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– MARCH 2014

courtesy to :

By Anthony Neubauer

Introduction :


The Golfodulcean Dart Frog is a classic to the dart frog hobby that comes from the dense rainforests of Costa Rica.  Adults grow to a decent size of 1”-1.5”, and are attractively colored. Their care is relatively easy provided a few essential steps are taken to ensure their survival. They tend to be more heard than seen, often fleeing when approached. However, their singing makes up for their lack of boldness. The call is a loud trill that can be heard from somewhat of a distance. It is by no means annoying, and adds to the “coolness” of this species. They also breed like rabbits, with my group producing clutches every 2 weeks. If you’re looking to getting into keeping and breeding dart frogs, you’ve found the ideal frog for you.



Poison :


As the name suggests, wild Phyllobates are extremely toxic. Although vittatus are not as poisonous as their relatives such as P. terribilis, they still pack a deadly touch. Their toxin is a neurotoxic alkaloid that causes severe pain, mild to severe seizures, and sometimes even paralysis in extreme cases. In captivity, even wild caught specimens quickly lose their toxic nature. This is because their poisons are produced through their natural diet of poisonous ants, which is obviously not present in captive diets.


As with all dart frogs, poison is of no concern unless dealing with freshly wild caught specimens.


Choosing an enclosure :


When it comes to choosing a tank for any dart frog, one must consider their need for a high humidity level. The terrariums manufactured by Exo Terra are a favorite among many dart frog enthusiasts, including myself. The front access doors making the daily spraying, checking for eggs or tadpoles, and other maintenance a breeze. I currently house my group of 5 in an Exo Terra that measures 36” x 18” x 24”. This is definitely larger than necessary, however they use every inch of floor space, and males can often be seen calling from the top of the cage. A good rule of thumb is to start with around 10 gallons or equivalent space for a pair, and add 5-10 gallons per additional frog. This species does fine in groups, although females will eat each others eggs if they cannot lay them apart from each other

The author’s vitattus enclosure.

Creating a “slice of rainforest”


I have been housing my group of 5, consisting of 3 males and 2 females, in a planted vivarium with great success.  The idea is to recreate a slice of the rainforest where these frogs come from. Bromeliads are a great way to brighten up the cage, as well as provide water and egg laying/ tadpole rearing sites. Ferns, philodendrons, and begonias are also great choices that will thrive in a dart frog tank. You want to provide a lot of places and vegetation for your frogs to hide in to feel secure. Oak and Magnolia tree leaf litter is also a good way to add attractive ground cover. Vittatus tend to live close to rivers and streams, so adding a water feature would not be a bad idea.  However, I have not found it necessary for my own tank, so it is up to you which route you’d like to take. You will want to spray the cage every day, or however often it takes to make the humidity level peak at 80%, and then dissipate to around 60% throughout the day. A fogger such as Zoo Med’s Reptifogger will also aid in upping humidity, especially during the winter when so many of us are drying the air with heaters.




I feed my adult frogs small to medium crickets every other day to every three days when they are being put through a dry spell. When I start spraying more frequently again, they are fed every day, since they lay their eggs at this time and need the extra nutrients. Younger frogs are fed fruit flies daily until they can handle the small crickets. I supplement their diet by dusting insects twice a month with a Vitamin A supplementproduced by Repashy. I have had highest fertility and healthy tadpoles with this schedule. One of my favorite attributes of these frogs is their ability to eat small to medium crickets with no problem.


Breeding :


If you are caring for your frogs correctly and have males and females, you will get eggs without question. I have learned to control when my frogs lay eggs to an extent, by increasing feeding and spraying. I cycle my group with 1-2 weeks of heavy spraying, during which they are fed daily, followed by 2 weeks of light spraying and less frequent feeding. During the “wet spell”, males are heard calling all day, but more frequently when the lights go out around 9-10. They lay eggs at this time. Calling is at a minimal when going through a “drought”. Coconut hides on top of 4.5” deli cup lids are placed throughout the floor of the tank, and used as egg laying sites. I check these daily during the wet spell, and pull eggs a couple days after discovering them to allow time for males to fertilize them. This is where having a male heavy group comes into play, as the more males you have, the greater chance of one finding the eggs and fertilizing them.

