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Newt and Salamander Help>Tank set up fire belly newts
Shouto 01:16 12th January 2015
Hey! I have three fire belly newts in a long 20 gallon tank. Theres a filter and a screen lid. When I bought them from the petstore I was told that the best way to provide land is to buy a ton of gravel and slope it. However, my concern now is that some of the rocks are small enough for them to ingest. To keep from wasting the gravel could I put a mat of some sort over the rocks? Any ideas?

Next, they never go in the water. Infact I have vines in there that two of them always climb. Is this normal? Should I do anything? There are plants in the water too and the quality seems fine. Ive had fish tanks for years.

Ok one more, all ive gotten them to eat regularly is crickets. They love them but are they good for them? Ive tried pellets, blood worms, red wigglers and mysis shrimp but it doesnt seem like they are touching it. Ive gotten them to eat a couple wigglers but not regularly. Also last feeding I noticed one of them didnt even try to eat the crickets. How can I tell if hes healthy?

Thank you!

 
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ThoseNewtsTho 01:45 12th January 2015
Normal for a WC imported newt, yes it is unfortunately. Petshop newts are wild caught, imported and are highly stressed from that, and on top of that, the petshops have no clue on how to house them and often give out incorrect information.Now assuming your 'Firebelly Newts' are Hypselotriton orientalis, for the housing, when they're at the peak of health and are acting normal for a healthy newt, these are almost fully aquatic only requiring a piece of floating cork bark if anything, I've probably seen mine out of water twice. The temperature of the water should ideally be below 73F as well, for substrate you should have no more than an inch of sand in depth or have a siliconed down substrate such as slate, gravel, etc, or just having a sand substrate. The tank should also be heavily planted to avoid any possible drowning, and to provide cover.

Now since your newts are refusing water, something you can do is nearly completely drain the tank so that theres only about an inch of water a lots of live plants, with no land areas, and slowly increase the water height after 2 weeks, weekly. After awhile the newts will most likely go aquatic but it takes patience. If it starts to climb the glass, thats perfectly normal, but it will most likely come back down and get used to the water, without a risk of drowning due to having several live plants at the water's surface to rest on, while not being able to get completely dry.

As for food, crickets aren't very nutritional without being dusted and still aren't the best food you can feed them, and uneaten crickets will bite the newts given the chance. Bloodworms, shrimp, and pellets are unlikely to be accepted while on land. Red wigglers are often refused as they secrete a distasteful substance when cut, and smell foul. A good staple diet is chopped nightcrawler that you can pick up at bait stores and even walmart. Usually when feed these on land I have to wiggle them in front of their faces, but sometimes newts will take them from a dish. When they go aquatic their diet could consist of a staple of chopped nightcrawler/worm or a high quality pellet with the occasional frozen bloodworms, and other frozen foods. Other foods you might want to consider trying include black worms, white worms, and medium-large daphnia.

And if you ever consider getting more newts, I would wait until you get all of this sorted out, and definitely not buy from a petshop again, if you have patience you will eventually find a breeder than can sell and ship you some healthy captive bred newts.
You may also be able to find some helpful articles here:
Caudata Culture Articles
Caudata Culture Species Entry - Cynops orientalis - Chinese firebelly

 
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sde 01:49 12th January 2015
Originally Posted by :
Hey! I have three fire belly newts in a long 20 gallon tank. Theres a filter and a screen lid. When I bought them from the petstore I was told that the best way to provide land is to buy a ton of gravel and slope it. However, my concern now is that some of the rocks are small enough for them to ingest. To keep from wasting the gravel could I put a mat of some sort over the rocks? Any ideas?
Don't use the gravel. It is only going to become a real pain to clean and could be ingested and cause problems. Instead, if land is necessary, put a cork float or in there, or a turtle dock or something. You could even just put a upside down terra cotta pot in there. If you do the latter then take a piece out of the bottom ( upside down ) part of the pot, so that it doubles as a underwater hide. Ideally though, you wont need any land areas. If there are a lot of plants in the water then they can haul out on them at the surface if they need to.

Originally Posted by :
Next, they never go in the water. Infact I have vines in there that two of them always climb. Is this normal? Should I do anything? There are plants in the water too and the quality seems fine. Ive had fish tanks for years.
The most probable reason they never go in the water is because they are pet store amphibians, which are usually wild caught ( WC ) and kept in poor conditions. After they are caught from the wild they are shipped in horrible conditions and exposed to all kinds of diseases, then put in a pet store where they usually aren't taken care of very well. They are probably stressed, and very possibly ill, and when either of these things are the case they often stay on land. It will take them a while to adjust. Also, study them carefully ( with minimal contact ) to see if they have any sores, fungus, missing feet, or anything else that may suggest they are sick.
Pack the water full of plants - a ton - floating and submerged if you can get them both. This will help make the newts more comfortable in the water.

Originally Posted by :
Ok one more, all ive gotten them to eat regularly is crickets. They love them but are they good for them? Ive tried pellets, blood worms, red wigglers and mysis shrimp but it doesnt seem like they are touching it. Ive gotten them to eat a couple wigglers but not regularly. Also last feeding I noticed one of them didnt even try to eat the crickets. How can I tell if hes healthy?
No, crickets aren't a good staple diet. The best staple diet is earthworms or night crawlers. Red wigglers aren't always accepted by some amphibians. They contain a yellow substance that is distasteful to some amphibians. Try earthworms or night crawlers instead.
I would describe a healthy weight in newts as "plump". In my experience newts rarely over eat.

Here are two great articles, one on food items and nutritional values of the food, and the other on this fire belly newt care ( if they are H. orientalis ).
Caudata Culture Articles - Nutritional Values
Caudata Culture Species Entry - Cynops orientalis - Chinese firebelly -Seth

EDIT: Well, apparently Aaron beat me to it xD

 
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