New T. natans caresheet (need feedback)

Limede

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Hello,
some months ago I decided to compile a caresheet for this specie since I found a paper with information I couldn't find in any other caresheet. Only today I decided to finish it and post it here.
I need to say that I don't own any of these animals, so any feedback of someone who has them or anyone who has different references with information to add would be appreciated.

If someone could also double check the information here with the references that would be great too.


Caresheet of Typhlonectes natans
Compiled by André Limede


Overview

Gymnophiona is probably the least studied order of tetrapods (Superclass Tetrapoda), due to the secretive nature of these creatures in conjunction with their apparent disinteresting appearance. However these creatures have distinct features, not found on other groups. All species of caecilians have a chemo-sensorial organ, known as tentacle that incorporates elements of the eye and the vomeronasal organ. This sense can be described as a hybrid between vision and olfaction; scientists aren’t yet sure how these systems work together, in part because caecilians are almost blind (skin covered eyes), but it aids the caecilian forage for food. Caecilians are the only order of amphibians that have internal fertilization, being the male equipped with an organ, called phallodeum.
T. natans, it’s one of the most well studied species of caecilians, in part due to their full aquatic lifestyle, which makes them easier to be identified and caught. As a result, this is also the most common specie of caecilian in the pet trade (however, this doesn’t imply that this specie is readily available or is easy to find). Currently, T. natans has a status of LC (Least Concern) given by the IUCN back in 2004; this means that the wild population of this specie is stable or that there aren’t any apparent threats that may cause the decline of the population in the near future.

Description

Adult size: 40-60cm (16-23’’) The females are larger than males.

Diameter: 3cm (1,2’’) Pregnant females may reach 6cm (2,4’’)

Life span: 10+ years

Distribution: Colombia, on the Cauca and Magdalena rivers; and in Venezuela in the Lake Maracaibo Basin

Diet: Dead invertebrates, thawed fish (saltwater fish preferably, to avoid cross contamination; however, it shouldn’t be offered regularly, since it has been linked to hypovitaminosis B), crustaceans, mollusks, beef heart, amphibian pellets and bloodworms.

Toxicity: There is good evidence that this specie has at least some degree of toxicity; however they can be housed with other fish, with no repercussions. Some authors suggest that for the toxin to be released into the water, the animal needs to be agitated (e.g.: being agitated by a fish trying to eat it).

Sexual dimorphism: Diameter of the cloacal disc of the males is larger while it has a more elongated and slit appearance on females.

Suitable temperature range: 27-30ºC (80-86ºF); as low as 23ºC (74ºF) it's also endured, but keep in mind that these animals are tropical.

pH: 6-7 Even though people suspect that this parameter doesn’t need to be precise. These were the values obtained in measurements made in their natural habitat.

dGH: 3,9-5,9 (<8,4 may cause skin lesions)

Tank

Since this specie can reach a reasonable size, the least recommended volume it's of 60L (16 gallons US) per individual.
In nature, they were found associated with flowing water, and the river bed is usually composed of big boulders, gravel and sand. Apparently, this specie also likes to hang out in roots of floating plants. Your tank should also have several hiding spots.
Taking these facts into consideration, your tank could have sand as substrate (T. natans may burrow occasionally), with large boulders stacked in a way to create various crevices. Pottery, PVC pipes and driftwood can also be used as additional hiding spots. In one tank end, you could use a water pump to make the water flow (don’t place it near the surface), and in the other end you can have a cluster of floating plants, if the tank is big enough, the water flow of the pump shouldn't affect the floating plants too much.
Some author’s advice the use of a floating platform, it might not get much use, but just in case, your tank should have one as well. A heater guard should also be used, since caecilians might wrap around it, and possibly get burned. Alternatively you can make your own in line heater, like this video explains:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pUtynNgoYc

In addition to what the video mentions, I would recommend the use of some type of fine mesh in your in line heater, so that you can be sure that any sneaky caecilian won’t get in. This is a very efficient way of heating your tank.
The use of a powerful external filter is essential since caecilians are messy feeders and shed quite frequently. The recommended filter it’s one that filters at least 3 times the volume of your tank in an hour.
Plants that have been found in the habitats of this specie consist of:
-Pistia stratiotes
-Eichornia sp.
-Colocasia spp. (Potentially toxic)

Fish species that have been found in the habitats of this specie consist in:
-Caquetaia kraussii
-Hoplias malabaricus (Predator)
-Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma (Possibly)
-Hyphessobrycon columbianus (Possibly)
-Poecilia caucana
-Pimelodus blochii

If you pretend to keep any fish species alongside your caecilians, add the fishes a few months after the caecilians, or after the caecilians are used to the food you are giving them, so they don’t associate the fishes as food.
Caecilians are well known for being extremely capable of escaping tanks, so you shouldn't overlook this fact, and a secure and heavy lid should be provided. The air inside the tank shouldn't have any currents, and should be warmer than the water itself; as some authors say this will prevent health issues related to respiratory functions.

