12-31-2009, 03:01 PM
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First of all, the person who told you the newts do fine at temps around 75 - 78 is correct. Fire belly newts are tropical animals. They require both land and water in their environment and are extremely talented escape artists, so be sure to keep the tank tightly sealed. Newts are known well for their ability to scale the sides of the tank walls and use plants and other objects to help push themselves towards the top of the tank. The slightest crack or crevice opening is all they need to get out, and they dry up quickly once out of the confines of their tanks.
As for mixing a newt with small fish or shrimp... those fish and shrimp will likely become food before long. Fish such as danios are known to be nippy, and will endlessly nip and pick at the legs, feet, belly, and tail of the newt which can cause damage to the sensitive skin. Newts are prone to infections when injured or in poor water quality, and do not tolerate real low pH levels. You will want to keep the water conditions extremely clean for a newt.
Typical foods for a fire belly newt are crickets and live black worms. Crickets can be messy if they die in the water before eaten. Newts have poor eyesight, so if it doesn't move they don't often see it, or recognize it as food. High nitrate levels cause burning of the skin (as does any ammonia and nitrite), and high nitrate levels will drop the pH drastically and suddenly, which causes open sores on newts. I can't say enough about clean water when keeping newts.
Please be forewarned, newt tanks that are properly set up will trap a lot of humidity in their tanks, which fogs up the glass and makes for poor viewing. The humidity is good for the newts, and difficult to avoid when the tank needs to be so tightly sealed. Just something to keep in mind before you actually spend your money on a newt.
The best companion in a newt tank is another newt of the same size or a fire belly toad, which requires the same environment as the newt. Newts that differ in size are noted for the larger ones eating the smaller ones.
I hope this helps you to sort out your dilemma. Keeping a fire belly at 68 degrees is not something I would suggest. 74 - 78 is the safest range, provided it is stable.