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Old 9th September 2013   #1
Sierra419
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Default New FBN dying! Need some help...

I bought four FBN from a local privately owned pet shop almost 2 months ago. I'm pretty certain they are wild caught and knew this going in. However, in my defense, I went to several reptile / amphibian expos and shows to look for captive bred FBN. I bought four Firebellies two juveniles, an adult, and a small little guy who can't be more than 2 inches long.

I've attached an old picture of my setup. This is a 50 gallon breeder tank that was given to me. The drift wood has a lot more java moss on it now and I've doubled the amount of plants in the back which have grown nice and tall. You can't see it in the picture, but the newts have a large turtle dock that floats. I added a very thick layer of java moss all around the sides of it so the newts can easily climb back onto land or use it to hang out while being partially submerged. I've also added a little rock hut in the water that they can hide in. There are a couple fish in the water but they are gold barbs which don't grow larger than 1.5 inches.

Anyways, I really wanted fire belly newts because I think they're awesome. I've had them for two months now and they've never eaten a single time! They climb on top of eachother and sit on the turtle dock up against the glass. They haven't moved at all this whole time. I try to feed them a piece of earthworm about 1/3 of their body length and they turn their heads away or back up until they can no longer get away. I've tried leaving pieces of wiggling earthworms or waxworms there for them to eat and come back later just to find they were never touched. All the worms end up wiggling into the water and drowning. I tried cutting this up to bite sized pieces and feeding them with tweezers or a very long, thin chopstick. I've tried everything to get them to eat - I even put them in small plastic containers with nothing else except worms and then placed them in the fridge since its cold and dark. Still nothing. They never seem interested in food. They also haven't gone into the water at all! The very first time I put them into the tank after bringing them home one of them darted off the turtle dock, straight down to the substrate, and straight back to the turtle dock. Besides that, not one time have they gone in the water voluntarily (I put them in the water once to clean the rotting worms off their turtle dock but they went right back to it when I put it back). They don't do anything at all except look pathetic.

The smallest one is super skinny. He looks like a small earthworm with arms. The biggest one is super swelled up. Almost looks like a hot dog with arms- he can't even close his mouth all the way he's so big. One of the medium sized ones just died last week, and the fourth one is super skinny but I think has the best chance at living. I've removed the swollen one and placed him in a plastic container in the fridge with some worms.

The water in the tank is in the 70's. I know that's high but its as cool as I can keep it during the two hottest months of the year. Fall, winter, and spring the tank will be in the low to mid 60's. the water is completely cycled and well established. I've always checked the water frequently and haven had issues with that.

I really don't know what else to do besides put them out of their misery. I was really looking forward to these little guys but now I forget they're even in there because they don't do anything. I've tried everything I know, read, and studied to do. Any help??
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Last edited by Sierra419; 9th September 2013 at 05:04.
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Old 9th September 2013   #2
Aeon
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

oh man that's sad . the fat one probably has bloat caused by some sickness. separate him soon as possible. Put the remaining newts in a sterile environment, and clean out your tank thouroughly. while the remaining newts are in their "hospital" try and feed them there. the sterile container should contain moist paper towels which should be changed often. Keeping them clean and cool is the best you can do for them. try other foods, waxworms and tubifex maybe. after cleaning your tank out, leave a partially submerged land area only, this will encourage them into the water and hopefully to feed. These newts could be possibly freshly wild caught and extremely stressd. they may have been transported with a sick animal as well.. Try and find a vet that can diagnose them. It seems you're doing all you can and I really hope the best for you and your newts. It could be that you bought a really unhealthy batch and theres nothing that you can do for them. I hope they pull through though.



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Old 9th September 2013   #3
Sierra419
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

Thanks for the reply. What kind of sterile environment should I make for them and what does it look like? Maybe a plastic sandwich container with holes poked in it, damp paper towel, placed in the fridge where its cool and dark - anything else? Should I put minced earthworms in there? What about large peices of earthworms still wiggling? If so, how long do I keep them in there before cleaning? They have never to this day eaten since I got them. How do I clean the water in my tank and will it effect my fish or the bacterial growth? My tank literally just finished cycling a couple weeks ago. It took forever. In isolation, should I use tank water to dampen the napkin or bottled water? Certainly not tap water, right? How long do I keep the newts in isolation? Should I put the big one out of his misery? He literally looks like someone picked him up and blew him up like a balloon :/ Am I missing anything else? Is my tank setup correctly? I would imagine it is but they never touched the water.

