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Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

This is a discussion on Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition? within the Fire-Belly & Sword-Tail Newts (Cynops & Hypselotriton) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; Hi, I have up to 60 Chinese Fire Belly. I started with 4 CFN, 1 Male with red belly, 2 ...

Fire-Belly & Sword-Tail Newts (Cynops & Hypselotriton) Perhaps the most famous and frequently bred newts in captivity, the fire-bellied newts and sword-tail newts are well known throughout the world as being excellent, gregarious captives.

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Old 15th October 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Hi, I have up to 60 Chinese Fire Belly. I started with 4 CFN, 1 Male with red belly, 2 Females with red belly and 1 yellow belly female. The others are all offsprings of the 4 CFNs.

I have always thought that the color of the bellies is related to genetic. But might have to do with Nutrition. From my observation, all the offsprings are more red than yellow but less than red. It is kind of orange.

So, does anyone know what influence the belly color? In this case, what do you think is the reason of the orange bellies? Should I feed them more often??
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Old 15th October 2008   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Belly color in Cynops is usually associated with diet. Captive bred specimens tend to have light orangish to yellow bellies, while wild animals have red bellies- it is mentioned a little bit here: http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Cy...ientalis.shtml

Feeding them more probably will not change anything, however, what you feed them may have an effect.
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Old 15th October 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

In my experience, it is both genetic and diet. To further complicate it, I believe that the diet during the larval/juvenile period has a lot more effect on body color than adult diet does. Here are some observations I've made:

Even with the same diet, different subspecies of C. pyrrhogaster end up with bellies of different brightness (my C. p. Kanto are brighter than Sasayame).

Young raised mainly on whiteworms end up with a yellow belly (no orange), even though their parents were orange.

Orange-bellied adults fed a diet with no particular source of pigment for a very long time don't lose their orange color.

Wild-caught newts almost always have brighter-orange colors than CB.
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Old 15th October 2008   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Any other comparisons between your Kanto and Sasayame?

Do blackworms provide carotene? I have a group of C. ensicauda popei that seem to be showing really bright colors(brighter bellies than I remember on my WC orientalis). But they haven't been fed much else than blackworms and red wigglers for the last 2 years or so.

However, when they were larvae they were fed almost entirely on daphnia(with some chopped blackworms added later in).
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Old 15th October 2008   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Thanks for the response. I do remember reading something about it. And you have truely reminded me the source of such information. It is good to know that this does not suggest a nutrition failure.

For record, I have fed my newts at larvae stage with mainly blood worms diet. When they are not matured, they share the same diet of earthworm with the original 4 WC CFN.

Dont know if this suggest the true diet of wild Fire Belly eat something much different than what most of us feed our captive newts. Does anyone ever observe feeding a diversified diet will lead to a red belly? I would think the wild newts eat many different type of insects and food.

Anyone ever observes the same type of coloration in captive breed with other red/orange/yellow belly species, such as Warty Newts?
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Old 15th October 2008   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

I've got a feeling that in Bombina orientalis it's fairly well understood that diet influences the colour of the belly.

I think feeding exogenous canthaxanthin does the job of colouring them. Whether the same effect can be seen in newts ...
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Old 16th October 2008   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Thanks, I wonder what food contain Canthaxanthin in their native ground. I guess it is hard to find out. But from wikipedia, it seems like green algae, bacteria, crustaceans, and fish have it. Perhaps feeding more shrimps (crustaceans) may help to increase captive breed FN with richer red color.

Based on my observation, I agree, too, that the diet influence the coloration during juvenile stage, as there is not effect to my wild adult newts with a worm based diet.
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Old 19th October 2008   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

I recall a post of TJ's with some C. ensicauda that defecated shortly after collection...a mix of sand and pieces of shrimp. Of course shrimp would be the most obvious things the newts ate due to their shells.
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Old 19th October 2008   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Water fleas (Daphnia) and freshwater shrimp (Gammarus) are the easiest 'natural' sources of carotenes for captive newts. The carotenes actually originate in algae which are fed on by the invertebrates.

This paper confirms that carotenes are responsible for belly colour in C. pyrrhogaster:
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/conten...a?format=print

Most of my experience with newt carotene colouration is with alpine newts, but I'd agree with Jen that food earlier in life makes more of a difference. It is possible for adult alpine newts to fade back to yellow, but it is a very very slow process.

There's a commercial preparation of canthaxanthin called 'carophyll red' that's used by bird breeders to improve colour- I have used this to produce bright orange waxworms, but haven't had any concrete results on how it will affect newt colour if they feed on them...
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Old 19th October 2008   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

It might be apocryphal but i recall a story about flamingoes turning white and this was attributed to their diet in captivity not containing sufficient carotenoids.

In the wild their diet of small Crustacea feed heavily on pigmented algae. So the pigment concentrates in the shrimp and the flamingoes ....

I have seen preparations containing canthaxanthin available for the purpose of 'Firing' firebellied toads (allegedly). I guess that if you could introduce the pigment into the food then this could be fed to newts.

There's no guarantee that feeder Gammarus and Daphnia will contain sufficient pigment to influence the changes.
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Old 20th October 2008   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

so, does that mean other than Cynops species, other types of newts might have faded out color if they are bred in captivity without a proper nutrition for the coloration?? And yes, I remember seeing my newt in larvae state with more red color belly.
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Old 20th October 2008   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

If carrots have lot of carotene, does that means a group of earthworms fed with carrots might encourage the true wild firebelly to captive Cynops?
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Old 20th October 2008   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Don't confuse color-producing diet with proper nutrition. The yellow-bellied firebellies raised in captivity appear to be perfectly healthy, just lacking color. Yes, other types of newts can also have faded colors when raised without foods that promote color.

Feeding the worms carrots wouldn't hurt, but it probably wouldn't have much effect either.
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Old 20th October 2008   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

So, I guess the best way is to feed the newts crustacean at the earlier stage, to develop the coloration. This raise another question, does the lack of coloration pass to the next generation? Or if I start feeding carotene rich food for the next generation of newts, they will still develop a rich red belly regardless of the yellow belly parents?

My guess is that they should, but a confirmation will help. I look forward to raising red belly newts.
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Old 20th October 2008   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

It depends. It's possible that your yellow bellied female is a genetic mutant that cannot get a red belly. It's also possible that your orange bellied offspring are already as red as they are able to be for genetic reasons. However, if the reason is diet, then the next generation will be able to have red bellies if they are fed the right diet. Does this make sense? I don't think anyone can tell you for sure why your specific animals have the belly color that they do - it could involve some genetic as well as dietary reasons. But probably the next generation could be more red if they were fed crustaceans.
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Old 20th October 2008   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Thanks. It makes good sense that there can be both genetic and dietary causes. So, I guess I can only find out by breeding the next generation.
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Old 22nd November 2008   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Belly Color - Genetic? Age? or Nutrition?

Some personal observations regarding diet:

I breed Axies and of particular interest is the golds. I start them on brine shrimp, wean them onto Salmon pallets and continue to feed them these as their staple diet ( supplemented on occasion with other food items ). My Golds have very good colour, however when people get them off me they change the diet to generally strips of meat and after quite a period of time the specimens lose some of their colouration and become considerably paler. There is no doubt that diet has an influence on their colour. I have observed this for several years now.

My 2c
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