Monday, 6 June 2011

newt (fire belly) starter guide

Fire bellied newts are among the most commonly available amphibians at pet shops. Hardy and relatively easy to care for, they make a good choice for the beginning amphibian keeper.

For the purposes of this article, the term fire bellied newt will be used to generically refer to newts belonging to the genus Cynops. In my corner of the world, the Chinese fire bellied newt, Cynops orientalis, is the one most commonly found in pet shops. This newt is sometimes also called the oriental fire bellied newt, and the dwarf fire bellied newt. The other member of this family of newts that has commonly been found in the pet trade is Cynops pyrrhogaster, or the Japanese fire bellied newt. Both of these newts are dark brown to black over most of their body, save the brightly contrasting fiery orange red markings on the belly. In the wild, these markings serve a warning to predators, for fire bellied newts produce some potent skin toxins and have fairly prominent parotid (poison) glands on the sides of their head.

There are some differences in the size and appearance of the two newts. C. Pyrrhogaster (Japanese fire bellied newt) averages about 3.5 to 5 inches (9-12 cm), although there have been reports of them reaching 6 inches (15 cm). This newt has a rough or bumpy appearance to the skin, and generally the pattern of the red/orange coloration on the belly is speckled. C. orientalis is a bit smaller at 3-4 inches (6-10 cm), and the skin appears smoother. The orange pattern on the belly tends to be more blotchy, with orange sometimes the predominant color on the belly. The only real impact of these differences is that the larger Japanese fire bellied newt needs a little more room and can handle a bit larger prey.

part 2 of axolotl

Axolotls are not demanding in respect to their accommodation. It's important to bear in mind that an adult axolotl can reach anything from 18 to 35 cm in length (7-14 inches). Laboratories prefer to use minimalistic containers that barely allow the animals to turn around, like fish bowls. Each one is used to house a single animal, or a few are housed together in a container that approximates to a 45 cm long aquarium (18 inches).

For the enthusiast, the accepted minimum would be a 45 cm long aquarium (18 inch) for one adult. An example of an aquarium capable of holding several adult axolotls is shown in the photograph below. This is a good (if large) model on which to base your own axolotl aquarium.

1) Filter Inlet to External Power Filter (Eheim Ecco 2231); 2) 90 cm spray bar filter outlet; 3) Home-made plastic tank
divider; 4) Floating plastic plants; 5) Piece of PVC drain pipe; 6) Large gravel/small pebbles (too large to fit in an axolotl's mouth); 7) Polystyrene board in
black plastic; 8) Wooden board on a metal aquarium stand.

The Aquarium
This is a Marina aquarium of dimensions 120 cm long x 31 cm wide x 38 cm tall (48 x 12 x 15 inches)). The water depth is approximately 15 cm (6 inches). This is a good water depth, although it doesn't make much of a difference as long as the water covers the axolotls. For a display thank, a greater depth of water, and perhaps a much deeper tank, may be more desireable.

This tank contains approximately 60 litres of water (13 Imp gallons, perhaps 11 US gallons). The tank is mounted on a ~two foot tall brown-painted steel stand. Directly underneath the tank is a polystyrene board (used in walls for insulation, amongst other things) covered by a black P.V.C. bag. This board is very important because it serves to even out the pressure from the weight of the tank. The black plastic gives the tank a dark bottom, which serves to give the axolotls some comfort from excessive brightness (although this too isn't necessary).

The tank has been adapted so that it can be divided into three 40 cm long compartments. It should be noted that only one of the dividers is present in the photo. This is a home-made arrangement. The dividers are two sides of a polypropylene box that have been cut to fit the aquarium. They are held loosely by "right angles" of polyethylene from audio cassette cases (2 right angles on each side of each divider). I have cut a 2 cm length (1 inch) of Eheim filter tubing to protect the axolotls from the edges of these pieces of cassette case. The tank is divided to facilitate the separation of male, female, and juvenile axolotls. This prevents unwanted spawnings and predation. It also maximises the use of the space available. With regular maintenance, this aquarium could accomodate eight adult axolotls. I also like to think it has good Feng Shui!

