D. ensatus larvae care

I just wanted to add an up to date photo of the other guy who still remains aquatic over the past two months it's undergone a growth spurt and had a significant increase in appetite, and less skittish. It's now about the size, maybe a little bit smaller, of the other one that jumped ship. I suspect it's maturing now. I think if you compare the head shape with the other photos you see this one has a longer flatter head. I suspect this is a sexual dimorphism, but could just be a variation, I'm no expert. All in all he appears to be happy.

On a different note, my girlfriend was out hiking with some friends and to my surprise brought another one home. (I should note she has little interest in caudates, especially in catching them.) By my head shape morphology, I suspect that it's a female.... but we shall see.


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Just some photos of the new one, dubbed "The little girl". I've had it about 6 weeks now. It was tiny, but has been growing fast and happily eating tubiflex. I'd estimate about 5-7 cm now.

(Edit: just a note that this ones undamaged tail tapers sharply to a point. Just another trait that in an earlier post I speculated was a sexual dimorphism.)


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One year point

Well, it has been approximately 1 year since I got the initial pair of Dicamptodons. One died, one survived, and another one joined.

In review, Dicamptodons seem to take well to captivity. Their care seems to be similar to what is required for axolotls. In these conditions I have yet to see any signs of metamorphosis of the original larva, nor the newer one. I'd recommend against a social tank, since it seems to cause some stress.

As for substrate I have had them on both sand and gravel. These guys aren't very sloppy when they eat, so I wouldn't worry much about it.

For food, they appear to readily take worms. They don't touch shrimp, and I've housed mine with ghost shrimp without problem. Guppies are taken but not efficiently.

I'd say those are the basic requirements for these guys in case anyone comes to the site wondering how to care for them.

Finally, I'll finish with some recent photos.


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very cool, pete. i'm glad that someone else is taking notes on keeping this species.
my little guy is currently set up in a plastic tub (due to a recent move) and doing just fine.
My little guy WILL eat shrimp and takes frozen krill like a champ.
My new larvae (with a tapered tail, that I'm calling "female") has begun gill growth (see attached photo). Interestingly, it's approximately the same time of year that I observed gill growth on my other (tapered tail, now deceased) larvae. Although this one's gills may be longer they are not as bushy as the other yet.

Notably, our temperatures have been falling and these salamanders are not kept in temperature controlled room. Along with the decrease in temperatures, I've noticed a big increase in appetites in both salamanders. I should also add that despite many descriptions calling for cool water habitats for Dicamptodons, after this summer, I'd say these guys comfortably handle short periods of high temperatures (20-25˚C). I should add that where I live, even if daytime temperatures are high, the evenings are often cool, so even if my aquarium temperatures are a warm in the evening, they're usually cool by the next morning. I'm not sure that they'd handle constant high temperatures. However, when compared to my earlier experience with axolotls, my Dicamptodons do not show similar symptoms of fatigue and stress as you near 25˚C. On days of extreme highs, I have been resorting to ice bottles, or keeping them in the fridge if it's a prolonged period of high temperatures.

(Edit: by the way bewilderbeast, I haven't tried frozen shrimp. I was referring to live shrimp feeders, I should have been more clear. I should add that I haven't been hand feeding these guys. Everything I've tried has been live. I've had some preliminary results with zebrafish eggs that suggest they're crazy for fish eggs, but I haven't tried it enough to say more than that. But fish eggs are the only non-motile food that I've tried.)


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woa.. That's heartbreaking I can already hear the male singing "Baby com backyou can blame it all on me...." I am really sorry for your loss.
Well, I will finish this tale with the death of my original Dicamptodon today.

I should add that the recent little one went missing in December. I don't really know how or why and it oddly corresponded with have some young caudate curious yet mischievious guests. However, I have no evidence, so I can't make accusations.

So the death tale goes as follows, since maybe there will be information useful to other keepers. Sunday I found him with a heavy white gill fungal infection and very low activity (he seemed relatively normal two days prior, so the onslaught was quite fast.) I actually thought he wouldn't last the night. However, I put him in the fridge, and tried some salt baths. He seemed to recover a bit, but then took a turn for the worse on Tuesday. Yesterday he had a weird kink in the middle of his tail. Somewhat similar to what happens to tail tips in stressed axolotls.

Why did this happen....? I suspect it was the result of a bad batch of fathead minnows. This spring he became a picky eater, and started refusing earthworms. So I had started feeding him minnow regularly, which he ate quite consistently. I kept the minnows for a few days in a separate tank, then transferred feeders over. The last batch had a high death rate, and I suspect some of the sick fish made it into the tank and were eaten. I have no idea why he stopped eating worms. I have noticed his appetite seemed to change with the temperature. This worm to fish transition was consistent with this.

Oh well, that's the end of the story. I can say that he never showed any signs of morphing while I had him, and his length was about 6-7 inches (Sorry, I'm too lazy to convert to metric at the moment) when he died. It's definitely an interesting species.
One major flaw in your tank was that there was no running water. That is vital for the health of your D. ensatus. Sadly, that could of been part of the reason your large Dicamptodon died. Otherwise, your salamanders appear very healthy. They have quite the appetite! Gook luck with your remaining salamander(s)!

Sadly I just found the big one dead behind the vacuum. Since the separation, there have been no problems. The larger one, was likely a female. The smaller a male. There are clear differences in body and head shapes. I was hoping to document it, but after the male had fully completed morphing to an adult neotene.

The female must have jumped out a day ago. I suspect it was because of two factors. She'd grown a lot and was capable of doing it. Furthermore, it was the first very warm day here and the tanks got too warm in my new apt, so that may have provided a motivation.

That sucks! That species is gorgeous at least you can get more if you wanted to.
I don't really want to revive this thread, but I was woundering if you had some current photos?
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