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AAronCap 16-02-2018 03:46 AM

125 Gallon PA Woods Vivarium
This vivarium will house 4-5 American Toads and Wood Frogs each with the total number being 8-10 between both species. This is just the announcement post of the build that will have a variety of documentation of everything from the frogs and toads to the enclosure and the nitty gritty with all the details. The 125 Gallon comes on Monday but the build will be slow but accomplished by the end of the summer. The next post will be about the bio of the enclosure and some interesting information.

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AAronCap 17-02-2018 07:33 PM

Bio of the 125 Gallon PA Woods Vivarium
So from the post above as the announcement of 125 Gallons for 4 American Toads and 4 Wood Frogs to be created to replicate the PA Woods where these amphibians were found has many interesting parts to this build. Out of the 8 inhabitants we know the two toads (Ace and Pious) from the 75 Gallon PA Woods Vivarium are going to be the first inhabitants to enter this enclosure. To see these two toads and the current setup also to see this build on video once I start the build you can check it out on the YouTube channel as well in these links below. Make sure to like it on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube to support this build and the vision behind it.

The Facebook Page

YouTube Channel

The Vision:
This enclosure was a long time in the making. I love my native frogs, toads, and lizards so I spent years researching what would be the animals I'd be the most passionate about and I narrowed it down to around 10 native species. My favorite animal is the American Toad so it was automatically in. Then my favorite pond frog the Leopard Frog got the other spot with my first attempt at creating a local setup. As you can see from the earliest videos the mix was successful with a male leopard frog and a pair of toads. There was illness, an escape, among other situations that led to the leopard frog being left out of the next generation of this build as the leopard frog escaped and committed suicide. Next I wanted to create a setup for my favorite lizard which was the five lined skink. This is the current setup with a pair of sexed toads and skinks living in there since August to whenever the 125 Gallon is in commission. This build despite the reptile and amphibian stigma proved to be very successful which I would say is more successful then with the leopard frog. The goal of this through the generations was to reproduce the toads and the other native animal with them that I took from the wild with the hopes of giving back as offspring from the animals that were taken. I was unable to hibernate the toads and the skinks and leopard frog were not from my county so I could not release their offspring into the wild. So I went to my second favorite frog which is the Wood Frog. These are abundant in my area and would be legal for release. They are kept just like the American Toad so this was a no brainier for me. I have heard these are intermediate level frogs and I am embracing the challenge to keep and breed these frogs successfully with being prepared to invest financially in these frogs and toads I have and will have in order to reproduce healthy offspring and to treat my pet frogs and toads the best I can. They are pets first and a reproductive pair after. Should the Wood Frog be a failure due to their level of care then I will invest in Gray Tree Frogs which are also abundant in the wild. So there will be either tree frogs or Wood Frogs in this setup.
The vision is to replicate the woods of PA and to recreate a native enclosure with the goal of reproduction and long life span for all inhabitants.

The Plants
So now that the introduction of the animals has been discussed the plants are just as important for this build. Species of native ferns and ground cover will be the bulk of the plants. The Autumn Brilliance Fern, Spleenwort Fern, and the Cinnamon Fern will be in this enclosure. I am aware of the size of the Cinnamon Fern but it's not in the wild so I am anticipating it won't grow as fast. It's not a big deal to me if I need to trim it time from time. The Autumn Brilliance Fern is a success as I have one now that is 2 years old raised in this enclosure through every generation of this tank. English Ivy and Pachysandra will be the ground covers. The Pachysandra is another success as with the Fern I have the Pachysandra living almost a year in captivity. The ivy was a suggestion from a plants expert that will be shouted out after the build is complete. One massive attempt this build will have that the previous generations did not is the introduction of vegetables. Scallions and lettuce will be attempted not just as a plant to observe, but a crop to potentially eat should it pass some health regulations. This tank could reproduce life and grow crops at the same time! The goal with these plants and vegetables is to have a heavy planted native tank so the Wood Frog feels safe as this is a requirement for the species for their success. Other plants will be an iris that is already living in the enclosure now and some Moss.

There will be a wide variety of insects introduced to the vivarium in hopes they breed and create colonies to create some stalk in the tank for the frogs and toads to hunt just as they would in the wild. On the first generation of this I watched crickets figure the routine out of the Leopard Frog and Toads so they would not be eaten. They would only leave their home at certain times to avoid the predators. This got the crickets to 3 generations in the enclosure. I have had stone centipedes survive in a previous build as they entered from a plant but were not destructive. I always have Springtail, Earthworms and Woodlice in the enclosure so they by default will remain in the new enclosure. So as far as insect inhabitants the three mentioned will be included and the stone centipedes will be welcomed and not treated as a pest this time. Both Banded Crickets and the common Pet Store Crickets will be encouraged to breed as they bring noise to the enclosure which sounds like a woods. The goal is to have both thrive in this setup to have food for the animals but to have them survive and make the setup more natural.

