorynes I have growing in there didn't mind one bit.

As for the water being tinted an amber or tea color, that is definitely going to happen if your waterfall trickles through the substrate (the ideal setup in my opinion) after going through a waterfall/stream bed. However, this is ideal for tetras, as the areas of the Amazon they are from is almost coffee colored because of all the tannins. That's actually the way I used to condition water for breeding neon tetras (I used peat moss to stain the water an amber color and lower the pH).

However, note that very soft water (as in no hardness, not softened water) has little to no buffering capability, and ammonia levels can wildly fluctuate if a good filtration system and water changes are not in place. Making an effective wet/dry filter is very cheap (my dad and I used to breed killifish when I was younger, as well as all manner of other fish), and would be a better choice in my opinion than using the sump design in your earlier plans.

Again, I'm rambling, so I'll stop.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

From one rambler to another, please, feel free to ramble.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

I'll ramble one more time. When I first found garden web the first forum I visited was the pond forum. Almost all of them swear by trickle tower type filters made from cheap plastic tubs and plastic ribbon (or something similar w/ a huge surface area). As I'm sure everyone knows...they form a slick layer of benneficial bacteria that "clean" the water. Same principle as water treatment plants.

Anyway something similar could be easily scaled down for a viv, in fact I think some of the Dutch viv's used these filters. It would be easy to incorporate a small settling chamber as well (again used by ponders)...and if one was TRULY ambitious...i bet you could run a clear plastic line up and under the lights to get some UV filtering as well (I wouldn't go to all that trouble).

My main point is just that you could accomplish the same thing as having the water flow through the substrate by having a small trickle tower filter outside the tank with the benefit of not breaking down the media and not keeping it sopping wet.

and i base all my goldfish knowledge on the feeder fish that i won in elementary school with a ping pong ball. It lived at least five or six years and got really big under 'less then perfect' conditions...


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

LOL. What a good shot you were with a Ping Pong ball! I guess they used too much 'Pam' on the bowls I was tossing into. LOL

I'm an overkill guy when it comes to filtration. besides the waterfall I will have a canister filter. I have a Fluval filter already and even if I didn't they are pretty cheap at only $47.

I've made Wet/dry filters for when I had Saltwater fish and If I was using Plexiglass in the construction I would just build one into the tank.

Temps might be a probem since the Viv I have will be fairly tall and I want the water to be at least 75 deg at all times. So I guess the fishtank heater is the best way to go. The light will add very little heat as I am gonna get those new Flourescent T8 or whatever they are. High output and a small bulb.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Even with using compact fluorescents (which is what I use), you'd be surprised at the increase in temps. The ballasts are the biggest culprit, so if you remotely locate the ballasts on the back of the hood, you'll cut down on heat buildup. Additionally, a tank that large is less likely to suffer from big temperature fluctuations, especially with a large water reservoir acting as a heat sink.

Here's a question though: Why do you want to keep the water temps at 75 constantly? Most tetras will do well even at room temps (although I will admit that they like to breed at slightly higher temps . . . but you really can't do that in a naturalistic setup). Anyway, heating a terrarium with a water reservoir is most easily and effectively done by heating the water via a submersible aquarium heater . . . so you're right on track.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

  • Posted by Paul_ z4/5 MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 13:11

Hey Mike,

first here's a couple links you might like to peruse if you haven't already: Dutch Vivariums and Vivarium Projects

As to the frog - fish issue, it really depends on 3 things, the size of the critters, the actually species chosen, and their habits. Many frogs will eat fish if the fish are smaller than them -- and the same can be said of large fish vs small frogs -- particularly tadpoles [Bullfrogs btw are a MAJOR no-no. They will eat ANYTHING that will fit in their mouths. Some areas of the US have had bullfrogs introduced. In these non-native habitats, they're actually decimating native frog populations.] If I am remembering correctly, pdfs are primarily terrestial spend little if any time in the water except as tadpoles. However, don't quote me on that. The pdf forum at kingsnake may be a good resource for frog info

Also a link to a 'brainstorming' post elsewhere on this forum brainstorming

I'd agree with Homer that the submersible aquarium heater would probably be the way to go if you include a heater. A waterfall, besides its esthetic appeal, will also help maintain humidity.

