How to Create a Bioactive Terrarium for Dart Frogs?

How to create a Bioactive Terrarium

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In this article, we will be discussing creating a self-sustaining Bioactive Terrarium for Dart Frogs aka Dendrobatids.

A Semi Self Sustaining Dendrobatid Vivarium

The tank setup described below is the one that I use for my breeding and rearing tanks.

Its primary purpose is to provide the Dendrobates with an environment that is heavily planted,

high in humidity, and uses the plants to filter and clean the water that is constantly available to them.

I have been using this setup and once the Pothos become heavily rooted in the Green moss and water,

then the water that is available for the frogs always looks good (I have not had it tested).

How to create a Arid Bioactive Paludarium terrarium?

I do not believe that I have had any frogs go down because of this type of tank setup and I do not have to change water dishes regularly.

I will strip a tank only when I believe that a diseased frog was in it.

My maintenance involves spraying the tank heavily, and then siphoning out all the old water and adding new water.

If this works for you too then I am glad, if not, then I am open to better suggestions.

Also, my display tanks are all just variations of this theme.

Tropical terrarium for frogs
Tropical terrarium or pet tank for frogs

So, How do you make a bioactive terrarium?

Some of the Things you will Need:

  • STANDARD 10 GALLON FISH AQUARIUM
  • BAG OF ½ INCH PVC SPACERS
  • SHEET OF EGG-CRATE LIGHTING PANEL
  • SHEET OF LIGHTING PANEL (LITTLE PYRAMIDS)
  • BAG OF GREEN MOSS
  • 6 INCH POT SIZE OF PATHOS (DEVIL’S IVY)
  • QUICK-COUNT 7-MESH CANVAS
  • 1 GALLON OF SPRING, or REVERSE OSMOSIS, WATER (NOT PURIFIED)
  • 18 INCH FLUORESCENT LIGHTING FIXTURE

Everything listed above can be purchased at a hardware store like Home Depot,

except the 7-mesh canvas which I get at a craft store, and the aquarium of course.

Also note, that there will be leftover materials that can be used on other setups so that each tank will not end up costing cheaper.

how to Create Poison dart frog vivarium

Cleaning the Vivarium

Begin by cleaning the aquarium and the plastics that will go into it.

I have found that it is sufficient to simply rinse them off well, but feel free to use a cleaner or soap.

Just make sure that you rinse everything off well.

Dry the glass of the tanks so you will not get any mineral deposits.

This will be avoided after the tank is set up by the use of the spring or Reverse Osmosis water.

Using a pair of wire cutters, snip a section of the egg-crate panel so that it is the same width as the interior of your tank, and then make it 4 inches shorter.

We will be using this for the area where the frogs will be able to get down to the water.

You can fine-tune the width by trimming the individual tongs from the side that you snipped.

Snip the end for the length you cut close to the next square so you have an even edge.

Place five spacers on end, at the bottom of the empty tank.

They should be oriented in a rectangle with one in the middle.

Now, put the egg-crate on top of the spacers.

What is a false bottom terrarium?

A false bottom is simply a reserved layer of substrate used in the inner base of the vessel being used to create your vivarium.

its importance lies in the fact that it prevents excess water accumulation in roots,

thus preventing them from rotting, and also maintains a healthy environment in the vivarium.

Note: Waterlogged substrate may cause foul-smelling and growth of harmful bacteria in the vivarium ecosystem.

Do bio-active tanks requires a drainage layer?

Usually, a bioactive paludarium is self-sustaining, but in case the tank is fully enclosed with a non-removable bottom layer,

using a simple water pump can easily expel excess water and also recycle the drainage water.

Vivarium Egg Crate Method

The egg-crate should be flush with one end of the tank so you can still see about four inches of the bottom of the tank on the other end.

There is a variation of this that I use for my bigger tanks (40 and 55 gallons);

I cut the egg- crate even shorter (proportionally) and place it in the exact center so that there will be areas of water available to the frogs at both ends.

I have another tank where the water is in the middle and the ends are flush, so you can begin to see the possibilities. Use your imagination.

Now, take the 7-mesh and trim its width so that it sits nicely on the egg-crate.

If you bought the small sheets then you will have to trim the length of one, using part of another sheet.

That is OK, but I always hang the longer piece over the end of the tank without the egg-crate (it should reach almost the end of the tank).

This will give it more stability. Notice, that this will keep the frogs from getting under the egg-crate and drowning.

You can now secure the mesh to the egg- crate using wire (I use a small-grade, copper-insulated wire) so that it won’t move around.

Another benefit of doing this will be seen when you break the tank down (the mesh will stay attached to the egg-crate and the Pothos roots will have intertwined with both).

how to ventilate a vivarium?

Put everything back in the tank, and using a sharp knife (I use a steak knife) cut holes in the mesh where you will want to put your Pothos clippings.

I usually space my holes all along the perimeter and pretty heavily between the water and a clear area at the other end of the tank (this is where I place my hut).

How to Choose the Right Tank Size?

One note, I use my 10 gallons for breeding tanks (like the National Aquarium in Baltimore), so I have them on shelves side by side, deep or lengthwise.

I can fit four 10 gallons. aquariums on a 48-inch shelf this way (I only have to use a single 48-inch shop light for 4 tanks then),

So the water end faces outward and the hut end is in the back, giving frogs some privacy.

On the bigger tanks, I don’t cut holes, because I don’t use Pothos cuttings,

I plant African Violets, Ferns, and other plants directly into the Green moss, and their roots work through the mesh to the water.

For Further Reading: Vivarium Plants for Beginners (20 Easy Vivarium Plants)

Take your Pothos plant and collect cuttings from it.