The Devices
A Mistking misting system is the designated watering system for the plants and animals in the enclosure. 3 sprayers will be on opposite sides of the enclosure. This will keep it humid, water the plants, moisturize the frogs and toads and simulate rainfall. A temperature control will be used to keep it cool for the wood frogs as a fogger and fans will be plugged in to create a cool breeze of fog that will keep the vivarium from over heating. This can be paired with the Mistking to represent a rainstorm with clouds, rain, and wind. A 6ft T5 Odyssey light will be the light for this build. I have the 4ft build since the first generation in 2014 with original bulbs in and it still works. This will be adequate for growing plants and crops, providing day and night cycles for the insects and animals, and will light the entire tank. These lights are on a timer and can replicate morning, afternoon, evening, and night. The night light will be paired with 2 others that I will have on a timer to come on so the animals will be under the impression the moon is out for a few hours and then when the lights turn off it's darkness. This will be great for video display. For breeding a mini fridge and an area in the enclosure for the animals to go as a small pond to encourage reproduction after hibernation. Speakers will be on top the enclosure to simulate noises of the woods day and night as well as seasonal mating calls to encourage the frogs and toads to call and compete with the recording. Plaxiglass will be used as the lid with custom holes to ensure the enclosure breaths and heat and humidity can escape but also be retained as well. This is more specifics of the upcoming 125 Gallon PA Woods Vivarium with American Toads and Wood Frogs coming soon. If you have any questions or want to know further details comment on this thread or pm me and I'll be happy to answer you.

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AAronCap 18-02-2018 11:31 PM

So one thing I want to make a priority is to include those in the forums, on Facebook and comments from viewers on YouTube. I will make videos that you all ask me to make or want to see. A top priority is encouraging my audience to join a forum when keeping animals and to join our PA Woods Community if they are interested in my build so they can feel like they are a part of this! The next post I will discuss about my view on the size of a tank compared to the amount of frogs to keep and the behavior of the Toads and Wood Frogs

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AAronCap 20-02-2018 04:25 AM

It's here...

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Zincubus 20-02-2018 08:46 AM

I'm so envious , I'd love that tank for my tropical fish ...

Any chance of PM me with the price ?? No matter if you'd rather not ..

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AAronCap 21-02-2018 04:27 AM


Originally Posted by Zincubus (Post 13112129)
I'm so envious , I'd love that tank for my tropical fish ...

Any chance of PM me with the price ?? No matter if you'd rather not ..

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It was around $300 but it was at a local pet store who is supporting this project so I got a bit of a deal.

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AAronCap 21-02-2018 04:28 AM

Got it in the room! Building will begin shortly

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AAronCap 24-02-2018 05:52 AM

I will have the trilogy to the current tank the 75 Gallon PA Woods Vivarium coming out soon as it will be the conclusion video with the Toads and Skinks together and inside the 75 Gallon. The good news is that I will have a reason to post into the Skinks sub forum and I will be able to interact with you all more. I will be posting soon about behavior patterns of the animals and insects soon as well. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up of an update for a conclusion video and me joining the conversation with the Skinks, and to inform everyone that the build of the 125 Gallon is going great and may be done faster than expected. I'll have more updates soon. Thanks everyone on this forum for being so supportive and please interact and let me know what you guys think about everything going on!

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AAronCap 24-02-2018 07:53 AM

Behavior of the American Toad and Wood Frog

American Toads
I have kept many toads in captivity and I truly believe they are an amazing pet as long as you can provide care and also respect them as an observation animal instead of one that you can handle. These toads are very hardy and very intelligent amphibians. I forget where I read this as I share this with you but American Toads are the most intelligent of the frogs and toads of the eastern US. They are poisonous and that is to be respected. In captivity I have kept these creatures with Leopard Frogs and Southeastern Five Lined Skinks and they have been peaceful without poisoning their tank mates. I recently observed the behavior of my sexed pair Ace and Pious (Female and Male) when I introduced a smaller skink that was an offspring to the parents in the enclosure to the toads. My toads are predators and even though all frogs and toads are they can be lazy or more peaceful but these two are hunters not ambush hunters. This means they are more aggressive in nature. They left the smaller skink alone which was good but also surprising because even though they couldn't eat the adult Skinks they tested them but left the smaller offspring alone. This is about behavior of these toads so addressing some interesting examination of the species I have come to a conclusion that the female toad is more active and usually more dominant when feeding due to larger size. This was observed every single time I kept both sexes alone as well as together. The females seem to have more personality. I have noticed with my toads my male is equally as dominant and will compete with his mate in every aspect. He currently outweighs her which for a male toad to accomplish is very interesting and good for him moving forward. There are some exceptions in males as Pious is the first male toad in over 12 years to compete and almost out compete a female of the same age. So if you have a male or only prefer a male there still may be hope. As for my toads, I only have 2 out of the 4 I want but these two are the most fascinating and exciting toads to observe. I actually invested in them by purchasing a 125 Gallon to attempt to breed these two and another pair hopefully to join them. I have no doubt these two would out compete any Wood Frogs or other Toads. I do not believe that I will have another toad to challenge either of these two. Of all 8-9 toads and frogs going into this build I am the most concerned for the other male toad. The other part of this observation is the dominant behavior that males show one another. As I have kept toads I have always seen a dominant male appear and even starve the other male to death and attempt to out compete one another. So in my current setup I personally could not have two pairs of toads because I had two males in this enclosure and one starved the other. So I'm hoping with a 125 Gallon that 2 males can cohabitate together. I never had a problem of the toads out competing their tank mates. This means the toads will not outcompete the Wood Frogs in this build. The frogs also have speed to get to the prey first. Ace and Pious come out to feed during the day so the Wood Frog will not have the advantage of being active day and night. Final verdict is just because you have a big tank with the same species doesn't mean their won't be problems.

