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Fire belly newt tank

This is a discussion on Fire belly newt tank within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Hello everyone I am getting 3 fire belly newts in two days and I am wondering if anyone has any ...

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Old 2nd October 2011   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fire belly newt tank

Hello everyone

I am getting 3 fire belly newts in two days and I am wondering if anyone has
any tips or suggestions for the tank?

I will most likely have it bare bottom until I can figure out what to do with
substrate, not using gravel and bored of sand.

I read they like minimal current and I'll just be housing them in a big clear plastic storage bin
until I can find them a decent sized tank. I can keep constant 70 temp. but things are cooling down outside so probably can keep the tank even cooler in near future.

Anyway, mostly just looking for tips from people who keep them (any thing at all)
I've read up on them thoroughly but I feel like you can never know too much :]
I'll upload pictures on this thread when I get them.

Thanks



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Old 2nd October 2011   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

My boyfriend has 5 firebellies (a pair and a trio), and he keeps them in plastic tubs/enclosures, with no filter, gravel substrate, and a big rock so they can sit out of the water if they want. The trio bred last year, even though there were no plants (Carly stuck the eggs to the rock).
My tips (based on my experience and research so far):

get some sort of ornaments for them to rub against when they shed
make sure your tank has a lid
give them hiding places (they love to hide around the tank)
Keep them as cool as possible
Don't be alarmed if they try to bite you, it doesn't hurt in the slightest, and ours only bite at feeding time
scatter the food around the tank when you feed them, to lessen the risk of them biting each other

Quick question: why do you not want to use gravel?



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Old 3rd October 2011   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

thanks for all the tips angie! I really appreciate it.
and I don't want to use gravel cause it traps poop easier and also they can swallow some
if it's too small. and i could use bigger gravel but still the poop gets trapped in it and hard to
clean it out and over time could fowl up the water conditions.

I'll probably just use a group of medium sized-large-extra large stones with few of them touching so that stuff doesn't get trapped underneath and keep it bare bottom. this way they can still have rocks cause I love rocks too :] I wish to start collecting rocks (not for the tanks just cool rocks like geodes and etc) in the near future.

I saw a storage bin at my store for around $11 that would equal about 76 liters or around 20 gallons. so will probably do get that cause i can't find any used tanks right now.

what do you use for hiding places?



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Old 3rd October 2011   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

oh, also, how many water changes do you do a week since you don't use a filter? I do weekly water changes of about 20% volume. Would I have to do more frequently since no filter?



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Old 3rd October 2011   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Great news! I am going to pick up a 20 gallon long tonight for $10 :-D
30 x 13 x 13 inch. This will be great to house my fire belly newts in that i'm getting tomorrow.
yay

also any one else who has fire belly newts, i'd still love more suggestions on tanks (incl. pictures would be fantastic!) Thanks everyone.



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Old 3rd October 2011   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Although some people probably wouldn't reccommend it, we change all of the water and give the gravel a rinse once a week (to get the poo out). We don't scrub the rock as we don't want to lose the good bacteria. We use a large rough rock for the middle of the tank which provides land (where it pokes out of the water) and a hiding place (where there's an overhang further down). I use a hiding pot from a fish shop for my own newts (paddle-tail).

My paddle-tails don't have gravel, but as a result they struggle to walk along the bottom, so they often opt to swim instead. My boyfriend's firebellies have not had any problems with the gravel, but I know that some people do get problems with it.

Good to hear about the new tank, hope it all goes well for you. If you have any more questions, post them on here and I'll try to answer them



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Old 3rd October 2011   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

thanks angie! so far I think i have it covered mostly. I can't wait to get them tomorrow I really don't like bare bottom tanks either so i might just suck it up and use sand like my other tanks. i wish colored sand wasn't expensive cause i'd love to go with black sand. so far all i need now for my fire belly tank is a few more extra large rocks and a butt load of plants but I have a few in other tanks that I can pull and stick them in the new one.



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Old 4th October 2011   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Sounds great, be sure to post some pictures when you've got it set up, and when they've settled in!



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Old 5th October 2011   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

So double bad news. The stupid pet store said they didn't get them ordered in time so it will be next tuesday now... Ugh I was looking forward to them. More prep time now though. The other bad news is the 20 gallon long tank that I was getting super cheap, turns out the lady I was buying it from put it in the driveway and her husband didn't see it and backed over it lol.. I felt bad for her but still I wish I could have got that tank.