Breeding

These animals need a environmental trigger to start breeding. In nature, this occurs when the dry season starts and the basins where these animals live, shrink to shallow pools (September to October). Due to this fact, a good strategy to trigger reproduction in captivity it's to lower the water level of the tank, lower the pH below 5 and to rise the organic content of the water, especially nitrates (this last point can be accomplished by delaying water changes).
When this setup is established the animals are expected to breed soon after. The copulation may last some hours and at some point it might even appear that the animals have drowned. The animals might copulate more than once in period of time of approximately one week.
After the animals have finished copulating the tanks conditions were restored back to normal. Since these animals are viviparous, the females are expected to give birth to live young between 10 and 11 months after the copulation period finished, litters of 6 aren't uncommon and rarely 11 young will be delivered. The babies measure between 10 and 15cm (4-6'') and are born with external gills that are discarded some days after the delivery.
Since these animals are smaller and weaker, it is recommended to either change them to a aquarium with lower water level or to lower the water level of the main tank, making it easier for them to get air from the surface. Animals will reach sexual maturity when they are 5 to 6 years old.
Due to the long pregnancy it is recommended to let the female rest at least one year after giving birth, before she copulates again; not doing so might put the animals health at risk. In contrast males might be able to reproduce annually.

References

Parkinson, R.W., 2004. Caecillian care and breeding. Herpetological Bulletin, (March).
Pasmans, F., Janssen, H. & Sparreboom, M., 2014. Salamanders, keeping and breeding
Tapley, B., 2009. WAZA Husbandry Guidelines for aquatic typhlonectid caecilians ( Typhlonectes sp .). Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, pp.1–18.
Tapley, B. & Acosta-Galvis, A.R., 2010. Distribution of T. natans in Colombia, environmental parameters and implications for captive husbandry. Herpetological Bulletin, 39(113), pp.33–39.

PDF version of these documents can be downloaded here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/11p...sv79/T._natans


A PDF version of this caresheet can be downloaded here:Caresheet of Typhlonectes natans
 
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Methos5K

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You should add that a very secure fitting and heavy lid is required as well. These guys will take any and every opportunity to escape, even through the smallest of holes. I personally lost one to an aquatic escape. I have also heard that the air above the water should be warmer and draft-free to prevent respiratory problems.
 

Limede

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Hi methos5K,
I say briefly that they will escape if they have the chance.
As a final note, keep in mind that caecilians can escape easily from a tank. Take this into consideration when preparing your tank.

But you are right maybe I should expand a bit more on this point.

Also, regarding the high air temperatures and air drafts, do you have personal experience with that? Can you find the paper where you read that? If so that would be great.
 

Methos5K

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I am sorry I originally missed that, it was very early and I had not had my coffee yet :happy:. The emphasis on how they can escape through the smallest of openings or by brute force cannot be understated IMO. Only Octopi are better escape artists.

Here is the book I read about respiratory problems.

Pasmans, Frank, et al. Salamanders: Keeping and Breeding. Munster: Nat und Tier - Verlag GmbH, 2014. pp 242-243. ISBN 978-3-86659-265-0.

I once had a 90 gallon with several of these fascinating creatures. Loved your article!
 

Limede

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Thanks man, I apreciate that.
I'm actualy expecting that exact book to arrive this week, so I'll add that after I read it myself :happy:

Do you have any pictures of the tank? Also, what food items would you give them the most?
Anything you can add from your experience would be awesome.

Later this week I should have this updated.
 

mewsie

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Also, what food items would you give them the most?

In general I feed mine the same diet as my sirens and axolotls - primarily small earthworms, but also 'axolotl' pellets.

The caecilian lives with a few tetra and a heap of cherry shrimp. If I feed the fish some frozen bloodworm he'll eat what doesn't get eaten, and he goes absolutely insane for the dried turtle shrimp mix stuff. (don't worry, no turtles in the tank!)

Interestingly, he will only eat so much before he goes off to scrape himself against the tank contents to shed his skin. If he's still hungry he'll go back for more, but he won't just keep eating until all the food is gone. The shrimp take care of any leftover pellets but I have to keep a good eye on the tank for any leftover worms.
 

Methos5K

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Chopped nightcrawlers and whole earthworms were always the main staple, but live bloodworms were fed sometimes when I had them. Any pictures of my tanks have long been lost to time, I had to give up my aquarium interests when I moved to college.

My caecilian tank was a 90 gallon long, rather sparsely planted tank. They burrowed in the fine gravel frequently, tearing up the place! I kept them with a shoal of Metynnis argenteus. There were a few clay flower pots that I modified a bit for hiding spots, they liked to 'ball-up' together in them. A large Magnum canister filter proved a small amount of current.

I haven't seen these for sale for many years. They were quite common in my local fish shops in the late 80's and early 90's; but they seem to be rarely imported now.
 

mewsie

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I haven't seen these for sale for many years. They were quite common in my local fish shops in the late 80's and early 90's; but they seem to be rarely imported now.

