Siren identification, feeding

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sarah

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I posted a few months back, I had just gotten a siren (though the person I bought it from had told me it was an amphiuma) at any rate, since it's been a while, and it's still alive (wow!) I thought I'd ask what you all think. Still don't know if it is lesser or greater, but I'm thinking it's lesser. I know it's not a dwarf. I don't know what the heck it's eating, though I do feed it frozen bloodworms (thawed first) and live brine shrimp, I very rarely see it eat. I've also tried sinking salamander/newt pellets, but I've seen him try to eat them and then spit them out. Are they too hard? Or just taste bad? Who knows.

I keep guppies in the tank with it now, originally I bought some tiny baby guppies to see if it would eat them, but I have since done research and found that sirens have poor eyesight, and are mostly bottom feeders, it would be unlikely for them to be able to catch fish as a regular food item. All those guppies grew up, so there are quite a few in there that I feed dried bloodworms and fish flakes to. Occasionally I've seen the siren come out during the day and eat the floating bloodworms, but for some reason this doesn't seem like a natural behavior. Perhaps learned? I also put ghost shrimp in there, and when I notice they are gone, I get a few more. I'm not sure if he's eating them, or if they just die, or what. My friend thinks the siren must be eating them, but they just seem so big compared to the size of my siren's mouth... Either way, they add a bit of interest to the tank.

He must be eating some of the food items I've put in there for him, otherwise there is no way he'd still be alive right now, right?

Anyway, some pictures, tell me if it looks ok, if you have any guesses as to what kind of siren it might be, etc. It's rare that I get to see him out, but it's so exciting when it does come out, such a beautiful little guy. (Or gal).

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/2_22_07bed.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/2_21_07bed.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/2_21_07eed.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/socuted.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/movemented.jpg

The most recent pics are here: http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/

And the older pics are here (along with pics of my tiger sally): http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/

Should his gills be more red? What else could I try feeding him? Most places around here don't sell live foods, it's all mostly frozen. And I don't trust going to a baitshop..
 

ryan

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He or she looks ok. You should really try live nightcrawlers (i get them from my local bait shop and feed them to my mudpuppy). Most of the time if you get Canadian nightcrawlers they are caught in unfertalized forests, so they are pretty safe.

Its probably a lesser siren. I only say this because they are more commonly found in the pet trade. The only sure way of knowing is to measure it (lessers get 7-27 inches, greaters are bigger) The most different trait between the 2 species is the number of costal grooves (grooves along the side). Greater and lesser sirens have a different number, Lessers have less than 35 and greaters have more than 36. Also it looks like you have to many guppies, and the gills look fine
hope this helps
 
L

lane

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You definately need to try the worms. It looks a little to small for big nightcrawlers, but if that's all you can find, you can cut them up and give him little chunks. We buy our worms from Walmart. Tallahassee Walmart's carry them back in the fishing section. Our lessor siren loved bloodworms, but now he's eating worms and pinky mice. Good luck.
 
S

sarah

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I was hoping it was a lesser. I knew about the costal grooves. I've been trying to count them since I got him, but I just haven't been able to get a real count. I'm pretty sure it isn't full grown at this point, but I can't really tell if it's getting bigger or not.

I'm gonna get rid of some of the guppies I think, lol. I'll just keep the pretty ones, bring the rest to a petstore.

I know you can't tell what size he really is, but, his mouth is quite small. I'll go look for worms next time I go to walmart, though. Thanks!
 
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pierson

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That's a lesser Siren. Greater Siren usually have distinct gold spangling on a greenish-gray ground color.

My siren (I have several) eat bloodworms (frozen-thawed) and earthworm chunks.
 
S

sarah

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When I bought this siren, they had two others that had gold stripes on them, I'm glad I hadn't picked out one of those! Just because I don't want to have to get a monster tank to house one. When I was doing my research, I saw a greater siren that looked just like the ones I had seen. But I haven't seen any lessers that look just like mine. I'm still curious what supspecies he might be. I got it from a reptile show, by the way. The guy I bought him from was a real @$$ and insisted he knew everything about everything. He told me it was an amphiuma, I looked it up, and it most definitely was NOT. I called the guy I bought it from to let him know, he insisted that it was an amphiuma. Whatever, dumb people can't do their own research... ANYWAY, I got some vids of him eating bloodworms! This is the first time he's actually come to the turkey baster when I've put in frozen bloodworms. It was pretty interesting. The guppies must be eating his food. Or maybe I just don't notice when he's eating brine shrimp because he doesn't come up to the top for those.. Gonna take some guppies out later anyway. Enjoy!

http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/?action=view&current=MOV03759.flv
http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/wldkiwi274/Ginui/Undine/?action=view&current=MOV03760.flv

Man, it bugs the heck out of me when the bloodworms are RIGHT in front of him but he just doesn't realize it. Bah.
 
