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Tanks for Pet Salamanders and Newts

Temperatures, Lighting, and Cleaning the Tank


Most salamanders from temperate climates are best kept at fairly low temperatures of 50-70 F so heating is not a concern unless keeping sub tropical or tropical species. Often a basement is a good place to keep salamanders.

For some species, cooling may be necessary. Long term cooling can be difficult (some people rig up methods of running cool water through the tank), and it is probably best to simple try to set up tanks where the ambient temperature remains cool enough to keep the tanks cool. Air conditioning the room the tanks are in can be used if necessary. For short term cooling, you can do frequent 20-25% water changes with slightly cooler water, float small bottles of ice water in the tank or even make ice cubes out of treated (dechlorinated) water to add to the tank as necessary in hot weather.

If supplemental heat is necessary, a submersible heater can be used in the aquatic tanks. Other heating methods such as incandescent lighting, under tank heaters or other commercial heaters should be used with caution since they can be too drying for amphibians.

If tanks are kept in the basement, it is best to keep them near a window so that natural seasonal light cycles are maintained. This level of light is fine for most species. If live plants are used in the tank, though, a full spectrum light source is needed for the plants, and it is best to approximate the natural light cycles for that particular salamander. A low wattage flourescent light is preferred if a light is needed since most salalmanders and newts prefer darker conditions (and the lights should only be on a maximum of 10-12 hours per day) and lights can be drying.

Cleaning is important, but it is necessary to remember the sensitivity of salamanders (and other amphibians) to chemicals in the environment. Unless there is a health problem, simple hot water can be used to clean aquariums and items in the aquariums. Letting tanks and furnishings dry in the sun is also helpful. New items should be carefully inspected for pests or decaying material, cleaned and dried before adding to the cage. Rocks and other non porous items can be soaked in bleach solution and very thoroughly rinsed. Commercial disinfectants should usually be avoided, as it can be difficult to rinse all the residue and it takes very little exposure to some chemicals to serious harm or kill a salamander. They should particularly be avoided for porous materials like wood, as any residues can leach out over time and kill the salamander.

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