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Discussion Starter #1
I have a friend whom I'm getting into planted aquariums, also gaining a liking for Crypts. While I was visiting these past few days, we found some Red-Backed Salamanders. Of course, she wanted to keep them as pets :p so we temporarily put them in a 6g Eclipse tank I just gave her.

We talked about it and heavily considered going with a simple 10g terrarium setup for some(2-3) salamanders. Going to go with all emersed aquatic plants, mostly crypts, but possibly swords, anubias, moss, etc... as well. Tank will be covered, probably a DIY plexi cover with a small grid of airholes - enough for the salamanders, but not too many to affect humidity in the tank.

Just a few main questions:

1. What would be the ideal substrate setup for this? I'm thinking gravel bottom (have a lot of flourite left over) with a small layer of peat & some good soil.

2. Lighting - Does emersed state use same light requirements, or would it be different?

Any other suggestions/criticisms would be appreciated.
 

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Daemonfly said:
...

1. What would be the ideal substrate setup for this? I'm thinking gravel bottom (have a lot of flourite left over) with a small layer of peat & some good soil.

...
I'm concerned the Flourite may be a little too sharp for the delicate skin of the salamander? If they will be eating off the substrate, they may ingest some too. Used to see my chinese fire belly newts spitting gravel out until I covered the feeding area with pea size pebbles.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, I figured the gravel would be the bottom layer, with a good layer of soil on top. Can easily change that to something like a pea-gravel
 

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It might be a little difficult to keep the gravel and soil from mixing together too much with soil on top. I dont know much about salamanders but I think just a gravel cap over the flourite might work out a little better. Are you going to make into a sort of terrarium with swimming space for the salamanders?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I beleive the Salamanders she has are terrestrial, and don't need a swimming area, just a small bowl/plate with water.

She has thought about going with semi aquatic ones if these don't pan out. If thats the case, then I can help her make a small water area divided off with some plexi siliconed in.

If anyone has a better suggestion for a substrate setup, just let me know :) I'm not really an emersed plant guy (yet).
 

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Hiya. ^_^ I'm that friend in question with the sallies. Daemonfly is right, red-backed salamanders are terrestrial, so they don't really need a swimming area (I've actually read that they can drown! o.o; ).

What they do need is a moist habitat and hiding places. I wanted to give them some plants to simulate a more natural living condition for them, and I figured some broad-leaved plants (swords or anubias I think could work) would give them good hiding places. I like wendtii (sp?) crypt plants and would like to try growing them in the salamander tank as well.

As daemonfly said, my main concern is trying to figure out what substrate would be acceptable for my plants AND for my salamanders? Right now my little sallie is hanging out on regular old gravel and he seems to be doing alright, but I'm eager to make him as comfortable as possible.

Thanks in advance for any advice you guys have about salamander housing. I've never kept a salamander before, so this'll be a learning experience for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I figured I could use my "sources" ;) to get her some of the more rare crypts from Singapore.

Now that I noticed the "On plant physiology & emersed culture" forum, if you guys want to move this there, thats fine.
 

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As far as lighting goes, I would follow the same rules you would use for an aquarium. A small PC fixture over that tank would work perfectly.

If you want to do soil, I would make it a layer about an inch deep under about 2 inches of pea-sized gravel. Keep the tank filled about halfway up into the gravel, and you've got a nice wet habitat for Crypts and Swords without endangering the newts with the water. Most of the Crypt and Sword species develop extensive root systems anyway, so I doubt the surface being that far from the soil will hurt them too much.

Spray twice a day, keep it warm, and you've got yourself a nice place to enjoy your salamanders.
 

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Thanks for the advice, Error! Sounds like a suitable way of keeping them. I've been misting the little sallie a few times a day, and I have water that's under the gravel, but not above it, right now, and the salamander doesn't seem to mind it. I just need to get some dirt or peat moss now, and plants, of course.

I was wondering if any of you keep salamanders, what do you feed them aside from waxworms and pin-head crickets? The waxworms almost seem to be too big for my little guy.
 

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I am just thinking that maybe the salamanders needs UV-lighting, as most lizards do. I am aware that salamanders are not lizards, but none the less, i think you should check it out.
 

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I don't think salamanders need UV (they shun the sun, unlike lizards which sun themselves), but check it out nevertheless.

A good site to go: http://www.caudata.org/cc/ They have a forum too.

I wondering if this is possible: skip the gravel, and just grow moss emersed on the soil. I've seen moss growing on wood and rocks, but I'm not sure if they'll grow on damp soil.
 

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If I am not mistaken, many reptiles and amphibians do need the sun for their thermoregulation. This is crucial in aiding their bodies to properly digest the foods they ate. For reptiles with hard shells, UV(A or B; don't remember)also serve as the trigger factor. Whichever one provides vitamin D, which is required for building of strong shells.

A very informative read:
http://www.chelonia.org/Articles/bcwaterturtles.htm

So I am suspecting the salamander needs the UV because it has more to do with its thermoregulation.

Paul
 

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I wondering if this is possible: skip the gravel, and just grow moss emersed on the soil. I've seen moss growing on wood and rocks, but I'm not sure if they'll grow on damp soil.
Vinz,

Mosses do very well on damp soil and will grow readily on it. In fact, that's the best way to keep mosses in emersed culture. I've got some Java and Christmas mosses in plastic take out trays that I've filled with damp soil and just put the moss down. It takes off in no time with light daily misting to keep the tips from drying out.

Best,
Phil
 

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I have been growing crypts for a few months in 3 liter soda bottles ever since HeyPK told me how. Its a great way to grow crypts emersed. This bottle is sealed and I have never added water to it, and the surface is still muddy wet. I had put crypt roots in the soil in this bottle. I probably should have laid the roots on the soil surface instead of buryng them. Anyway the crypts did now grow but this moss showed up and is growing quickly now.

This is 100% maintenance free.

Regards,
Steve Pituch
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yeah, we did want to do some kind of moss. I have some right in my driveway I've been experimenting with as well as many of the aquatic mosses. Stuff in my driveway seems to love the clay-heavy soil I have.

As for the soil, terrarium setups seem to mostly be a gravel/pebble base (for good drainage) with a good terrarium soil thats safe for the pets. We'll probably go with one of the good commercial terrarium soils, many of which are good for plants.
 

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Phil Edwards said:
Mosses do very well on damp soil and will grow readily on it. In fact, that's the best way to keep mosses in emersed culture. I've got some Java and Christmas mosses in plastic take out trays that I've filled with damp soil and just put the moss down. It takes off in no time with light daily misting to keep the tips from drying out.
Phil,

I'm growing Java Fern, Pellia, Erect moss and some others like this (but no soil, bare bottom of tupperware) and misting with 1/8 strength miracle grow. My main concern is algae in the very damp conditions, have you had this problem? For my crypts, the water level is below the soil line so this isn't an issue...

Jeffery Ludwig
http://www.rockytop.net
 

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Jeff,

I've got no problems with algae growing in/on the soil in my emersed setups. In the moss tank I saturate the soil once every month or so and then mist every few days with no problems.

Best,
Phil
 

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Java moss also grows well in a sealed container with a little water and nothing else, no soil, no nothing. I keep all my java moss now in small fish bags with an inch of water. I hang the plastic bags underneath flourescent shop lights. The moss stays nice and green and grows in the bag, and is already packed and portioned up ready for me to sell. I have heard shops in taiwan hang bagged fish and plants this way. I guess they must sell quick.
 
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