Sorry for all the questions. I dont want these little guys to die. I waited so long for a store, show, or expo any where near me to get them in and I've always wanted some even before that. Thanks!

I'm open to any suggestions from anyone else as well. Any help is appreciated...



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Old 9th September 2013   #4
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

I just noticed what you said about barbs. barbs are very nippy fish and that might be why they don't go in the water. For the isolation use clean dechlorinated tap water. Make sure the pieces of earthworm are big enough to swallow. If uneaten, remove in an hour and replace the towels. keep your newts in a different container till they're healthy. I'm not sure if whatever disease they will survive in the tank but I just recommended cleaning it out as a precaution. You can put the newts in an uncycled tank anyway once they're well. As for the one with bloat, you mighthave to maybe post a picture first so we can be sure? Also try sending a PM to one of the moderators, they know more than I do and might be able to give better advice



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Old 9th September 2013   #5
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

I'll take some pictures when I get home from work and post them. Hes a big dude. They all pile on top of eachother so if he has some sort of fatal disease that causes bloat then the other two most likely have it as well. When I get home I'll pull them out of the tank, put them in containers with paper towels damped with clean treated tap water, some chopped worms, and put them in the refridgerater. I'll also get rid of the barbs. Anyone else have suggestions?



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Old 10th September 2013   #6
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

Ok, I bought cheap plastic containers, riddled them with small air holes, put clean dechlorinated tap water on damp napkins, and put them in the fridge. How long can they stay in the fridge and how do I know when they're no longer sick? They've been completely lethargic since the day I brought them home. Do they normally move around alot? I've attached pictures. Photo 1 is the little guy. Photo 2 and Photo 3 are the bloated one and Photo 4 is the third one. I dont see any fungus, no missing limbs or appendages, nothing. They've literally laid in the same 3 inch area for the two months I've owned them and never went into the water or ever ate anything.

Any help is appreciated.
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Old 11th September 2013   #7
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

the newt in picture no 4 is a healthy size. the skinny one is skinny but I've seen worse too.. as for the bloated one normally bloat affects the whole body as well as the mouth.. its good that they're separate and sterile now. Hopefully they'll recover from whatever is stressing them out. as for activity levels, it varies. 3 of my newts lie around all day, but I have two very active individuals who are constanty roaming the tank. I know they're all healthy though because they eat a lot, and I know they're hungry when I see them hunting for worms.



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Old 11th September 2013   #8
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

Thanks for helping me out. When should I take them out of the fridge and back into the tank? I've read that theyll eat even less while in a fridge because of the temperature. If thats the case then they probably wont eat for another two more months.



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Old 13th September 2013   #9
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

They won't starve as fast in the fridge either. How are they? Any eating yet? I guess after a week or two you can try the tank again. Make sure the barbs aren't there, try and keep ammonia levels at zero.



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Old 13th September 2013   #10
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

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Originally Posted by Sierra419 View Post
I'll pull them out of the tank, put them in containers with paper towels damped with clean treated tap water, some chopped worms, and put them in the refridgerater. I'll also get rid of the barbs. Anyone else have suggestions?

Hello i don't profess to be an expert on all things caudata, but if an animal is sick I wouldn't put it in the fridge, The recommendation I would offer is The tank (if it is the one in the photo) is too bright, the water could be shallower. Don't worry about using tap water it has been proven to help in disease control in adult amphibs but can be deadly to larval forms.
If I was you I would reduce the water level to 2 inches put lots of stones and gravel along half the tank to act as a beach, cover with moss bark, flat stones small branches anything to give cover, put more weed in the water side and put aquatic food in that side I don't know what is available stateside, here in the UK would use bloodworm and daphne,

On the land side have one flat stone to place small chopped earthworms/wingless fruit flies even hatchling crickets on and turn off the light, or filter it through something to give a diffused light.
The sick one looks like a bacterial infection, try bathing it in a shallow bath of Malachite green as used in the tropical fish hobby, then do a similar setup but on his own.good luck on the other three nad this one.

At present I,m rearing 30 plus alpine newts that I bred this year in just such a setup,as the one i have described above, some of thenm are only an inch long but doing fine. i'm also hatching and rearing dozens of Spanish ribbed newts larva that my adult pair laid this month.



