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FISH / new pets

So, You Want a Newt?

These cute aquarium-dwellers are fun with fish — or on their own.

Overview

5 things to know about your newt

Newts:

  1. Are either aquatic (they live in water) or semiaquatic (they live on water and land)
  2. Can live 15 years or more
  3. Grow up to seven inches long
  4. Can coexist peacefully with tropical fish
  5. Have sensitive skin and don’t like to be handled

Setting up your newt’s habitat

One or two newts can live in a relatively small, 5-gallon aquarium. If you plan to get more than two, a bigger tank is in order. A good rule of thumb is to allow 5 gallons for every two newts. If your newt will be sharing space with fish, a larger aquarium is also necessary.

Newts need a home with land and water areas. If your pet amphibian will be sharing space with fish, add a floating platform for newt-docking.

Cover your newt’s aquarium with a screened lid to discourage escapes, and keep the aquarium away from drafts and out of the direct sun.

Shop 5-gallon aquarium kit with hood, light and filter Shop aquarium stand

Fine-tuning the environment

Light

Add a fixture that provides your newt with eight to 12 hours of light during day, to mimic its natural environment. A timer can help you regulate the light cycle.

Filtration

An under-gravel or power filter will help keep your newt’s environment clean.

The filter should process all the water in an aquarium three to five times every hour. Check the filter’s package to make sure you’re getting the right size for your aquarium.

Beneficial bacteria supplements in the aquarium can also help keep the water fresh.

Heating

Newts need water that’s between 62 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Invest in an aquarium thermometer to monitor the water temperature and an aquarium heater if necessary.

Shop bacteria supplement Shop aquarium heater

Aquarium decor

Layer two to three inches of gravel at the bottom of the aquarium — about 1½ pounds of gravel for every gallon of tank capacity.

Add live or artificial plants and some ornaments or rocks. Be sure to only use objects designed for aquariums or terrariums, and to rinse all gravel, ornaments and plants before adding them to your newt’s paradise.

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Land ho!

For semi-aquatic newts, create a habitat with two distinct areas: land and water. Use a floating platform, or build a beach by filling one side of the aquarium with gravel until the gravel rises above the waterline.

The temperature on the “land” side should be between 65 F and 80 F, with 60 to 80 percent humidity. A reptile thermometer and a hygrometer will help you monitor heat and moisture.

If you live in a cold climate, warm the terrarium with an under-tank heater on the “land” side. But be sure to layer at least an inch of gravel over the heater or your newt will be too toasty. To raise the humidity in the terrarium, mist it with non-chlorinated water.

Shop thermometer / hygrometer Shop under-tank heater

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