Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Kathryn 11-10-2006 02:50 PM

Newt Tank (or Vivarium!)
Ok, my current fire bellied newt tank is very small, so, for this Christmas, I want to upgrade it.
The new tank is still going to be small, just a few gallons, but it's a difference!

I need some info on how to set up the vivarium.


1) Will stones and pebbles just from the beach be ok for the tank?

2) Would they prefer just a couple of plants, or quite densely planted?

3) (This is completely unrelated to the tank) How can you sex the Fire Bellied newts, because I was never sure of their sexes?

Also, what sort of place do the newts come from, so that I can try to imitate their natural habitat?

Thanks people!!

Kathryn 11-15-2006 03:34 PM

Has anyone got any ideas?

Please don't feel afraid to make suggestions if you've got a vivarium of your own, I am completely open to suggestions, as I have made NO plans for the tank yet. :D

Kathryn 11-15-2006 04:09 PM

sorry my computing skills are VERY limited, so this is a very basic sketch. And the tank will most probably look nothing like this, but, as I say, this it just a rough sketch.
I like the sloping gravel idea, so I may well stick with that, rather than having no land area; just things sticking out of the water, like wood and plants, as it looks more like an aquarium in my opinion. Here goes: [/img]

usmc121581 11-15-2006 07:25 PM

Someone I worked with had a setup just like that one. It was in a 75 gallon tank. I don't have pics but I'm going to try and paint a picture for you. On the left side of the tank was the dry land and it sloped down to a little pool of water that opened up to the rest of the tank. It was half fiiled with water and it got deeper from left to right. It had about 5 Fire Bellied newts in it, with a couple gold fish and some guppies. For the filtration he used a canister filter to suck the water out and to dump it back over the dry land to look like a stream. He had a bunch of plants that you can buy from your LFS (local fish store) it was densely planted. For the foundation he had some sort of reptile mix of some sort on the very bottom, then on top was pebbles. I will get back to you on the exact name of the mix or what ever it was. He also used alot rocks and brick from around the house. For the lighting he used a regular aquarium flourescent, and a heater in the water side of the tank. I hope this is able to help out a little. :)

caferacermike 11-15-2006 09:07 PM

Give me a couple of days to get pics of a friends orchid tank. It is an interesting waterfall design. It is a lot of cork cacking, small pools all over and a return pump that feeds it all. the water starts at the top and drains down through all the other pools until finally reaching the bottom. It's for growing orchids and mosses. Would be ideal for newts and frogs.

bettababy 11-18-2006 02:37 AM

So sorry it took me so long to get here, please forgive. You mentioned that the tank will only be a few gallons? To begin with, I surely wouldn't keep 1 newt of any species in less than 10 gallons. Newts are dirty, they are EXTREMELY sensitive to water quality, and most grow quite large (6 - 8 inches full grown) Even the smallest species will need at least 10 gallons. The larger species will need a minimum of 30 gallons by the time they are grown, which, like fish, will happen quite fast.
With that said, the drawing you posted is the right idea for keeping newts. The things to watch for are:
enough space in the water to swim
enough land to stretch out on
enough plants to offer hiding places and shelter
Proper lighting overhead
Warm temperatures of mid 70's (fahrenheit) for the water (so you'll want to add an aquarium heater, must be submersible for a setup such as this
Filter to keep the water clean, run WITH carbon that gets replaced every 30 days, at least
Things to plan for with newts:
They grow quite large
They are VERY sensitive to water quality. Any levels of Ammonia and Nitrite will cause open sores. Nitrates, if higher than 40 for long periods of time, will cause the pH to drop, which will also cause open sores. These sores are prone to fungal and bacterial infections, very difficult to treat, and usually ends up to be lethal.
Newts are ESCAPE ARTISTS, make sure the top of the tank is WELL SEALED. Newts will crawl out of the tiniest holes, and can climb the glass pretty easily. If they get out, they hide and then dry out, thus they die. It doesn't take long...
Do a lot of water changes and gravel vacs, at least once/wk.
Watch the feeding, uneaten food will rot quickly and make a mess of your water quality. Most newts will thrive on live blackworms, (these are not bloodworms, there is a difference) and crickets, and the size of the crickets will make a difference and change as the newt grows. Crickets is one of the easier foods to give, it's cheap, you can learn to raise them yourself, or even order them in bulk for cheaper online. They're also easier to pull out if not eaten. If they die, just pick them out and throw them away.
Ok, I think I've about covered all I can think to tell you about newts... if you have specific questions beyond that, please, feel free to ask.