Last edited by bellabelloo; 5th October 2011 at 12:53. Reason: Please use capital letters in your posts.
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Old 5th October 2011   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Sorry to hear about your trouble with getting the tank.

Regarding substrate, you're right not to use gravel. Intestinal impactions can happen easily due to the newts' hoovering way of feeding. It also traps a lot of dirt. I personally like sand even though it's not the best for most plants. If you use sand, make sure it's no more than 2cm deep, to avoid the risk of anaerobic decay.

Another way of setting up your tank would be the Walstad method of putting a layer of soil under the sand, which should promote plant growth. The newts should appreciate this as they love hanging out in thick foliage.
Lots of live plants would also help the water quality. You won't need a filter but if you'd like some to provide some extra biological filtration, aeration and gentle water movement, I'd recommend an air driven sponge filter.

Water changes should be about 15 - 20% a week, with a Walstad tank you can do them less frequently. It would be a good idea to get a basic water testing kit to keep an eye on the water quality, especially before the tank is fully cycled. This one is pretty good I think: Nutrafin Mini Master Test Kit

I wouldn't advise to clean the tank fully (ever) - let it cycle and then do the recommended maintenance which is some cleaning and small water changes, but nothing radical and never too much at the same time. By cleaning too much you destroy the good bacterial film (slime) which helps keep your water clean (good for animals, not clean in human hygiene terms - big difference).

Most of your questions will probably be answered in the articles here: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/articles.shtml






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Old 5th October 2011   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Hmm, was about to offer some advice too, but looks like I've been doing everything wrong anyway =/



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Old 6th October 2011   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

haha
@ l0uiswho0 - well i'm glad i posted this thread then :P

@ Eva - thanks for the suggestions! I've been wanting to do a walstad tank for awhile now so this might be a good opportunity for that :]

How many would comfortably live in a 10 gallon tank (I have an extra one)? I may just go buy a 20 gallon long for $32 new if I can't find any tanks on craigslist which i've been hunting for past week and can't find anything promising. What would be better for these newts 20 gallon long or 20 gallon tall?



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Old 6th October 2011   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Best if you get the 20 gallon long. 10 gallon would be ok for a couple of newts but generally the smaller the tank, the more difficult it is to keep the water parameters stable. 10 gallon is about the smallest you can even consider for newts.
A tall tank isn't as good as a long one - floor space is important for newts.
Don't forget to escape proof your tank really well.

Can I ask where you're getting your newts from? And which species?



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Old 6th October 2011   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

hey thanks for the tips 20 gallon long it is :]

and i am pretty sure it is the chinese fbn. i haven't got to look at them yet so i won't know til next week.
it happens that a pet store was ordering some already and i've been wanting some for awhile anyway
so rather than some idiot take them and kill them in terrible conditions I thought I could possibly rescue them. I know a lot of people frown at getting newts from pet shops but if I don't save then someone else will get them and won't know anything about them and probably will put them in their 80 degree tank with fish lol..

more updates when i know more. i just got done setting up my 10 gallon as a walstad tank, probably will just be how i propagate and grow my own plants to add to my other tanks :] i don't think i messed it up too bad haha seems like i did it right.



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Old 7th October 2011   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Ok I've looked at my setup from every possibly angle, and even though it coflicts with what evut says, I can't see anything actually wrong with it

Maybe it could just be considered an alternative approach or something... I expect I'll still get flamed for it in some way.

I have a 7 UK gallon tank - it's a long oblong shape, with a water depth of about 10 inches. I have a thin layer of gravel at the bottom that I originally sieved to remove all pieces smaller than a newt's head. The tank is densely planted, with rocky pillars forming platforms above the water. I never cycle the water*, just dechlorinate it, and despite this every time I test it, it's stable and within the recommended parameters. Because the tank is smaller I change a little more of the water, a little more often. The tank is also filtered by a small all in one pump, with the outflow hidden so that the water is still relatively still. Also, I feed the newts externally by filling a small container with tank water and putting them in there with the food, so I can see what they're doing. On warmer days I cool the tank with ice packs at either end.

The newts have doubled in size (as in, size, not girth) since I got them and will eat from my hand. They never seem to make any effort to swim "out" of the tank, ie at the glass, and neither spends an unusual amount of time out of the water.

