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Old 4th May 2019   #1
Brett
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Default Some general newt questions from a newbie

Hello everyone!

Aside from a very brief stint with an ill-fated axolotl a number of years ago, I'm new to the world of caudates (otherwise having experience only with fish).

I have just today picked up a juvenile (Chinese) fire-belly newt, and after having read the material available here and elsewhere, I had a few general questions I was hoping someone could help me with.
  1. I'm aware that newts will sometimes avoid the water when newly introduced. Given that they need to stay moist, how long should I wait before getting worried? I really don't want to handle him unnecessarily (more for his sake than mine).
  2. I've purchased a small tub of live white worm culture, but honestly even these seem a little big for my newt. He's very small - maybe an inch, head to tail. I know they only eat every second day (ish), so I'm guessing a single worm is probably fine?
  3. When feeding him, can I just drop a worm near him? Does it have to be on the land area, or in the water?

The environment I have for him is an Exo Terra terrarium that I've set up as a paludarium, with about 4" of water, a small turtle island for land, some driftwood (from an aquarium store), a small power filter set to the minimum flow rate (maybe 50 L/hr), and a couple of low-light plants that I've just stuck to the glass using Seachem's plant glue.

The filter pads come from an established aquarium, so hopefully there won't be any cycling issues, but I intend to closely monitor the water anyway.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated! :) My main motivation here is to make sure this guy has a better run than my ex-axolotl.



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Old 4th May 2019   #2
Auli
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

Hi!
If it's a juvenile, it might still be living only in land. I'm not sure about inches but isn't that something around two-three centimeters? If so, it sounds small and probably won't want to be back in water for a while. Some do, though, raise morphs very succesfully in shallow water set-up tucked up with plants so that they won't drown. Anyway, keep the newt moist and maybe lower the water to only an inch-two (five centimeters) so that it's safe if unwantedly gone to water.
Was it in water when you got it? Also filters can irritate newts (the vibration and currents in water) because firebelly newts come from still water, ponds etc.
If you can cut the worm (I'm unfortunately not familiar with white worms), it might be more suitable size. Also fruit flies, small isopods, tiny earth worms (also cut into smaller pieces) are good choices for a small newt living on land. If the newt is on land, it hunts by sight so the food should move. If you're feeding non-living food, you can try keep it in a toothpick and move in front of the newts nose.
I hope the little one will soon be happy in the new home!



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Old 4th May 2019   #3
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

Thanks for the info!

Yes, he/she is about 2-3 cm (I was just thinking inches for the sake of our American friends!)

So in terms of how the store was keeping them, they seemed to be mostly either on the 'land' area, or sitting on top of some java moss (i.e., they weren't really swimming).

They did also suggest cutting the worms up, but then I figured if it's dead, it won't move and the newt won't eat it? I'm going to try him/her with a whole live worm today and see how he goes.

Re: filter, I read a range of articles and nobody seems to agree! Some said filters were very bad, other people said they were essential. I can certainly get rid of it, if it's likely to be a problem? I assume then you just change all of the water on a regular basis.



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Old 4th May 2019   #4
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

Quick edit, he was actually super happy to take frozen bloodworms off some tweezers, and I gave him a live white worm as well (which did try to throttle him, but he won!)

Is that too much / too little for such a tiny guy/gal?



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Old 6th May 2019   #5
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

I think that's a good amount! I don't know if a growing newt can eat too much???
Filter thing is complicated. I have an air pump filter (not sure if this is the correct name but such you use with air stones) in two of my tanks and a couple without anything. They're well established and I try to think low maintenance tank style, so I don't change all the water. A few buckets and have lots of plants. If you make a search, I think you might find something about that theme here somewhere. If I remember where the thread is, I'll come back later and give you the page. People do many different ways.



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Old 6th May 2019   #6
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

Yes, I think I know the type of filter you mean!



The filter I was using was a small internal power filter turned down to minimum flow, but I ended up taking it out - the water was consistently two degrees warmer than the air temperature. I'm going to get some (large) gravel instead, so there's at least something for the bacteria to grow on.


The water volume is very small, so it's not especially inconvenient for me to change 100% of it, if I need to.



I've got some java fern and some water sprite in there now, and I have some ludwigia and java moss coming in the post. I also have some hygrophilia is an aquarium that is growing like a weed, so I could move some of that over as well.



One question I had about plants was how to keep them alive? I understand you're not supposed to use aquarium plant fertilizers with newts and salamanders, but since he's so small and not really going into the water, there's not really any waste for the plants to feed on. I was thinking maybe just add like a single fish flake to the water once every couple of days?



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Old 7th May 2019   #7
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

That woud probably be a good idea! Clay is something I've used, too, since it's a natural material. I try to search the article when on computer..for some reason my phone won't let me do the search!



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Old 7th May 2019   #8
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

I've seen some very interesting suggestions for substrate (or substitutes for substrates), but clay wasn't something I had considered! I suppose I should wait for my pebbles to arrive first and see if that works.



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Old 16th May 2019   #9
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

I use clay under the roots, not in whole bottom :) Maybe that'd go too but I think it would be quite messy when adding water or puttin in plants/taking them off and newts swimming and walking around...dirt based tank is the method I tried to search, but couldn't find any thread very informational. One had had photos, but maybe it's so old thread that the pics aren't available anymore. At least I couldn't open them. So I'm not linking it here...hope you get your set up working with pebbles or without :)



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Old 16th May 2019   #10
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Default Re: Some general newt questions from a newbie

Ah, I see what you mean!


So far so good. He's still avoiding the water, but he's got a good appetite and he's tiny, so I'm not too worried.



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