Wood Frogs
The wood frogs are communal creatures which means they will enjoy having each other instead of like the toads out competing one another the wood frogs will embrace each other. These frogs are more peaceful and are very interesting to observe because they are so rare to see captive. They are nervous frogs but as they live among the toads and see how slow moving and laid back they are, the frogs should settle down. These two species share a habitat as the wood frog enjoys being terrestrial instead of aquatic like it's Rana family members. Because they are a Rana species they have a voracious appetite and will eat anything they can fit into their mouth. To my knowledge nobody as a hobbiest has documented keeping these frogs in such a large enclosure. This could be a big help in keeping the frogs stress level lower then usual having so much space to occupy. I am not sure of which sex is dominant or if they will create a hierarchy among one another or even if it will be a shared hierarchy with the toads meaning that as assumed Ace and Pious will be the dominant amphibians over the wood frogs and toads. Or if a Wood Frog will dominate this enclosure as a surprise. Much documentation will be made and shared on these frogs and the relationship they have with the toads.

The conclusion

6 feet of space should be enough to house two male toads and it is the largest amount of space either the American Toad and Wood Frog have ever been documented in. The next post will be on the insects and hibernation and seasonal cycle this enclosure will have. Let me know what you think about the information of the toads and frogs below and anything else you want to share with me!

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AAronCap 03-03-2018 07:41 AM

Seasonal Cycle


So as I was messing with my tank a little bit I saw about 20-30 baby crickets jumping around! Somehow I managed to breed crickets with Lizards and Toads constantly hunting the crickets. The insects are an important part to making this enclosure accurate and authentic to the woods. Various cricket species as well as Woodlice, Springtail, Earthworms, Red Wrigglers, Stone Centipedes are going to live inside the enclosure and hopefully breed. The predator and prey relationship is truly amazing to watch. If you have a big vivarium I would encourage you to attempt this because it is very interesting how the crickets have the ability to learn daily patterns and know when it's safe to get food and bring it back to their nest. The frogs and toads can still ambush them if they aren't careful so even though the frogs and toads are your pet you may find yourself rooting for the cricket to make it back to the nest to raise the upcoming baby crickets. Obviously the goal is not to have an infestation of any insects but a healthy number and a continuous stalk of food so if in a mixed species vivarium if a species is more dominant at feeding time the less dominant species will be able to hunt and feed the abundant number of insects at their own pace. The setup of American Toads and Wood Frogs shouldn't have any unbalanced feeding issues. I would love to attempt to keep grasshoppers or locust inside the enclosure if it's possible which I know need to be native because you can't buy locust in America. I think they would make an even more interesting native insect should they be able to adapt and not be hunted to extinction in the enclosure. These insects are an important part for me to have a native enclosure and have proven to make for an even more appealing display. I know the frogs and toads won't mind to keep their dinner in their house.


So I'll have a 125 Gallon Vivarium and for 4 months or so it won't have any frogs or toads inside it. It will be run by the insects for this time to populate and own the PA Woods. As this sounds a bit funny it is also interesting to me to see what will happen with the insects and how much the plants will grow without being trampled on. The Toads and Frogs are only going to breed if they mate so there are no other options. I will place one by one or by the pair in a separate enclosure and have the animals fast for 2 weeks to clean their guts and then place them in a bin inside a minifridge I'm going to buy to hibernate them. I'll place them in until they are all hibernating and then I will make the soil moist and check on them daily to make sure nothing wild happens. Then one of the most exciting times will be to see the frogs and toads wake up and feed on a large group at this point of insects and hopefully breed. I will keep 1 offspring of the toads and get the opposite sex and I will keep two of the wood frogs opposite sex and release the rest of the tadpoles into areas to increase their numbers and give back to the woods I took them from. So hopefully we can have generations of frogs and toads just like the crickets.

Seasonal Cycle

This is only possible by accident because the light fixture I used for the 75 Gallon had options to turn on different sets of lights on different times. So I can have one set on in the morning and two on for afternoon and one in the evening and the LED at night. I can also take or give hours of light as the seasons change. This will be important for breeding and to indicate to them it's time to hibernate. The Mistking will also be programmed to come on twice a day for almost 3 minutes for 4 days a week so I water the plants enough but don't soak the enclosure. I will also have a temperature control that will have a fogger and fans to control temperature so the Wood Frogs don't over heat. And the fogger will moisturize the air as the fans blow into the enclosure. So the cycle should help to make the enclosure even more natural with changing light ambience and more or less light depending on the season.
All in all this enclosure is going to be very interesting in every aspect. So what is the most interesting part to you from this post? Is there something you want me to talk about in more detail? What do you guys want me to talk about next?

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