Rinse the cuttings in not-to-cold tap water to remove any pesticide(s)

(the chlorine in the tap water helps sterilize them too).

Place the cuttings in the holes of the mesh.

Soak the green moss in the spring water and then place it on the mesh, working it around your cuttings.

Make sure you pack it fairly tightly so that it is up against the three sides of the tanks and supporting the cuttings.

I don’t put any green moss in the water end, but I suppose you could put a little.

The mesh should be hanging over the end of the egg-crate, touching and covering the bottom of the tank to almost the end of the tank,

and you can now put pebbles and bigger rocks to make a little beach for your frogs.

I will usually just place one river rock to hold the mesh down,

then I don’t have to add as much water to the bottom of the tank, and the frogs seem to prefer this.

How to Water a Terrarium?

Add some more spring water to the tank, but do not fill it to the top of the spacers, you do not want the green moss sitting on the water.

I usually only have about a ¼ inch of standing water when I first set up a tank, so that I can mist or spray it down a good many times before I have to siphon some off.

For the lid, measure the width and length on the inside lip of the top of your tank, and using marker trace lines on the smooth side of the panel.

Using a utility knife score the panel, and then snap off the piece.

Test it to make sure that it fits snugly on the top lip of your tank.

You can leave it as one piece, in which case you should drill some air holes in the middle,

or I cut that piece in the middle so that I only have to lift one end to feed, and the gap is big enough so that I don’t have to make any air holes.

Is a bioactive terrarium worth it?

Yes, a bioactive terrarium is definitely worth the price and setup.

A properly functioning bioactive enclosure provides a perfectly healthy environment for pets.

Moreover, Once properly established, the habitats are not only good-looking,

But also easy to care for and provides a natural wild-like environment for your pets even in captivity.

And there we go: Conclusion

I live in Arizona where the average humidity is about 20%,

so using this type of lid I can create an environment with about 80% humidity,

which is perfect for the average Dendrobate.

I suppose you could use a screen top if you lived in a high humidity area.

At one end of the panel drill two holes about ¾ of an inch apart and use some more wire to make a little handle (I have used plastic ties in a pinch).

Put the lid(s) on the tank and place your light fixture on top and you are done with the necessities, from here out it is up to you to customize. 

 Good Luck Amigos!!

Self-cleaning, self-maintaining poison dart frog bioactive terrarium.

Vivarium Plants for Beginners (20 Easy Vivarium Plants)

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Top 8 beginner VIVARIUM plants!

A lot of us have or wants to setup a vivarium but have a confusion about which plants to start with?

Here is a comprehensive guide for that gives you various prospects about Bromeliads for beginners to start with.

Before we dive in let us quickly understand the two terms Epiphytes and Bromeliads.

What are Bromeliads? The Bromeliaceae is a family of grass and grass-like flowering plants with 3500+ known species that are native to American Tropics, with a few species in American west Africa subtropics.

What are Epiphytes? An epiphyte is an organism plant that grows on host plants to access sunlight and natural ingredients.

Is epiphyte a parasite? The simple answer is No. They are not parasitic in nature, They take no nutrients from the tree or host plants instead but rely on nutrients from the air, rain, compost that lies on trees.

Read more about ‘Ariums’ Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludariums and other ‘Ariums

Aechmea Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

Aechmea Epiphytes Vivarium plants
Blooming Aechmea fasciata (Silver vase or Urn plant) is a species of flowering plant in the bromeliad family

Plants of this genus are among the most popular bromeliads seen for sale; the species most commonly available in the US is A. fasciata. 

This species is often seen in supermarkets, with its gray-green leaves sprinkled with white powdery scales, and its inflorescence composed of stiff pink bracts (flower spike). 

Its slightly spiny-edged leaves form a large watertight cup, perfect for a tadpole nursery.  Another species which holds a lot of water is A. fulgens; this species carries red berries for a long time on its inflorescence. 

The variety discolor has wine red undersides to its leaves.  Unfortunately, these plants are too large for most vivariums, reaching almost two feet across.

Smaller species are A. gamosepalous, which has round-ended leaves arranged in a rather tubular rosette, and lavender-blue berry-like flowers,

A. recurvarta and its varieties, which don’t hold much water but are a sturdy and attractive contrast with their narrow-pointed leaves.

Aechmeas like bright light to maintain their firm leaf growth and they grow well epiphytically.

Billbergia or Queen’s tears Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Billbergia
Stock photo showing elevated view of white plant pots planted up with bromeliad house plants.

This is another kind of bromeliad that grows well in terrariums; they are especially hardy and fast growers.  Queen’s Tears, B. nutans, is an old favorite. 

Their flower stems don’t last very long, but are attractive, often looking like they have pink or red streamers tied to their stalks. 

Leaves also have very attractive patterns.

How To Take Care Of Billbergia Plant?

Billbergias don’t have many leaves per plant, but they can quickly form thick clumps. Several types can hold a lot of water, making them potential frog nurseries. 

Most varieties grow rather large like the Aechmeas, but some hybrids form very compact tubes that could fit in well in a vivarium.

Bright lighting keeps them more compact, and maintains leaf color as well.

Cryptanthus Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Cryptanthus
Epiphytes Vivarium plants
Cryptanthus elaine in garden

Popularly known as earth stars, they are popular vivarium plants due to their small size and non-water-holding cup characteristic

They are mostly terrestrial plants and do better planted in a well-draining substrate rather than as epiphytes.  They also prefer bright light to maintain their colors.

C. bivittatus has leaves with lengthwise stripes, sometimes pink or red depending on the variety. C. fosteranus and C. zonatus both have leaves with silvery crossbars on dark backgrounds.

Guzmania Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Guzmania
Epiphytes Vivarium plants
Guzmania

Very popular houseplants because they can tolerate lower light levels than many other bromeliads.

