Anything labeled as organic will work. Been doing it for 10 years with good results. Make sure you get it to a mud like consistency first and then add an inch of gravel and or sand. I like to use a mix. If you don't you'll have a hot mess on your hands. Then plant what you want to plant. More plants the better. Then add water very very very slowly, can't stress that enough. Below is a video from a couple years ago of my newt tanks with live plants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCynZ2Aenrs
Although elsewhere on caudata/caudata culture it has been discouraged for use with salamanders and newts, I really like using "Atantic Botanic Garden Mix" ("ABG Mix") or similar recipes. ABG mix has been a preferred substrate of dart frog vivarium keepers for many years. I've used a modified recipe similar to ABG mix now for about three years to keep a generously planted vivarium that has included a group of Tylototriton shanjing for over 17 months.
Planted in the substrate of the vivarium are four species of ferns, four different live mosses, Peperomia species, Ficus pumilla vines, two dwarf Spathiphyllum lillies, and some kind of Oxalis that I think came in as a contaminant with one of the ferns that was purchased as a potted specimen. All of the plants/mosses listed above, as well as the Tylototriton are thriving. There is a colony of orange Porcelio scaber isopods introduced in the vivarium as sanitary scavengers and a constant food source for the Tylototriton. One of the concerns with any substrate is ingestion and compaction. I have observed on many occasions as the Tylototrition stalk and eat isopods off of the substrate. Similarly, when I feed them earthworms, mealworms, waxworms, etc., it is not uncommon to see small amounts of substrate stuck to the food items and ingested by the salamanders.
The Tylototriton themselves (2M:3F) are healthy and active. They had at least three different bouts where they oviposited viable eggs during 2017. I guess my point is, ABG like mixes work well for heavily planted dart frog vivaria, and my modified ABG like substrate is working without incident for this group of salamanders and the plants in their vivarium.
My recipe is as follows (all by approximate volume, prior to mixing and initial soaking):
1) two parts fine coconut fiber.
2) two parts fir bark chips, crushed to small size (about 1/4 inch or 0.65cm or smaller) by running it through an old kitchen blender.
3) one part fine peat moss from garden store.
4) one part finely milled sphagnum, made even smaller by running it through an old kitchen blender.
5) two parts garden store finely crushed charcoal.
Once this was all mixed and hydrated, it was placed in the vivarium at a depth of about 3 inches/7.6 cm over an egg crate false bottom to allow drainage. I misted it for about two days to allow settling before planting.
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.
@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.
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
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?)
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?
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
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
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
Does anyone have any idea how to help with high ammonia levels? I have the API freshwater master kit and everything else’s test results were great besides ammonia. I did a 50% water change and I use API products including ammonia lock.
Help! I got my first axolotl two days ago and they have stopped eating. They ate a few frozen blood worms the first day and haven’t eaten or been interested in food since. I feed them frozen blood worms and the tank is around 64 degrees. I do have a filter that moves sometimes and I noticed them swimming up to it, I have a new filter and a fan coming today or tomorrow. I leave the worms in the tank or a little bit before taking them out so I don’t know if they ate when I wasn’t looking. I know it takes a while for them to digest. Does anyone have any tips or knowledge they can share? The pet store I bought them from didn’t have gravel or sand in the tank so I’m not sure if theres an issue or if I’m just impatient. Thank you!
@MuggleMiChu I would say try live black/blood worms untell they are full or just turn there head away ( that's what mine do) if that does not work try to get some live brine shrimp and see if they eat that. baby axolotl prefer live food over frozen food as the frozen food is too cold for them or they can't eat it in one go( that's if you do the blocks) mine eat chopped up frozen thawed shrimp. as for them not eating from what I have experienced with my second axolotl, I got her when she was about an inch long and she ate every day, when they start getting 3-4 inches long they will gradually slow down there eating. and if you really want to do substrate I would do sand because if they do ingest a little bit it won't hurt them.
Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.