How We Like Our Tank Set Up



Today we’re going to tell you what we like and dislike about setting up a home for us.

First, we have seen some tanks that are just water and a small flat area of dry land.  YUKKKK!  How boring.  Don’t they realize we are animals in need of variety and fun?

How do you know whether we like to spend most of our time in the water or on land?  You don’t unless you provide us with a lot of both.  For instance, Brownie spends almost all of her time in the water hanging on to the edge of the land area.  Greenie spends most of his time on a rock that is submerged by the waterfall.  And, Limey hardly ever goes into the water at all.  He likes to sit up high and overlook his domain.  Sort of like “King of the Mountain.”

Limey would spend more time in the water if he had to because there was only one small rock in the tank, but he wouldn’t be happy.  Brownie would spend less time in the water if the tank had only a small area of water, but she wouldn’t be happy.

If you are going to keep pets, let them be as happy as they can be.

Here is how April has our tank set up right now so we can all enjoy what we like.  She rearranges our tank every time she cleans it making new hiding places to find which keeps us interested in our environment.  Toads can get depressed just like any other animal.

April has a 30 gallon tank and likes to keep fish in it so she has to have a lot of water in the tank.  But, she wanted a lot of land for us and the newts also.  So she put 2 vases in the water upside down.  As you can see in the picture below the larger vase is clear so it doesn’t block your ability to watch the fish in the tank.  She also has a tall underwater cave structure and puts a plastic baby fish holder on top of that.  She used to use the baby fish holder to protect the baby guppies from the other fish when she raised guppies.  She puts decorative rocks, shells and some small plastic plants in the baby fish holder to add weight to it before setting it on the top of the underwater cave.  She places that structure and the two vases in a triangle to be the support structures of the land mass she is going to construct.


She has an upside down ceramic bowl on one of the vases to help start making the land mass above the waterline.  She has a flat piece of plastic from the top of an older hexagon aquarium that she balances between the three tall support columns.  Then she adds some large flat rocks until she has a large flat land mass (most of this area is still slightly under water).

08-01-14-side-of-tank-better-view.jpg  You can see the underwater cave and plastic baby fish holder on the right side of this picture.

Now comes the fun part.  She adds different size rocks to the land mass and builds hiding places by placing flat rocks across the top of round rocks.  That way we can hide and she can still see us.

08-01-14-side-of-tank-top.jpg   08-01-14-newt-hiding-places.jpg   08-01-14-top-of-tank-with-toads.jpg

She also puts in extra long plants so their tops float on the water.  We all love to sit on those sometimes.

11-15-07-exc-g-b-photo.jpg   08-01-14-top-of-tank-front.jpg

Then we are almost set.  One last thing she does is make sure the rock under our waterfall is placed just right.  She doesn’t want us hopping up into the water filter but more importantly she knows how much Greenie loves to sit below the waterfall hiding under a rock for hours at a time.  So, she makes sure the flat rock under the waterfall has a good hiding rock on it for Greenie.

08-01-14-waterfall-with-toads.jpg  Of course, Limey has to keep an eye on Greenie at all times.

We all like to climb up on the waterfall rock and take showers every so often.  The newts don’t though.

Did you notice the piece of carrot in some of the pictures above?  It is for the crickets.  With all the rocks in the tank the crickets can hide from us so April sometimes puts a bunch of crickets in the tank.  She puts the carrot in so they have something to eat and will be fat and plump even if they manage to hide from us for a few days before we catch them.  She changes the carrot stick out for a new one every day though otherwise it would get moldy.

This is a good home for the fire-bellied newts also since they really don’t like to be forced to spend all or most of their time in the water.  At least Randal1 and Randal2 would prefer to be out of the water in a damp area instead of directly in the water.

April thinks having fish in the tank keeps us entertained.  She catches every one of us watching the fish every now and then.

We love our tank!

Kind Regards,

Brownie, Greenie and Limey

07-12-12-brownie-and-newts-cuddling.jpg  Brownie, Randal1 and Randal2

10-29-07-greenie-under-rock.jpg  Greenie

07-12-16-limey-close-up-front-showing-belly-resized.jpg  Limey


Releasing a Fire-Bellied Toad into the Wild

07-12-16-limey-foreground-randal-2-background.jpg  What happens when you release a fire-bellied toad into the wild?


Fire-bellied toads are not native to most of the world.  Oriental fire-bellied toads are found in the wild in parts of Northeastern China, Southeastern Siberia, Korea and the Tsushima and Kyushu islands of Japan.

That cute little toad you have in your home as a pet most likely was born at a toad farm and not in the wild.  It has never been in the wild and should never be in the wild.

If you grow tired of taking care of your fire-bellied toad (or any critter that is not native to your area) find a good home for it.  Or, take it to a pet store and ask them to find a good home for it.  Many pet stores will take pets in and adopt them out to another good home.  This goes for fish also.  If a fish gets too big for your tank or you need to get rid of it for some reason a fish store will take it in.  Owners of pet stores realize that it is in their best interest to take in these creatures rather than have them released into the wild and hurt the native habitat.

