The Fire Belly Newt is known as the Japanese Fire Belly Newt, Japanese Fire Newt, and Aka-Hara-Imori in Japanese. By whatever name, this wonderful newt can make a great addition to even a beginning hobbyist's collection because they are relatively easy to care for and inexpensive.
The Fire Belly Newt is quite mellow. The best time to find them being active is around feeding time. Captive Fire Belly Newts should be fed live food. Some good choices include, small earthworms, waxworms, bloodworms, crickets, and slugs. Feeder fish can also be given occasionally, but they should not comprise the entire diet. Some will also eat frozen food such as bloodworms. Many keepers also recommend vitamin supplements. Mealworms and Tubifex worms are not recommended. Fire Belly Newts may be intra-specifically aggressive, especially with a limited food resource. If they are kept in an over crowded and/or underfed situation they will quite often turn to cannibalism and/or mutilation. This can often be avoided if they are fed at least once daily, though twice a day feeding may be preferable. Signs of aggressive behavior include white plaques or ulcerations. Often times these may be mistakenly identified as symptoms related to poor water quality. Salt baths can alleviate the symptoms, but more space and more frequent feeding is the best way to prevent this problem. The Fire Belly�s enclosure should have a layer of substrate on the bottom. This can be made from gravel and rocks. Rocks should be large enough to poke out of the water to provide basking spots. The Fire Bellied Newt also seems to appreciate the presence of tunnels and other dark hidey places. Floating plants are also a nice addition to their enclosure. They will often float on them and will sometimes nibble on them as well.
The natural habitat of the Fire Belly Newt is the cool, still waters of heavily vegetated ponds. The captive environment should mimic their natural surroundings as much as possible. The Fire Belly Newt, like many amphibians, is largely aquatic. Some have reported exceptions, but generally they like to spend most of their time in water. They should always be given the option to move to and from land. A two-thirds aquatic to one-third land ratio seems to do quite well. A ten-gallon tank should sufficiently house two to three newts comfortably. If you wish to house more, a tank with more floor space is recommended. It is very important to change water frequently, as well as have a good filtration system installed. The filtration system should be set to a minimal water flow and not at all turbulent. A gravel and sand substrate is recommended. It is important to use large pieces of gravel as smaller pieces can be ingested. The sand should be placed underneath the gravel. The purpose of the sand is for plants. The gravel should be increased until it rises into your land area. Placing rocks or logs on the land area is recommended because it provides nice little hiding places. Some will cover the land area with moss and the Fire Belly Newts seem to like it. Plants are also a nice addition to the land area. Floating plants like elodea are wonderful decorations for the aquatic parts of the tank. The tank should also provide several dark hiding places for them as well. Temperature should be cool. They seem to do well at temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been reported that they will survive lower temperatures of 40 degrees, but this is not advised. If temperatures are too high, or they are overcrowded, Fire Belly Newts may experience appetite loss and other health problems, such as bloat, which can be a fatal condition. It should also be noted that bloat can be caused by the ingestion of plant matter, since this is a carnivorous species. All in all the Fire Belly Newt is easy to keep, as long as his requirements are met. These newts are great for beginners.
The Fire Belly Newt is sometimes confused with the Chinese Fire Belly Newt; but these are in fact different newts all together. The Chinese Fire Belly Newt has orange coloring in the ventral area and is usually a darker color over all. The Fire Belly Newt is also a bit larger than the Chinese variety. The mature Fire Belly Newt will grow to an average size of 4 to 6 inches in length. They have granular skin, which is commonly dark brown or black. They have red speckled bellies. Large glands are seen on each side of their heads. The Fire Belly Newt is seen in other colorations, but this is the most common. Males can be easily distinguished from females at adulthood. The best way to differentiate between the sexes is to examine the tails. The male's tail has a purple tint and is flatter than the female's tail. The male's tail also has a string-like attachment that the females lack.
The Fire Belly Newt originates in Japan and parts of China.