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Thread: A few random questions from a newb

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    Default A few random questions from a newb

    Hi all! I'm in the process of setting up my viv (again after a drainage layer failure). I had a few questions. I'm going to have to reorder my springtail and iso cultures - springs didn't make it here alive and the Isos didn't do very well, only two survivors and I couldn't find them when I went to add them back to the tank from their temp storage container. I don't think they could get out, but I have no idea what happened to them. Anyway, that's the basics of a cleanup crew, yes?

    I don't have my toads yet. The tank inhabitants will be bumble bee toads. I want to make sure I have a good cleanup crew well established in the tank before I put the toads in it, but what's up with my springs dying in transit? Is that common? I order live animals and feeder insects in the mail all the time and rarely have issues like that. Anyway I want to add them to the tank pre-toad, but what do I do to keep them alive until the toads go in and start pooping to feed them?

    Another question - given it's a viv, there is a small bathing pool in about 1/4 of the ten gallon aquarium. I want to put some bladder snails into the water to keep it clean and eat anything the toads may knock into the pool. I'm putting a small anubias plant in the water to assist with water quality as well, and I know that's okay, but what about the snails? Will they be a problem for my toads?

    Regarding soil in the viv - I used a potting mix. I use the same mix in my fish tanks, so I know it's safe, but the soil is acidic and prone to anaerobic spots when it becomes compressed. Would adding some small slugs, snails, worms, etc. be a poor idea? Aeration in the soil seems good, but I worry if I was to add worms that one might die and cause an ammonia spike in the soil. How sensitive are toads to ammonia in the soil? Will it hurt them if this happens? What effect does it have on them?

    Okay and onto the fun part, here is my viv after I redid it. Plants are assorted tillandsias, multiple kyoto grass, two Spathiphyllum wallisii (umbrella plant from petsmart) and sphagnum moss. The anubias petite nana should be arriving today, and I'll just set it in the bathing pool. I also have one of those random "fern" plants sold at terrarium stores. It did okay in the humidity before so I'm assuming it'll be fine.

    Is there anything I need to add, subtract, divide, etc? Does this look like a good habitat for bumble bee toads now that I've fixed the soil level issues and the water level no longer touches any of the soil on any level of the tank?

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    100+ Post Member Strider18's Avatar
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Hello, lets see how well I can answer your questions
    1. Not sure, they should survive if they got ordered overnight.
    2. What I do with my isopods is I put some fish flakes in there but you could use leaf litter as well.
    3. I doubt that the snails would do anything to the toads since toads are more dry land animals and aren't like some frogs which just dive into the water.
    4. I would personally use ABG soil mix since it is the most common and stays stable most of the time, I have tried to add worms and slugs but they don't do anything except end up dying.
    5. The ammonia levels in the soil should be kept down so again, I wouldn't reccomend putting things such as worms to the soil.
    6. Overall the tank looks good and you should have some happy toads
    Hope this helps!

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Snails and slugs will damage your live plants. They eat leaves, so while they might not harm the frogs, they will definitely harm your plants!
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    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default A few random questions from a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by lnikkiy View Post
    Snails and slugs will damage your live plants. They eat leaves, so while they might not harm the frogs, they will definitely harm your plants!
    No, they won't actually. Bladder snails are aquatic and very few aquatic snails eat plants. Bladder snails are not one of those species. Apple snails, mystery snails (sometimes) and a couple other will.

    Terrestrials, on the other hand, are different. Quite a few will eat live vegetation, but those are the truly monstrous species. The small ones we get in vivariums are more of a threat to frog eggs than anything else.


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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Yes, I was referring to terrestrial snails, not aquatic ones. Obviously the type of snail would make a difference, but many can be quite disastrous. Just something to keep in mind if you are considering snails
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Are there any very small land snails that won't eat my plants? Obviously that would be a bad thing lol. If not, no biggie, I have isos as a cleanup crew, just thought a single small snail would look nice.

    Does anyone know if it's safe for me to use vinegar on the tank? I really want to try to get rid of this hard water deposit on the front but don't want to poison my toads.

    Also, is there anything I should add to the tank other than springtails and isos for a cleanup crew? Perhaps there is a small beetle I should consider, or something? Honestly I don't like beetles, or most bugs, but rolly polies are okay.

    I am also wondering if I should consider adding a carnivorous plant to assist with overfeeding, which I'm likely to do as the toadlets will be young and I have yet to find a guideline on how much to feed them. I'm planning on a staple of drosophila with regular phoenix worms for calcium. And if I can find them, termites that don't eat wood might be added as well, or non-biting ants. (if anyone knows where I can purchase these, let me know, I'd be really grateful.)

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    I do not know about the snails.

    Vinegar is great for cleaning off the hard water and when rinsed, will not harm your toads at all. Sometimes a razor blade is necessary to assist with cleaning off hard water deposits.

    I have great luck with only spring tails and isos as a clean up crew. Have never felt the need for anything else.

    I would not add a carnivorous plant, your toads would likely stress them to death and I believe (tho correct me if I'm wrong, plant experts) that they need quite a bit of circulation.

