Featured Erik's Ranitomeya fantastica true nominal care sheet

Discussion in 'Member Care Sheets' started by erikm, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. erikm

    erikm Administrator Staff Member

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    Over the past few months when time permits (aka when my kiddo is sleeping), I have put together my experiences with true nominal fantastica. I've put it into a website called Rananova.ca which will in the future have other write ups as well. I'm not 100% done the true nominal write up but there is enough info there that I felt it was ok to share it now. I'll continue to update it over the next few months.

    You can read the text write up below or view the full write up at http://www.rananova.ca
     
    Ethan A and afterdark like this.
  2. erikm

    erikm Administrator Staff Member

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    Ranitomeya fantastica true nominal captive care & breeding


    The True Nominal or ‘Nominant’ fantastica is quite a sight to behold. This is the frog that truly caught my attention and got me into the hobby. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have them one day! In February 2016 I received my probable pair from Understory Enterprises. They were roughly 5 months of age at the time I received them. 10 months and many froglets later I believe I can provide a decent amount of info regarding care and breeding of this incredible morph.


    Natural History

    This is the morph originally described by Boulenger in 1883. Until 2011, this morph had not been found and was thought to be possibly extinct due to rampant deforestation near the mentioned type locality of Yurimaguas. In 2011 this morph was rediscovered during fieldwork near Boulenger’s given type locality. The presence/absence of black markings on the head is variable, although most individuals appear to lack such markings.

    Source: Dendrobates.org – Ranitomeya fantastica

    After initially laying my eyes on the True Nominal fantastica, I began reading all about them. Literally everything I read pointed to the fact that overall the fantastica species is an advanced keepers frog and the True nominal morph was no different.

    After 10 months of keeping them I can now say that I agree with this difficulty labeling but not because they require any special care compared to other thumbnail dart frogs. In my opinion, the reason that fantastica are labeled as advanced is because of their insane speed and shy behaviour. You can literally lose a frog in an instant with the vivarium doors open. For example, I had a froglet pop out of a grow out bin when I opened the lid and jump under the vivarium rack! (I ended up finding it :)). You can also literally lose your mind thinking your frogs have died or escaped because you may not see them for the first few weeks after you introduce them into their vivarium.

    I would recommend you keep a thumbnail species which is bolder/slower such as R. imitator before getting fantastica, but it is not a must if you know what to expect. Last thing you want to do is go digging in their vivarium to find them when they just want to hide from you!


    Behaviour

    The fantastica species is generally known as shy and in my experience the True Nominal morph definitely holds true to that. My pair is extremely aware of me when I enter my frog room. My male who is the most shy of the pair will almost immediately head to the top of their vivarium to his ‘safe’ spot. This spot offers visual barriers on all sides from me. My female is not as fast to retreat to safety. She will usually stick around and do her thing in the leaf litter unless I stick my face up to the glass. If I do that, she’s gone in about 10 seconds or less, even if I am careful to make no fast movements.
    My pair retreats to the exact same spot each night around 8pm, one hour before lights out. This area in the top left of their vivarium is the same spot as I mentioned before regarding the male’s safe spot. The male will generally be there a bit sooner and will sometimes call once he is up there. Shortly after calling the female will make her way up and both will stay up there until 5-6am, 3-4 hours before lights on.

    Once they come down in the morning they can be found foraging throughout the leaf litter for a few hours. They will usually be together during this time, following each other around like an old senior couple. Once it hits 10-11am they will take refuge again in a few different spots such as film canisters or bromeliads, and usually during this time they are separate from each other and will remain so until late afternoon when they come out again to explore/forage.


    Housing

    My adult pair is housed in an 18″ x 18″ x 24″ (tall) Exo Terra vivarium. The top is custom cut glass with two 1.5″ circular vents and another hole cut for a Mist King dual nozzle. The vivarium background was built with Great Stuff expanding foam, GE Silicone I (clear), cork bark, coco coir and sphagnum moss.

    For drainage I have used 3″ of expanded clay balls, with fibreglass window screening to keep the substrate from mixing into the clay balls. Substrate is a mix of 60% fir bark (orchid bark with no fertilizers!), 20% coco coir, 15% sphagnum moss and 5% horticultural charcoal.

    Misting is done by a Mist King system with a dual nozzle. 3 times per day for 15 seconds. 8am, 2pm and 8pm. A 60mm cpu fan runs 3 times per day for 30 minutes at a time. The fan goes on 1 hour after the misting system sprays. This allows for some air movement and humidity fluctuations throughout the day and also allows the frogs to utilize evaporative cooling.
    The vivarium is heavily planted and kept thick to offer lots of cover for the frogs. I find that the thicker the plant growth is, the more you will see the frogs exploring above the leaf litter.


