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Salamander Housing

Tips for Tank Set Up

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Some tips on setting up and maintaining a semi aquatic or aquatic tank for amphibians. See also "Salamander Housing" for important water quality considerations.
  • When setting up a new tank, put everything in place and run the filter for at least 24 hours before adding animals. Also, consider adding a product that establishes a population of beneficial ammonia reducing bacteria to a new tank.
  • New gravel should be rinsed (in a sieve under running water) until water runs clean.
  • Get a bucket that can be set aside for use with your amphibian tank(s) only - one that hasn't had soap in it. Use this only for adding water to and cleaning your tank (want to be extra fastidious? Get two - one for clean water only, and one for cleaning).
  • Clean items with hot water only. This includes tank, decoration, rocks, wood etc., and any new items added to the tank. Soap/detergent/chemical residues can be very harmful. The exception is filter media which should be cleaned with cooler water only - see below.
  • A gravel washer is a handy siphon driven device (inexpensive) that gently agitates the gravel and pulls out dirty water, and is the best way to accomplish the weekly (or every two weeks at a minimum) water changes.
  • Tap water must be dechlorinated before adding it to the tank. This can be accomplished with water conditioners sold at pet stores (advantage: quickly makes the water safe to add to an established tank) or by letting the water sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
  • Only a third of the water should be changed/replaced at a time. Although you are adding clean water, the changes in the water chemistry if you change too much water at a time can be devastating to sensitive amphibians (and fish).
  • Cleaning the filer: any rinsing of filter media should be done in cool water to prevent killing the beneficial bacteria that help to remove ammonia. When changing filter media, including a bit of the old media with the new will help perpetuate the bacteria and make filtering more effective.

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