Question: Spanish Ribbed Newt Overfeeding

ksb1001

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I have 2 Spanish ribbed newts (Pleurodeles waltl). I've only had them about 2 weeks. They are about 6" long each and are in a 20 gallon long tank with substrate. They get natural lighting when I leave the shades open during the day. They get no artificial lighting. Water temp maintains about 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The water has cleared 100% since the pictures were taken. It took two 50% water changes each week and the addition of a terrarium filter to get it there. (Also, in the picture of the tank, you can see a non-functional sponge filter in the back. This has since been removed and a true filter has been added.)

I am feeding them mainly bloodworms and krill (they get these every other day) and newt pellets on the days they don't get the others. On the days they get frozen food, I cut one of the blocks in half, thaw it out, and feed them on separate sides of the tank. I keep the other half frozen. I guess it would have been easier to say that each newt is getting 1/4 of a frozen cube of worms/krill each. I also put in 3 small guppies for them to eat and they were gone in an evening.

I am worried about their eating habits. I have been reading that they should only be fed 3 times a week and to expect them to not eat everything I give them. This is not the case. They are absolutely voracious eaters. Anything I put into the tank is eaten within minutes. Lemmie (the dark one) was very thin when he came to me and so was Juice (the leucistic one) but not as bad. The people I got them from said Juice will lay eggs. They were being fed only pac-man frog food at their old home. I am worried about over feeding them, but I am also worried about under feeding them. Could it be that they are just excited to have real food for once? I want to give them the best life possible, but I don't want them to become ill from over feeding. I have been keeping a close eye on the nitrate levels and they've been very low. I also keep a turkey baster on had to suck out any fecal matter or dirt from the driftwood in there.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. I'm just trying to give them a great life!
 

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Azhael

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That diet is not adequate. Bloodworms are nutritonally incomeplte and can lead to very severe deficiencies and krill, as a marine species, is not apropriate for a fresh-water species like P.waltl.
You should base their diet on earthworms.
 

ksb1001

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How much should I be feeding though. My main concern is that I'm going to kill them by overfeeding but I'm also worried that they weren't getting enough at their prior home. I'm at a loss here. I can't image that blood worms and krill is worse than frog food (I could be mistaken) but I'm just glad to see them eating. I will definitely start introducing earthworms into their diet. Do you have any recommendations on how to start?
 

Azhael

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Depending on what the frog food was it may have actually been pretty acceptable, but bloodworms and krill are definitely not.
You'll have to adjust the amount of food through trial and error, but usually two or three worms per animal and week is a decent rule.
You can feed the earthworms with to the newts with tweezers to make sure each gets their part or just throw the worms in and let them catch them.
By the way, you should be taking advantage of the full volume of the tank, there is absolutely no reason not to since these newts are 100% aquatic. The larger the volume of water, the more stable it will be both chemically and thermally, plus the easier it will be to maintain good conditions. I also very strongly recommend that you substitute those plastic plants for real plants, and LOTS of them.
 

ksb1001

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Thank you so much for your input! I would use the whole tank, but... There is a small crack in the glass about halfway between my current water line and the top of the tank. I also observe them on top of the tubes and driftwood just hanging out alot. As for worms, do you have a recommendation on where to purchase them? Are you talking like full sized fishing worms or are there smaller ones available that would be more size appropriate? As for the plants, is there a way to keep live plants on the bottom of the tank? I am concerned about the newts eating the substrate so I have chosen to keep a bare bottom to my tank.

Again, thank you so much for your help. I am relatively new to aquatic "reptiles" and these two little guys were going to be euthanized because their owner's dog was getting too big and was trying to eat them and I just couldn't bear it. I took them in from Craigslist thinking I was fully equipped and am now realizing I wasn't as ready as I thought.
 

Azhael

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Not reptiles, they are amphibians.
You can find answers to all of your questions in the various sections of the forum. You should really start reading threads and the CC articles and continue to read until your eyes bleed and you have nightmares at night. It is is after all your responsibility to get informed so that you can give the newts the proper care they require. We are happy to help, of course, but you need to do your part.