    Temperature & Humidity

    My frog room is heated by an oil radiator and is controlled by a Herpstat thermostat. It is set to 73.5F from 8am to 8pm and 70F from 8pm to 8am. The thermostat probe is kept near the top vivariums to make sure they do not get too hot. The lower vivariums are slightly cooler.

    Vivarium temperatures are typically going to be higher than the room ambient temperature, especially if your lighting produces heat. In the case of my True Nominal Fantastica vivarium, the day time high at the top of the tank is around 80F, while the substrate level of the vivarium sees temperatures around 72F. It may seem strange that the substrate level temperatures are lower than the room ambient temperature, but most of the substrate level is very shaded with foliage and is also below the thermostat probe location.

    Once the lights have been off for a few hours, temperatures in the top of the vivarium stay around 70 and the substrate level can drop to around 67-68F.

    I don’t monitor exact humidity percentage in my vivariums but it is something along these lines:
    8am-9am – 90%+
    9am-2pm – begins to drop due to ventilation and internal air circulation from the 90’s to somewhere in the low 70s.
    2pm-3pm – 90%+ after the misting system runs.
    3pm-8pm – begins to drop due to ventilation and internal air circulation from the 90’s to somewhere in the low 70s.
    8pm-8am – 80-90%+ throughout the night, no lights or force air circulation during the night.
     
  3. erikm

    erikm Administrator Staff Member

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    Evaporative Cooling

    I want to mention this subject because I think is very important and often overlooked. The odd time when it’s extremely cold outside and my central heating is on all day, the frog room can get a bit warmer than normal. I have recorded temperatures of up to 86F at the top of the tank and have seen many of my frogs hanging out up at the top of their vivs during these temperatures with no issues. There are a few key reasons why I think my frogs are fine during these higher temperatures:

    1. All of my vivariums have ventilation in the glass tops.
    2. Automated misting system is scheduled 3 times per day.
    3. Internal fans circulate air multiple times per day.

    These 3 factors above allow the frogs to utilize evaporative cooling which in short means that they are able to have water evaporate from their skin, thus cooling them. In a closed vivarium with no ventilation, this is not possible as relative humidity is never able to get down below 90%. A sealed up vivarium that reaches 80F+ is a quick way to kill your dart frogs.


    Feeding

    When my adults are breeding I feed them every other day and I would guess that I give roughly 20 flies per frog. Once a year I will reduce their feeding and misting to give them a break from breeding. During this time I will feed them twice per week, usually Monday and Thursday and I will also reduce the number of flies I give them. Froglets are fed every other day and once a week I will feed with springtails instead of fruit flies. I seed my adult vivariums with springtails once per month. I use a small cup of apple cider vinegar with a couple drops of dish soap to attract escapee fruit flies.


    Supplementation

    I supplement every single feeding with Repashy Calcium Plus for both adults and froglets. I also include a pinch of Repashy Super Pig (carotenoids) into my Calcium Plus mixture and grind it up with a mortar and pestle. This makes the powder stick much better to fruit flies. On the 1st of the month and the 15th of the month I will supplement my adults with Repashy Vitamin A instead of Calcium Plus. This is done because although Calcium Plus includes some vitamin A, it is not enough for breeding adults. Froglets get Vitamin A once per month on the 15th of the month.


    Breeding & Tadpoles

    My male began calling at around 9 months old and when the pair was 10 months old I caught them courting for the first time. Typical courting was observed with the male initially calling from up high in the vivarium. The female slowly made her way up to him and then the male began moving around the top of the vivarium with the female following closely behind. Eventually the male stopped and the female began stroking the males back. Their first clutch was laid at the very top of the vivarium in a horizontal film canister built into the background. This first clutch was not fertilized properly and the eggs molded over.

    About 6 weeks later I saw the male transporting 3 massive tadpoles. They were able to hide the eggs on me in the leaf litter somewhere. I was very eager to look a few times per day to see if he had deposited them into any of the film canisters throughout the tank but after 5 days he was still holding on to all 3. I found a tip on another website that mentioned using larger cups of water at ground level. I grabbed a few condiment cups and other small containers while I was out for lunch the following day and filled them up with RO when I got home. Literally within hours the male had deposited all of the tadpoles, one per cup. I now keep these cups in the tank at all times except during a dry season break which I will explain below. To this day I have only ever seen the first infertile clutch of eggs laid by them and I have morphed out almost 2 dozen froglets. The rest of the eggs have been laid in the leaf litter, completely hidden away. I made myself a promise not to go digging for eggs and it’s worked well so far.

    Breeding and tapoles to be continued!
     
    Razor, Ron Jung, TJ_Burton and 3 others like this.

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