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Old 13th September 2013   #11
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

The newts still arent eating the chopped earthworms that I'm putting in there containers. I'm giving them around 2 hours to eat them before I perform my daily paper towel replacement. I'm going to try using a larger piece of worm that is still wiggling hoping that will entice them into eating. I dont know what to do about the little one. He'll never be able to fit an earthworm into his mouth. I have some red worms (I think thats what theyre called) they look like miniature earthworms but I heard that they give off a foul odor the newts wont find tasty.

I was reading about bloat and its usually caused by organ damage / failure due to heat which is entirely plausible because the first two weeks I had them my apartment was over 80 because of my crappy ac (now its 68, thank God). However, that causes bloat in the abdomen and not just in the face. I think its due to a bacterial infection like another guy posted. I'm going to start salt bath treatments tonight and I might even keep a small conentration on the paper towels in their containers. I may do that for a week or until they start eating. I'm also going to add Furan 2, a safe aquarium medicine for all sorts of bacterial infections, to their tank a day before they go back in. In all honesty, I have no idea whats wrong with the two normal looking ones. Neither of them have fungus, limb rot, spots, weird shedding - nothing. They just wont eat, swim, or move.

I've read mixed information on refridgeration. I've heard from a lot of people recommend it for slowing bacterial growth (which is true) while not slowing the metabolism thus aiding in recovery (which I dont know as true). I've also heard from a few people not to do it but with no real explaination as to why. One person said thats too cold but thats not the case because firebelly newts thrive at temperatures in the 40-50's - thats when they breed. Or so I've read.

I do agree with the previous poster that my light could be too bright. That poses a problem because its a $300 light that I got on sale for $100, so returns are a no and my wife loves it (Marineland LED Double Bright). I'm adding a black background to the tank to obsorb some of the light. However, I dont really know if this is the case. I do disagree with the previous poster about a 2 inch depth of water. Thats way too low. Every care sheet I've read on fire belly newts says 10-12 inches minimum and mine is around 16-18. I can definietely lower the level but thats way too low. My tank would be completely empty. And multiple enclosures is out of the question because I dont have the money or room for them. I am in the process of adding more live plants and driftwood to the tank so its not so bare. Also, here in the states we have ammonia, flouride, chloromine, and chlorine in our tap water. The ammonia alone from tap water can kill amphibians. I may be wrong, I am no where near an expert on this stuff and I'm going by things I've read.

Let me know what you think, I'm checking back daily for updates...



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Old 16th September 2013   #12
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

So I've been giving my newts salt bath treatments in hopes that they would get better. The smalled one came down with the same thing as the other newt. Its mouth area became very bloated. I decided to increase the salt concentration of their baths because I was easing them into it with a low concentration. While they were 'bathing' I went out and bought lots of water lettuce, drift wood, anubias to attach to the driftwood, and some java fern. Totally decked out my tank with so many plants so the newts would feel more comfortable, have more things to play with, have more places to hide, and be more happy overall. I bought all this, set it up, and went to go check on my newts who were still in their salt bath. To my surpise I found them all to be................. dead. The tupperware container I had them in for their salt baths had walls too steep for them to climb and they ended up drowning. I didnt know they would drown. They were always climbing up their 'hospital' containers and I thought for sure they could just poke their heads out of the water. I feel terrible and I'm really dissapointed because I wanted these guys to get better and be happy and healthy so bad. I went through all that just to accidently kill them. I'm pretty upset but at the same time I'm kind of relieved because I know they were wild caught and the poor things were stressed out of their minds. I'm so dissapointed in myself for failing - especially after making my tank even more awesome just for them.

Does anyone have and / or know anyone selling fire belly newts? I'm definitely buying captive bred this time around.



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Old 16th September 2013   #13
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

I'm really sorry to hear that.. you really did all you could, and perhaps the newts were just too sick to make it before you bought them.. At least your tank is now set up for your new batch, and you're much better equipped to care for them. You really should find yourself a healthy batch of fire bellies, you deserve them!



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Old 26th September 2013   #14
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Default Re: New FBN dying! Need some help...

As i have had a lot of PC problems lately, I haven't been online as much as I should like to be, have only just called in and saw your post. I'm sorry your little chaps didn't make it, and I can sympathies with you and the apparent drowning, we try our best and sometimes it doesn't work out the way we thought it would.
I believe the real problem happened before you got them, I can't say for sure but I think Amphibs especially the young ones that haven't fed correctly from being wrongly kept never get the hang of it and just wither away.
If you can't get CB newts may be you can get eggs, both of the species I keep are raised from eggs I bought from a fellow Caudata member. at least then you are in control from start to finish.
good luck for the next time, just let the tank cycle along until you get more stock.

dean



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