Scientific name: Epipedobates tricolor
The Phantasmal Poison Frog is a small species of Poison Dart Frog, and is native to southwestern Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. They are mostly found up in higher elevations but they have been seen at sea level. They can survive in dry areas, but they prefer forested areas next to streams.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Epipedobates tricolor is "listed as Endangered because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 5,000 km2, it is known from fewer than ten locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat, and in the number of mature individuals."
Appearance / health:
The Phantasmal Poison Frog is a small frog with adults being less than 2 inches. The most common coloration of this species is a dark red or even a reddish brown color with 3 stripes. These stripes are sometimes broken, spotted, or even marbled like in some individuals. Normally, the color of the stripes is a yellow, white, or even a greenish tint. On the back legs and underside (belly and throat), there is more of the colored blotches and spots. Depending on the morph of these frogs or even the locality, the stripes, color, and pattern of these frogs will vary.
Behavior / temperament:
These frogs are one of the most toxic species of poison frogs in the wild. Scientists have been using the toxins from the skin of these frogs and have made a pain killer (Epibatidine) that’s 200 times more potent than morphine. Their skin secretions are also on the way to being used as muscle relaxants and heart stimulants. Even if deemed suitable for beginners, poison frogs are not for people just getting into keeping amphibians. These frogs take a lot of time, patience, and respect. Like all amphibians and especially poison frogs, these are not to be handled. They are much too fragile and flighty for safe handling and it will cause added stress that is not needed. Always corral them into a cup with a ventilated lid when doing tank maintenance. When raised in captivity, poison frogs are no longer poisonous, but they are very fragile to catching diseases or bacteria from our hands.
A 10 gallon tank set up for poison frogs can house a pair of E. tricolor. Larger groups may live in tanks larger than a 20 gallon. It’s best to keep these frogs in pairs, or small groups consisting of 2 males 3 females and so on. A secure top will be needed.
Temperatures should be maintained at 72-80F, otherwise room temperature. Nighttime temps can drop down to 60-65F. Humidity should be kept between 70-90%. Since this frog can withstand a bit less moisture, building a false bottom may not be necessary, but it is still recommended (see the forum topic of “Building a False Bottom Tank”). Homemade or store bought misting systems can be used since these frogs still need to be misted regularly just not as much as other Dendrobatids (thus the need for a false bottom). Live or fake plants can be used, but remember if using live plants the use of a UVB light will be needed. Some ideas for live plants: Bromeliads, Ferns, Mosses, Begonia, Orchids, Creeping Fig, Pothos, and various others. Hiding areas should be provided in many areas throughout the tank, especially if you have a group larger than 2 frogs. The most commonly used hide for poison frogs are coco huts which can be found in nearly any pet store. Of course, other hides may be used. A very shallow water dish (a jar lid or petri dish) can be used for the frogs to soak themselves. Spot clean as needed. Any water used in the tank should be dechlorinated or left out for 24 hours prior to use.
Adult frogs are only able to take small foods. Flightless fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) and 2 week old crickets are suitable for adults. Froglets and juveniles will need flightless fruit flies (Drospphila melanogaster) and pinhead crickets. Adults and juveniles also can eat springtails. Tadpoles must be offered spirulina, chlorella, flaked fish food, daphnia, and bloodworms.
If tank set up is correct, the male and females will breed. Eggs are normally laid on land than transported to shallow water (the use of a petri dish inside a cave is great, or even 35mm film canisters). This species lays up to 20-25 eggs. Once the female leaves, the male will transport the eggs to the chosen water site, where he will continue to guard them. The eggs usually hatch within 3 weeks and full transformation from tadpole to fully mature is usually around 8 months. Once fully metamorphosed, the young frogs should be cared for identical to the adults, but in their own enclosure.
Lowland Fantasticus, otherwise known as the phantasmal poison frog, is endemic to the Lowland Forests of the Caynarachi Valley of Peru. They are quite reclusive frogs that spend most of their time on the forest floor hiding under leaf litter. They have a relatively high degree of variation in their offspring and are stunning looking frogs. They are best kept in at least a 20 gallon that is planted heavily. Lots of ground cover is preferred and these frogs are rarely seen except when transporting tadpoles to deposition sites. These frogs are not suited for the novice frog keeper or for the hobbyist that wishes to see their frogs very often, as these frogs are known to be some of the most reclusive of all of the thumbnail dart frogs. Overall, they are beautiful specimens and are some of my favorite, in spite of their reclusive nature.
In order to successfully breed these frogs I would suggest planting a lot of ground cover and including a lot of leaf litter. Use black film canisters spread throughout the leaf litter on a 45 degree angle with a bit of water for egg/tadpole deposition sites. The frogs call is a bit quieter than other imitator species but is still able to be heard. Generally, when you see the frogs out a bit more there's a good chance there may be some tadpole deposition occurring, so check the film canisters at that point or let the parents raise the young themselves. Bromeliads are also a good choice to put in the tank for egg laying sites. Since they are a lowland species, I would also suggest seeding the tank with springtails and/or isopods for a variety in their diet.
The pluses to this species are their beauty and variability seen in their offspring. While the minuses are their reclusiveness and how tricky they can be to successfully keep. I would suggest this species for the intermediate to advanced keeper.
From mattolsen Jul 13 2012 10:34PM