If you released your fire-bellied toad into the wild the native animals that live in your area would be negatively affected.  Whole ecosystems have been changed because of people introducing non-native animals into areas.  A good example is the cane toad that was introduced into Australia in 1935 and have been raising havoc ever since.  Check out the complete story at:

The cane toad is highly poisonous but it seems this was not taken into account when authorities decided to use them to get rid of cane beetles in the sugar cane fields in Gordonvale, Australia.  After being introduced into Australia in hopes that they would take care of this pest problem (which the toads never did take care of) the cane toad continued to flourish because it had no natural predators.  Almost all of Australia is now overrun with large, poisonous cane toads.

All stages of a cane toad’s life they are poisonous.  They have no natural predators to keep their numbers under control.  There is evidence that they may be eating Australia’s frog population.  Fish who eat toadpoles die.  Animals who eat adults die.  Snakes have been found killed by toad toxin so fast that the toad is still in their mouth.  Small amounts of water such as a pet’s water dish can be fouled by the toad’s poison and the pet will become sick from drinking out of it.

The pests have spread across most of Queensland, the Northern Territory into the wetlands of Kakadu.  They have hitched a ride to Sydney in vegetable trucks and now are entering the native habitat of the already endangered Green and Golden Bell frog.

All of this havoc is now reducing many species of Australia wildlife even crocodiles!

No one thought when a little over 100 cane toads were released into a few sugar cane fields in a very small area to eat cane beetles that the whole of Australia’s ecosystem would be negatively affected and that effect would reach the crocodile population.

Let’s use more of our common sense than these “intelligent” authorities did in Australia and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER release your fire-bellied toad into the wild.

Kind Regards,

Greenie, Brownie & Limey

07-12-12-limey-brownie-and-greenie-close-up.jpg  Limey, Brownie & Greenie

P.S.  That goes for fire-bellied newts also.   07-12-16-randal-2-front-face-shot-showing-underside-resized.jpg  Randal 1 and Randal 2

There’s a Newbie in the House!


April went to the pet store Sunday to purchase bird food, crickets, salt for the aquarium and a couple fish.  That is always a dangerous thing around here.  Sending April to the pet store for a few items.

She came back with bird food, crickets, a couple fish and a new fire-bellied toad called Limey.

She says she couldn’t resist it because Limey is bright lime green–a different color from both Greenie and Brownie.  Well, we hope she doesn’t find any other “different” colored toads or we’ll be too crowded.  Three fire-bellied toads and two fire-bellied newts are just about the limit for our 30 gallon tank.

She also bought a female guppy for the male guppy.  Ever since his female died he has been chasing the neon tetras around.  He is very aggressive about it.  And, we have two more neon tetras to watch swim around.  They seem to be the most hardy fish so far to live with us and our toxins.  None of the original neon tetras that were in the tank when we came have died.  There were a lot of baby guppies for awhile, but now there are only about 4 or 5.  April doesn’t know if they died because of our toxins, were eaten by the other fish or if we ate them and no one is telling.  Mums the word when it comes to who ate what fish–if you know what we mean.

Anyway, below are some pictures of the newbie.  You can decide for yourself if he is that cute.  April isn’t sure whether it is a boy or a girl.  We know, but again, we aren’t talking.  She will just have to wait and see if he starts barking for Brownie or if Greenie starts barking for her.

Check out the videos.  There is a new one that stars Limey.

 Kind Regards,

Greenie, Brownie and the newbie – Limey

10-29-07-greenie-under-rock.jpg  Greenie

 11-23-brownie-praying-from-front.jpg  Brownie

07-12-10-limey-great-pic-from-front.jpg  and Limey

07-12-09-limey-face-shot.jpg  Okay, granted Limey is a nice color.

07-12-09-limey-hunting-posture-he-sees-brownie.jpg  But it is stalking Brownie!  Doesn’t it know the difference between a toad and a cricket?

07-12-09-limey-cricket-hat-and-randal-1.jpg  Obviously not, since it wears a cricket for a hat!

07-12-09-limey-cricket-hat-spread-out-in-strange-post.jpg  Did we mention how clumsy it is?

07-12-09-limey-showing-off-his-belly.jpg  And, what a show off.  Yes, we see your red-belly.

Fire-Bellied Toad Fun Facts



Fire-bellied toad eggs hatch in about seven days, and tadpoles metamorphose within 45 days of hatching.

Fire-bellied toads have glands that secrete toxins which make them very untasteful to their preditors and even poisonous.  These glands are on their back and often can be seen as a lighter color than the rest of the toads skin.

Here is Brownie and Limey showing off their toxin glands.

Brownie glands          Limey

To restore the bright color in a toad’s fire-belly that has faded you can feed your crickets baby carrots chopped up.  The orange color passes through the crickets to the toad and helps maintain a bright reddish-orange belly.  You should use organic carrots to avoid any pesticides passing through to the toad and making it sick or worse.