Egg and Tadpole Care


After pulling the eggs, I clean any dirt and feces off the lid, and place it into a larger deli cup with moist paper towels.I store the eggs on a shelf in my open closet, with low ambient light. The temperature stays around 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit. I have noticed that at these lower temperatures, the eggs and tadpoles take longer to morph out, but result in larger and healthier babies. You can see the tadpoles develop through the clear eggs, and eventually break out of the egg. Once they emerge, I put them individually in a 32 ounce tall deli cup filled half way with half Reverse Osmosis water (which locals can purchase at any of our retail stores!), and half “tadpole tea” which I make by boiling magnolia leaves in water until the water turns brown from the tanins. I also add a magnolia leaf placed diagonally out of the water for a resting place, as well as extra food for the tadpoles. I feed my tadpoles every 3-4 days with HBH tadpole pellets. Once they have all of their legs and half adult colors, I move them into a 6.75” diameter delicupplaced at a 30 degree angle with moss at the top and a little of the tadpoles water and the leaf in the bottom. At this time, the tadpole looks like a baby frog with a tail. They stop eating, and begin gaining nutrients exclusively from absorbing their tail. Usually within a week, they fully absorb their tail, and will be hopping around the Sphagnum moss. I then remove them and place them into a 9.75” diameter deli cup with moss as a substrate, and a pothos plant clipping and leaf litter. They begin eating melanogaster fruit flies in 4-7 days, and then can be kept as an adult.



One of the author’s tadpoles growing!

In Conclusion :


Phyllobates vittatus is a great introduction into dart frog keeping. Their impressive colors and calls makes them fun to keep. They are forgiving for a dart frog, so they’re perfect for someone who is wanting to dive into dart frogs, but is unsure where to start. They also produce clutches every few weeks, so if you fail at keeping the eggs or tadpoles alive, you will have many chances to learn and get it right.  Unfortunately these frogs are extremely underrated. Not a ton of people are breeding them because they are not as bold as other members in their genus. However, they can be found at affordable prices, especially when available on our website.  Pick up a group and give them a try! You won’t be disappointed.

Difficulty: Novice


Location & History – Golfo Dulce on the pacific coast of Costa Rica. First described in 1893 by Cope as a subspecies of D. tinctorius, later classified as a member of the genus Phyllobates by Silverstone (1975) (1)

Descriptions & Behavior: P. vittatus, the Gulfodulcean poison frog is a mid-sized, shy and social frog. Males have a loud bird like call. They are voracious and entertaining feeders capable of consuming large quantities of hydei and melanogaster fruit flies and pinhead crickets. There are two recognized morphs:


Note: These morphs represent unique subpopulations in the wild that share general physical characterisitics, and for that reason different morphs should not be mixed.


Narrow Banded (Copper) – This morph is the most commonly available in the hobby. Two narrow metallic orange dorsal stripes run along a black back. Legs and stomach are mottled blue/green and black. Variation in stripe color from metallic yellow-orange to nearly red is observed.


Wide banded (Yellow) - Uncommon in the hobby currently, the wide banded morph displays two wide metallic yellow stripes along a black background. Legs and stomach are mottled with blue/gray and black. 


General Care: 
Temperature range of 70-78º F during the day, with a nighttime drop if possible. As with other Phyllobates, temps higher than 78-80º F should be avoided. 


Vittatus do well when kept in groups as long as enough room is allowed. As froglets these frogs tend to be very shy and run for cover when startled. As they get older they become more bold, but still would be considered relatively shy. 


Horizontal enclosures are best, as these frogs tend to stay on the viv floor the majority of the times. 10g tanks work well for groups of 3 or less, and a 20L can house up to 5 frogs. Heavy leaf litter and lots of cover are necessary to provide the frogs security. Maintaining high humidity levels (heavy misting and sealed top enclosure) encourages frog activity.


Breeding & tadpole Care: 
Males will begin calling at 8-10 months of age, with females attaining sexual maturity in approximately the same time frame. High humidity levels contribute to breeding.


Film canisters oriented horizontally along the viv floor and Petri dishes under cocohuts are utilized for egg deposition.


Clutches are large and typically range in size from 12-18 eggs, but can be substantially larger.


Tadpoles may be housed individually or communally in sufficient-sized containers. Tadpoles can be fed fish flakes, detritus (decaying oak or almond leaves and dead FFs), and algae based foods. It has been observed that supplementing the diet of tadpoles with beta carotenes results in more vivid colored stripes. Tads grow quickly and generally morph in 10-12 weeks. Froglets are capable of eating melanogaster flies soon after emerging from the water.


Narrow banded Vittatus with standard copper coloration:



Narrow banded Vittatus showing a deeper red coloration:

Narrow banded vittatus developing eggs and tadpole:

4- How do I care for dart frog eggs and tadpoles?

courtesy to  :

Zach - September 08, 2015 02:29

Dendrobatids, more commonly known as dart frogs, reproduce by laying eggs. These develop into a free-swimming larvae, before coming out of the water as miniature versions of the adults. Care of the eggs and larvae are very different than caring for the frogs in their final form – this blog entry will help insure the young animals get the proper care they need.


Egg Care


Depending on the species of dart frogs, eggs may be deposited on leaves, in film canisters, on petri dishes under coco huts, or even on the glass wall of the vivarium itself. Egg clutches can vary greatly in size – some only lay 2-3 eggs at a time (Ranitomeya sp.), while some are capable of laying several dozen in one clutch (Phyllobates sp.).



Dart frogs will lay egg clutches consisting of 2 to several dozen eggs, depending on the species.

This is a clutch of Phyllobates vittatus eggs.

