Slowfoot, what do you feed your newts and what kind of sizing arrangements do they need? Is two the capacity for your 55gal? Im asking for a new tank for Christmas one of the zoomed paludariums to do a similar set up and I have been wondering what I could put in it. Are the newts totally plant friendly? What is their temp range? and ph and all that if you don't mind sharing your success
Let's see... I feed my newts a mix of live, chopped earthworms, and frozen bloodworm cubes. They really will eat anything that 'smells' like food, though. Or anything that moves.
In a 55 gallon, filled to the top or near it, I could probably fit 20-30 newts. They are a pretty non-aggressive species. Some species are very aggressive, though. I think a zoo med might not have enough water area for newts. They really should not be on the land at all except in certain special circumstances, so the land part of a paludarium would probably be wasted. They are totally plant friendly, until the females lay eggs - they fold plant leaves over around the eggs, so delicate plants like crypts will get damaged. They like tannins in the water, hence the oak leaves.
They do have some requirements for proper care that make them not as attractive to keep for most people here. First, they really like it cold. I'm keeping this tank at room temperature right now. It gets down to 62F at night. Most species cannot handle temps above the low 70s. I honestly don't have problems growing easy plants at those temps, though. Second, they can't really be with fish. Fish stress them. You might be able to keep a few white clouds, but that's about it. Also, most species hate currents, so you're limited as far as filtration goes.
The other issue is that most are wild caught and just don't do well in captivity. Especially eastern newts and Chinese fire bellies, the two cheapest newts.
If you've thought about all that and still want newts there are some great species out there that are very hardy. Spanish ribbed newts are my personal favorite. They get big, are cool looking, and are very friendly for an amphibian.
Let me know if you have other questions. I love to talk about newts
Bonus courtship pic. I can't understand why the ladies want to get away