You do realize we expect pictures when you've completed your viv!
: )


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here's another link

  • Posted by Paul_ z4/5 MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 14:33

you might find useful, Mike

false bottom construction


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Thanks Paul. I've actually been everywhere you have suggested. LOL Like I said. I research stuff to death. There seems like a thousand ways to do things and I'm trying to absorb them all and come up with what I think will work. Everyones suggestions are very important. I am gonna take pics and document my successes and failures throughout the project as well as costs. Hopefully more successes. LOL


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Here's something I learned when setting my waterfall up: do NOT be tempted to put the dirt and plants and stuff in until you are sure your waterfall is running perfectly and not splashing water where it shouldn't be, etc. I'm having some serious water runnoff into my dirt which I'm having a real hard time fixing, since I can't tell where the piece of slate is getting the water from! I think it's from somewhere along the back of the waterfall, which makes it even harder to redirect. . . oh, and I pulled my water supply tube right out of the pump underneath everything when I was trying to cut it to the right height behind the waterfall, so I had to move EVERYTHING (I had put dirt and plants in. Dumb, dumb, dumb. . .) just to stick it back in. So learn from my mistakes and take the time you need! I think I will regret my hastiness for a long time. . .


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

I'm going to "makeover" my viv this weekend, changing it from a basic Treefrog habitat (White's) to adding 1/3 water habitat with a waterfall, just to give them a pool to rest in. But the more I've had these two frogs the more I know fish are out of the question, at least as tank mates. If anything I might start putting a few feeder goldfish in, just for a seafood treat.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

I saw on another post that you were thinking about dart frogs. Dart frogs will drown in water that is taller than them because they can not swim (no webbed feet).


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Well, Animals are out of the question for me. The wife freaked out about another pet, especially a poisonous one. LOL So much to learn about these Vivs


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

PDFs aren't poisonous in captivity. They require a certain insect diet in the wild that enables them to produce their toxins, so captive-bred ones are never poisonous, and wild-caught ones loose their toxicity after some time in captivity. You don't want to PO the wife though. =) I'm sure that my house will resemble a zoo in a few years. Everyone in my family loves animals, especially my son (we'll be getting him a dog as soon as we have a house with a yard), so we're doomed! =)


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

In response to the frogs and fish question, you would be surprised how easy it is to keep them together. I have a 29 gallon tank with a false bottom and a water fall, so there is room in the front for a little pond. I had 4 neons, a dwarf gourami, and some ghost shrimp. The fish did really well, but the shrimp tended to swim out of the pond and get stuck in moss. I also had 9 poison dart frogs. The frogs didn't have any problems with the depth of the water because there was plenty of gravel to climb on. Unfortunately, it got VERY hot one day this summer and a few frogs died. Then I had to take the tank apart to move. Now I am set up again with less frogs and just a betta to start with. Neons are fine, but they are already in my other fish tank. Bettas may seem a little too easy, but they do look neat swimming around in the little pond. The waterfall pump works as an excellent filter through the gravel, which gets colonized by the right N-fixing bacteria. The water is cleaner than my fish tank. Any small tropical fish will trive in a false bottom tank. Maybe look into killifish which are colorfull and like acidic water (if you are using peat as a substrate). They aren't usually in pet stores, but they are worth looking into.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

There is no way that anyone should keep 9 frogs in a 29 gallon tank! Only breeders do that as a temporary thing for young froglets. Killifish are also more difficult fish, and should not just be tossed into a set-up because they look pretty. Nothing should!


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

The frogs I have are small species, so they had plenty of room to have their own hiding places and get enough to eat. Right now I have E. vittatus, D. azureus, and D. auratus. 9 frogs in a 29 gallon is not unreasonable considering how many can be kept in a tank. I worked for a zoo with a nice frog collection and the display tanks had 15-20 in a 60 gallon. Most of the off-display tanks had over 6 in a 20 gallon. PDFs are really a lot easier to care for than most people would think and don't seem to get stressed unless there isn't enough food available. Making a nice terrarium is the key to success. Keeping a supply of food is the main difficulty. During moving, my 5 frogs were living in a critter cage with plastic wrap over the top and moss on the bottom - they adapted very well and now are exploring the big tank again. I only suggested killifish because a tank setup can have an environment similar to their care needs. Some species do not need much room and can be maintained with just a bubbler.


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RE: Lots of viv questions. would love input.

Not only should you not have 9 frogs in a 20 gallon tank, they should not be mixed species! And azureus are some of the largest PDFs, not the smallest. And zoos are certainly not good examples of treating animals well and giving them lots of space to roam. . . please understand that my main concern is the well-being of the animals; it's not that I enjoy making people look bad (it's not an 'I'm right and you're wrong!' thing). Whether PDFs are easy to keep or not is not the issue. But nothing lives in that kind of cramped quarters in the wild, especially with that many other animals in competition! Of course you may give them enough food, but how do you know that they are not stressed? It is the general concensus among the experts that species should not generally be mixed, and if you do, they must have a VERY large enclosure. I have an 85 gallon terrarium that I am getting ready for PDFs, and I plant to only ever keep a maximum of two pairs of the same species in there. Pets are not just for our enjoyment. We have a responsibility to take care of them to the best of our knowledge. I'm trying to help you and your frogs out here, not just 'slam' you. Surviving is not the same as thriving.


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