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Old 22nd July 2019   #1
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Lightbulb Considering Fire Belly Newts...

Hi all...

I have a 48 gallon bowfront aquarium I am considering keeping newts in. I think I'd like to try chinese/japanese fire belly newts! I thought this up after finding an interesting piece of driftwood, and realizing the 'overhand' part would make a great 'dock' or land piece for aquatic newts.

The Probable Habitat:

I did a search of this forum, and also read the care sheet, but I still have some questions about setting up a newt tank. I've also read the Mixing Disasters page, but have questions about tankmakes; sorry in advance?

TANK SIZE/WATER DEPTH - The aquarium is 48 gallons, but filled up to the top of the wood, it holds about 35-40 gallons. Would two or three fire belly newts be happy in this amount of water?
The water will probably be about 12" deep, possibly 14" deep. There would be resting places at various depths. Is that ok for fire belly newts, or is that too deep?

The ph of my tap water is 8.8; in my aquariums with wood, it drifts down to 8.2 to 8.4. Is this too high for a newt, or is it ok?
My room is in a basement in Colorado, and I keep the heat in the house around 60f-62f in the winter. Max temp in the summer would be 75f. Is this an acceptable range?
My tap water is mid-range in hardness. Do newts prefer hard or soft water?

HABITAT, SUBSTRATE - I don't want a bare bottom tank. I'd like to have a lot of aquatic plants, including rooted plants. Is 'planted tank' aquarium substrate ok for newts? The species care article says their natural habitat has a muddy bottom, so I assume this would be similar? I will probably use some fine sand in the foreground of the tank. Do newts do OK on sand? What size diameter of rocks are too large for these newts to ingest?

HABITAT, WOOD - My wood is from a long dead and long downed cottonwood tree in an open space park. I doubt it was ever anywhere near pesticides, but it is way too big to boil to disinfect it. I've been disinfecting it with salt, and then after soaking it in saltwater plan to do lots of water changes until it's gotten rid of most of it's tannins. I didn't see cottonwood on the wood list anywhere... Does anyone know if it's amphibian safe? (Nearby pond full of similar downed cottonwood chunks has lots of frogs/toads, fwiw, so the ecosystem seems healthy/free of toxins.)

HABITAT, PLANTS - I'm planning on using flame moss, subwassertang, mariomo moss balls, bucephalandra, anubias, dwarf lily and amazon swords. Are any of these plants known to be harmful to newts?
What plants are considered ideal/desired by newts for enrichment?

HABITAT, TANKMATES - YES, I have read through the "mixing disasters" article.

I really like nerite snails, and would like to include them in all freshwater set ups. I find they are highly effective at managing algae, and tolerant of a variety of water conditions. I didn't see any mentions of nerite snails in the Mixing Disasters. Only a photo of a newt trying to swallow a snail. As long as they are too big to fit in the newt's mouth, are nerite snails ok? Are other snail species "better"?

I really like the behavior of schooling fish and think white cloud mountain minnows are very pretty! I saw in the disasters the only mention of minnows seems to be related to using minnows as feeder fish. It seems like the person posting didn't quarantine his minnows for disease before adding them, as they weren't a permanent part of the ecosystem. (I imagine the person dumping some rando PetSmart minnows into their set up - yikes!) I would be adding minnows after putting them through quarantine, well before adding the actual newts. I think the minnows would be too fast to catch, but I could be wrong. Their maximum size is 1.5 inches/3.81 cm. If caught, are they digestible?

I will probably also keep neocaridina shrimp with them. These seem like the least controversial choice, and I have no questions but do welcome feedback.

BREEDING - If my newts breed, I'm unlikely to have another place to house their young. Do adult newts typically cannibalize their larvae? If I wanted/needed to provide adequate dry land for newt babies, how much land area is needed? Is it OK if that land area is in the same aquarium/ecosystem, or will the adults come out onto land to eat the developing young? Will older young (2-3 years) likely eat younger young (0-2 years)?

GENERAL - Is there anything else I should know or plan for? I've got a couple of months ahead of me before I'll be adding anything alive to the aquarium, so there is plenty of time to adjust/plan.


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beginner, fire bellied newt, fire belly, newt

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