Their upright flower stems are brightly colored and very long lasting as well, and their soft leaves are spineless and perfectly safe for the frogs.

G. lingulata and its many varieties make good terrarium plants because of their relatively compact stature. 

There are also many hybrids that are commonly available.

Neoregelia Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Neoregelia
Beautiful bromeliad isolated on white

These plants are very popular as well, with their brightly colored low-growing rosettes.

N. carolinae is a popular houseplant in its variegated form, cv.

Tricolor-LLIFLE, is very attractive with green leaves striped with white and tinged with pink. 

Like most Neoregelias, its central leaves turn bright red when it is in flower. N. cv.

Fireball is a popular vivarium subject with dark burgundy leaves in good light, and numerous offsets or “pups” on short stolons. 

I have rooted this form in small cups of water showing how adaptable this plant is. 

It is a compact plant, but even smaller are N. ampullacea and N. tigrina, which look like little green test tubes with reddish spots and stripes. 

Neoregelias do not form flowering stems but produce their flowers directly in their central cups.

Nidularium Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Take Care Of Nidularium Plant?
Idyllic Bromeliad Flower head Nidularium blossom bloom, Botanical family: Bromeliaceae – Tropical plants in Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

It is a similar genus  which also form low growing rosettes. Nidularims can tolerate low light levels and still grow well. 

They are mostly green, but the central leaves turn red when the plants are ready to flower,

The branch forms a short stem and can lasts for several months adding a nice spot of color to your terrarium.

Tillandsia Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How do you take care of a Tillandsia air plant?
Tillandsia plant holding in garden

Also Known as the airplants, they have the most varied growth forms among the bromeliads, ranging in the wide-leafed rosettes to whispy mosslike forms. 

The can be roughly divide the genus into two groups based on their preferred growing conditions:  mesic and xeric. 

The mesic species, like T. cyanea and T. complanata, prefer moist conditions, and can hold some water in their rosettes.  Xeric species prefer dryer conditions and will die without good air circulation. 

Are Tillandsia epiphytes?

Most Tillandsia species are considered epiphytes its meaning refers to ‘upon a plant‘.

How do you take care of a Tillandsia air plant?

Tillandsias can be easily glued by their bases to branches, even upside-down. 

In fact, the inverted position can prevent xeric types from rotting by preventing water from collecting on their leaves. 

Mesic, Xeric & Hydric Air Plants

Xeric species have slivery hairs or scales that cover their leaves, which the plants use to absorb atmospheric moisture. 

Their hairs have to dry out between waterings, or the plant will suffocate.

These forms count among the true air plants surviving and growing even without being firmly attached to anything at all. 

T. ionantha is a xeric species which does well in vivariums, and its little clumps of pointed green leaves turn red when the plant is flowering.

What are xeric plants?

The Term xeric came to light in early 1980’s. Referring to a variety of vivarium plants that live in extreme dry conditions called as “Drought Plant”.

These plants only requires small amount of moisture to flourish like a normal ones.hence became popular among paludarium enthusiasts.

Vriesea Bromeliads: Plant Care & Growing Guide

How To Care For A Vriesea Plant (Flaming Sword)
vriesea multiflower astrid, flaming sword flowers, tropical plant specie from America

It is another popular houseplant, and most species and hybrids do well in relatively low light levels like we find in our vivariums.

Like Guzmanias their leaves are usually soft and spineless.

V. splendens, with it’s dark-striped, green leaves and flaming red flower spike, is spectacular and often seen for sale in supermarket flower shops. 

Smaller varieties often have plain green leaves, but their paddle-shaped flower spikes always provide a long-lasting splash of color and make them easily recognizable. Varieties such as ‘Julie,’ ‘Mon Petit’ and ‘Pinkert’ stay on the small side.

10 more Easy Vivarium Plants that I recommend

Pothos Plant

different kinds of pothos available in the market there’s like

  • golden pothos
  • marbled queen
  • Cebu blue
  • pearls and Jade neon

Common nerve plant or Fattonia

it’s pretty much bulletproof, grows in low light conditions, and is native of South America.

The creeping fig

ficus pumila is basically a fast-growing vining plant that is adapted to subtropical and tropical climates in landscaping.

Moranto or the prayer plant

Moran Toluca Noura is a super common plant we can find in garden centers, grocery stores, and gateways.

It grows really well in a dart frog tank and tolerates low light conditions.

Dendron scandens (Hartley philodendron)

grows really well in gecko tanks, no high light conditions are required for it.

it uses whatever humidity is available hence, an easy vining plant that we can grow in backgrounds.

Pylea spruce Jana

An easy-growing plant that shifts upstairs in a pot requires watering once a week, no need for insanely high light and humidity makes it favorite choice.

Rex Begonias

Cultivars out there prefers growing this plant, in terrarium they’re gonna get massive hence.

Available in many different colors , pick color you like and throw it in your tank if you have large tanks.

Peperomia Obtuse

There are a ton of different varieties available,

They all grow very similarly they typically tolerate the relatively low amount of light and loves humidity.

Their Durable Leaves is what red-eyed tree frogs even dart frogs like.

NeoGeo bromeliads

Are a lot cheaper variants in usa and canada varying from 15-30$

Pylea phyla dendron peperomia

These do well in vivarium ‘z terrariums and in controlled environment they’re even usable as house plant.

For Further Reading

Here is an interesting article about vivrium substates Best Substrate Mixtures for the Vivarium. (And How to make it)

An article about how ways to keeps vivarium plants healthy What plants can I put in a vivarium? (How to keep them Alive)

Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludariums and other ‘Ariums’

Difference between vivarium terrarium paludarium

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Before we proceed let me tell you why I write this post, many of us have confusion between the various ‘Ariums’; They usually term them as vivarium or simply as an aquarium.