    I have heard of people having issues with pheonix worms because the frogs cannot digest them properly. The fruit flies maybe with a few occasional bean beetles mixed in and calcium and vitamin powders should be sufficient.
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Almost all land snails will be eating your plants, not much you can do about that.

    You can use vinegar to remove hard water deposits but you may want to tear apart the whole tank so that you can make sure that you get all of the vinegar out.

    I would just stick with isopods and springtails.

    Most carnivorous plants that I know of wouldn't even survive in that kind of enviroment, you may want to ask Bill(Deranged Chipmunk) as he is the real plant expert

    I hope this helps!

    Lol looks like I need to type faster, everyone is stealing all of my answers :P

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by LilyPad View Post
    I have heard of people having issues with pheonix worms because the frogs cannot digest them properly. The fruit flies maybe with a few occasional bean beetles mixed in and calcium and vitamin powders should be sufficient.
    That's odd, I had heard they were a good natural source of calcium for amphibians. :/ I will have to look into that more before I feed them lol. What is a bean beetle?

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by junebug View Post
    That's odd, I had heard they were a good natural source of calcium for amphibians. :/ I will have to look into that more before I feed them lol. What is a bean beetle?
    I have read accounts of them coming out whole and even still alive with frogs. Apparently, frogs have a difficult time digesting them and they're better for animals that bite and chew to break their skin and make them more digestible. I bought them once also thinking it would be a great addition to my frogs' diets. Also, if you have one die in there, they stink to high heaven. Just do a quick search with the search feature, lots of threads about phoenix worms come up. I chose not to use them after reading a bit.

    Bean beetles are little teeny beetles in a bean culture, they are a good occasional treat. I do not know a whole lot about them as I don't feed tiny foods.
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    A bean beetle is a small beetle(obviously) around 3-4mm in length and many dart frog keepers culture them as a treat for their frogs. They would work for your toadlets since they are relatively small.

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    looks like the gang has you covered. first off, termites and ants are bad. and i'm not even thinking about the viv. just imagine, if, for some unknown reason, one or both of those cultures were to fall over during the night. eghads!! now, not only your living space will get them, so will neighbors (if you have any), and more importantly, you just may have introduced a potentially catastrophic invasive species into your local eco system, because they will get out, make no mistake of that.

    snails are just not a good thing in a viv. although aquatics in a water feature are fine. and there is rarely a such thing as "one snail" lol

    as far as carnivorous plants go. they won't eat the amount of leftover food you think they may. they also do not like the nutrient rich soil that we use. in some species, it would actually cause their demise. humidity wouldn't be an issue with BB toads, as much as it would be in a dart tank. ventilation wouldn't be an issue either. you could possibly keep a drosera species in there (sundew). a bladderwort like utricularia gramminifolia (UG in the aquatic planted tank hobby) would also be a viable candidate, if you could get some, and it would have to be planted on the margin. you could even get away with one of the short, low growing sarracenia species, but they would probably grow too wide for the tank. i can probably come up with a few others, but my mind is drawing a blank right now. as amy mentioned also, some carnivores are very delicate. i know my D. Filliformis is ridiculously fragile, so i would worry about even the smallest toad trampling it to death.
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    oh, and bean beetles are awesome!! i highly recommend them!
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Haha don't worry Bill, if I was to get a termite "culture" I'd just introduce them directly to the tank. Don't think I'd actually try to raise them. Doubt if I actually could lol. Okay, so where does one get these bean beetles?

    I am skipping the carnivorous plant for now. Might try one later in a plant only viv I just got a couple of assorted ferns, vines, and a begonia to finish off the tank.

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by junebug View Post
    Haha don't worry Bill, if I was to get a termite "culture" I'd just introduce them directly to the tank. Don't think I'd actually try to raise them. Doubt if I actually could lol. Okay, so where does one get these bean beetles?

    I am skipping the carnivorous plant for now. Might try one later in a plant only viv I just got a couple of assorted ferns, vines, and a begonia to finish off the tank.
    I know that most places that sell dart frogs and such sell bean beetle cultures, though I am sure you can find a nice member that would give you some discounted or maybe even free! I personally wouldn't let a single termite go near my house, much less in a vivarium. Good luck with you viv, I look forward to seeing it grown in and full of toads

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by Strider18 View Post
    I know that most places that sell dart frogs and such sell bean beetle cultures, though I am sure you can find a nice member that would give you some discounted or maybe even free! I personally wouldn't let a single termite go near my house, much less in a vivarium. Good luck with you viv, I look forward to seeing it grown in and full of toads
    Not all termites eat wood At least according to my dad, who used to exterminate them for a living haha.

    I will be sure to post pictures! I soaked the soil yesterday so I'm waiting for the humidity to figure itself out (the soil was totally dry so needed a good soaking to get things started). I've had a minor setback with my hygrometer, which fell in the bathing pool and now seems to be reading humidity about 10% higher than it is (also have an analog hygro at the back of the tank which seems more accurate). I think some of the more crucial components got wet and haven't dried out yet. The battery is totally messed up, I know that. Might just spring for a new one altogether lol, it wasn't that expensive.

