A Tiger Salamander terrarium with fish!

24 Mar

The Tiger Salamanders I have were being sold as fish bait in Texas several years ago. They were purchased, brought to Iowa and raised into adults, which is how I bought them.

Cute!

Cute!

Tiger Salamanders like to be cool and moist. A woodland terrarium is what they need. They can do with a dish of water to crawl in and drink from but I’ve always wanted a little aquatic area to make it more interesting.

I finally came across some glass shelving that was used in a bathroom medicine cabinet. One long end of the glass is smoothed so that it is perfect for my purpose.

I siliconed the glass into a 55 gallon aquarium.

I sealed the glass with silicone into a 55 gallon aquarium.

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I added some gravel, not sand.

I added some gravel, not sand.

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Then I added  this top soil, which has no fertilizers or additives of any kind.

Then I added this top soil, which has no fertilizers or additives of any kind.

I mixed the top soil with Coir, which is coconut-husk fiber. This keeps the soil damp yet loose.

I mixed the top soil with Coir, which is coconut-husk fiber. This keeps the soil damp yet loose.

I added ferns and ivy's. Then I bought a bag of "long-fiber" Sphagnum Moss and spread that over the top. This looks good and keeps everything cleaner as the Salamanders come out of their burrows and climb around.

I added ferns and ivy’s. Then I bought a bag of “long-fiber” Sphagnum Moss and spread that over the top. This looks good and keeps everything cleaner as the Salamanders come out of their burrows and climb around.

long fiber moss

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The main diet for Tiger Salamanders is worms. I buy these Canadian Nightcrawlers. They also eat crickets and many other small creatures that burrow in the forest soil.

The main diet for Tiger Salamanders is worms. I buy these Canadian Nightcrawlers. They also eat crickets and many other small creatures that burrow in the forest soil.

Here I am feeding them pieces of frozen shrimp. This should not constitute very much of their diet but it's good to have in a pinch.

Here I am feeding them pieces of frozen shrimp. This should not constitute very much of their diet but it’s good to have in a pinch.

I put some guppies and White Cloud Mountain Minnows in the pond. There is no heater but I do have an airstone. I'll change the water about once a month.

I put some guppies and White Cloud Mountain Minnows in the pond. There is no heater but there is an airstone. I’ll change the water about once a month.

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I had one main concern when setting up the terrarium. Tiger Salamanders spend their lives hiding underground. If mine hid all day and only came out at night how would I feed them? I could release worms and crickets into the tank but if they aren’t eaten they eventually die and rot.

For the first few days I didn’t see the Salamanders. They had burrowed under almost instantly. But within a week they had all made an appearance looking for food. Now, whenever I am maintaining the tank by misting or watering the plants, the Salamanders pop out and look to the sky waiting for a worm. In fact, they want to be fed so often that I have to ignore them sometimes. Tiger Salamanders can get too fat in captivity.

Another hint is to use distilled water for misting the terrarium. This is a good idea for any glass terrarium, with frogs or plants. I wipe off the glass after spraying but if I miss some drops it will dry without leaving a mineral residue.

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8 Responses to “A Tiger Salamander terrarium with fish!”

  1. becomingcliche March 25, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Distilled water isn’t so good for fish, though. Misting is okay, but not too much of it.

    Your tiger setup looks GREAT!

    • fishtanx2011 March 25, 2015 at 11:03 am #

      Yes I should have mentioned my fish are in plain old Iowa hard water which quickly makes a cloudy smudge on the glass at water level.

      • becomingcliche March 25, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

        We have to use R/O water for that very reason! So many streaks and smudges!

  2. johndavid May 29, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    Such a cool pet and you did a great ob creating its “habitat”. It looks awesome and your friend seems to like it, too. Thanks for sharing!

    • fishtanx2011 June 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

      Thank you. The plants are filling in quickly. I love the jungle look of the ferns and vines.

  3. Xavier May 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    Hello, the land in your tigers tank looks amazing, but I wanted to point out that apparently tiger salamanders have a higher chance of getting sick or otherwise ill if kept in tanks with large amounts of water for too long. Here’s a great forum and care-sheet if you haven’t seen them already!: http://www.caudata.org/ http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Ambystoma/A_tigrinum.shtml Good-bye, and I hope you read the message!

    • fishtanx2011 May 7, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

      Thanks for the message. I will read the article sometime soon. I hoped that the water feature might be used for egglaying someday even though I know that’s incredibly rare. Thanks again for your comment!

  4. Soleil May 30, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Are the plants real or fake? I’m interested in learning how to keep real plants in my salamnder terrarium. I have a set up like you but with fake plants
    -Soleil

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