Acquired: Online breeder / seller
Illinois, United States
Posted Oct 02, 2012
D. leucomelas is a beautiful frog endemic throughout the northern part of south america from Brazil to Guyana. They are a terrestrial frog that is quite easy to find in the hobby because of their beautiful coloration, relative hardiness, boldness, and beautiful call. There are several different pattern morphs of this frog which range from banded pattern with a more orange coloration to a newer found morph with green feet.
D. leucomelas should be housed in a terrestrial tank, 10 gallon minimum, preferably a 20 gallon. As with any terrestrial dart frog leaf litter should cover the majority of the bottom of the tank. Under the leaf litter a layer of what some refer to "ABG" mix. ABG mix is comprised of sphagnum moss, peat moss, orchid bark, tree fern fiber, charcoal chunks(all wood), and hydroton. Though, if you want the easier do it yourself mix just mix 3 peat moss: 2 orchid bark:1 sphagnum moss:1 hydroton or lava rock pebbles. Below this is where 2 schools of thought diverge. Let's review first. On top is the leaf litter, below that is our "dirt mix" , and on the very bottom is either a layer of hydroton or a false bottom. Think of how rain naturally makes its way down into the earth. It doesn't accumulate a few inches at the bottom of a tank, it continues its way down. In a tank without a drainage layer the water would be left to stagnate and become a cesspool for bacteria. So to avoid this we make a drainage layer by either putting a couple inches of lightweight material(hydroton/lava rock pebbles) on the bottom, and some window screening on top of that to separate the dirt from the rock. That way when water accumulates at the bottom you can simply syphon the water with a small 1/4" hose.
So we covered tank size, composition, and now we will cover housing/feeding basics.
A couple water dishes should be put in the tank and changed regularly to avoid bacteria buildup. Water choices include reverse osmosis(my choice), aged tap water, or treated water. A good idea is to use petri dishes covered by coconut huts. This serves 2 functions, 1) water area 2) breeding area. Use the same water to mist your tanks about 2 times per day.
Feeding is relatively easy. Their diet will primarily be fruit flies dusted with a high quality multivitamin/calcium supplement. Feed around 3-5 times per week while only dusting around 2-3 times/week. Another great food source are springtails and isopods which are a bit harder to find but are a great source of calcium and give your frogs food if you miss a day of feeding.
Temperature should be between 68-82 degrees during the day with around a 10 degree drop at night. Usually using a uv light on top of the tank provides enough heat by itself. Just make sure to keep the tank away from direct sunlight as it will over heat the tank quite easily.
Overall, D. leucomelas is a great frog for your first dart frog. They're active, easy to keep, and bold. Look forward to a beautiful call if you end up with a male, though if you don't like a bird like trill that can be quite loud, reconsider the species you choose.