Once found, the eggs can be removed from the vivaria for artificial rearing. If they are attached to a leaf or laid on the glass, they can be removed with a variety of objects (I primarily use a large spoon or razor). If they are laid on a petri dish or in a film canister, the entire object can be removed from the vivarium. I use a Slurpee straw to remove eggs from the film canister and place them on a petri dish. The same is done with eggs laid on leaves or the glass.


Now that the eggs are on a petri dish, they need to be kept moist. I use reverse osmosis water with a bit of boiled peat added to it to mist the eggs, until there is a small pool of water just touching the eggs. The petri dish is placed in an 8oz container (or similar; I used to use Ziploc sandwich containers) that contains a small amount of water on the bottom (usually just enough to cover the bottom of the container). The container is labeled with the species and date laid, and kept at a temperature in the 70s F.


Keep eggs moist by placing them in a sealed container with water.


Observe the eggs as development progresses. Bad (unfertilized) eggs will generally turn white and mold over – these eggs should be carefully removed and discarded. Fertilized eggs will slowly develop a line across the sphere of the egg – this is the tadpole’s body forming. The tadpole will continue to grow as the sphere (yolk) shrinks in size, until a fully developed tadpole is visible in the egg.

From right to left, Dendrobates tinctorius ‘Cobalt’ egg at 1,4,10, and 15 days.

Tadpole Care :


Depending on species, the eggs will hatch in approximately 14-21 days after they were laid, assuming they were fertilized. It can be difficult to see if a tadpole is out of the clear egg gel. The tadpole will assumed a curled position as it grows in the egg. Once it assumes a straightened position, it has hatched. Initially, the tadpole will remain stationary as it absorbs the remains of the yolk, and may not respond to stimuli.



Left: Unhatched egg, on the verge of hatching. Right: A newly hatched Dendrobatid tadpole.

Once the tadpole has absorbed it’s yolk (typically within 24-36 hours of hatching), it is carefully removed with a turkey baster and placed in a labeled 32oz plastic cup with approximately 8 oz of the same reverse osmosis/boiled peat mixture as used on the eggs. Additionally, a piece of Indian almond leaf and a bit of java moss are placed in the water. The Indian almond leaf releases tannins into the water, which function as a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacteria agent, as well as providing shelter for the tadpole, and an increased surface area to graze on. The java moss produces oxygen, and serves as a source of filtration and nitrogen uptake. The water is kept shallow initially to facilitate the tadpole’s ability to swim to the surface and gulp air.

adpoles are kept in 32oz cups. Make sure to label your tadpoles carefully if you are working with multiple species!

After a few days, the tadpole cup is topped off with reverse osmosis water, and is fed for the first time. There are a wide array of foods available for tadpoles – we feed primarily HBH Frog and Tadpole Bites, as well as Sera Micron, and have had much success with these products. When selecting a food, it is important to choose one that does not readily foul the water, and contains a significant percentage of protein and vital minerals and vitamins. The tadpoles are fed 1-2 bits of food 2-3 times a week, and kept at temperatures in the low to mid 70s F.


Over the next several weeks, the tadpole will continue to grow. As the water evaporates, it is topped off with reverse osmosis water. After approximately 6-8 weeks (this depends greatly on species and the temperature the tadpole is raised at, with high temperatures resulting in faster metamorphosis and smaller froglets), the tadpole will develop visible back legs. After another month, the front legs will become visible. The front legs actually develop at the same time as the back legs in frogs, but do not emerge until much later. Once all four legs are visible, it is time to prepare your tadpole for morphing.




Amphibian literally means two-sided life – the origin of this term is very apparent in the life cycle of the dart frog. Care of the eggs and aquatic larvae differ greatly from that of the adult animal, but is by no means difficult.

Madagascar Dart frogs


Aromobatidae :

 South America Dart Frogs -  Species 


Dendrobatidae :

Phyllobates genus  :

Introduction .. 

Species :


1- Phyllobates bicolor, also known as the black-legged poison frog, bicolored dart frog  

                                                Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

2-Phyllobates terribilis - the golden frog, golden poison arrow frog, or golden dart frog 

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

3- Phyllobates vittatus  - The Golfodulcean poison frog or Golfodulcean poison-arrow frog  

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

4- Phyllobates lugubris - The lovely poison frog or lovely poison-arrow frog

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two ..

5- Phyllobates aurotaenia    ..   Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

Phyllobates genus  :

Introduction .. 

Species :


1- Phyllobates bicolor, also known as the black-legged poison frog, bicolored dart frog  

                                                Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

2-Phyllobates terribilis - the golden frog, golden poison arrow frog, or golden dart frog 

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

3- Phyllobates vittatus  - The Golfodulcean poison frog or Golfodulcean poison-arrow frog  

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

4- Phyllobates lugubris - The lovely poison frog or lovely poison-arrow frog

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two ..

5- Phyllobates aurotaenia    ..   Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

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