Dicamptodon larva morphing before the rest and acting odd


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May 4, 2022
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Washington State
United States
I have a dicamp larvae tank with six approximately 3-inch individuals in it. They were all hatched within three or four days of eachother but one is showing signs of becoming terrestrial before the rest of them. It's eating less and seems more skittish. He seems a little small for it, is this a sign they don't have enough space? There are lots of plants by the surface he could climb up on, but I've yet to seem him do so. Water parameters are all fine, and the others in the tank are behaving as usual. Though it doesn't show in the picture very well, he has very dark coloration in comparison to the others. This is my first time with dicamps so forgive me if this is normal behavior.
Thinking about moving the one in question as well as the two smallest ones into a medium sized plastic tub with an airstone and frequent water changes for safety reasons, as they are all about the same size and the largest three are picking on them. This will hopefully help me monitor their health as well as hand feed them more frequently without the more er... voracious siblings biting my hands and everything else in sight. The feeding tongs cause quite the aggravation between them, but I think splitting them up will also help with this. I plan on heavily planting the tub + adding hiding spots, as well as using substrate and some filter media from the tank to start it. The conditions will hopefully be a lot like the tank, just more isolated where they'll be less stressed and I can keep an eye on them. I won't be moving them for a day or two, so if this sounds like a bad idea please say something! The more shallow water might also help the changing one, as he'll have much easier access to the surface and less crowding.
I only ended up putting the smallest two instead of the smallest three in the tub, but doing so proved immediate relief for the morphing salamander. It sat at the surface for approximately 15 minutes and ignored all other stimuli, even when I moved the tub it didn't try to hide, just sat there breathing air. After said 15 minutes, it swam around the container kind of panicked before settling down and finally accepting food. It refused several offerings of earthworm, but ate three fairy shrimp, which I don't usually feed them but they LOVE. I've an eye on water parameters and temperature, and both the morphing one and his aquatic friend seem to be doing great in this setup. A family member also went by to check on them once while I was busy and they say the morphing salamander even completely left the water onto the moss at one point!
All pictures are from the past 12 hours.
Here it is today, much better and eating food again! Sorry for the blurry picture, the bin setup is very hard to photograph. Any ideas as to why he started changing so early compared to the others would be appreciated, or really any input. At what point do I move it to a terrestrial setup, and is there anything really specific he'll need in it compared to similar species? How much moisture?
Looks like you have a northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile), Dicamps usually have smaller gills and don't have that much yellow coloration. The metamorph has uniform brown coloration and you can also make out parotoid glands. Where'd you get the larvae?
Augh, I got Ambystoma'd! I was worried this would happen, curse my untrained eye. They were a gift.
How does one relocate a thread, and where would be a more appropriate sub-forum for it?
Now I have two total who have come out of the water. The smaller one, which was the first to change is back to regularly eating. It readily accepts food from tweezers, and will even willingly crawl onto and eat on my hand if I keep it still. If I wait until it's done eating, it will even continue to stay calm and let me lift it up to look at it! I usually leave them alone completely except when feeding or doing tank maintenance, and I keep a towel on top of the tub to block any extra light at night because the morphed guys seem extra light-sensitive in comparison to those that are still aquatic. I have been feeding them mostly in the evenings when the lighting in the room is low, but still bright enough for my silly diurnal eyes to see in.
It sounds a little far fetched, but one of my morphs just jumped approximately 3 inches in the air to snap at the feeding tongs. These guys are VORACIOUS, and very quick! I will make them a new thread later, with some updated pics.
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