Paludarium Animals - Animals For Your Tank - Family - Pets

Paludarium Animals - Animals For Your Tank   by Jon Cole

in Family / Pets    (submitted 2013-01-18)

Appropriate Animals


For animal life, there are quite a few different possibilities. Almost every aquarium store sells at least one species of newt. The various firebelly newts (Cynops spp.) and Pacific newts (Taricha spp.) are commonly sold. These animals are excellent swimmers and spend much of their time moving between land and water.

In the aquarium, they will eat any frozen, meaty foods, various pellets, and small fishes (be cautious with tankmates). Additionally, the eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) may be frequently encountered. This species has a bright red terrestrial form, known as an eft. As it matures, the eft will turn olive green and begin spending more and more time in the water. Breeding this or any species of newt in the aquarium can be an interesting endeavor.


Many aquarium shops frequently sell aquatic salamander larvae, usually the larvae of the American tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). These are often sold as axolotls or mudpuppies, which actually are other organisms, or as waterdogs. They're also frequently available at bait stores. These look like a brown or grayish salamander with huge gills. They are carnivores that will devour essentially any meaty item, from earthworms to fishes.

The larvae are a fascinating addition to an aquarium with either larger, nonaggressive fishes or fast-moving fishes, with the caveat that the fish may be eaten. As they metamorphose into adults, they become jet black with bright yellow or orange spots and stripes on them, depending on the exact subspecies. Adults will migrate to the land area, where they will benefit from peat moss to burrow in and corkboard or other structures to hide under. Unfortunately, these salamanders are quite secretive - you won't see them frequently. Many other species of salamander are sold by specialty shops and make better alternatives.


Tadpoles, often of green frogs (Rana clamitans) and bull frogs (R. catesbeiana) are commonly sold, particularly in the spring, as are the tadpoles of any number of other frogs. The paludarium offers the aquarist an excellent opportunity to witness the complete metamorphosis of these amphibians. Any number of other frogs or toads may be maintained in the paludarium, barring those species that seem to be poor swimmers.


The selection of fishes that will take advantage of the land area is extremely limited. For the most part, fish tend to like staying in the water - I seem to remember this from one of my ichthyology classes. The notable exceptions are the mudskippers, a small group of gobies that will actually leave the water. These are brackish-water fishes .

The patudarium can be of great benefit to fishes, however. The heavy root growth in the water provides an excellent hiding spot for fry and young fishes as well as just an interesting shelter for smaller species. Furthermore, algae may grow on the roots, which can provide a grazing surface for small fry.

The heavy root growth also provides a natural shelter for shy fishes. You'll often find fishes such as the Badis, dwarf cichlids, and other more timid fishes hiding in the heavy growth. Additionally, as the roots develop into a tangle, particularly if mosses or algae are allowed to grow, they will provide a spawning media for egg scatterers.

Danios, rasboras and other cyprinids, killifishes, and many others will all spawn in the roots of emergent vegetation. Also, in the case of light-sensitive species (e.g, neon tetras), where the eggs or fry are damaged by light, the upper island will provide shade, protecting the spawn.

In the case of nocturnal fishes, the overhanging shelf will create a natural cave, similar to that of an undercut bank along a stream's edge. You'll find Synodontis catfishes hanging (often upside down) along the ledges. Other catfishes will similarly use this as a shelter.

The cave will also provide a natural spawning area for cave spawners. Countless species of Mesoamerican and West African cichlids are cave spawners, and even mouthbrooding mbuna will retreat to areas like this while holding. Essentially if the fish will spawn inside of a flowerpot, they'll spawn here.

Blending Land and Sea

If you're looking for an interesting challenge, try a paludarium. Not only does it open up entirely new areas of organisms and plants to the aquarist, but it can be a beautiful feature. When surrounded by potted plants, the paluditrium can flow from inside the tank to the room. To find out more, you can check out Paludarium Animals .