Petting an amphibian, fish, insect or similar ? Wondering what all those fancy terms means? here are some easy answers.

Why do I care so much about ‘ariums’? What if i don’t know the difference?

Well, its not a hard and fast rule to know the terms, but the confusion may result in death of you precious amphibian pet.

unknowingly many of us keep mixed species together that actually belongs to separate vivaria and should never coexist.

There are few visible and notable differences being a pet enthusiast must know, so without wasting any time let’s dive in.

The terms terrarium and vivarium are often used interchangeably, or to differentiate between a terrestrial habitat and a semi-aquatic one.

In the reptile and amphibian keeping hobbies, it’s common place to refer to enclosures as either a terrarium or vivarium.

Terrarium vs Vivarium vs Paludarium

So basically in short,
Live plants + Bioactive Enclosure = Vivarium
Plants + Animals = Terrarium
Terrestrial + Aquatic elements = Paludarium

The Term Vivarium is a combination of two words (VIV+ARIUM) (A place where life exists)

Its not the “Viv” its fully defined as VIVA, Viva means “To live”, or “Life” While Arium means a Place.

Technically speaking, there is a fundamental difference that clearly separates the two.

What does Arium mean?

Arium is a Latin suffix that indicates a place for or correlated with something ( usually denotes a live place)

Some examples includes aquarium, planetarium, solarium, armarium, caldarium, solarium.

What is a Terrarium?

The term terrarium is applied for an enclosure meant only for the life and the propagation of plants, such that the substrate, lighting, and other environmental conditions are tailored to meet the requirements of specific species.

In short, Terrariums are designed to raise plants.

What is a Vivarium?

A vivarium, on the other hand, is an enclosure meant to house animals or invertebrates, with environmental conditions suitable for the life and propagation of the particular species.

Specifically, vivariums are enclosures for reptiles, amphibians, and other smaller animals and invertebrates that require an earthen or aqueous environment.

In short, vivarium is an enclosure primarily to be a habitat for an animal.

What animals live in a vivarium?

Insects, scorpions, amphibians, lizards, spiders, snakes and turtles are some animals mostly kept in terrariums.

What is a Paludarium?

A Regular paludarium is basically a terrarium with a water body inside.

It has both aquatic and terrestrial features and a bioactive ecosystem.

What is vivaria?

how are an aquarium and a terrarium similar?

Aquariums are designed to support fish and aquatic animals that live in water

On the contrary Terrariums are usually designed for either reptiles or plants.

Moreover, an aquarium is waterproof while a terrarium has perforations for ventilatation.

Aquatic enclosures (aquariums) and bog types (paludariums), are collectively referred to as vivaria.

There are further divisions to each type of vivarium, designed to meet the needs of particular inhabitant.

such as arboreal, fossorial, desert, wetland, shoreline, cloud forest, etc.,  

For completeness, there are other captive environments that do not fall under vivarium categories, such as aviaries and cages. 

What is a dry aquarium?

A dry Aquarium is a specific type of terrarium that is usually dry with low humidity, plenty of plant life, and no aquatic life.

Almost there...
A dry Aquarium Credits Christian Witt

Depth Review of Ariums

The vivarium is an enclosure containing living organisms such as plants, fish, reptiles, birds, frogs, insects etc.

So vivarium can be an aquatic water body (like an aquarium), connecting terrestrial and water (riparium ) swamps (paludarium), terrestrial (terrarium), and cages (aviary) for birds

Then you can divide terrariums into etc. insectariums (for insects you can further divide even more to formicarium (for ants) etc.

No wonder, A lot of people get this wrong and its pretty understandable. check the table below it will clear all your doubts.

Some well known ‘Ariums’ and their uses

Enclosure’s nameUsed for?
‘Arium‘Latin word meaning location or receptacle
TerrariumSoil and Plants
VivariumAnimals or Invertebrates
PaludariumTerrestrial, Aquatic Plants, and Aquatic life.
Reptilarium/HerpetariumReptiles are kept
AquariumFishes, aquatic plants, or animals are kept
FormicariumOtherwise known as an ant farm
RipariumContain earth and aquatic element
Oceanariumbasically a large aquarium
InsectariumInsects from beetles to worms.
MossariumMoss or rootless plant.
DolphinariumDolphins in a Zoo
FossorialUsed by burrowing animal
ArborealThose who live on trees
Aviariescages or place for keeping birds

For Further Reading

I hope you have learned a lot about Ariums and why they are important?

below are some more relevant topics that are related to this one and you might find them interesting to read!

Here’s an interesting article about vivarium plants. What plants can I put in a vivarium?

Here’s another interesting article about vivarium misters Best Automatic Mister for Frogs (A Buyer’s Guide)

What plants can I put in a vivarium? (How to keep them Alive)

How to Plant Epiphytes in a Vivarium

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What is an Epiphyte? How to Plant Epiphytes in Vivarium

Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants. 

we can also term them as “air plants” that merely depends on other plants for physical support only.

Most epiphytes do not harm their hosts, simply using them as surfaces to attach themselves to.

They do so to take advantage of available growing space up in trees, where they can access more sunlight.

In a tropical rainforest, plants ranging from mosses and lichens to cacti, orchids and bromeliads may grow as epiphytes.

Because of their living conditions, epiphytes have special adaptations consideration when planting them in an artificial environment.

Many epiphytes will tend to rot when planted in a heavy water retentive medium more suitable for terrestrial plants.

How do you grow an epiphytic orchid?

There are many ways to grow epiphytes in vivarium’s. 

Epiphytes can be kept in containers of suitable planting mix, and the potted plants can be arranged within the vivarium. 

