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New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

This is a discussion on New Chinese fire belly newts not eating within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; I've already read through several other threads with the same problem. Two weeks ago my wife and I ordered a ...

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Old 14th January 2014   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

I've already read through several other threads with the same problem. Two weeks ago my wife and I ordered a couple of fire belly newts from backWaterReptiles (first mistake!). One was noticeably smaller than the other and had a creased tail tip. The tip fell off during the first day.

After a week of keeping them in our tank setup I was only able to get the smaller one to eat once (small portion of a live red wriggler) but the larger of the two ate three times (same food item). I've since moved them out of the tank and into separate plastic containers with moistened de-chlorinated water. So far they've been in there a week. The larger one has eaten once (tip of a live canadian night crawler). The smaller one has not eaten again. It seemed interested in a night crawler tip; it bit it, but then let go. I think I cut that one too large.

Food items I have tried:
-live rinsed red wrigglers (chopped and whole)
-live mealworms
-live wiggling night crawler tips
-night crawler chunks
-thawed frozen bloodworms

We're going to try pinhead crickets next.

The last few nights I've attempted to feed on tweezers (bloodworms and wiggling night crawler tips) which has failed. I've left a wiggling night crawler tip in the container with them when I put them back in the cupboard, but neither has eaten in 4 days now. I'm less concerned with the larger one, as he's gained some weight and appears to be eating with *some* regularity. The smaller one, however, is bone thin. I can visibly see his ribs and hip bones now.

Any further advice would be appreciated.



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Old 14th January 2014   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

If you've read other threads you probably know that pet store newts are wild caught in china and kept in awful conditions for weeks or months on end, they are highly stressed and often sick. The best thing you can do for them is provide optimal conditions and hope they are strong enough to recover and adapt to captivity.

They need at least a 10 gallon tank that s crammed full of aquatic plants, so many that you can't see from one side to the other and clean cold water. If there's enough plants in the tank a filter is optional really as the plants will keep the water quality stable once the tank cycles. The plants are very important to begin with because these types of newts often go into terrestrial mode as a reaction to the foul conditions during importation and in pet stores. This means their tail fins are often greatly reduced and they are poor swimmers and may drown until they recover and return to an aquatic life.

As far as feeding goes you could try wax worms or live blackworms, but chopped nightcrawlers are also good. I would forget the red wrigglers as they have a foul taste and many newts won't touch them, mealworms are also bad as they are nutritionally poor and difficult to digest. I would say keep offering food every day but keep other disturbances to a minimum, keep an eye on water quality because until the tank cycles ammonia or nitrite levels may spike.

It may take a while before they recover enough to feel like eating, in fact some are so sick that i'ts already too late, but by providing perfect conditions you can give them the best chance.



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Old 14th January 2014   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Thank you for the reply.

Any input on keeping them isolated in the cupboard versus keeping them in the tank? The cupboard is the most isolated place that I can keep them.



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Old 14th January 2014   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

It would be a good idea to upload photos of your newts and your tank, it would help out if you want our opinions on your setup and how malnourished the newts are. As Chinadog said, 8+ gallons of water in the tank is best, as well as sand as substrate, or a bare-bottom tank. Make sure you really fill your entire water area with plants, especially floating along the surface. (Elodea and java moss work well) You should be able to leave the newts in their regular tank if you give them a floating chunk of cork bark, or a floating plastic container filled with dirt. If you try feeding them regular earthworms from your yard (as long as they're not in an area sprayed for pests), you might have better luck. They taste good, and you can cut off larger pieces, which wriggle more. Whiteworms or blackworms might also get a response, but they're much harder to find. You can order some whiteworms from otterwoman in the "For Sale: USA" section if you want. You'll need to set up a culture for them though.



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Old 14th January 2014   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Yes, they would be better off in their tank with loads of plants unless any are obviously sick. it would be a good idea to check them for skin sores as newly imported newts often develop skin problems from the stress and poor conditions, if any do have sores they should be isolated from the others straight away.



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Old 15th January 2014   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Again, thanks for the help. My ground is frozen under about 6 inches of snow right now (down from 16 inches, yay Michigan) so I'll add the earth worms to my wife's objectives tomorrow.

Pictures below

I think I was shooting myself in the foot by keeping them in the cupboard; probably was scaring the **** out of them when I opened everything up to feed them.

This is the small one
Click the image to open in full size.

This is the larger one
Click the image to open in full size.

This is both in the eco earth tub inside the tank
Click the image to open in full size.
(I am not sure why the smaller one is glossy... that is something that I think has gotten worse now that I'm seeing them side by side again)

This is the tank
Click the image to open in full size.
There are two live anubis at the bottom, going to increase this number as well as cover the surface with java moss. There is a small under water (crappy) filter turned down very low. We've got large stones as a substrate, I will be removing the vast majority of these, as I know they can trap food items and create pockets of water that can cause problems.


The water is reading 1ppm ammonia and 5ppm nitrate, so it's not cycled (another mistake, I should have taken care of this prior to getting them). I've been unable to lower the ammonia under .5ppm with my tap water + conditioner (the treated water itself had an ammonia reading of .5ppm), so I'm getting some distilled water tomorrow to do a ~25% water change. I assume the java moss will help that along, also.

Again thanks for the help. The support has, at the very least, eased my growing sorrow that I've been unable to make these little guys happy.



