Question: Plants, Substrate, and Drainage advice for a Non-Tropical Tank?

CosmicEscapist

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Hello! I have a wild-caught Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma Gracile) that I've had for about two weeks now in a temporary enclosure. He's been very receptive to handfeeding, doesn't show signs of aggression, and is active, a very pleasant lad. So, I've gotten him a new tank (12 inches wide, 30 inches long x 12 inches deep) and have been preparing some extra hiding spots, picking out soil, looking for a bigger dish for him to relax in... But I'm not sure what to do regarding plants.

Following what I've seen on Caudata he would need a setup similar to Tiger Salamanders, ~50-75 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning tropical plants, I imagine, are out of the question.

I'm definitely wanting grass, ferns and mosses of some kind but would love to add some variety for him. He can't climb plants as far as I can tell. He also has yet to try burrowing at all. I noticed he did seek shelter under a small plant and stick that were in his tank, he really likes this sideways mug with leaves and dirt in it, but no digging. Will this change, or do some salamanders simply... Not dig?

Lastly, I want to set up the tank to have a robust and healthy drainage setup for the plants so everything can be vivacious and natural for him, but I might not know what I'm talking about when it comes to plants... Do I need a gravel layer in the very bottom? Different types of layered soil? I'd love to know.

Thanks for reading.
 

Jennewt

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He may dig at some point. A drainage layer might be nice, but isn't absolutely essential. You just have to be careful not to overwater.

Most ferns don't do well in captivity, ditto for most mosses that you find outdoors. You might luck out and find one that does well, or not.

There are some houseplants that do well in that temp range, such as ivy, pothos, spider plant, wandering jew, etc. But don't buy new plants, they are often treated with pesticides. They can be started easily from cuttings from older plants.
 

CosmicEscapist

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Thank you for the tips! Since I posted, I did see him start to dig a little bit - he has a sideways mug with dirt that he did rearrange to make cozier. Absolute joy to watch! :D

And as for clippings to start plants, where should I go for those? I'm afraid I don't have plants at my apt currently and I don't know anyone who does, except for succulents. Do I get some off of store plants but grow them in my own safe soil? Pick them off of public gardens? If I find (safe) ivy when I'm out isopod hunting, I'm sure I could gather clippings off of those, but apart from that...
 
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    Hi I recently rescued a lotl (i did weeks of research before rescuing) Hes mabey 5 or 6 years of age..the previous owner could not remember the exact age of him. I got him from her as he was or had been picked on by his tank mate another lotl who was bough with him from every younger age, I noticed one of his gills, a middle one at the end had split in two? And is slightly more floppy? He also appears or mabey I'm just over worried to mabey have lost some feathers, is that normal to lose some?...all levels in the tank are fine, but wondered if theres and advice anyone could give me as an experienced owner to a new one.
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  • Axolotl Queen:
    @Lanalotl Sounds like the gills may have been nipped by the tank mate. If he is in his own tank and the parameters etc are all good, then he should grow them back and they should go back to full health and strength. However, depending on how old the injury is they may not fully grow back if they have been constantly nipped at.
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  • Smknmom421:
    Can anyone tell me why this is happening? We just did a water change and after freaking out and whipping around the tank, an hour later they look like this. It won't let me send a pic. The edges of their gills are white and it looks like they have skin shedding off
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  • Murk:
    That sounds like severe skin damage. If you post a thread on the forum, you can attach pictures.
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  • Murk:
    It sounds like something went wrong with the water change, so this could be very dangerous. Did you use a dechlorinator? Could it be there are traces of chlorine or soap in the water? (Or for example, in the bucket you used?)
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  • Murk:
    Normally, I would recommend taking them out of the tank asap and putting them in a tub with fresh water, but if there's something wrong with your tap water or dechlorinator, that might not help either. Do you have acces to bottled water or rain water?
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    I think my axie is dying, he’s never had any issues before, I’ve had him 3 years, today I noticed some fluffy looking stuff coming from his genital area so I took him out of his tank and did a full tank clean to make sure the water wasn’t infected as I thought it was fungus and then I noticed he had a cut on his belly which was only small about 5 hours ago and now it’s spread to all of his belly, what do I do I’m freaking out
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    Update about my axie, unfortunately he has died over night, he looked as if he was bruised allover his belly, his mucus layer had also started to come off.
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    Anyone here from DMV?
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    Hi I have 2 4in juveniles (I’ve had them about 2 weeks and they are doing well I think they’ve grown a little already honestly) but I am supposed to go on a 5-6 day vacation in October about 3-4 months from now. I am wondering how I should go about their care when I am gone. I thought about putting them in separate (fairly big) containers with live plants and/or bubblers with a fan in the dark and either fridging them (my last plan) but I am hoping to to either have someone I trust come feed them and turkey baste waste out or just leave them out and clean the containers before we leave and have someone come check on them once or twice. Does any of this sound like a good or bad idea? I want the best for them. All help appreciated :)
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    @patrickstar116, do you still have your fire salamanders?
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    @Ganaa, I do you may message me if you wish
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    hi.....
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    Hi, so I have 2 male axolotls and about an hour ago they were both perfectly fine and now only one of them has his tail curling up and his gills are slightly curled?? But other than that they’re both acting normally
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  • Murk:
    Could be he's just excited, spooked or temporarily stressed, which could pass in a few hours. It could also be an indicator of other problems. Do you have any recent water parameters?
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