Male fire-bellied toads have nuptial pads, enlarged bumps on their first and second fingers.  These nuptial pads help aquatic frogs hold on to females during breeding. 

There are two genera of fire-bellied toads — Barbourula and Bombina.  We are in the genera Bombina.  We are sometimes called oriental fire-bellied toads and are found in China, Russia, Korea and the Tsushima and Kyushu islands of Japan.  There are other genera of Bombina that look similar to us found in Europe, the Philippines and Borneo.

Fire-bellied toads have heart-shaped pupils.  Greenie fire-bellied toad close up

Releasing fire-bellied toads or any other non-native wildlife into the wild poses a very serious threat to the native wildlife population.  One should never release a fire-bellied toad into the wild.  Find a proper home for your fire-bellied toad if you no longer can care for it.  Many pet stores like Petco will take it in and find a good home for it.

When a fire-bellied toad senses danger it arches its body, flashing the brilliant warning spots on its belly.  This reaction is called the unkenreflex and is derived from the German name for fire-bellied toads (unken).

Adult fire-bellied toads reach a length of 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.  They weight approximately 1-2 ounces.

   07-12-13-limey-brownie-newts-cuddling-dif-angle.jpg   07-12-12-brownie-and-newts-cuddling.jpg   Fire-bellied toads (and fire-bellied newts) love to cuddle together.  Sometimes they even make a hog pile.   

07-12-12-limey-brownie-and-greenie-close-up.jpg  Fire-Bellied Toads come in a variety of colors.  Here we have Limey (lime green), Brownie (brownish) and Greenie (dark green).  Their color will vary during the day also.  Greenie will be almost as brown as Brownie sometimes and then later he may be a bright green almost as green as Limey.

Fire-bellied toads can be found in parts of China, Eastern Russia and Korea living in mountain lakes and ponds from 5,300 to 10,000 feet above sea level.

10-27-07-courtship3.jpg  Greenie is definitely a male.

Males usually have rougher backs and their forearms are thicker than the females. They almost look identical except during the breeding season, when males have black horny nuptial pads on their fingers and forearms.  The best way to tell which toads are male is to observe them.  Whenever a toad tries to jump on the back of another toad and use its arms to grasp it, it’s definitely a male.  

 Male fire-bellied toads make a barking noise when they want to mate.  Here is Greenie barking for Brownie. 

Fired-bellied toads shed their skin.  They rip it off with their mouth and eat it as it sheds.

Fire-bellied toads are EXOTHERMIC AMPHIBIANS.  This means they are cold-blooded (exothermic) and they live both in water and on land (amphibians).

Fire-bellied toads do NOT cause warts.  Warts are caused by human viruses, not toads.  They do have glands which secrete toxins.  This can cause skin irritations and may be poisonous to some animals.  Do NOT handle your fire-bellied toads unless you absolutely have to and after touching them wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Newts are our Friends – by Greenie

I think we can breath easy now.  The newts seem to be okay.  They even became more photogenic in the last 24 hours.  We have named them Randall One and Randall Two (after a monster in Monsters, Inc.).

Newt close up

Yesterday Randall One, who we have not seen eating, ate a piece of waxworm off of a toothpick that April held for her.  She had to be enticed it to eat, but finally did.

After that cuddling the other night.

Newts cuddling

We are now wondering if we have a male and a female newt in our midst.  Perhaps the lack of appetite on Randall One’s part was because of that.  Does anyone out there know if a female or male newt would not eat if they were breeding?

Anyway, these two newts have become our fast friends.  I spent the day on one side of the tank with Randall One and Brownie (who seems to be avoiding me) spent the day on the other side of the tank with Randall Two yesterday.

Newt belly  Here is Randall One showing off her fire-belly.  The crickets on her head are there to keep out of the water.  Those little devils will go anywhere to get as high up as possible.  They don’t realize how close they are to the jaws of death in this picture.

Our tank was thoroughly cleaned yesterday.  This needs to be done about every other week with the way it is set up.  Many tanks for fire-bellied toads need to be cleaned every week, or even more often, since they have less water to absorb our waste products and our toxin and get too dirty for us to live in much sooner.

In the process of cleaning we found three baby guppies.  (I guess that male and female guppie have been busy). 

 Baby Guppies        10-28-07-male-guppy.jpg

April gave us permission to use them as a food source if we wish.  So far we have been happy with the crickets and waxworms.  But, if April goes away for a period of time we may start looking at the fish as a meal.

That’s about all that is happening here today.  I just wanted to give you an update on the newt’s progress.

I think I’ll go over and find out why Brownie is avoiding me.  She sure is beautiful.  Don’t you agree?

Brownie’s belly  Check out her fire-belly.  Isn’t that the most beautiful toad in the world?

Kind Regards,


Greenie showing fire-belly