By using a suitable substrate we can directly grow them on the vivarium floor.

such as a commercial or homemade planting mix used for orchids or bromeliads.

Such a mix should provide good drainage and allow air to reach the roots of the plants.

Most epiphytic orchids grow well on a section or slab of a tree branch.

How do you attach epiphytes?

Attach them to raised surfaces much like the way they grow in nature.

We can grow them on vertical spaces such as tree fern root, cork or coconut fiber panels attached to the walls of the vivarium.

They can also be attached to cork slabs or branches or grown in cork bark tubes filled with planting mix.

The choice of growing method depends on several things,

but the most important thing to consider is the type of environment the vivarium will provide.

Do vivariums need ventilation?

If air circulation is limited and extremely wet conditions, attaching the plants to the substrate with a minimum of water-retentive material around the roots will be a good idea.

If there is going to be plenty of air circulation, then a thick moss padding wrapped around the plant roots or planting them in cork tubes or pots might be the better way to go.

They are aerophytes, and prefer to grow on shifting desert soil because of its inherit minimal root system

Bromeliads in the paludarium:

How do you plant bromeliads in a vivarium?

As far as determining the plants’ positions goes, take into consideration their eventual size and growth habits. In the greenhouse conditions of a vivarium, many plants may grow larger than they would under regular houseplant conditions.

so make sure the kinds of plants you choose will either have enough room to develop or can take pruning. 

Plants taking more moisture at the roots level must be placed near the bottom of the branch, and moist vivarium substrate,

while plants that need more light and dryer conditions can be positioned higher up.

For visual interest, use plants with contrasting colors and leaf textures. Choose a bold looking plant as the focal point, then arrange other plants around it like garnishing. Unless you have a very large vivarium, do not try to cram too many different kinds of plants in.

The best displays often consist of plants growing in healthy clumps that complement each other, rather overgrown mishmash of species.

Of course, since this is essentially just gardening, feel free to experiment by try to plan ahead to avoid any extra work and disruption to the vivarium.

If necessary, temporary filler plants may be used to provide quick-growing cover for the animals as long as these plants are easily controlled.

How often do I water my terrarium?

Keep the plants and their chosen substrates well-watered but give them plenty of light and air circulation to allow them to dry out between watering.

When you see healthy roots attaching themselves into the substrate, and are rewarded with blooming plants, then you’ll know you’ve got things right.

Are Pineapples Epiphytes?

The most familiar bromeliad, the pineapple (which is the fruit), gives you an idea of the basic plant shape.  Most bromeliads have their leaves in rosettes, like the top of a pineapple.  The leaves may be thin and grass-like, or thick and succulent, and are variable in color. 

The ones favored by frogs generally have leaves that form tight cups at their bases which hold water, providing moisture and living quarters for our favorite amphibians. 

Frog vivarium’s limit the types of bromeliads that we can keep to those that are small enough, that can live in moist tropical conditions, and that do not have large spines that might be a danger to the frogs (or more likely, to the frog keepers!).

Their suitability varies with the species and variety, and what they’re used for in the vivarium.

Best lamps supporting terrarium plants?

Many plants might be considered more suitable for vivarium conditions, but bromeliads are by no means difficult.  The main concern is to give them enough light. 

All other conditions that we have supplied for the benefit of the frogs will suit most types of bromeliads just fine. 

The main potential problem with bromeliad culture in vivariums is that their roots should be kept from getting waterlogged; as the plants can rot, but under certain conditions even this may not be a problem.

There are many ways of providing light for your terrarium plants, some of which may be rather expensive.

  • There are high-intensity halide lights that can almost duplicate bright sunlight, and special grow lights that indoor gardeners use. even white fluorescent light will work well.
  • Two standard 40-watt tubes are enough to grow most bromeliads.
  • Tall vivariums need stronger lights, more lights, or bromeliads planted in the upper portions near lights.
  • Fluorescent lights can burn leaves that come into contact with them for extended periods. avoid plants close to the lights.

What makes a good plant light?

The leaves of a bromeliad can tell you what kind of light it prefers. 

Plants with hard, stiff leaves generally do better with more light, as do those that have leaves covered with gray scales or hairs.

These plants can survive in lower light levels, but their leave will grow lanky and floppy and out of character, and their colors will fade.

Bromeliads with soft, green leaves are more suitable for shaded areas, and can be use if lighting is limited.

You may also like : What do amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish have in common?

Do Bromeliads like to be root bound?

In general, bromeliads like their root to be kept moist but not wet.  They prefer to dry out a bit between watering’s, so good drainage should be provided.  Many bromeliads are epiphytes, growing on tree trunks and branches, or saxicolous, growing on rocks.

These types are the ones that usually prefer dryer roots because that is what they have adapted to. Their roots may be simply wrapped in moss and tied to branches, where they will eventually attach themselves. 

How do I know if my soil is well draining?

If the substrate is well drained, they can also be directly planted into it. 

The advantage of attaching them to branches is that there is less chance, if any, of the roots rotting from too much moisture. 

Planting them on branches also allows the plants to be closer to the light source.  Epiphytically grown bromeliads often do not even use their roots to absorb nutrients; the roots serve only to hold the plants in place.  As true air plants, they get all the nutrients they need through their leaves.

Some bromeliads are terrestrial, growing in soil like most other plants. 

Many can adapt to growing like epiphytes in a vivarium, but they often do better growing as they do in the wild, with their roots in the ground. 

These plants rely on their roots more than the epiphytes do, and their root systems is generally more extensive. Terrestrial bromeliads also can usually take more moisture than the epiphytic types.

 It is often recommended that the water in their central cups and leaf axils be changed by upended the plants and letting the water drained out. 

