After tens of thousands of frogs and going strong, here are a few basic care related comments useful for any enclosure, including the favorite 10 gallon fish tank and the fancy custom enclosure.
The number one frog care tip is:
The importance of leaf litter
We recommend a 2"-3" layer of common dried leaves.
Dried, brown leaf litter is a fundamental need for the frogs. Any hardwood or other large tree leaves, such as magnolia leaves, will work. Whatever is available and inexpensive for you is probably just fine. The leaves should be dried and clean of course. We add the leaves to the enclosure as often as needed. They provide constant cover for the frogs, and create a natural compost cycle within the enclosure. Lack of leaf litter is the #1 cause of weak or sickly frogs.
Enclosure: These frogs prefer land based enclosures as opposed to arboreal enclosures. A ten gallon will work great for two (or sometimes three) adults.
Substrate: The main purpose of substrate is to grow plants. The frogs themselves only need a clean, moist environment that is not too wet, and a layer of leaves. Plants help cycle moisture and nutrients through the tank. Although not necessarily essential for the frogs, this cycle does help maintain the long term cleanliness of the enclosure and reduces maintenance. If you are growing live plants, a drainage layer is usually preferred, especially long term. We use nylon window screen (the lower quality grade to let more water
through) as a barrier between the substrate and the drainage layer. We prefer expanded clay pellets (or lava rock) as a drainage layer over a false bottom, because they are much easier to work with. We are certainly not plant experts though, so feel free to use whatever you want if you are growing a specific type of plant, etc. We only use the basic pothos, heartleaf philodendron, and wandering jew, and focus more on frog care and feeding. The plants receive no special attention and they grow fairly well.
Leaves: We like to use a 2"-3" layer of basic deciduous leaves you would find outside, such as oak, maple, elm, or whatever is readily available. These decay pretty quickly and create a nice compost layer over time, on top of which fresh leaves can be added, and continue the cycle. Leaves are essential for maintaining a healthy population of microlife. Microlife are small bugs such as springtails and isopods which break down larger waste particles into organic nutrients that are then used by the plants. The leaves provide additional food for the microlife, and as the leaves are broken down, the waste gets broken down with it. Microlife also provide an additional food source for the frogs. As for magnolia leaves, they contribute little to the compost cycle of the enclosure, but provide good hiding places and egg laying sites for the frogs.
Lighting: The frogs like somewhat indirect lighting, which is usually enough to keep the plants alive. We position plain aluminum "can" lights (like you would get from Home Depot) over the edges of two tanks sitting next to each other on the rack, with light spilling into each tank. The bulbs are simple 14 watt (60 watt equivalent) compact fluorescents rated at about 5000K. As for temperature, a high of 78°-80° in the tanks, dropping down to around 70° at night is ideal.
Temporary enclosure: If frogs must be kept in a temporary enclosure, a smaller plastic storage bin will also work for frogs under 6 months old. A basic substrate like sphagnum moss or coco husk covered with leaves will work fine for a temporary enclosure.
As always, feel free to reach out to us by phone or e-mail if you have any questions regarding frog care.
Team USA Frog