    Anyway I am still planning to order toadlets again next monday assuming the viv has sorted its humidity out by then, so hopefully I'll get pictures up soon.

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Hi
    Your build looks very nice. I think you have done a really nice job setting up the substrate layers.

    I build w/ layered bases as well I have never done a false bottom. My oldest enclosure is over 4 years old and shows NO sigh of having to be re-done ( they are drilled, however--so no siphoning is needed) Soil will have to be added - over time.

    Leaving it be, reducing the frequency of making changes provides a more 'stable environment' for the frogs ----especially those kept in groups. They find and claim their own 'little niches'. Some species of PDFs (ie D auratus ) really don't like their stuff messed with. It can interrupt their "family planning".

    Bill can vouch for the fact that I am am a "nervous Nelly" when it comes to what goes into my enclosures as well as being as chemical free as possible ! If I found a termite, ant or snail of any kind in any of my enclosures I would have a melt down as I think it would be just about impossible for a tiny dart (ie a varadaro or a froglet) to completely digest the snail shell causing the risk of an intestinal obstruction, bleed or worse ! That's my 2 cents. After all the work and $$$$ I 'd rather reduce any potential risks.

    I have an intestinal obstruction story ( not form a snail though -- BUT I believe similar ) . I witnessed a dart frog struggling for days; it was just terrible. He was pooping, but it was really stuck ! and obviously not a prolapse. There was really not much I could do but to - hope ! All ended fine. The blockage appear to be from a very small pc of vermiculite that I missed when prepping a plant. (It sticks to the roots sometimes) I felt terrible ! Or maybe he came that way? They are curious and pick at non-insect items or grab them accidentally when feeding. Who knows how long these things sit in their stomachs? He may have had it in his stomach for a long time.? He did have Ca and Vit A deficiency when I got him which could have been caused by this being in his stomach a some time blocking the absorption of nutrients??? Poor baby --- thankfully he's fine now.

    Springtails and isopods would do the trick for you....and I agree 100% that ABG should be used.
    I have purchased lots of different of pre-mixes.
    I like Josh's best. I do however, modify it by adding cocoa fiber or tropical soil.
    You might still be able to mix some ABG in ?

    You might check out some of the chameleon sites for additional bug ideas?

    Most reptile/amphibian shows will have bb cultures.
    Warning: when feeding bb - not too many at one time and not too often ; they are tough on the
    frogs's digestive system.

    It's really comical watching a dart frog eat a bb for the first time! I won't spoil the suspense !

    Don't forget your QT
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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Woot update! Isos are in. I wasn't able to get springtails (don't know what that's about) but will probably just order them with the toads. I need some other stuff from Josh's Frogs anyway.

    I also got the remaining plants today and added them in tonight. Pellaea rotundifolia, Pilea glauca, Begonia masoniana "Iron Cross", and philodendron "mini red" which I'm growing as an epiphyte on my hunk of manzanita, assuming it survives there and hopefully it won't block out the light the begonia needs.

    I'll take pictures soon. Some of you may know that the tank I've put together is completely low tech, no lighting, no heater, hand misting only, so I have no way to light it for decent pictures right now. Hopefully tomorrow :P

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Okay, pictures!

    I added the begonia, ferns, and philodendron sp. Got a nice shot of the philodendron. Curious to see how it does growing on the wood like that. If it starts to fail, I'll move it into the soil.

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    The ferns are both at the back of the tank, one growing over the wood a bit to work as a vine and make a shelter for the toads, hopefully a nice humid pocket for them. The back of the tank stays a bit less humid (back is the left end looking at it from the wide side, this tank is in a weird place in my house). I'm hoping to train more vines to grow over the wood, assuming the plant lives.

    The begonia is on the "slope" where the soil starts to taper out. Planting it was a bit problematic, as the plant came with a huge root system and removing enough of the potting soil to put the plant where I wanted it with minimal root damage was a challenge lol. I think I've done it, though. And of course the philodendron growing on the root that spans the tank and rests in the water. I'm going to try to redirect the roots a bit to move them closer to the soil. This particular plant came with a handy "hook-shaped" rhizome so I didn't even have to tie it onto the wood.

    The last thing I'll likely do is get some more aquatic/marginal plants for around the water feature, and switch out the sphagnum moss for pillow moss. The sphagnum isn't doing well and isn't covering the soil the way I'd hoped it would. For aquatics and marginals, I might hunt down a few more anubias petite nana, or divide the one I have, as it should grow fairly quickly (for anubias). It gets the most direct light of any plant in the tank, actually haha. So if the rhizome grows fast enough, I'll turn that into two plants and move one over to the slope side where it'll get nutrients directly from the soil. I might also get some azolla if I can find it, and maybe a carpeting plant, HC or UG perhaps for around the water feature. Azolla might be the easiest though lol. And if I want some I can just take it from my boyfriend's pond, he has tons growing on his mesh netting.

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    Default Re: A few random questions from a newb

    Well, the philodendron was starting to get a bit melty on the wood. I went ahead and planted it in the soil next to the root. Hopefully it does better there.

    Humidity seems to have stabilized a bit and I'm planning on ordering my toads tomorrow.

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