Filtration is not essential for axolotls, provided you're willing to change the water regularly. If you choose to use a filter, there are a number of options. Under-gravel filters, internal power filters, external "hang-on-the-tank" filters, and external power filters (also known as canister filters). I prefer the last type, but it is also the most expensive option.

Axolotls excrete a lot of waste. This is mainly in the form of ammonia (NH3). Ammonia is a very toxic substance in its unionised form, NH3, but this is in constant equilibrium with the ionised form NH4+, and through the process of nitrification, it is converted into the less harmful substance nitrite (NO2-). This is carried out by the bacterium nitrosomonas. Another bacterium, nitrobacter, then converts this into the much more benign substance nitrate (NO3-). These two processes comprise the most important aspects of what is known as biological filtration.

Nitrate is a source of fixed nitrogen (i.e., not Nitrogen gas, N2) for plants and fungi. Although it's not recommended to keep plants with axolotls (they tend to root them up and break them), plants will use the nitrate generated from a good filtration system. I discuss water quality and chemicals in more detail on the Requirements Page.

In my years of experience with aquarium filters and axolotls, I have found that it is important to choose a filter that is suited for filtering the aquarium's water volume. A large filter is not suitable for a small tank and will usually create far too much water flow in the tank. This is possibly the biggest cause of stress-related disease in axolotls. Obviously the tank shouldn't be like a river, but the actual water turnover through the filter shouldn't be much beyond what is required.

Too little "biological filtration" - roughly surface area for bacteria growth in the filter - is also a bad idea. However there is evidence of the phenomenon I will call "over-filtration", and this can be stressful to axolotls. By over-filtration, I mean too high a turnover and/or too much biological filtration. I will discuss this further on. This is more frequently encountered in the use of external filters, because they are intended only for large aquaria, yet novice keepers may utilise them with smaller accommodation. Over-filtration leads to water that is, aside from dissolved salts, like spring water - a rather hostile environment for axolotls.

The filter used for the tank pictured above is an Eheim "Ecco" 2231 (see the photo on the right). To my knowledge, it's their smallest canister filter, designed for aquariums from 60 to 100 litres (13-22 Imp gal, 11-18 US gal). It has a turnover of 300 litres per hour (66 Imp gal, 50 US gal). I've turned this down to about 150 litres per hour.

As you can see from the aquarium above, I've used a 3 foot long spray bar on the filter out flow. This was home-made from rigid plastic aquarium tubing, closed at one end by a square of Eheim green tubing pushed inside the tube. There are holes drilled about once every 4 cm. The reason for the length of the tube is to spread out the water flow, but also to provide very minor surface agitation through-out the tank. This is because the surface can become "dead" in the compartments away from a filter outlet. The water flowing from the spray bar trickles down the glass at the back of the tank.

Whether you use a power filter (internal or external), an under-gravel filter, or something above-board is up to you, but there are a few more things to keep in mind. If you don't use gravel, you may need a slightly larger filter to provide more surface area on which bacteria can grow. These bacteria, including nitrosomonas and nitrobacter, will make up the biological side of your filter, and need to have a sufficient surface area on which to grow in order to meet the demands made on them. You can buy filter media that is porous, and therefore has a surprisingly large surface area for bacteria. Eheim's "Ehfi-Substrat" is a sintered glass that performs this function. I use it in combination with the 2231's standard filter pads. Other companies like Fluval also supply similar filter media.

Finally, remember, you should "age" the tank for at least two weeks after filling it with water, connecting up the filter, and before adding many axolotls. The addition of a single small axolotl after initial setup will aid development of the bacteria on the filter media, in preparation for the addition of your other axolotls. Obviously, water should be dechlorinated with aquarium dechlorinator (or better still, left to stand for several days). More on water on the Requirements Page. Due to my experience (and impatience!), I rarely age my own aquariums. Instead, I add my axolotls immediately, but I clean the tank daily for two weeks. For the following few weeks or so I make slightly less regular water changes, in order to give the filter a chance to build up to full capacity.

