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Suitable enclosure for RETFs?

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Tree Frog Forum ]

Posted by redwards99 on May 07, 2003 at 23:13:56:

Hi, I am a complete newbie at keeping treefrogs, and in fact have
never done so before, so I'm looking for advice. I've recently
torn down a 75 gallon coral reef tank, and would like to recycle
it and use it as a terrarium, or hopefully a viviarium with a
couple of RETFs.
I apologize in advance, cause this posting will probably be
pretty long, but I'd appreciate any advice y'all have on any of
the following:
Enclosure/Air circulation: The tank has a fitted hood that is open in back, and two x 3" fans in one side. I know I have to
enclose the back, and I was thinking of using plastic window
screening to keep the air circulation up.
Lighting/Heating: The hood has 4 VHO tubes for a total of 440
watts of daylight spectrum lighting, which keep the (empty) tank
at a fairly constant 78-80 degrees when they are on, and about 72-75, depending on the air temp, when they are off. I am in the
process of buying an electronic dimmer for the lights, so hope-
fully I'll be able to reduce the max power, as well as have a
reasonably natural light cycle.
Planting & Substrate: I would really like a very lush natural
planted look, so I'm planning on having more plants than open
space! I love bromeliads and have already picked up a few nice
pieces of wood (from non-pesticided areas) to attach tillandsias
to, and will also be planting pothos and other plants. Because
it takes a fairly long time (6 mos?) for a planting like this to
look really natural, as opposed to just a few plants plunked down
in the dirt, I really don't want to have to tear down what I've
done every few months, so this is the plan: cut a piece of egg
crating (fluorescent light baffle) to fit the tank, elevate it
with pvc pipe sections so it is about 1" off the bottom of the
tank, place plastic window screening on top of it, then put the
substrate (gravel?) and soil on top of the window screening. In
one corner of the tank, place a piece of rigid plastic tubing
that runs from the top of the tank, all the way through the
egg crating to the bottom of the tank. So when I need to clean
the soil/substrate, instead of removing it all, I can flood it
with water, the water percolates through to the empty space in
the bottom of the tank (hopefully carrying all the waste with
it), and I can then use the rigid plastic tube to syphon out all
the water/dissolved waste from the bottom of the tank. Voila!
Water feature: I would love to have a small "waterfall", or more
likely some water running over rocks, not only for aesthetic
reasons, but also to help keep the humidity up. The smallest
powerhead/waterpump I can find needs about 2" of water or it
starts to gurgle, so this is my plan: use a plastic container
about 3" deep, place the the pump in 1 end, with plastic tubing
from the pump output hidden between some rocks (glued to a sheet
of plastic with aquarium-safe silicon glue) so that it runs over
more rocks back into the plastic container. Fill the container
with gravel or rocks so that the maximum depth is about 1/2",
except for the part where the pump is, and put a small piece
of egg-crating next to the pump so the frogs can't get there.

One thing I learned from keeping coral reef aquariums is that if
you concentrate on the rockwork and the "lower" life-forms (the
corals), the "higher" life forms (the fish) are much less
stressed and happier, and pretty much take care of themselves.
I'm hoping that this holds true for keeping RETFs!

These are my concerns: 1) it's a lot of light - with lots of
plants, there will be shade as well, but I'm still kind of
2) There isn't really a temperature gradient in the
all seems to be about the same temp.
3) Will my system for cleaning the substrate hold up, or am I
4) How often will I have to change the water in water feature/
pond? Do RETFs favor water, or land, to do their "business",
or do they just not care?
5) I have to open the entire tank top in order to feed the frogs.
Are they going to jump out? Or can I feed them during the day
while they are napping, and wait for them to wake up to yummy

I haven't asked about feeding, which seems fairly straight-
forward (2-3 gut-loaded crickets, smaller than the width of
their heads, every other day, supplemented by "field plankton").

Again I apologize for the length of this, but I really do want
the best environment for my froggies, so that they can live non-stressed, hopefully long lives, as well as a beautiful terrarium to look at during the day when they are asleep. Thanks in advance
for any advice you can give.


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