I'm from a different country, so i can't point you to where to get worms....but pretty much any earthworm species is ok, and there should be plenty of online sites, bait shops, etc, to get them from. You can even culture them yourself at home with minimum effort.
Of course you can have plants at the bottom, check the section dedicated to plants for more information.

You should try to get that crack fixed or get a new tank, because a larger volume makes a very real and significant difference.
If the newts are trying to get out of the water or spending time out of it, it may very well be a sign that the water parametres are not ok, which wouldn't be surprising since the tank is presumably two weeks old and it has no live plants in it. These are very tough newts, but you need to make sure conditions are optimal for them to thrive.
 

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You'll soon find your feet with the waltls once you've read up on them. :) A few plants that are easy to grow with or without substrate are Java ferns, Elodea, Java moss and Hydracotyle. Most petstores carry at least some of those species and they will do very well just floating around in the tank, In fact the newts will prefer them that way because they'll grow into a dense layer at the surface providing them with ideal resting spots.
As far as overfeeding goes, the main reason it causes problems is because of the extra pollutants produced, either by the newts digesting the extra food, or by the food they don't eat rotting on the bottom. It's especially dangerous in a newly set up tank because there are no friendly bacteria to break these pollutants down like there are in more established aquariums. Testing the water regularly for ammonia and nitrite regularly will allow you to monitor these pollutants and dilute them with regular partial water changes. Once the tank cycles (the live plants will help speed up the process no end) the water changes can become less frequent but should still be done every fortnight or so.
 

ksb1001

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I've taken some huge steps in the past couple days trying to get the tank fixed up. it's not perfect yet but I'm getting there! Also, they loved the earthworms!
 

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innerdialogue

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I'd be wary of the gravel. Impaction is a risk. Maybe get some sand to layer over them, just so the newts don't accidentally ingest them.
 

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Unless the food is being placed in the pots, which I doubt is the case, there shouldn't be a problem, however, waste building up could be a potential problem, but should be fine if they get cleaned regularly
 

ksb1001

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I took the advice given to me and topped them all with sand. I'm actually really pleased with how the tank is coming along. It's also very exciting to me that they are both eating pieces of earthworm from tongs! I didn't think that was going to be possible as they've never had live food before. I also woke up this weekend to a surprise. Juice had laid about 700 eggs! I don't know how many were fertile and I there were too many to "let nature take its course," so I pulled about 98% of them so my tank wouldn't get gross.
 

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Azhael

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Am i hallucinating or is there a third newt in there? o_O
 

ksb1001

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No its a small eastern spotted. The three of them have been together since birth (or so I'm told). I don't want it in there and where I live in is legal to release them freely into ponds or streams. He'll be gone in the spring.
 

ksb1001

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That was one of the first ones I read! :)
 

Chinadog

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It would be much better to re home the eastern newt rather than releasing it. Although it isn't illegal to do so, there's always a risk it's been exposed to disease or infection of some kind while in captivity that it could pass on to wild populations.
I'm sure if you put up an add in the classified section someone would gladly take it off your hands.
 

Azhael

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Do not release the eastern spotted!!!
You have no idea what pathogens it might have acquired during its life in captivity, or even where exactly the newt came from. If you don't want it, give it to someone who is qualified to take care of it.

I'm amazed that little newt is alive at all...i would have expected the waltls to shred it to pieces during a feeding frenzy.
 

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Unless the food is being placed in the pots, which I doubt is the case, there shouldn't be a problem, however, waste building up could be a potential problem, but should be fine if they get cleaned regularly

I agree. Also, when doing a water change or cleaning, lift up the cups so that you can suck out anything underneath ( if you are using a siphon, turkey baster etc. ).

EDIT:
Do not release the eastern spotted!!!
You have no idea what pathogens it might have acquired during its life in captivity, or even where exactly the newt came from. If you don't want it, give it to someone who is qualified to take care of it.