P

peter

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That video makes it look like (s)he's trying to bite
the turkey baster,probably because it is easier to see. Try getting bigger food such as earthworms. The bait shop is fine.
 

ryan

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I see what you mean, again try earthworms or chopped nightcrawlers.
 
S

sarah

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ah, nah, he/she eats the bloodworms, i haven't seen him actually try to get the turkey baster. i dunno, i didn't notice that that's what it looked like, i think he may just be getting used to it. he used to NEVER come out when i was near the tank. now he sometimes ventures out when i'm nearby, maybe he's associating shadows near the tank with food coming soon? i also saw him a little later searching the bottom for more leftovers. it's cool to see him suck things up and he filters out the sand. i'm going to try going to walmart first. i've never been to a baitshop, but my friend told me there was one but it was like 45 mins away. so i think i'll try the walmart first, since it's only 10 mins away, hehe.
 
L

lane

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So did you try the worms? How did it go? If he's anything like ours, it chowed down almost immediately. Since there's basically no one out there breeding sirens or amphiuma's it's almost certainly wild caught. While out herping in our local creeks and streams we're always finding earthworms under rocks and leaf debris IN the water, especially after rain... so that's probably as natural a diet as your going to be able to give it. Let us know!
 
L

lane

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Also, we just watched your video's and we think you should use another method if you're going to stick to feeding bloodworms, you may find that it is a little more effective. We take the frozen cube and set it aside on a paper plate. Once it fully thaws we pick it up between forefinger and thumb and give it a little squeeze, 1 to get the excess moisture off and 2 so that it forms into little ball, then we carefully drop the ball RIGHT at the surface of the water (to keep it together as best as we can) and let it sink to the bottom. Our siren smells the food almost immediately and comes over, and just sucks up the pile like a little vacuum. We use a baster also, but only to remove the left over food to keep as much waste out of the tank as possible. We also use the baster to suck up poop. So if you haven't gotten the worms yet, try the other method... he may get more to eat that way.

Good Luck.
 
S

sarah

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Didn't try the worms yet, I could have sworn the last time I went to petco they had them, but they didn't when I went this time. I didn't get a chance to go to Walmart yet, been busy getting ready for spring break. But I did get him some brine shrimp, which I saw him eating. It's just so annoying when he doesn't realize they are RIGHT THERE NEXT TO HIM and he doesn't get them, bah. I didn't want to touch the bloodworms with my fingers because I heard some people are allergic. I guess I could use a glove, I'll try what you suggested, he does seem to enjoy the bloodworms. When I feed the guppies freeze dried bloodworms, he comes to the top to eat them, I thought that was an odd behavior. Anyway, I can't tell if he eats more brine shrimp than I can see or if they are getting sucked up by my filter... The fish eat them anyway, the baby guppies tear into them, vicious!! I did remove about 8 or 9 adult guppies yesterday and brought them to the local petstore (they traded me brine shrimp and some crickets for my tiger sal) yay! So it's a lot less crowded in there now. There's probably still about 8 adult guppies in there, I might take out a few more. And there are tons of babies, but I was hoping he would eat the baby guppies if he got hungry enough... I'm still going to check for earth worms when I get myself over to walmart. If he doesn't eat them, my tiger sally probably will.

I see a lot more fish poop in there than salamander poop. Maybe he's pooping under the sand?
 
L

lane

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Hmmm... maybe, but I don't think so. Ours doesn't poop under the sand. We've had low success with him eating live fish/shrimp. I think you really will have the most success with the worms. I'm anxious to hear how he does when you get them.

One reason for not getting the shrimp when they are next to him is because they have very poor eyesight. That's why we have more success dropping a clump of bloodworms in and letting him stumble upon them to eat them up. His sense of smell is good, but he is much more interested in the worms.

I've never heard of people being allergic to bloodworms, that's interesting... but I'd think that unless you have a cut on your fingers, washing them right after would prevent any allergic reaction, so no worries there.

The only thing about the poop... he may not be producing much waste if he's not getting enough food. Ours happily eats 2 or 3 earthworms a day if we offer it... but we usually stick to 2 or 3 every couple days. With bloodworms occassionally inbetween.