I expect this is all morally reprehensible, but as far as I can see it seems to work.

*My old dad bred freshwater tropicals for 8 years when he was a kid, and had never even heard of cycling. He lost 3 fish in that entire period. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, just making an observation.



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Old 7th October 2011   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

I think you misunderstood what cycling means. It's basically letting the tank be colonised by nitrifying bacteria before you put animals in (or put some animals in to start the cycle). The nitrogen cycle happens in every established tank - this is what makes an aquarium inhabitable for animals.
This article explains it: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/cyclingEDK.shtml
The water you add when doing water changes is just dechlorinated and/or aged water.

Your tank doesn't sound bad at all - perhaps a bit small but you do frequent water changes and keep it clean, test the water...the external feeding method surely helps as well. Your newts sound happy and healthy. Regarding the gravel, if the stones are too big for the newts to swallow them, then that's not really an issue either. Some people have regular gravel in their newt tanks and have no problems with it...but I'd worry too much so I prefer the safer option, sand.

You don't mention what kind of lid you have. Even if your newts don't seem to climb, the tank must be escape proof just in case they start one day.




Last edited by Azhael; 7th October 2011 at 14:54.
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Old 7th October 2011   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Hmm from the way you describe cycling, it sounds a lot less complicated than I've been lead to believe by scary aquatic specialists. The link doesn't seem to work though. Any ideas?

The tank has a heavy wooden lid that I got one of the carpenters from DIY SOS to make for me... amazing who yer dad knows at the pub. At any rate, I know for sure that it's corn neonate proof, so I'm pretty sure it's ok for newts. It does have airholes, but they're too far in for the newts to get to even if they climbed the sides.

I was actually thinking about going and buying a bigger tank anyway... pets at home (le gasp) is doing a sale on 24" at the moment.

I just fitted a new filter, which should be a lot better, but the water flow seems to be a lot stronger too. I've pointed it at the side of the tank, but the newts have still gone into full on amateur dramatics. Probably my fault for naming them after Wagner characters. Suppose I'll have to work out some way of damping that corner



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Old 7th October 2011   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Try now, i think that link is fixed.
Iīd encourage you to get that larger tank. 7 gallons offer very poor thermal stability and with a small volume, maintaining water quality really does become more difficult. Water changes should only be 20% of the total, keep that in mind. Your newts will apreciate more volume.
Also, you wonīt need a filter at all in a larger tank if itīs sufficiently planted, which is a great bonus as these newts donīt like currents and filter generate heat.

Like Eva, i suggest sand as a better alternative to gravel. Or you can even go with no substrate at all which makes feeding and cleaning way easier. Even if the gravel is too large to be swallowed, it traps loads of debris and complicates access to food. Itīs just not a good choice really...

Totallyrad, i understand your desire to rescue those newts, itīs a noble thing, but sadly it has bad consequences. By purchasing the newts from a pet-shop you foment the WC market. If the shop makes a profit from them, theyīll keep ordering them and you obviously canīt take them all home. Essentially, buying from them means condemning other newts to the same fate. However if there is little interest in them and they are not doing well with them at the shop, chances are they will stop including them in their lists. Itīs a complicated matter...



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Last edited by Azhael; 7th October 2011 at 15:05.
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Old 7th October 2011   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Thank you, that's a really easy to understand article. I sent it to me old dad, and he said this is effectively what he did when he was a breeder, but it didn't really have a name then, it was just common sense. Now I just wish the aquatics people I've met had been less keen to scare me/put me off.

Also, am off over the road in a bit to buy that aquarium



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Old 8th October 2011   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fire belly newt tank

Let us know what the new tank looks like when you get it all set up :] I'd love to see it.

And azhael, I understand what you're saying about fueling the wc market. I guess I can see
it from that viewpoint also. I have been looking for cb fire belly newts but have been unsuccessful
and I'll be talking to the pet shop to see if the ones they have are captive bred. I actually think they
might be because there is a major newt and salamander breeder only a few hours from here (Florida Herps) and I suspect this is where they are coming from.

Going to be getting a new 32 gallon bowfront hopefully today for $50 and I will use this as my new axolotl tank so I can get another one to go with my wild type and then the 20 gallon I have my axolotl in is well established and I will adapt it further to meet the needs of my fire belly newts.

Love all the feedback and comments :-) more welcome, newcomers and experienced!



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