Once your filter is established for a month or two, continue to conduct regular, if less frequent, water changes. I recommend changing between 10 and 20 percent of the tank's water volume every week, depending on how densely it is populated. I also advise that you "vacuum" up any uneaten food and unfiltered waste at least twice a week and replace the water removed. A small siphon is ideal for this purpose.

Gravel, Fine Sand - Substrates
There are pros and cons to using gravel. Axolotls have a nasty habit of getting normal aquarium gravel in their mouths, and occasionally swallowing it. This can be fatal because the gravel can cause blockages in the gut. Gravel-swallowing is a common problem, unless the gravel is very large (much, much larger than pea size). If you use an external filter like me, gravel tends to let debris accumulate in the tank, and so the filter has a hard time keeping the the bottom clear of solids. Since axolotls are messy, the filter may have its work cut out to deal with the excrement and waste food that accumulate in gravel. If you do use gravel, it's advisable to siphon the waste out of it - a "gravel cleaner" is ideal for this purpose.

In short, if you use normal aquarium gravel you risk killing your axolotl. It's rare but not rare enough to be worth risking. I recommend pebble-sized gravel, about 2 cm or greater in diameter. Alternatively, fine sand is also a good substrate, as it will not clog the digestive tract if ingested. It has been my experience that axolotls can't "grip" the bottom of a glass tank. This can be somewhat stressful over time. Plastic tanks don't suffer from this problem so much because no plastic is as smooth as glass.

The gravel used in the photographed aquarium is an "aggregate", coated with a polymer to prevent it from leaching minerals into the water. It comes this way and there are many types and sizes available.

I don't have any specific tank lighting in the photographed tank, or any of my axolotl aquariums. The lid of the photographed tank is clear corrigated plastic. I have found axolotls to be sensitive to sudden marked changes in light level (turning a bright light on in a dark room).

Many successful axolotl enthusiasts use ordinary aquarium lighting - typically, a "hood" with a fixture for a fluorescent aquarium bulb and starter unit. Your local aquarium supply shop should be able to help you in this regard. In any case, lighting is essential for a display aquarium, and a must for an aquarium that contains live plants.

Temperature and Heating
The water should be kept between 14 and 20 °C (that's 57-68 °Fahrenheit). Anything below about 14 °C leads to more sluggish activity and a lower metabolism. At lower temperatures, axolotls will eat less frequently. They may even refuse food altogether. It should be noted though that axolotls don't seem to "hibernate" in the sense applied to most animals - they simply have reduced metabolism.

Above 24 °C, axolotls become stressed, and such warm conditions will usually result in disease if sustained for a several days. Temperature fluctuations of more than a few degrees Celsius in a 12 hour period (between night and day) can also be stressful. It's a good idea to keep the temperature stable on a day-to-day basis, even if it varies over the year with the seasons.

If you need heat, standard aquarium heaters used in fish aquariums are ideal for axolotl tanks. A heater set at 18 degrees Celsius is a good idea in a room that's very cool throughout the year.

The addition of plastic plants, caves, pipes, etc., gives axolotls an added sense of security, as well as being attractive to the human eye. My axolotl setup in the photo may look very bare, but that's mainly for convenience of cleaning and feeding. For display purposes, I would employ a much more elaborate and eye-pleasing setup. By all means, keep your axolotls in such great splendour!

that is how you setup tank here are the tips

What size fish tank should I buy?
10 gallon fish tank is good size for Axolotls.

How many Axolotls can I have in a 10 gallon fish tank?
Axolotls are social animals so you need to have at least Qty 2 in a 10 gallon fish tank. If it is not possible to have Qty 2 Axolotls then put a feeder fish in with your Axolotl.

What about lighting?
You do not need a tank light for your Axolotl. Look for a location that has indirect sun light and the tank in a cool place away from any heater vents.

What kind of filter is best for an axolotl tank?
A sponge filter is cheep and easy to clean.

Does an axolotl need a hiding place?
Yes an Axolotl does need a hiding place.

How often do you feed an Axolotl?
I feed two times a week Monday and Friday. After 24 hrs remove all uneaten food. It is better to feed too little than too much.

