The Chinese Fire Bellied Newt
Chinese dwarf newt, Oriental fire-bellied newt
Der Chinesische Feuerbauchmolch, Chinesischer Zwergmolch (German)
Le Triton oriental (French)
El tritón vientre de fuego (Spanish)
Species: cynops orientalis
The Chinese fire bellied newt is endemic to the eastern and central parts of China: the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Henan, Gansu, Jiangsu, Fujian. They tend to live in slow moving streams and rivers, as well as ponds and lakes. They are aquatic amphibians, so they spend most of their time in cool water.
An adult newt reaches the length of about 7-9 cm (tail included).
The back is black or dark brown, the belly is orange or red (hence the name). Some specimens have orange or red spots on their backs or legs or orange strips on the upper part of the tail. Chinese fire bellied newts have smooth skin. Paratoid glands are well developed.
Larvae are black. Newts straight after the metamorphosis have the same coloration as the adult ones.
Fire bellied newts normally have peaceful and gentle disposition. They are easy to care for and make great pets for beginners. At the same time they are very active and fun to watch. They can be kept in groups or with fish, e.g. corydoras, tetras, gourami, danio and so on.
Chinese fire bellied newts need a tank with water at least 15 cm deep and with a secure lid. 1-2 specimens would need a tank from 40 liters and more. It is recommended to have some land (rocks, driftwood, bark etc). Tap water has to be dechlorinated. For substrate you can use sand or small rocks; for ground area you can use coconut husks, bark chips, sphagnum etc. Newts feel best at water temperature 20-22 degrees. Very warm water stresses them.
Newts can be kept in a group.
In captivity Chinese fire bellied newts are normally fed with bloodworms, earthworms, crickets, cockroaches, pieces of lean meat and fish. Another option is commercial newt food.
Under proper care newts rarely get ill and they can live in captivity up to 10 years. Sometimes fungal and bacterial diseases occur. Since it is almost impossible to identify the type of infection, they are treated with combination of antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antifungal medicines (e.g.metronidazole combined with nystatin and ciprofloxacin- 1 pill for 10 liters of water).
You need to examine your newts carefully before buying and put new amphibians into isolation. If a newt injures itself, you will have to apply antiseptic on the wound or add Melafix to the water.
This species seems to be uncommonly bred in captivity when one considers that it is probably the most commonly kept species of newt.
Courtship behaviour consists of the males actively following females, tail fanning, and sometimes biting. Eggs are laid singly on aquatic vegetation and when possible, the females will fold the leaves of aquatic plants over the egg to conceal it in a manner similar to Triturus newts. In my own experiences, true hibernation is not necessary to induce breeding though cooler temperatures in winter (5-15°C/40-60°F) undoubtedly help to promote courtship activity.
Natural observations of these newts in the Changsha region of China show these newts breed from March to July while water temperatures range from 15-23°C (59-73°F). The females were found to lay 10-236 eggs in a single season, with an average of 96 eggs per female and an average rate of 2.8 eggs produced per day. The average hatching rate was about 74%.
The eggs, larvae, and metamorphs of C. orientalis are easily cared for using the methods found elsewhere on this site. The terrestrial juveniles can take 1-3 years to reach sexual maturity.