This will prove impractical once the plants are attached to branches or planted in the substrate.  A solution to this would be to pour or spray enough water into the leaves to rinse out the cups. 

Do not do this too suddenly, because any tadpoles that the frogs might have deposited in the cups may be flushed out. 

Spray gently and simply allows excess water to drip out of the seams formed by the leaf edges.

How many types of bromeliads are there?

Bromeliads have 3,000 known species, categorized in about 75 genera native to subtropical America.

Prevent bromeliads from growing too big?

To keep the bromeliads from growing too big, always provide them with the maximum amount of light that they can take, and never fertilize them.

he frogs will produce enough waste on their leaves to keep the plants fed. 

A once weekly heavy misting is often enough to keep them well watered.  Good air circulation is always a good idea and will also benefit the frogs as well.

Should I trim my bromeliad?

Most bromeliads will only flower, but after will form new rosette to replace the mother plant. 

Do not remove the pups too soon; wait until they are at least a third the size of the mother plant to give them a good start and so they have time to form their own roots.

To remove the pups, use a serrated knife to cut away the young plant as close to the mother plant as possible. 

Stoloniferous varieties can be kept attached, producing a chandelier effect as more pups are produced. 

Other types may look better grown as clumps, so it might be better to leave the pups where they are, and simply pull out the mother plant’s leaves when they wither away.

Treating with pesticides

Store-bought plants may have been treated with pesticides, so always wash them well before putting them in the vivarium. 

To be safe, the plants can be grown in a chemical-free environment for a few months and watered thoroughly to wash off the leaves. 

An even better alternative is to grow the plants until they bloom and produce offsets, and the offsets then used in the vivarium.

Unrooting offsets or pups

Unrooted offsets or pups are actually easier to use because they can be put in place without one having to worry about any roots to cover.  This is especially useful when mounting them in an epiphytic situation;

simply wrap the base of the pup with a bit of sphagnum moss, and either jam the stem into a crevice in a branch or use plastic covered wire or nylon fishing line to attach it. 

Using a waterproof nontoxic glue

Small plants may even be glued on, using a waterproof nontoxic glue.Hot glue will work,

as long as the glue isn’t applied to where the roots are actually growing from the base. 

When using hot glue, put a dab on an older leaf sheath near the base, to avoid permanently damaging plant. 

Do not use bare metal with bromeliads, because these plants can react badly to exposure to metals and may even die.

If all other growing conditions are maintained, the pup will quickly produce holdfast roots and attach itself to the substrate.

Given the proper care, bromeliads can provide you with a long lasting and hardy vivarium plants, lending that authentic touch to your little chunk of the Neotropics.

What animals live in bromeliads?

The bromeliad can be defined as a sub-ecosystem in itself, amphibians and small animals such as tree frogs, flatworms, crabs, snails and salamanders prefer to live inside almost their entire life.

Do frogs eat bromeliads?

Bromeliads and dart-poison frogs just seem to go together. It’s the classic relationship of the little, jewel-like frog depositing its tadpoles in an axial of a bromeliad high in the forest canopy.

It follows then that a “naturalistic” vivarium should include at least a bromeliad or two.

Best Automatic Mister for Frogs (A Buyer’s Guide)

automatic misters for frogs

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It’s essential that you have an automatic mister for frogs but – before you rush out and buy one – you’ll want to know which misting system is the best!

I’ll give a quick answer for those of you who just want to buy now, and a bit more detail for anyone who wants to know more about how misting systems work.

What is the best automatic mister for frogs?

I recommend the Mistking Misting System, the Exo Terra Monsoon or, the Zoo Med Repti Rain.

To find out how I came to these choices, and what makes a good mister for frogs, please read on!

How to choose an automatic mister for frogs

First, you need to understand what kind of climate your frog is used to. Where is your frog from and does it need much misting?

Automatic misting systems are used to increase and maintain the humidity levels in a terrarium.

Misting systems vary in complexity. You can have a simple setup or you can have one that is very sophisticated. Which misting system you should choose depends on a few important factors.

1. Your set-up: Some misting systems are more suited to certain types of set-ups than others.

2. Your frog: Choosing an automatic misting system for frogs is heavily dependent on the environmental needs of your frog.

3. What kind of money are you willing to spend: If you know your budget, you also know which options you have for the misting system.

The misting system has increased in popularity in recent years, and with this complete guide, I hope to help you in finding out which one you need for your frog.

Best misters for vivarium
tropical terrarium or pet tank for frogs, lizards or geckos. A rain forest vivarium

About automatic mister for frogs

There are six things you need to understand about automatic misting systems for frogs. Understand these and you’ll know both why you need a mister, and the basics of what it does.

1. Purpose

First, you very clearly need to know why you would use a misting system. The purpose of a misting system is to keep the humidity in a vivarium and a good constant level.

A misting system is not there to water your vivarium. Watering your vivarium can lead to excessive water in your substrate. This, in turn, can lead to bad health or even death for your frog.

It is very important to choose a misting system that uses as little water as possible, while still providing a fine mist.

2. Pressure

Misting systems can be divided into low-pressure and high-pressure systems. This is important to know because the higher the pressure of the system, the better it is at creating a mist that provides high humidity but does not soak your substrate with water.

Low-pressure systems normally perform at 40 to 50 psi. The best high-pressure systems reach more than 250 psi.

3. Droplet size

To define the quality of the mist, you can look at the droplet size of your misting system. We measure the droplets in microns (one-millionth of a meter).

A droplet size of around 5 microns will give you a fine fog, 20 microns give you a heavy fog, and around 100 microns creates a fine spray.

It is best to choose a droplet size that gives you the desired effect in the shortest possible time (this is to create high humidity without soaking your vivarium with water).

