general advice on firebellied newts
My birthday is in a few months and since I saw a firebellied newt in my local pet store I have not thought about much else. I would be starting from scratch and was looking to see if anyone has kept them before and can advise on anything from tank size, feeding, and general ease of keeping. Thanks :)
My therapist says I need a bigger tank . . . . .
I've kept them, though I was just a tadpole at the time, it's been a while.
20 gal is minimum tank size, if hopefully you will get a few, 3-4 minimum for their social well being. They're mostly aquatic but also need land to bask on. The bigger the tank the less likelihood of toxins building up. I've recently learned that a "Breeder" tank is more footprint with less height, perfect for these guys. Not sure if they make a 20 gal breeder, but if so that would be your best minimum size IMO!
You can slope gravel from the aquatic area to make a dry area. Use gravel large enough that they don't swallow it when feeding. I would decorate the land area with bark pieces, smooth rocks and maybe some moss (I got mine locally and put a little yogurt on it to get it to take off on a rock)
You can also, or in addition, do a floating island of bark or some other creating in the water for the dry area.
Live plants are always best, if you have enough lighting. Fake plants are better than none, but newts have really thin, sensitive skin so silk plants are best if you must go with fake.
A moss ball, semi-aquatic plants and a few floating plants would be cool.
Make sure your filter doesn't have too strong a current, maybe air powered or internal powered would be good and keep it (or the output) in the corner or in one section so there are some calm areas too.
Temps in the 68-70 are best, they can get diseases at higher temps. Depending on your climate, you may want to consider where your tank will be so they don't get too hot or cold.
You'll need to do a water change weekly of about 1/3 of the water, just like an aquarium only it is a little harder to clean the dry area because of the siphon factor. Smaller tanks, more newts = bigger water change. The aquarium style gravel vacuum will work well, just be more careful to not lose your siphon. (A proper water changer hooked up to the faucet will save you some grief, I didn't know about them/they didn't exist when I kept newts.) Of course use a de-chlorinator as with aquariums.
I think I kept my light on 12 hours, off 12 hours, but it's depending on how much natural light they get. I think they're from China (check the latitude for light requirements?) and sometimes get confused with a Japanese species. I also vaguely recall that the have a mildly toxic emission from their skin, which is fine since we shouldn't be touching them anyway. They're amphibians, so SUPER sensitive to our worldly toxins.
I remember my mom making my wash my hands every time I cleaned their house. Now I would make sure I wash my hands with clear water BEFORE i get near them!
Feeding them can be tricky depending on your particular newts, frozen or live bloodworms are your best bet, also chopped up earthworms, brine shrimp and some commercially available foods are what I remember (grossing my sister out with!)
You can feed them every 2-3 days as I recall. You'll have to get to know your own and monitor their growth and body condition.
If you're maybe overfeeding while you're figuring it out, make sure to clean more to make up for it, as again, they're really sensitive to toxins.
As to the ease of keeping, I would say they're about the same as a freshwater aquarium, not rocket science but if you're not committed to their needs, you'll have a tragedy on your hands soon.
Keeping them involves weekly water changes, feeding every 2-3 days, daily monitoring of temperature, and however much time you want to put in enjoying them.
It will be more work in the beginning of course while you figure out location, temperature, ideal feeding schedule, getting to know them.
They're really cute, enjoy! If you can, buy from a breeder that is somewhat local, they are often imported and many die in transit from the trauma. Not very nice.
Last edited by Waterfroggy; 01-25-2012 at 12:46 AM.
African Dwarf Frogs, Betta, Dwarf Chain Loaches, Otocilclus, Ember Tetras, Amano Shrimp in one magical 31 gallon tank
Two pea puffers in another tank!
Hey waterfroggy, thats the most impressive reply ive ever had! really appreciate you taking the time to write that up! I will do more reading, the only problem is i dont know if I would have the room for a 20 gallon, if I were to get a ten gallon would two newts be a possibillity? Thanks again!
My therapist says I need a bigger tank . . . . .
I know this threads a few months old but was searching for Firebellies and this thread popped up. Im thinking about adding a dry area to my Riparium and getting a couple, did you ever end up getting them? From what i've been reading 2 in a 10 is doable.
I have a feeling we will get some of these when my daughter gets a little older. She really loved them at the pet store.