Mixed aquariums with fish and reptiles look fantastic, but depending upon the combination of fish and reptiles you have chosen, they are not always a great idea. Your pets may not realize that you intended for them to cohabit. In fact, they may regard one another as predator and prey. It is possible to keep salamanders together with fish, though, provided you choose the right animals and create a comfortable home for them.
Salamanders, though they look much like lizards, are actually amphibians, just like frogs and toads. They live both in water and on land and they look like tadpoles when they are babies. They have no claws on their feet and they have moist skin. Salamanders are voracious carnivores and will eat all types of insect or fish. Adults may even try to eat smaller salamanders. Most salamanders prefer to eat insects, brine shrimp and small fish. If you want to keep salamanders and fish together, choose a small breed of salamander such as a tiger salamander or a spotted salamander.
Salamanders will eat nearly anything small enough for them to catch, including insects and fish. Aquatic salamanders will eat things that they can smell, see moving or feel touching them. Terrestrial salamanders will respond only to movement. This means that your salamander will need to eat live feed because it won't understand that anything that is not moving is food. The best way to keep your salamander from being tempted to eat your pet fish is to keep the salamander well fed with easier prey. Offer your salamander plenty of mealworms, crickets, and wax worms. Your salamander will be too lazy to eat your fish if there are easier things to eat.
How to Choose Fish
There are two ways to choose fish to live with your salamander. You can fill your tank with small fish, such as guppies, that you intend for your salamander to eventually eat. Then you can replenish your fish supply as needed. You can also fill your tank with slightly larger fish, like goldfish, that will be too large to appeal to your salamander. Be careful about choosing very large or aggressive fish like cichlids, though, which may try to eat your salamander. Avoid filling your tank with very expensive fish because you may be surprised by what your salamander tries to eat.
How to Build Your Aquarium
If you try to keep your salamander and your fish in a tight space, they may kill each other even if they don't want to eat one another. Choose a large tank with plenty of room for hiding or escaping. Most salamanders need both water to swim in and land to bask on. The water on one side of your tank must be deep enough for your fish to live comfortably, and you must provide the salamander with some rocks or a gravel ramp to crawl from the water to the land.
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Elizabeth Hannigan began writing freelance articles in 2005. Her work can be found in "Orientations" magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Delaware.