Can I pick up and hold my Axolotl?
Please do not picking up or hold your Axolotl because the Axolotl bone structure is very fragile and if they would fall that would probably kill them. Also Axolotls use their tails to turn 90 degrees less that a second as part of their defense. The Axolotl quick movement is something you cannot anticipate and you will be putting the Axolotl at great risk of injury and death.

Do Axolotl eat gravel?
Yes, I do not recommend that you use gravel in your tank. You can paint the “outside” bottom of the tank any color you want. Please note do not paint the inside of the tank.

What about the water?
Axolotls like Cold Clean Water. You can use tap water for your water changes but let the water run so that it gets as cold as possible. You need to change water once per week and up to 100%. It is better to change too much water than too little. If your tap water is safe for you to drink then it will be safe for an axolotl that is 3 months or older, so you can leave the chlorine in your water. However, if your tap water is not safe to drink then it would not be safe for your Axolotl. Axolotl have lungs and are air breathers and unlike fish that have gills and would breathe the chlorine in the water. The chlorine will turn into a gas and be out of the tank within 24 hrs. By leaving the chlorine in your water it will kill any harmful bacteria that may be on the axolotl or in the tank. Taking time to do water changes each week will greatly extend the life of your Axolotls. You should keep the water flow at a minimum because the water current can cause Axolotls to be stressed from fighting the current. You will see that the Axolotl spend most of the time in the same spot, moving their gills occasionally to disperse carbon dioxide and circulate new oxygen.

What is the best food to feed an Axolotl?
1) Live food is the best then 2) frozen food then 3)pellets, but use pellets when you run out of live food or frozen.

My room temperature is around 76F with no cooling what do you recommend?
I would recommend that you put the tank on the floor. It should be cooler on the floor away from any heating vents. You need to maintain a temperature of less than 72F degrees.

Should I use ice bottles to keep the temperature down?
If you want to use ice bottles, you can kill your Axolotl. Changing temperature rapidly is an easy way to kill your axolotl than if you maintain a high stable temperature. Ice bottles cause the temperature to go down too fast. After the ice melts the temperature will begin to climb back up once again. This is a very effective way to kill your axolotl because the temperature changes are too rapidly.

How do axolotls do on car trips?
Axolotl do well on car trips if you pack them correctly. The easiest thing to do is to use all the packing material you get when you purchase from if you don’t have the packing material then do the following;
First stop feeding your Axolotl for 2 days before you ship them. This helps prevent their waste from spoiling the water while they are in transit. Next place the Axolotl in 1.5 to 2 milliliter flat plastic bags. You bag size should be around 8” x 15”, but the longer the bag is the better. Put only one Axolotl in each bag. Then fill the bag with no more than 1/3 full of water and 2/3 air. A minimum amount of water is necessary because Axolotls are air breathers. Each bag should be pump up with regular air and use rubber band to tie and secure the bag. Then double bag it in the opposite direction to eliminate any corners of the bag where the Axolotl could get trap and this also helps to prevent leaks. Your shipping box should be made of Polystyrene or Styrofoam this will help insulate your axolotl from temperature changes En Route. You can probably get one free from a pet store that sells fish. Fill the box up with packing peanuts to avoid the bags from moving around. By packing your Axolotl correctly this should help minimize stress to your Axolotl during a car trip.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


so any questions answered in comments

Axolotls live in water.
They breathe through gills that look like feathers.
They have four legs and a tail.
They come in many colours.
They are covered in skin, not scales.
They are not fish.

never take out of water

availeble in most aquatic shops or stuff

link for eggs + other stuff

good websites to try

type of cages to use links of pics

types of decoration no pointy or sharp please!

part 2 soon includes tank setup more links and more!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


hello i hope you will like this blog as i think people will kind of understand it


no bad language (if you cant stop yourself at least use censors every can do that)
no bad video or trick videos (i have seen all of them before if you add more than one your deleted)
off topic allowed
if you ask a question in the comments i will make you a post (example:what can feed my newts from kitykaty)

enjoy (for all those who are asking on youtube i am miniexplosionstudio i am going to make a newt and computer channel i will give you the name)