The term “dart frog” refers to hundreds of different species of tropical frogs from Central and South America. This care sheet covers the essential basics of care that can apply to most species. Individual species should be researched independently for any nuances in their care. Please check the links at the bottom of the page for more resources for dart frog care and vivarium set up and maintenance.
First and foremost, a note on mixing species. Don’t. Each species of dart frog should be housed independently. Interbreeding will occur between different species and hybrids are seriously frowned upon in the dart frog community.
For small to medium species, a 10-20 gallon tank can house 1-2 adults, with 5-10 gallons for each additional frog. Larger species should be provided with at least 20 gallons. When it comes to frog enclosures, bigger is always better. Some species will climb and enjoy a taller enclosure, but all species require an enclosure with a sufficiently large footprint.
Many species do well in groups. However, females will also fight. It is best to keep most species in pairs or male heavy groups. Multiple females may be able to be housed together if enough space is providers, but if any animosity is noted, they must be separated. We prefer 1.1 pairs or 2.1 groups.
The easiest, and most visually appealing way, to keep dart frogs is in bioactive vivariums. A bioactive vivarium is an enclosure containing a miniature ecosystem, comprised of live plants for decoration, hiding places and humidity control, detritovores in the soil layer to manage frog waste and fungal growth, and your main inhabitant- the frogs. For instructions on set up and maintenance, please see the links at the bottom of the page.
Dart frogs are active during the day and a 12 hour on/off light cycle is required. UVB lighting is not a necessity like it is for tree frogs, but some keepers think it is beneficial. UVB can be provided if desired. Broad spectrum lighting will show off the frogs’ colors and allow for plant growth. There are many different lighting options on the market, from LEDs to T5 High Output florescents. Lighting with a range of 5000-6500K (6000K is natural daylight) will work nicely for most vivariums.
Humidity and water
High humidity is required, around 80-100%. This is easy to achieve by limiting ventilation to a few small holes or a strip of screen, as most species do not need much airflow and can tolerate very little ventilation. Misting may also be required. Use distilled water to mist to avoid accumulation water spots on the glass. Humidity as low as 50% is survivable for short periods of time if water is provided, but should not be a regular occurrence. Many species enjoy water features or soaking in a water bowl, but it is not necessarily required. If a container of water is provided you need to use dechlorinated tap or bottled spring water.
Most dart frogs prefer temperatures in the low 70s, around 72-75 F. Temperatures in the 60s can be tolerated for short periods of time, but temperatures above 80 can quickly become fatal.
Feeding and Supplementation
Most dart frogs prefer smaller foods such as fruit flies and springtails. Some species, such as those in the genus Phyllobates, will eat much larger insects like crickets and even spiders. Juveniles should be fed daily, adults can be fed every other day. Insects must be dusted with vitamin and mineral supplementation. We use a complete vitamin and calcium supplement (Repashy Calium Plus) at every feeding, and a Vitamin A supplement, (Repashy Vitamin A Plus), once every 1-2 weeks. To dust the insects, place them in a bag or plastic cup, sprinkle with the supplement and give the container a little shake to coat the insects. Supplementation is extremely important. Neglecting to dust your feeders will cause your frogs to become ill and possibly die. You can set up a feeding station in your tank by placing a small piece of banana so the flies congregate around it and the frogs can easily find the flies. This is important to do for smaller frogs or frogs in very large enclosures.
Thank you for reading our care sheet. There is never just one way to do things and your research should never stop after one source. Please see the following links for more information.
The Bio Dude Vivarium Supply
Dendroboard Dart frog forum