As for coming up to the top, we found it odd at first too, but now after having the 12 amphiumas and the siren, coming to the surface to eat is regular behavior, but we are thinking this is actually a learned behavior. Although, I'm sure in the wild they just eat whatever they can find available. Since they are most active at night it's probably a safer time for them to comfortably eat off the surface...

Keep us updated!
 
S

sarah

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So I did what you said about the clump of blood worms. He did eat them for a bit, he was able to get them easier, but then he wandered away from them and came back to them later. I don't know if he had just eaten enough for a bit, or if he didn't know the rest of them were there... But oddly enough, my fingers did tingle after touching the bloodworms for about 10 mins. I didn't have any other sort of reaction though. I'm not ruling out that it could be entirely mental, however..

What was really cool, I noticed one of the ghost shrimp that had been in there for a while, she had eggs! I was really excited about it. I left her for a while and just kinda watched her. Then I looked up online what to do about it. Websites said to put her in a separate container and then once the eggs hatched to take her out and raise the babies. So, I took her out, gently... The next day (this morning) she was dead. =( I don't know what happened, I'm guessing stress? I didn't stress her when I took her out, she went into the container quite easily. I'm just guessing she was stressed from not having enough places to hide... It was sad, cause yesterday I could see the baby shrimps in the eggs with tiny little eyes! It was kinda cute. Little round balls with eyes. I know I was just gonna try and feed them to the siren anyway, but I wanted them to get big enough to not get sucked up into the filter.. I shoulda just left them in the tank =/ Damn internet suggestions...

STILL haven't gotten the earthworms yet... Are "red wigglers" the same thing as earthworms? They had some of those at petsmart but there wasn't anyone around to tell me what they were.. I've been sick and haven't really wanted to drive out to walmart.
 

TJ

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Probably not your imagination. I'm in daily contact with bloodworm (feeding 3-4 sheets of Hikari frozen bloodworm cubes daily) and have the same sort of uncomfortable tingling sensation -- and I know others who experience the same reaction. So I now always wash my hands with soap soon after handing bloodworm.

As far as siren feeding goes, with mine (I've had her some 4 years), I simply drop one vitamin-fortified bloodworm cube daily into a calm front corner of the tank where there's no gravel, and let it sink. No advance thawing or using turkey basters (except to remove any uneaten bloodworm, of which there's usually none).

If anybody's feeding frozen bloodworms that partially float on the surface of the water, then it's low-quality stuff and you might consider upgrading if you can afford it


<font color="ff0000"><font size="-2">On an administrative note, I've changed the thread title from "What do you think? (Siren)" to "Siren identification, feeding" to better reflect what the thread's about.</font></font>

(Message edited by TJ on March 16, 2007)
 

ryan

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Red wigglers are small earthworms, you could try them but do what Tim said.
 
L

lane

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Sarah, I personally don't know too much about ghost shrimp, however Lane (who works at Petsmart, lol) said that it's possible that if you didn't use "Stress coat" or another type of chemical agent remover to the water you seperated her in, it's a potential cause as some animals are more sensitive than others. He also suggested that if you don't have any already you pick some up also for your water changes in the siren tank.

Good job on the bloodworm thing.

We keep a similar sized amphiuma with our siren in a bowfront tank. The siren will eat occassional bloodworms but now he eats a more steady diet of worms and 1 - 2 pinkies per week.

Sorry about your shirmp and baby's...


Jennifer
 

ryan

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Wow Jennifer, you keep a siren and an amphiuma together! Have they ever attacked each other? How many gallons is the tank?
 
J

jim

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Red Wigglers are not the same as nightcrawlers, most caudates reject them especially when cut up as they excrete a strong smelling yellow substance.
 
S

sarah

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Thanks for the info, Jim, I guess I really will have to go to walmart for those worms, lol. I was waiting till I was out of toilet paper...

Tim, I've done that in the past too (just putting the unthawed block in), but the block will float, as you said. And even when I thaw, half of them will float and half of them will sink. What brand do you use? I can try and look for it. I just usually buy whatever the independant petstore I go to has. And, I was a bit confused about the title, haha, I was wondering if my post got deleted, then, nope. =P

Jennifer, I didn't put any new water in or anything, it was the same water she was originally in. It's ok about the babies and the mom, I mean, she was just a feeder ghost shrimp. It was just really cool to look at and watch. So it's a bit of a bummer. I'm thinking either the container wasn't washed as well as I thought (it was previously used to hold brine shrimp in) or she must have been really stressed cause there wasn't anywhere for her to hide. But I guess looking into a stress coat in general wouldn't be a bad idea. Do ya have pics of your amphiuma and siren together? That's pretty cool that they can live together without hurting each other.
 
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