Kathryn 11-23-2006 03:58 PM

Thank you people for your replies.
I am afraid, just now, a few gallons is all I can do. :cry:
It is an improvement of sorts though and it's better than the tank I've got now for them.

I appreciate your comments but for now, I can't buy a bigger tank for them.
I will try my best with the new tank, that is why I'm typing this thread, to make it as suitable as possible for them.
thanks again. :wink:

Kathryn 12-03-2006 04:14 AM

I'm still open to suggestions, so please keep them coming! :)

fish_4_all 12-05-2006 10:15 PM

As far as stones and rocks from outside, do a simple basic test. Take ammonia and pour it over the rocks to see if they fizz. If they do it will mess with your water chemistry and possible cause problems with your newt. All of the rocks should be washed very well in a bleech solution and then use dechlor before putting them in.

I would suggest a 10 gallon as the cost is the same, here anyway, as anything smaller. It is easy to light, easy to maintain and should fit your newt for a while until you can get a larger setup. There is a lot you can do with it and enough water can be done if you plan right.

A 50 watt heater for the water, a tight cover for the tank to keep in the humidity, a descent light, nothing special, maybe even just a regular aquarium hood with 2 screw in compact flourecents, 20 watts each with a 6500K rating have been used by many to grow many plants and will provide for the plants well. As for the newt, I have only seen them around here in and around moist places and then hiding under logs, leaf litter and earthen holes. You could provide a nice little cave with a coconut cave and some moss. The water should keep the tank a steady temp while the lights will raise the temp a little during the day. The coconut cave should give the newt a place to sun itself if it needs to warm up and the water, plants and cave will give plenty of hiding places.

Now, as far as setup. I like your idea but with such a small tank, a barrier that holds the land portion with a ramp into and out of the water might give you a more useful setup. A piece of glass or plexi siliconed into place to hold the land portion in half the tank with the other half water, about 6 inches deep should provide a nice little setup for your newt until you can upgrade. Maybe some plastic canvas covered with a sheet of dried peat or maybe some kind of moss would provide an excellent way to get in and out of the water. Even a piece of driftwood large enough to provide a good exit point covered with moss would look cool.

For filtration and circulation you can get a good sponge filter and an airstone. Try to get one that uses and airstone and not one that just plugs onto slot but either should work. Should be enough to maintain the tank with a minimul bioload and keep it clean and ammonia free between water changes. I would suggest not getting fish as you will only be working with about 4 gallons max in this type of setup. Maybe a couple snails as a clean up crew.

Lots of options even with a 10 gallon and very little expense if you can plan it right.

Another thing I have found that is done with newts is to use a standard tank setup and provide them with some kind of floating platform. This can be done using styrofoam covered with peat or moss just so they have an area to get out of the water if they want to. Might be an option depending on what you really want in the long run. The only real requirements were to keep the temp around 68 F and to provide them with hiding places. This would allow for the use of a HOB as a filter with some kind of sponge or modified "baffle" to slow the water flow if needed.

Do you know what kind of newt it is so I can try to get some more species specific information?

bettababy 12-05-2006 10:54 PM

Regardless of the size of tank you end up with, you don't want to mix newts with fish. If the fish are big enough to not be eaten, it's likely they'll bother the newt when it's in the water. Newts are dirty, and water quality can be a chore to keep up with enough to keep the newt healthy. The smaller the amount of water the faster the rate of fluctuation, and the higher the extremes when it gets there. Newts are VERY sensitive to water quality.

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