I'm amazed that little newt is alive at all...i would have expected the waltls to shred it to pieces during a feeding frenzy.

I agree on this as well. Plus, there is no guarantee that it will begin to hunt for insects like a wild one would after being in captivity for as long as it has. I too am surprised that he hasn't become a snack....
 
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  • Josiane:
    The tank is still running, I am cycling it (for 2 weeks) with guppys
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  • Josiane:
    Probably too soon, I read it take 6-8 weeks to cycle
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    How can I upload a pic?
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    hey! Don’t blame it on yourself. It happens. Is this your first axie? I’m a newer owner as well if so (I’ve had mine since Oct). I know how scary it can be
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    He's my first yes...
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  • Paige1warren:
    if you have the API water test kit, check all the perimeters in the tank. We can check the cycling process with the perimeters. And I’m actually not sure how to upload a pic lololol I thought it would be easier but I tried it myself and now I’m confused! It says to attack a link, I’m not sure how that works
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    Dont beat yourself up over this, your little guy will be ok 😊
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  • Josiane:
    I will do that for sure this afternoon! I really hope he pulls through :( He's so freakin cute
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  • Josiane:
    Thanks for your help :)
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  • Paige1warren:
    You’re so welcome! Keep a close eye on him and try to offer food a couple times a day. Maybe try some pellets too for a different smell, might get him interested. Keep me updated!
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    Will do, thanks!
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  • Josiane:
    @Paige1warren, turns out my pH was spot on, the test strips I had used were no good. I bought an API kit and the levels are all fine. So not the issue :( I just posted in the forum
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  • Paige1warren:
    Hey @Josiane ! I just responded to your post. Your little guy actually looks fairly decent for his size despite not eating well. I think it is stress from the environment
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  • Paige1warren:
    Also I forgot to add to my response on ur thread, keep trying to feed him bloodworms and see if he will start to take them. If you get a turkey vaster you can suck up dethawed bloodworms and dangle them right infront of his nose, might get his interest.
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  • Josiane:
    I rotate between blood worms and brine shrimp. He's in my bedroom and will stay there for a while, I closed the light and just left a salt lamp on. I will bring him a hiding place right away! Isn't he the cutest thing! 😂
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  • Josiane:
    Thanks for the reassurance!!
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  • madcaplaughs:
    @Josiane An axolotl of your's size should be on a diet of chopped earthworms or live blackworms (if they're under 3"). Bloodworms and brine shrimp are not a sufficient diet.
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  • madcaplaughs:
    @Josiane Based on the photo, I believe there is a chance your axolotl may have become impacted from ingesting sand. Axolotls under 5" should not be kept on substrate for this reason.
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  • madcaplaughs:
    @Josiane The nearly diminished gill stalks are also indicative of poor water quality. You need to test your tap water's parameters using a liquid test kit (not strips! Those are inaccurate). The slime coat coming off may also be due to water quality or the water conditioner.
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  • Paige1warren:
    Hey guys! Could anyone tell me like the span earth worms are good for once cut? I’m wondering if I can prepare worms for days in advance or no? I normally will cut the worm the day I feed it to my axie, but I really hate the cutting and was just wondering if I can do a few at a time so I have them already prepared. Do they lose nutritional value once cut?
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  • Lauruven:
    Im not sure to b honest. Id think once dead they aren't good anymore. Also I think0
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    I'd avoid feeding dead earthworms.
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    Kk thank you I’ll just suck it up with cutting the worms :D
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    My Axolotl just laid eggs!!! I have had Axies for years, but this is the first time I got eggs. I know that I can not handle them all because I was not prepared. Is there anyone who would like to buy some? Mother is Golden, Father is Albino
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    My Axolotl just laid eggs!!! I have had Axies for years, but this is the first time I got eggs. I know that I can not handle them all because I was not prepared. Is there anyone who would like to buy some? Mother is Golden, Father is Albino
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