A droplet size of 100 microns or less is generally best. This is enough to increase humidity and will also leave a coat of moisture on smooth surfaces, which the frogs can drink from.

4. Volume

When we say volume, we mean the output of misting nozzles.

The output from these nozzles can be measured in 2 ways: gallons per hour or gallons per minute.

Gallons per hour (gph) is usually used for high-output nozzles. Gallons per minute (GPM) is often used for low-output nozzles and is more often used to create humidity.

If you’re looking for nozzles for your misting system, you probably need to go with low-output and that this is measured in gpm.

5. Quality of the water

You should use purified water when you want to mist your terrarium. This is because tap water contains chemicals and minerals that can cause problems.

Chemicals and minerals can cause problems with the herbs and plants in your terrarium, as well as with the mister itself.

There are 2 ways to get purified water:

1. Buy it. If you choose this way, you need to always check if you have enough supply to let the misting system work properly.

2. Use a water-filtration system.

6. Let the water escape

Water that goes into your terrarium also needs to get out, one way or another. If it doesn’t, your substrate will become saturated with water.

This is why you should make use of a drainage system. The best way to do this is to use bulkheads in the vivarium bottom, connected to a drainage pipe.

Catch the water in a container and empty it regularly.

Top 3 Automatic misters for frogs

A good misting system is a must-have for anyone who is enthusiastic about keeping their pet frog and vivarium healthy.

In years gone by, frog owners had to mist their vivariums manually, but now, it’s easy to buy an automatic mister for frogs, with lots of products available.

To make things easier for you, I’ve reviewed some of the best automatic misting systems on the market.

MistKing Misting System

Our number one automatic mister for frogs: The MistKing Starter Misting System v4.0
MistKing Starter Misting System v4.0

This misting system is without a doubt the best automatic mister for frogs on the market.

The system is preferred by zoos and, hobbyists who want a reliable source of precipitation and humidity control. T

The system uses the highest quality pumps, spray nozzles and digitally controlled seconds timers.

The MistKing Misting System is very quiet. So you can enjoy peace and quiet while your pets get the best treatment.

The system comes with the 24V diaphragm pump that is able of supporting up to 10 misting nozzles.

Also good to know is the fact that it can run dry without doing any damage to the pump.

The timer on the misting system, however, can be a little tricky to grasp. When you are programming it, the left side is the clock time you want the misting system to start and on the right side, you have the amount of time you want it to run.

For example, if you would like your misting system to start at 8:00 am and run for 5 minutes, the timer should look like this: 08:00:00 00:05:00. Some people make the mistake of putting in the following: 08:00:00 08:05:00 which means that the system will run for 8 hours and 5 minutes!

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that MistKing has more than just this one kit. Here I have talked about the MistKing Starter Misting System v4.0. It gives you everything you need to start and it also is the cheapest options they have. If you do need a more high-level setup I think you better check their advanced misting system.

Buy the MistKing Starter Misting System v4.0 now

Exo Terra Monsoon

Best Misting system for frogs - Exo Terra Monsoon Multi
Exo Terra Monsoon Multi

The Exo Terra Monsoon multi is an excellent choice if you want a very easy to install and low cost misting system.

The Exo Terra Monsoon will do the job of misting your terrarium more than fine, but it isn’t as advanced as the Mistking System.

It comes with a relatively large reservoir of 2 gallons, which is easy to refill and has 2 nozzles to use for misting. This system can be adjusted so that it can accommodate up to 8 nozzles.

There is also a function to set your spray time. This can be set anywhere between 2 seconds and 2 minutes.

The differences between the systems

The Exo terra monsoon nozzles have 2 articulation points where the Mistking system nozzles have 3 articulation points. Having 3 articulation points gives you a bit more to play with to get your nozzle in exactly the right position.

That’s not to say that only having 2 is bad. Not at all. It will do the job just fine.

The Exo Terra Monsoon has a nice thin stream with very large droplets and a lot of water. The Mistking system, on the other hand, has a very wide stream and has very fine droplets. It’s much more like a fog.

The suction cups that are delivered with the Exo terra monsoon are very handy and give you a little more freedom to set the nozzles where you want them to be. They are very strong and won’t fall down easily.

The Exo terra monsoon is an excellent choice when you want to mist your tank automatically with a system that is well made and easy to set up.

Zoo Med Repti Rain Misting System

Best Misting system for frogs - Repti Rain
Repti Rain Automatic Misting System

This last misting system for frogs that we’ll look at today is the Zoo Med Repti Rain.

This is the budget option. It’s perfect for the people who want to mist their terrarium but have a limited amount of money to spend.

The great thing about this system is the fact that it can even work on 4C batteries.

The Zoo Med Repti Rain works a bit differently than the two misting systems I mentioned earlier.

This system has four programmable modes where you can set spray intervals of 3, 6 and 12 hours.

The spray duration can be set to either 15, 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

Unfortunately, this particular system can be prone to leaks from the nozzles. This can lead to the spray function not operating perfectly. But, overall, you’ll get a great product for your money and your frogs will be happy as well!

Buy the Zoo Med Repti Rain now

There’s another thing that makes the Zoo Med Repti Rain a great option too. This misting system not only comes with latches, it comes with suction cups as well! So you can stick the whole misting system to the side of your terrarium.

What is Recommended Terrarium Size For a Pacman Frog?

What is the recommended terrarium size for a Pacman frog

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If you want a beautiful pet frog, the Pacman frog is one of the more popular options. You will, however, need a place to keep your frog safe. I did some research for the best terrarium for the Pacman frog.


What is the recommended terrarium size for a Pacman frog? For small hatchlings, you can generally use a 10-gallon sized tank, but if they get bigger, you should move to a 20-gallon terrarium. The most recommended terrarium is the 20-gallon long starter tank. It is an all-around glass terrarium which is a good and secure setup.

