In the wonderful world of dart frogs, one of the key ingredients to a successful and long lived dart frog vivarium is a well put together bioactive vivarium. In this blog, we will share with you how to select and introduce different types of microfauna into your system.
A bioactive vivarium is when a natural system is created for live things to thrive. Those living things are often microfauna, and include small insects to clean up waste, as well as healthy bacteria to make sure soil and plants thrive. Since the microfauna will help keep the system cleaner, a large benefit is being able to provide food for plants naturally. Microfauna will also reproduce in the tank, providing an extra snack to your dart frogs.
To help keep microfauna populations healthy in your vivarium, we recommend regular feeding with Josh's Frogs Clean Up Crew Cuisine.
Once the plants are in your tank, it’s time to add the springtails! These tiny white insects thrive on mold and fungus, effectively eating these undesirables in the terrarium and keeping mold to a minimum. I always suggest keeping a mother culture outside the tank; that way you are able to add springtails whenever you need to. Populations can fluctuate with the amount of food available in your vivarium, but the frogs will also be a big contributor to the down-swing in springtail numbers as they love eating them! Keeping a culture is very easy and only takes a few minutes to set up (if you go with a large culture) and it takes less than a minute a week to care for. Water and food are all they need after they are set up (that’s the 1 minute a week).
When adding the springtails to your vivarium, you can fill the container so that the water level is just under the top of the carbon. Pour the water into your vivarium on top of your substrate. Springtails float on the water so you will be able to see the springtails being carried in. Alternatively, you can simply add the culture to the drainage layer in the first step of tank setup. This method is just as effective at starting the springtail population. However, if the population crashes, you will find yourself needing to purchase another culture.
Remember, when you are purchasing a springtail culture from us, you will want to purchase in advance, or give the culture a week or two to mature before pulling from it. We make all of our cultures right here in our facility, so they are fairly young and will need some growing time.
Another type of tank janitors to add are isopods. Springtails will do a wonderful job on their own, but isopods are a wonderful addition to any clean up crew. These insects come in different colors and sizes, making them perfect for clean up of larger areas! Many Isopods are seasonal, as they are sensitive to shipping temperatures, and are often less available throughout the year.