Jon's Newt Riparium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Jon's Newt Riparium

After trying to work out a nice living space for Stubbs, my Chinese warty newt (Paramesotriton chinensis), and seeing so many recent threads about ripariums, I decided to join the two ideas and give my newt a riparium to call home. Here are a few close-ups of Stubbs, eagerly awaiting his new home:

Check out my stub foot:

His current tank is a mesh-topped 5.5g filled with a pool filter sand substrate, a piece of bare driftwood, a coconut hut covered in java moss, a piece of cork bark to haul out on, plus some other random plant scraps. He also shares the tank with some WCMM and ghost shrimp (which I thought he would have eaten by now). As you can see, itís not the most interesting tank by any means.

The only tank I had available to give the riparium a try with was a spare 10 gallon, so I knew going in I would be quite limited with what I could do. So I got in contact with Devin over at, told him the tank constraints I had, and he set me up with a nice package to get things going. It was an absolute pleasure dealing with him and he deserves many thanks for helping me take the plunge. After a short wait, I received this nicely packed bundle in the mail:

All together, I ordered a riparium starter kit (3 small planter cups, 3 nano trellis rafts), a magnet upgrade for each planter, Spathiphyllum (potted), Syngonium (potted), Pilea, and Bacopa madagascariensis. Before throwing it all together, I slapped a black background on the tank using this Seaview stuff. For those that donít want to paint their tank, this stuff does a good job of joining your tank with the backgrounds you can buy at the fish store. For what itís worth though, it feels like itís just mineral oil.

No amount of scraping, scrubbing, or vinegar would get this spotting off:

Anyway, I got the Bacopa potted, put the Pilea in the trellis raft and put everything in the tank. To maximize space for Stubbs, I only placed enough PFS to cover the bottom of the tank. This is what I ended up with, minus any kind of decorating that I planned to do in the submerged part of the tank. As you can see, the necessity of a covered tank has left the plants looking quite cramped.

The tank sat empty like this for about a week while I pondered how I could add height to the tank. I have since found a remedy to this which I will definitely update you on shortly. In the meantime, any comments or questions you may have are much appreciated. Thanks for looking!
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 05:08 PM
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Another ripariumnist! (Muhahahah!) Congrats on taking the plunge, you will never regret it! For adding hight, why not get a larger piece of driftwood and put it in the empty left hand corner? Just a though.

BTW, you probably already know this, but that Pilea carderei can be trimmed and the trimmings then planted. So once you get those growning good, you can fill the rest of you Rafts.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 06:42 PM
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the newt is pretty sweet.

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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 06:44 PM
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Hey that's looking great. Nice picture-taking too. I am glad that everything got there OK. Stubbs is super cute! If that peace lily is crowded you can lower its planter in the tank. That is one plant that will tolerate having its crown down below the water level.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 06:53 PM
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Looks good!
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 11:25 PM
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Nice tank dude! I also like that newt, the first picture and the picture where it's just staring at the shrimp is funny.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 03:02 AM
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Nice newt tank. How old is your newt? Good luck on this project.

It's strange, because people tell me that newts are better off alone, but they seem to be very interactive and communal. Maybe it's because of the limited space.

Check out my 20-gallon long. I just started up a newt tank as well. So far, it's pretty low maintenance.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 04:17 PM
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hey hows your bacopa doing converting to emmersed conditions? I had no luck what so ever and gave up!
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments everyone!

JakeJ: I was actually meaning to increase actual tank height rather than visual height at the moment. That problem has been solved now though. I definitely do like the idea of having some driftwood coming up out of the water though...something like some nice, branchy manzanita.

hydrophyte: Thanks again. Budget permitting, I may be in the market for another set of planters very soon.

benon: Age, I have no idea...but I've had Stubbs for around 9 months now. I've seen that communal behavior in Chinese firebellies like yours, but the warty newts are a bit more territorial. I'm assuming the stub foot on my newt has something to do with that.

luke20037: My bacopa is doing well, putting down new roots and putting up new stems. I received them in emmersed condition from the beginning and were planted just as hydro suggested. I don't know if it helped but I topped my tank with a glass lid to up the humidity for a few days while my plants were getting established. I also don't use a heater for this tank, so the temp stays around 66-70F.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 11:51 PM
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Looking forward to seeing this unfold!
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-11-2010, 12:39 AM
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You've got me pondering keeping newt(s) somewhere down the road. Loved the pictures of Stubbs with the ghost shrimp and looking forward to see how the tank is. Cool stuff.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-11-2010, 01:16 AM
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Stubbs is so freakin cool.
I want one.
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Update with Pics!!!

As I mentioned before, I spent a bit of time last week trying to figure out how I could increase the height of my tank while keeping it newt proof. Buying a standard 20H would have solved everything easily but I was limited on space and didn't have any equipment that fit its dimensions.

Well, my mind was so stuck on the typical standard sized tanks (10, 20L, 20H, 29, etcÖ) that I didnít even think of something less common like a 15 gallon tall. It has the same footprint as a 10g but the height of a 20H Ė just what I was looking for. My search for the elusive 15T came up empty, but I made out with something even better:

My new 18 gallon tank:

Made by:

(Visio also makes another tank with an identical footprint, but is another 2 inches taller Ė a 20 tall. It had to be special ordered though, and I didnít want to wait any longer)

I slapped a background on it, covered the bottom with PFS, filled the tank 6 inches high, transferred the planters, furnished it with my old newt tankís hardscape, and boom,

New newt riparium:

Tom Aquarium Mini Internal Filter

There's obviously some work that needs to be done with the submerged portion of the tank. I like the driftwood, but the moss cocohut definitely has to go - Stubbs hardly ever uses it. I think a few small piles of round stones and some plantings of java fern should round that area out. The lighting will probably see an upgrade to my Current Satellite 40w PCF, as I currently have a Coralife 24w PCF on the tank. I also bought a nice looking pot of polka dot plant (var. Splash), which Iíll plant on the empty raft on the left. Pics to follow once I get all that done.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 07:11 PM
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That looks great all set up. With your light upgrade that Bacopa will probably grow into a nice carpet. I bet that Stubbs likes that overhanging vegetation.

This kind of setup is probably easier to put together (and clean, and maintain) than most sorts of paludariums that people use for newts and similar critters.

Polka dot plant is a good choice too.
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 07:56 PM
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That is a great tank for a riparium. This should turn out very nicely.
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newt, riparium

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