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Old 2nd March 2006   #1
amy
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Bubbles and Neptune were my "first pets," given to me by well-meaning parents in kindergarden. They were carried around and dropped by numberless little girls in their younger years. They have followed me to my first new apartment after graduating from college. Until recently, I knew they were fire-bellied newts, but that was it. I found this site, and have determined that they are both male, definitely Japanese Firebellies although I can't determine the subspecies (I would love to), and that Neptune's perpetual "skin condition" is actually the blue coloring of a breeding male. They both have the little wavy tail-tip thing going, although Bubbles has never shown blue coloring. He is also always the thinner of the two (although by far the more active), and I wonder if his breeding colors are being prevented by a larger, more dominant male?

My question is: they have always been in a little 5-gallon tank with about 3 inches of water (above gravel line), one small rock above water, and a few skimpy plants. They have eaten nothing but ReptoMin food sticks since we got them. They very occasionally show some aggressive behavior, grabbing each other's little head knobby things, or trying to climb the walls, but generally they hang out together and on each other, well, all the time. They really are buddies. My mother never wanted to change anything about their setup because, hey, they're 18 years old, hate to mess with something that seems to be working. I would love to get these guys a huge tank with deep water and lots of interesting places for them to explore, but I'm almost afraid they'd drown or something, or get stuck somewhere, or not be able to find the food, since they've been in this little tank for so long. Are they still able to breed at this age? How old will they live, for heaven's sake? I'd almost like to get them a female or two for their long life of service =P



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Old 2nd March 2006   #2
s1ren
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WOW! Old newts! That's great!

I believe many species can get uo to 20-25 years old if given proper care - sounds like you're doing right by them.

I don't know about breeding; but I imagine changing the tank would be alright, as long as you made changes to the water level slowly so that they can adjust gradually, and keep an eye on the water quality as you go.

Got pictures? Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 2nd March 2006   #3
amy
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Hey, thanks for the reply. Click the image to open in full size. I like your Spirited Away thing.

I don't have any GREAT pictures, but here's a quick attempt: (in order, top to bottom, left to right: Neptune, Bubbles, Neptune, Bubbles)



Neptune has had that little kink in his tail ever since we got him. That's why my kindergarden self named him Neptune: apparently I thought his tail looked like the terrain of some alien planet (big shrug) lol. The newts were purchased as babies within the same year, but not at the same place, I don't think, in North Carolina. Bubbles came first.



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Old 2nd March 2006   #4
amy
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Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 3rd March 2006   #5
jennifer
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I agree, they look like two male Cynops pyrrhogaster. In my experience, the less-dominant males in a tank develop less breeding coloration than the dominant one does, so your observation about that may be correct.

I'm sure they would have no trouble adjusting to a bigger tank. I'd say go for it, just don't be tempted to mix in other species. Part of your success is probably the simplicity of their setup and the absence of tropical fishClick the image to open in full size.

Congratulations on the longevity! I believe there are reports of JFB living as long as 50 years in captivity. It would be nice to get them a female, but since this species isn't sold in the US (if that's where you are??) you'll have a tough time finding one.



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Old 3rd March 2006   #6
e
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I have a fire belly that my husband got when he was 8 years old - so he's had it 23 years so far. They were adult when they were purchased. There were two but one died in an accident a few days ago, devastating. Now worried about whether to get a new friend or if the remaining one will be ok. Someone on this site said they are not social. But it looks sad. We've kept ours really simply too and fed really simply.

Anyone have any other views on them being on their own or needing a pal? I'm very worried about him being lonely or sad.

Mine look exactly like yours, so good to get confirmation of what they are!



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Old 3rd March 2006   #7
Alison Brown
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careful E, all cynops species look similar from a distance. Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 3rd March 2006   #8
e
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oh. If I were to get a new pal for him, I would need to be sure of the species wouldn't I as I understand it is not good to mix.

I think it may be safer for him to leave him alone - you said he won't be lonely - and I don't want to introduce any illness or anything.

What do you think?



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Old 3rd March 2006   #9
jennifer
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I think you are right, E. The firebellies you might find at a petshop are almost certainly another species, and very likely to carry disease. He will do OK alone.



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Old 3rd March 2006   #10
e
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Thank you all for your help.

Feeling much happier about what to do now.

E



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Old 3rd March 2006   #11
amy
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E, I'm so, so sorry about your loss! I know what great little guys they are and how attached you get after all this time. =( I'm sure he had a good life though, certainly a long one -- one of the luckiest newts in his pet store tank, I'd wager. Very sorry though. =( Accidents are awful, but they really do happen to all of us. I've often wondered what I'll do when Bubbles or Neptune dies, and reading all this has made me feel better about how the other one will react, since they aren't supposed to be social. They really do seem to like being together. I can't believe they're no longer sold in the US -- when did that happen? Do you know why, Jennifer? That DOES explain why whenever I see newts in pet stores they look different. =X A shame I can't find them a female though lol. E, if you happen to live in New Jersey and determine that you have a female Japanese Fire Belly, maybe you can borrow one of the boys once in a while to spice up her life ;) Best of luck to you! Say hi to the little one!

Thanks all for the advice -- if I do make any changes, I'll try to keep it simple and do it very gradually. I think I'll stick with the ReptoMin, too. That stuff is amazing...



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Old 3rd March 2006   #12
amy
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(note: not knowing any better, we've actually fed them every morning, every day of their lives. There were times when we gave them up to six sticks, although now I'm giving them two sticks a day, breaking each stick in half. They always seem interested, looking at the food, although they don't always chow down on it. It's nice to know that they can go a little longer without =D ...although I'll probably keep it up. They require a complete water change about every two weeks, and that's been the regular drill... we certainly didn't know anything about tank cycling when we got them)



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Old 4th March 2006   #13
jennifer
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Amy, I'm not sure why JFB don't show up in pet shops any more. Japanese newts do still show up in the pet trade in other countries, so I don't think that Japan has completely stopped exports. It may be that the Chinese variety is just a lot cheaper on the market.

I raise captive-bred JFB, and I'd like to supply you with some. However, they would need a couple of years of growth before they could live together with your adults, and the juveniles couldn't live on ReptoMin.



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