I desperately want to pick up some more, it was always my plan to have a bundle, but have yet to find any more for sale.

I know what you mean about them tearing up the place. I've never seen mine so purposeful as when I've had a nice tidy up in the tank.
 

Limede

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Main post edited with some of the information in the book "Salamanders, keeping and breeding".
(thanks to otterwoman!)

If someone has more observations to make, feel free to post them :happy:
 

derrick413

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2mqwbdg.jpg


I have kept these wonderful creatures for the last 20 years. About 8 years ago I was able to get 6 of them with the idea of breeding them. Now I have over 100, which is far more than I planned on. The babies do fine as long as any other fish in the aquarium is not a predator which is why I keep them with small tetras now. Larger fish are easier for them to catch when the fish is resting on the bottom. They do well on sinking carnivore pellets.

Even after all these years working with secure covers I still found one the other day that had escaped.
 

Methos5K

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Outstanding! Thank you for posting. It's great to hear from a fellow caecilian nut. I enjoy and cherish my terrestrial Gaboon caecilians very much; when they let me see them :D If you would ever be open to selling one of your extras or looking for a newt; please keep me in mind. I'd love to care for one again. But if not; it is great to see that they are still out there in the US. Take care and worm on!



2mqwbdg.jpg


I have kept these wonderful creatures for the last 20 years. About 8 years ago I was able to get 6 of them with the idea of breeding them. Now I have over 100, which is far more than I planned on. The babies do fine as long as any other fish in the aquarium is not a predator which is why I keep them with small tetras now. Larger fish are easier for them to catch when the fish is resting on the bottom. They do well on sinking carnivore pellets.

Even after all these years working with secure covers I still found one the other day that had escaped.
 

mroconno

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I know this thread is a little old but I was curious what people had posted in caecilian section since not many people have worked with them! I get to work with T. natans at an aquarium, they are truly fascinating creatures. Only anecdotal things I can add from our experiences is we cycle water temperatures in our Amazon exhibit from 77 F to 84 F, we do not drop water depths. Our amazon water has a pH in the range of 6.5-6.8 and low conductivity below 220-230. We see births year round, we just had some 7 years old females give birth recently (single offspring to each) so that fits with sexual maturity around 6 years old. We start our babies on blood worm/brine shrimp mix.

You could also mention some of the medical concerns. Medically, there is a great recent chapter on them in the textbook Fowler's Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Volume 8. We keep heaters in the sumps to prevent chances of contact/thermal burns. We use caution when handling as their mucus/slime coat is very important to prevent secondary infections. Primary and secondary bacterial or fungal infections are the most common infectious diseases we see, Saprolegnia is most common water mold. We treat cutaneous lesions with salt immersions, 2-3 parts per thousand salt. Diagnosis is via skin scrapes and microscopic cytologic review. Caecilians can get chytrid fungus and nematode parasites can be problematic in wild caught individuals. Other issues include cloacal prolapse and colitis/GI tract infections. Geriatric issues I've seen include mostly kidney disease.

So much more to learn about this fascinating species, thanks for compiling this.
 

Limede

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Thanks to everyone chiming in the thread to give any input so far and making it better.
I'm currently downloading the book you speak of mroconno, and thanks for the input about medical concerns, don't worry about posting even if the thread is old.

I'm also commenting because the links are dead on the OP, so here's a link to download the PDF version of it:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FxFgScm8kzh085LcXKpujBv638s-p45V/view?usp=sharing

Let me know if it works. Down the road everyone that keeps these should work together to compile something more complete.Join the Caecilian Keepers International facebook group too.
 

ntny

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Hi Limede and Folks,
May i know if it is possible to keep Typhlonectes natans at temperature range of 20-26C?
My temperature cannot be constant at 26C as it fluctuate through out the day.
i read keeping at too :Low Temps" will caused fungus infection. not too sure....
can i keep 2 in a 10 gallon tank ?
what is the average life span in captivity? i read it was only 5 years.
Thanks and cheers!
 

otofrog

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Hi Limede and Folks,
May i know if it is possible to keep Typhlonectes natans at temperature range of 20-26C?
My temperature cannot be constant at 26C as it fluctuate through out the day.
i read keeping at too :Low Temps" will caused fungus infection. not too sure....
can i keep 2 in a 10 gallon tank ?
what is the average life span in captivity? i read it was only 5 years.
Thanks and cheers!

20 C is an okay temperature but I'd probably try to go higher. 10 gallons is a good size for a pair but why not get a bigger tank? And they can live over twenty years with good care like most amphibians
 

ntny

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Hi otofrog,
Thanks for advice on the temperature range.
i read from the care sheet link above from Limede.
it says lowest temperature is 23C as these Typhlonectes natans are tropical.animals
i also google on lifespan of Typhlonectes natans with contradicting results most says about 4-5 years only so i am a little confused.
i hope to research more information on Typhlonectes natans before i keep them.
thanks and have a nice day
 
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