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Old 20th June 2006   #1
doug
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I have two ecoterra tanks with natural environments. both have waterfalls with 3 inches of cycled and tested water in 1/2 the tank. the land area is a layer of gravel,peat moss,and soaked spaghnum moss change every 2 weeks. I use plastic ferns and plants because i do not light my tanks when I am not in the room.temperature is 73 degrees or cooler.
1 tank has 3 salamandra, the other tank has 3 tylotriton kweichowensis. both species seem to always be climbing and hanging out in the top of the plants and I was wondering if anyone else has seen this behavior. they seem healthy and eat well. have had the salamandra for 6 months and tylotriton for 3 weeks.



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Old 20th June 2006   #2
ian
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Perhaps the mosses are too acidic.



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Old 20th June 2006   #3
jennifer
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I agree, peat and sphagnum are potentially too acidic. The general wisdom is that both should be avoided for salamanders. If you have a pH test kit, you can test the pH of your substrate by soaking it overnight in a bit of distilled water, then testing the pH of the water. You said that your sphagnum was pre-soaked, which helps, but I would still be concerned about the peat moss.

Another possibility is that the animals would do better with more completely-covered hiding places. Also, how large are the tanks? With half of the tank devoted to water area, there may simply be too little space for 3 large sals. Unless you seriously want to breed them, they could get along fine without the water area, and thus have more space.



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Old 21st June 2006   #4
Simon
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Are all kinds of sphagnum acidic- both the dead green stuff and the longstrand variety? I use both, but have never had similar problems.



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Old 21st June 2006   #5
doug
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thanks for the advice. I will buy a ph tester tonight and see if you are right.My water areas are more like 1/4 of the tank.I do it mostly for the look of the tank. I will try a few more hiding places to see if that could also be the problem. My sals are not full grown yet. each tank is 18" by 18" . probably equal to a 20 gallon tank(i guess)
What substrate do you use. I use peat for all my ambystoma species and they seem to like it.
I started using the sphaghnum moss because when i order sals everyone ships them in it, and it looked really nice. so I assumed it was safe for them. I will keep you posted on the ph level .
thanks again doug



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Old 21st June 2006   #6
ian
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You may try soil or coconut Fiber as well.
I kept my CO morphes with Fine black sand mixed with coconut fiber and small gravels. But probably not work with yours.



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Old 21st June 2006   #7
Simon
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Hello?



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Old 21st June 2006   #8
doug
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simon , I will definitely put my ph testing on here tomorrow after i do it tonight.
I have been using the longstrand variety so i am very curious to see if Jenn and Ian are correct. Just to be safe i will also pick up some soil and coconut fiber if I need to do a quick substrate change.



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Old 21st June 2006   #9
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Thanks. I think it's kind of odd, because I've been keeping Marbled and Tiger sallies in it for over a year and a half, and so far so good!



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Old 21st June 2006   #10
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Typically sphagnum mosses (including those listed as peat) release humic and fulvic acids which will reduce the pH. These acids can reduce the pH of the substrate to the point where it disrupts the ionic and osmotic balance of the caudate potentially stressing or killing it. (for two references see Ireland, Patrick H., 1991, Separate effects of acid-derived anions and cations on the growth of larval salamanders of Ambystoma maculatum. Copeia 1: 132-137. and the associated bibliography and Bille, Thomas; 2000, Microhabitat utilization of the Mexican salamander, Pseudoeurycea leprosa, Journal of Herpetology, 34(4): 588-590)

Each batch of sphagnum and peat can have a different pH which is one reason you can use it for awhile without stressing or killing the caudate but the lower the pH the greater the stress on the animal and the more at risk.

Ed



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Old 22nd June 2006   #11
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Doug, I would recommend coco fiber (bed-a-beast) in place of peat moss. And I would change the current substrate, just to be on the safe side.

Simon, regarding your question ("the dead green stuff and the longstrand variety"), it's hard to say what they are. And as Ed points out, mosses can vary from batch to batch, so knowing what they are doesn't necessarily help. If you have a pH test kit, it would be worth testing them.



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Old 22nd June 2006   #12
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Both types, the dead green stuff and the longstrand say "sphagnum" on the package.
I'll get a test kit tomorrow.
Thanks



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Old 22nd June 2006   #13
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thanks everyone for your input, Here are my findings. you are 100% correct.
I did different ph test on the two tanks.
the salamandra tank did not have spaghnum(i thought it did) but green terrarium moss. that ph was close to neutral on that moss. the peat was slightly lower, around a 6.75 on the color chart.
the water was good for ph,nitrate,and nitrite,and ammonia.
the tylotriton kweichowensis tank however had the spaghnum moss. as you predicted it was highly (highly acidic. it was well below the chart which was a fish ph tester and that went down to 5.5. the peat was around 6. and the water was at around 6 on the chart.
all salamanders were removed into new sterile tanks,i even gave them a quick misting first to wash them off.
both old tanks were sterilized and reset up with coconut fiber substrate,and a few new hiding places. for my water i keep a 20 gallon tank running with a few gold fish at all times so i always have cycled water backed up.(this was a 3 hour project by the way. but heck ,they deserve it,right. by the way all my back up spaghnum is now in the garbage.
hope this info helped other people in the long run. thanks for the help Ian,jenn,and Ed.
hoped that helped you simon.



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Old 22nd June 2006   #14
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From what I interpreted all the time is that the cycling is actually done on the surfaces of the water container. Such as the substrate, gravels and tank walls or biological filter of the filter unit. Allowing healthy bacteria to grow on those surface.

So what I think is that, if you keep the gold fishes in the water to cycle it. You are actually cycling the goldfish tank but not the gold fish water. However, when you transfer the water (not the substrate nor the tank) for the newt, the water transfered to the new tank is not cycled but possibly carrying a lot of goldfish waste and pathogens that came with them.



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Old 22nd June 2006   #15
doug
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sorry I failed to mention, I believe you are right Ian, when i cleaned the tanks i did not change the gravel or the filters so i would have active bacteria in the tank when changed over. Hopefully the acid level was not high enough to crash my bacteria levels in the first place.
the goldfish tank water was checked for ammonia and nitrate and both were where they should be on my color charts.
Ian ,you are tough, I feel like I am trying to please my teachers back in grade school and I am afraid I'm going to get an "F" for the dayClick the image to open in full size. thanks again



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Old 22nd June 2006   #16
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haha.. I am tough?? Click the image to open in full size. No, I misinterpreted that you used goldfish tank to cycle the water and transfer the water to the tank. Anyhow, I will give you an "A".



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Old 22nd June 2006   #17
Simon
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Thanks Doug!
Just one more question, though. What kind of sphagnum moss was it?
Thanks again



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Old 22nd June 2006   #18
edward
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Simon to a large extent it doesn't matter. If the sphagnum isn't releasing acids at the moment, as it begins to decompose it will readily release humic and fulvic acids (in case anyone was wondering tannic acids are in this group of acids).

Personally I would not use the dyed mosses in the tanks.

Ed



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Old 22nd June 2006   #19
Simon
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Thanks Ed. For my sallies I'll use more green moss and coco-fiber/leaf litter from now on; I clean my tanks frequent enough though that the sphagnum doesn't ever start to decompose, especially with the Marbled salamander.
Thanks



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