Doyle's Dart Den


Last update 10/18/02

One of the most important aspects of keeping dart frogs is to provide them with proper food.  Even with their size, most dart frogs will only eat the smallest feeder insects.  Before you obtain dart frogs, start culturing some of the following foods: fruit flies, flour beetles and spring tails. Crashes of food cultures are one of the most common and serious problems beginner and experience frog keepers encounter.  The following contains information regarding:

Nutritional value of various feeder insects
How to culture various insects
How much to feed
How to do a sweeping for meadow plankton
Various additives to use on the food to increase the nutritional value.

Nutritional Value of Various Feeder Insect


Crickets Flour 

Fruit Fly

D. melanogaster D hydei
Moisture % 691/712 ND 742 712 611 822
Ash % 1.51 /2.42 ND 1.72 2.12 0.971 02
Chitin % 5.82 ND 3.42 4.32 ND 02
Protein % 20.71/19.82 ND 17.82 18.32 15.41 10.12
Fat % 5.71/1.82 ND 5.32 6.22 20.11 5.82
Carbohydrates 3.11 ND ND ND 2.541 ND
Ca (mg/100g) 21.51 ND ND ND 13.11 ND
Ca as total P 7.7 ND 27.82 49.62 ND 16.12
Vit. C mg/kg 105.91 ND ND ND 23.61 ND
Fiber % 2.81 ND ND ND 1.601 ND
calories/fat 51.71 ND ND ND 181.11 ND

1:  Information from Grubco web site -
2:  Information for An Introduction to Dart Frog Husbandry Ver 1.1 by B. Ian Hiler
Results are for total sample (not dry sample)
ND = No Data

How to Culture Various Insects

Information about culturing various insects

Fruit Flies

update 03/10/00

Flour Beetles

update 06/13/99







This is a common question and unfortunately, there is no good answer.  The goal is to provide the animals with enough food, without allowing the food to cause stress to the animals.  The feeder insects can cause stress if there are too many and the animal does not eat all of the insects and they may begin to crawl on the animal.  Fruit flies and crickets are especially prone to this behavior.  The following are some general guidelines, but the amounts will vary depending on the size, number, species, and the size of the enclosure.  For each froglet in a small enclosure (less than 10 galls) feed approx.:
10 D. melanogaster (small fruit flies),
5 - 7 D. hydei (large fruit flies), or
5 - 7 pinhead crickets.

Feed these amounts once a day.  If there are insects left in the enclosure the next day, reduce the amount fed.  If there are no insects left, the next day, increase the amount.  If the animals are adults or sub adults, double the amount.

A piece of fruit such as a small wedge of apple can be placed in the enclosure to attract the flies and/or crickets.  By doing this, the insects will go to the fruit and leave the animals alone and the animals can go to the fruit and eat the insects when they are hungry.

One advantage of flour beetle larva is that they normally do not move much once introduced into the enclosure and will not normally cause stress (i.e., the fruit flies or crickets crawling on the animal).  For froglets feed approx. 5 -7 larva.  To feed, place the larva into a shallow container such as a plastic jar top.

For springtails, place a section of tree fern bark that is about 2" by 2" into the springtail culture.  The springtails will move into the tree fern and then the section of bark can be placed into the animal's enclosure.  The animals can then feed upon the springtails at their leisure.  Another method used to feed springtails is to culture the springtails in a soil mix and then place a small portion of the mix into the culture.  Also, if a soil substrate is used in the enclosure, springtails can be introduced into the substrate.


During the warmer months of the year, you can use a fine material net to collect meadow plankton.  Meadow plankton is all of the small insects that live in the grass of your yard.  To collect meadow plankton, find an area where there are no insecticides or herbicides in use and the grass is about 6 inches tall.  Move the net along the grass in a sweeping motion.  Once you have made several passes, whip the net back and forth to move all the insects to the bottom of the net.  Grasp the net just above the bottom to seal in the insects.  Transfer the insects to a container with small holes in the lid so that only the proper size insects can escape out  into the vivarium.  It is best if the container has  tape, paper, paint or other material on the outside, so the frog can not see inside the container.  Brent Brock came up with a good system for this.  He called it the Bug Bazooka and you can see it at

You can make a sweeping net by using #6 gauge copper wire, dowel rod, hose clamps, and some fine mesh material.  Use the wire to form a circle that is 12" to 18" in diameter.  Where the ends come together, bend about 4 inches of the 2 ends out perpendicular to the circle.  Take the material and cut it so that you have a cone that is the same diameter of the wire circle and about 2 feet long.  Double over the area that will go around the circle of wire and sew it, to allow an area to feed the wire through.  Now, sew the rest of the cone, but do not make the cone too pointed because it is hard to get the insects out.  Thread the wire though the cone, then attach the wire to the dowel rod with the hose clamps.

You can also order premade nets from

For the direct web page to the nets go to

Food should be dusted with supplement powder to increase the nutritional value.  There are numerous supplements available which will increase the nutritional value.  I personally use Rep-Cal Calcium powder to increase the calcium content and Herptivite to increase the vitamin content.  I normally mix the two at a 50 / 50 mixture.   Additionally, it has been reported that paprika (the spice) can be added to help maintain the yellow in the tinctorius group.

Click here for links to food suppliers


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