There are, however, several styles of enclosures that you should be aware of:

  • Polystyrene terrarium
  • Glass aquarium
  • Rack system
  • Tub


In this article, I will focus on the 20-gallon terrarium you will need to house your frog. However, the setup for the other styles will be very similar to the one we are going to discuss here.

Specifications for Terrarium Preparation


So, the first thing I did was go to Amazon, and I found what I think is an excellent terrarium for the price. The Aqueon Tank Black is a medium sized terrarium and can be found here. The tank has some great reviews, and it is competitively priced.

In addition to that, it is focused more on the length rather than on the height, and I love that. You can build a great landscape in here for your Pacman frog.


Eventually, it doesn’t matter which style tank you choose. You will always need the following setup in your terrarium:

  • Proper heat
  • The right humidity
  • Good lighting


Frogs are cold-blooded, they depend on a heat source such as a heat lamp to keep their circulatory system working effectively. Pacman frogs tend to live buried down in the floor and are not very active.

A suitable substrate with a place to bury down and wait for passing by food is ideal for the frog. Because of their lifestyle, Pacman frogs don’t need a very fancy terrarium.

Ideal substrate depth


The ideal substrate depth would be 2 to 3 inches, but this varies when your frog gets bigger. Thinking from a frog’s perspective, I would make the substrate deeper when the frog gets bigger.

Say you have a 1-year old Pacman frog, I think it would be best to make the substrate about 4 inches deep so that the frog can bury down easily.

Making the substrate like this can be ideal for a Pacman frog to hide and feel safe. Just like a blanket can help a scared kid to sleep at night, hiding spots in your vivarium will help your frog to feel secure.

You can make such hiding places of anything, but one of the best ways is to use live plants with broadleafs. An example of such plants is the Pothos ivy or English ivy.

Other substrate facts for a Pacman Frog

You can use ground coconut or potting soil to make the substrate, and the substrate needs to stay damp. This does not mean that it needs to be soaking wet.

Let’s look at the right temperature and lighting. This should be very straight forward. Keep the temperature of the terrarium between 72 and 82 Fahrenheit.

Give your Pacman frogs 10 to 12 hours of daylight. Do not give them much more than that otherwise it will stress out.

For lighting, you can use fluorescent lights. They do not need a heat lamp or special UVB-emitting light bulbs.

How to Take Care of a Terrarium

Pacman frogs need several things taken care of on top of the things that were previously mentioned.

  • Food
  • A water bowl

Pacman frogs are not picky eaters and will eat many things you give them. This includes:

  • crickets
  • roaches
  • small fish
  • worms
  • small mice

The amount of food to give them depends entirely on its size and the temperature of the terrarium. During cooler times of the day (or the year) you can provide your Pacman frog with a smaller prey once a week.

What is the recommended terrarium size for a Pacman frog

When it is warmer, you can feed your frogs more often, as in twice a week. Also, you should take into account that the frog needs to get the right amount of calcium with his food.

You can give your frog calcium by giving them food that is mixed with a calcium powder once or twice a month.

As for water, Give your frog a water bowl with non-chlorinated water in it.

And do not forget to mist the terrarium daily. Also, you can soak your Pacman frog in non-chlorinated water (once a week) to keep it from dehydrating.

Best Materials for a Pacman Frog Terrarium


It is always best to use glass or plastic for Pacman frog terrarium. The most basic terrarium would be a simple plastic bin. This can be something like the 6-quart plastic storage container which I found on Amazon.

The benefits of this basic terrarium are that it is cheap, light and very easy to maintain regularly. This is also the favored method for breeders and enthusiast who are holding many Pacman frogs.


However, when you want to show off your Pacman frog (just like I want to do), it is best to go for a glass terrarium. But keep in mind to go for a realistic and functional environment.

It always needs to be a terrarium where your Pacman frog can feel safe. The Exo Terra 18″ x 18″x 18″terrarium would be a great choice to show off your frog to family, friends or other enthusiasts.


Keep in mind that you select materials that can endure humid and wet conditions. Also, be sure that you avoid using any material that could be toxic or otherwise harmful for your Pacman frog.

Tropical Terrarium Size For a Pacman Frog
Tropical terrarium for pacman frogs

Accessibility of the Ideal Pacman Frog Terrarium


As you may know, it is very important to have easy access to the terrarium for your frog.

Not only is it key for feeding your frog, but it is also highly recommended for cleaning and easy maintenance of the terrarium.

You can think of things like changing the water bowl, provide the frog with new plants or other maintenance that needs to be done such as changing the substrate when this is needed.

If you use a plastic container or The Aqueon Tank Black (mentioned earlier), the only way to access the terrarium is from the top. This can be a bad thing if you want your maintenance to be easy and fast.

If you want to make it easy for yourself, you can go for the Exo Terra All-Glass terrarium. This terrarium has swing-out doors, and this makes the accessibility for maintenance very easy.


All of the above may seem like a lot of work but if you keep yourself to a loose schedule, it won’t feel bad at all.

Related Questions


Do Pacman frogs make good pets? Of all the frog species out there, Pacman frogs make absolutely great pets. This is because of the relatively low maintenance.


Can I put multiple frogs in the same terrarium? The short answer to this is yes. The longer answer however is it depends. You can do this but you have to make sure that they can live together and are roughly the same size.

Some species, White tree frogs, for example, can be kept together with other species while they are young.

But once they become older, they become very greedy and don’t shy away from eating another smaller frog. Do your research about which frogs can live together.

How often should I clean a Pacman frog’s tank?
You should renew the substrate every three weeks or so. You can change the water bowl every other day. Just keep in mind that the water you use is non-chlorinated.