Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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mad_4_fish 05-21-2008 05:44 AM

Im looking into getting some firebellied newts and was wondering:
- Would 2 firebellied newts get along ok?
- What sort of size tank would be best?
- What capacity of water do they need?

bettababy 05-21-2008 04:47 PM

Re: Newts

Originally Posted by mad_4_fish
Im looking into getting some firebellied newts and was wondering:
- Would 2 firebellied newts get along ok?
- What sort of size tank would be best?
- What capacity of water do they need?

Firebelly newts make great pets, but they have very specific needs.
2 will get along if they are the same size. If at any time one gets larger than the other, they need to be seperated. They will eat each other if possible.

For 2 firebelly newts, a 40 breeder is a perfect size tank. The tank should be about 1/3 full of water, with plenty of hiding places, and plenty of space to get out of the water when they want/need to. Driftwood works good in a newt tank, as do medium to larger size rocks that you can stack to make underwater caves and shelters as well as caves at the surface and just above water.
The tank will need to be very tightly sealed. The slightest crack or opening up top is an escape route. Newts are good at climbing the glass sides of a tank, up heater and filter cords, and anything they can get on to find a way out. The slightest opening is freedom for them, they can squeeze through things you would never believe possible. They need a heater, they are tropical animals. A stable temp of 76 - 78 is good for them. Filtration is a must in a newt tank. Submersible filters like the Whisper i series work great for this. You can use them to make waterfalls, which will add to your filtration process and help keep things healthy. Newts are dirty, and they are messy when it comes to food. The biggest problem I've seen in newt tanks is high nitrate levels, which burns their skin and causes open sores, and makes the pH bottom out. Rapid drop in pH is lethal to them, just as with fish. Water params should be checked and maintained just as with a tank full of fish. Wide leaf plants such as anubias and java fern are great for newt tanks. They offer shelter and fun places for the newts to hang out when they want to. They enjoy laying on the big leaves. Anubias will grow up out of the water, so watch the height and escape routes.

With newts live food has to be expected. Their favorite foods are live crickets and live black worms. They will also usually eat small fish, so feeder guppys can make for a nice treat. Some newts can be taught to accept shrimp pellets, but the majority won't eat if the food isn't moving. They have very poor eyesight and have a difficult time finding food if it isn't moving. Also, there isn't enough nutrition if feeding only prepared foods, so please expect at least the crickets for the main diet.

If you have any other questions, by all means, ask before you bring newts home. This is not an animal that trial and error works well with. The more you are prepared the better your chances of success.

mad_4_fish 05-22-2008 03:32 AM

Thanks for that i was wondering you said a 40 breeder tank would be ideal but i've read in many places that a 10-20 gallon tank is enough for 2 firebellied newts.

Dave66 05-22-2008 04:20 AM

A 40 breeder is a better idea as you and the newts have more real estate to work with. Also, you can plant the 'land' half of the tank with bog plants (those that usually grow in swampy areas where their roots are always submerged and the whole plant is occasionally submerged).
Tight quarters like a 10 or 20 can cause conflicts between the newts when they can't get out of each other's sight.


mad_4_fish 05-22-2008 05:35 AM

Thanks. Would a 20 gallon tank be better for just one newt or would that still be to small?

bettababy 05-22-2008 10:31 AM

20 gallons for 1 newt would be ok for a while, but it will still offer somewhat cramped quaters, and as the newt grows, the tank size will have to grow with it. I would strongly suggest it be a 20 long and not a 20 high. 10 gallons is simply too small, even for one. While they start out small, they don't stay that way.

The issue is in area... the newts need somewhere to swim to get exercise. If 1/2 of the tank is full of land, that eliminates a lot of swimming space. You are looking at an animal that can get up to 6 inches long. Cut out a piece of paper 6 inches long and about 2 inches wide. Hold that up to a 20 gallon tank, and then you'll get a better visual for the area needed to keep even 1 of these animals healthy and happy.

If you want me to, I can post a pic here in this thread, an example of the type of set up I'm talking about. I have a tiger salamander that is about 6 - 7 inches long... he's in a 30 gallon tank, and even that is getting a bit cramped for him. As he grows so does the tank size. Let me know if you want to see the pic.

mad_4_fish 05-22-2008 04:11 PM

That would be great if you could post a picture.
I was thinking i might have to change to a bigger tank as the newt gets bigger but at the moment the biggest i can go for is 20-25ish gallons. I already have a 40 gallon tank established but it has fish in which won't stay fish for much longer and then i could use that for them.

Thank you

bettababy 05-22-2008 05:23 PM

I did the best I could with the photos. This tank isn't set up for pictures... but it should be enough to give you a general idea.
One thing I need to note... this tank has a screen cover on it. I would not suggest a screen cover for the newts. My salamander doesn't climb like the newts do, and he's not as coordinated. You can do the same thing I've done only with a glass cover and it should work just fine.
Let me know if you have any other questions.

