Acquired: Pet store
Posted Mar 26, 2012
The Spanish Ribbed Newt is so named because they're common in the waterways of the Western Mediterranean, particularly Spain, and for their prominent orange wart-like structures which hide the ribs, running down their sides, which act as a defence mechanism in the wild (the ribs project from its flesh, which apparently isn't good news for either the predator or Mr Newt). They are found in deep pools and streams, and as such prefer a slow current in their tank. Unusually for an amphibian, they are almost exclusively aquatic, so can be kept in an aquarium, as long as a little space if left for them to pop up to the surface to gulp air now and then.
I have two of the newts which I believe are both females. As I understand it, sex is determined most easily during the mating season, when small dark nodules develop on the feet of the males. The males also tend to be smaller and slimmer than the females.
They are nocturnal, and so are inactive during in the day, although can be encouraged to move around, especially when food is offered. They should be fed a diet of black or red blood worms, and small pieces of uncooked mussels and clams. It's better to feed them when the lights are off, simply because they are more active at night and are less likely to leave food uneaten. All uneaten food should be removed quickly to avoid contaminating the water. They are messy eaters so care needs to be taken in this regard.
They enjoy free swimming, so a longer tank is preferred. 100 litres for a pair is adequate. As with any aquatic pets, good water conditions should be maintained, but they aren't too fussy about parameters, so a 10/20% change per/every other week is fine. Care should be taken in the summertime that the water temperature doesn't exceed around 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You can buy a cooler to maintain the temperature, but I've found the easiest thing to do is to fill Ziploc bags with dechlorinated water, freeze them, and float them in the tank during the day... it's not very attractive but it does the job.
Particular decoration or substrate is not important to their well being, but I keep mine with some mossy bogwood, round stones, and river sand... nothing sharp. A good filter should be employed, aiming for a 3x hourly water turn over rate.
They predate on small fish in the wild, so if you do want to keep them with tank mates, they shouldn't be so small that they could become prey. Some cold water danios or rainbow fish would go nicely. I've kept mine with ghost shrimp for years without an issue. These newts should not be kept with other species as newt, as they may be victimised due to their gentle nature.
As with other amphibians, care should be taken when handling them, as their skin is sensitive to the salt and oils contained in our sweat. Before handling, wash and thoroughly rinse your hands of soap (this should be done when delving into a tank anyway). They are quite amiable to being touched and not at all skittish in my experience. They will often come to the front of the tank if I'm near by.
Overall a lovely pet, if inactive.