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Old 15th January 2014   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

I forgot. This is a 20 gallon long, so I estimate to have about 10 gallons of water in there now. I understand that more is better, and I will increase the water level.



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Old 15th January 2014   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

The tank size is great. Your larger newt doesn't look too underfed, but I would say that the smaller one looks pretty thin. Just pack the tank with as many plants as possible (get a light made for plants if you don't have one already), do 10% water changes each week to try and keep the water quality stable, and try feeding them every day. (Although it's best to feed them every 2-3 days, the skinny one could use the extra food.) Best of luck!

Oh, and I've heard of a condition that I think is called "The Shine," but I wouldn't swear by it. Someone else could tell you what I mean.



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Old 16th January 2014   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Well, fortunate turn of events tonight. Before leaving this morning I noticed they both moved off of their floating island and onto some floating artificial plants, right under the surface. When I got home after work I fed them some thawed bloodworms (I do know they should not use these as a staple) and the larger one ate three, and the smaller one ate at least 6 or 7. Hopefully that means they finally feel safe in there.

Tomorrow I'm going to fill it with lots of live plants, get some correctly sized earthworms, and try removing the filter and some rocks. Maybe I can get them down lower in the water.

Thanks for the help. I vastly underestimated the time it takes them to acclimate to a new tank.

I'll post some pictures of the tank after I finish some work on it. Hopefully someone else can learn something from all this.



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Old 10th February 2014   #10 (permalink)
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Update! Everything appears to be doing well! One question. Is this guy getting plump or should I be worried about bloat?

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

These are both the same newt. This was the smaller one with a tail piece missing. Hopefully he's just plump... It would be heartbreaking to see him ill after so much progress.

Here is the tank. Hornwart is great stuff. Messy, but great. I opted to remove the Cork bark as the smaller newt was staying terrestrial while it was in. They hang out on top of the plants now when they are talking a break. Seem to love it. Both newts appear to have transitioned to aquatic.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is the bigger one. He was playing in the plants when it was picture time , so I didn't have a great view. He looks about the same as the other one now. Plump, but not around the throat.
Click the image to open in full size.

Thanks again for the help!



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Old 15th February 2014   #11 (permalink)
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More updates.

They were just full. They eat more than they should now. A great relief from before. It was mostly impossible to get them to eat on dry land.

For anyone thinking about newts, or is having similar troubles, here are the top things I did that directly improved my newts' condition:

1) deep water, lots of plants. I'm using hornwort. It grows like a weed and is messy but floats and keeps the water in great shape. It's also cheap.
2) gradual removal of dry land. This one I was nervous about, but in the end it's what got my bone thin newt in the water. With the hornwort they still had places to rest near the surface so there was little to no risk or drowning. My final successful setup basically has a plant mat on the surface they can hang out on.
3) patience.

I was not able to get them to eat properly at all until they went aquatic. My experience points to getting them aquatic being the most important step in their happiness and health.

As said in many other posts. Water quality, and plants. Many plants. Get these two things done BEFORE purchasing your newts!

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Old 17th February 2014   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Hadn't read this topic lately. Good job with all the plants- I'm impressed. Glad to hear the newts are doing well!



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Old 26th February 2014   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Awesome I will buy more plants and get some wax worms. Great information out here guys. Basically do our best with space, water quality, heavily planted water and then feed an array of soft easily digested worms and hope for the best. So feed in water or on land? WHat do most newts perfer. I currently have Cynops Orientalis, but I heard that Pyrrhogaster are hardier! Can anyone shed some light on this?



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Old 26th February 2014   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

If they are newly imported petstore newts feed them wherever they will eat, the most important thing to begin with is to help them build up their body mass after the long period of starvation they have been forced to endure.
Cynops pyrrhogaster may be able to tolerate slightly higher temperatures than Hypselotriton orientalis, but they are both almost bullet proof when kept in suitable conditions and given a properly balanced diet.



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Old 27th February 2014   #15 (permalink)
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Over the course of three weeks I got mine to eat about 4 or 5 times on land. Once they were aquatic they ate whenever I offered food.
So in my experience feeding in the water is the best.

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Old 2nd April 2014   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

Great :) sorry I just sort of jumped through the thread :P Even my Fire bellies which I have had for almost 8 months ignore food on land



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Old 9th February 2015   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

I followed everything I read here and my second newt began eating after just over a week. My 2 newts out of a shipment of 10 or more to the pet store were the only 2 alive today. The rest died at the pet store.



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Old 9th February 2015   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

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Originally Posted by GrumpaDirt View Post
I followed everything I read here and my second newt began eating after just over a week. My 2 newts out of a shipment of 10 or more to the pet store were the only 2 alive today. The rest died at the pet store.
Well I recommend to not buy or "rescue" any more from petshops =P



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Old 9th February 2015   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

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Originally Posted by ThoseNewtsTho View Post
Well I recommend to not buy or "rescue" any more from petshops =P
Cant find a breeder around here at all for the life of me. I think I have a male and a female and if I do and can get them to breed then that would be ideal. I would not mind at all becoming a local breeder. I have plenty of aquariums around the house to get an entire process going.



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Old 9th February 2015   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Chinese fire belly newts not eating

You can look at the for sale portion of the forum, and try to find some cb fire-bellies



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