The first photo is a full view of the entire tank. This is 30 gallons.

The 2nd photo is a closer shot of the waterfall I made out of pagoda rock and some some other flat rocks I was able to find. I used some rocks from the wild, but my salamander is wild caught. I don't suggest doing that with a newt. The pollution levels are not something you can get rid of and they would be toxic to your newts. Pagoda can be purchased at most lfs's who stock fish supplies. If you need help finding it, let me know.

The 3rd photo shows the thin layer of gravel at the bottom with java moss growing down there. I have smaller rocks scattered around the bottom to give the natural streambed appearance.

The 4th photo shows my salamander peeking up through the leaves at me taking his picture. To his left is the waterfall. The rocks are mostly flat, which is why I used pagoda, so it creates shelves. If you're careful you can stack it so it's very sturdy and it makes great steps for the waterfall and also for the animals to climb on. The filter is tucked underneath the top rock seen in this photo, and behind the others. I built the rock structure around it to hide it, then added the one above to cover/hide it. The water fall acts as additional filtration. The filter I used is a Whisper 10i, though I would suggest you work with something a little stronger. I do frequent maintenance on this tank and he's not an escape artist while I'm doing it. Newts would be a problem, and the variety of foods will create more waste than I deal with here. Also remember, plants eat nutrient levels also, but it takes a lot of plants to make maintenance any easier or less, and they have to be well established.

The plants I have in this tank are:
Parrots feather
Pothos (the one with the big green leaves)
java moss
java fern

Pond and bog plants are the best ones to use for this sort of thing because they can grow nicely out of water provided the roots/base are always submerged. There is about 10 lbs of medium natural gravel in this tank.
If you need more help or details on how to create something similar, I can go into further details for you. If you have a problem finding these plants, let me know, I can spare some of the java moss and phothos if need be. They both grow really fast.
This tank has been set up for 1 yr come August. The pothos I started with was about 14 inches long... that is all growth since then. I just keep coiling it around the tank as it grows.

Hope this helps.

mad_4_fish 05-23-2008 02:21 AM

Those photos were great thank you they have given me a idea of the sort of thing to go for.
You mentioned you used a Whisper 10i filter but you said I would need a stronger one. Which would you recommend?
Also if i was to feed my newts crickets how much would i have to feed them and how often when they are young (about 2 inches long)?
Thank you so much for all your help

bettababy 05-23-2008 01:42 PM

2 inch long newts would require very small crickets and live black worms in their diet. The crickets will have to be very small, called "pinhead" crickets. How much they eat is going to be up to them. The best way to handle that is to put 4 - 6 crickets into the tank and pay attention to how quickly they eat them, and how large their stomachs get after feeding. Every day feedings works for most, every other day works better. Some newts will over stuff themselves, which will cause them to get sick. If their bellies are a bit plump, then I would say they are doing well.
Worms is the same thing... add a little bit at a time and watch to see how much they eat and how long it takes them. There is no set feeding schedule for animals like that. If you have 2 newts, please watch that 1 isn't getting all the food while the other goes hungry. There is a chain of dominance in those animals just like with any other, and this is often a huge cause of size differences as the newts grow and mature. Once one newt is larger and stronger than the other, then the smaller one becomes food.

For a 30 - 40 gallon tank as you're needing, with 2 newts and the amount of waste from the animals and their foods, I would suggest working with a Whisper 30i. Keep the cartridges fresh every 3 - 4 wks, and rinse them out in dirty tank water when doing water changes to keep the solid waste at a minimum. If you put some of the tank water into a bucket, rinse the cartridge out in there, then dump the water, this will preserve the bacteria colony in the filter media. Keeping a newt tank cycled can be a challege because they require very frequent water changes.

Also important to remember that your 30 - 40 gallon tank is not going to hold 30 - 40 gallons of water for something like this, so you have to figure the waste levels into 10 - 15 gallons of water. Changing a few gallons every couple of days is going to be the safest way to keep this sort of thing healthy. Another battle you will face is the increase of waste as the animals grow. Working with a 30i filter in that size of tank and with that amount of water should be able to keep up with them, but be sure to get your test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH and test the water frequently. If you notice you have a difficult time keeping nitrates below 20, adding a 2nd filter will help a lot. With newts, a nitrate level of 40 - 60 is enough to be deadly, and it doesn't take long to cause harm. Open sores appear rapidly, and the animals tend to die from secondary infections once that happens, which usually only takes a few days.

If there is anything more I can do to help, please let me know.
I want to say thank you for finding out what needs to be done before bringing home the animals. I wish more people would do that. It sounds to me like whatever animals you end up with, they will have a good home.
Best of luck to you!

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