eastern newt

If you are looking to expand your aquarium, you may find eastern newts in your search. These adorable amphibians are a popular choice among aquarists. If you think they can make interesting pets, keep reading to find out why you’re right.

A word of warning: keep in mind that newts are mildly toxic and don’t make the best tank mates for certain other life forms. We’ll go into details about keeping lizards, so you know what to expect—and whether they’re compatible with your setup.

multiprint divider

Quick Facts about Eastern Lizards

Species Name:Notophthalmus viridasens
Treatment Level:intermediate
Temperature:40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Color Shape:Yellow, brown, red, black
Lifetime:12 to 15 years
Size:5 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Tank Setting:Aquarium/cage
Suitability:Experienced owner

Eastern Lizard Overview

In the salamander family, eastern newts are small amphibians that inhabit ponds, rivers, and lakes throughout much of North America. These fascinating creatures go through three phases in their life: larva, juvenile or ‘eft’, and adult.

It is interesting to note that these amphibians live in water during the larval and adult stages, but during the first stage, they have a 2-3 year terrestrial period during which they live on land.

After the eft stage is complete, they return to the water once and for all. It’s good to mention that even in their eft state, you shouldn’t handle them. Eastern newts have toxins in their system that are triggered when they are stressed—which can make you seriously ill.

For this reason, they are also an unsuitable tank mate for other amphibians.

eastern newt

What is the Price of the Eastern Newt?

Eastern newts are relatively inexpensive compared to some other aquarium life. Depending on the subspecies, you can pay anywhere from $12 to $100 per lizard.

Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find them in the wild. However, we recommend buying from breeders to get healthy and long-lasting specimens without any adverse health conditions.

READ ALSO:   30 Alternative Feed Options for Chicken Found at Home

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Don’t let their cute and adorable appearance fool you—you shouldn’t touch a lizard unless it’s absolutely essential. They may look innocent, but they actually carry a poison that can make you very sick (as we mentioned earlier).

Apart from their toxicity, they also dehydrate very quickly due to the salt on your skin. Think of it as a win-win that there is minimal handling involved when you own this species.

Basically, these amphibians are really look-but-not-touch pets. You can admire their antics, swim in perfect timing, even flow. They add beauty and character to any aquarium, although you should be careful to pair them with any aquatic life you already have.

Keep in mind that newts are slower to feed than some would-be tank mates, so let them dive first to make sure they’re getting the right nutrients.

eastern newt

Appearance & Variety

While newts come in a certain size and structure, there are subspecies of eastern newts that you can choose from.

This includes:

  • Red-Spotted Newt—bright red spot with black outline

  • Central Newt—glossy, solid color, some variations possible

  • Broken-Striped Newt—dashed lines, prominent red stripes

  • Peninsular Newt—olive, no red spots

reptile leg divider

How to take care of the eastern newt

Newts live in swamps, wet areas in fast-growing ecosystems. In captivity, you need to reflect exactly what life would be like for them in the wild.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Settings

Newts need the right environment to thrive, so you have to make sure you can accommodate them. Once their eft stage has passed after the first few years, they need to move from land to water without problems.


The required enclosure changes depending on the life stage of your newt. Newts that are still in the eft stage need adequate resources on land, but once they reach adulthood, they need an aquarium.

An adult newt needs at least a 10 gallon aquarium. Eft newts require a semi-aquatic enclosure with access to water, but they will need soil when their lungs are fully developed.

After a few years in their eft stage, they will begin to develop gills again and return to the water.

The water in the aquarium can be pure spring water as the most preferred type. You can use tap water, but you’ll need to add dechlorinating tablets first.

underwater male newt


They need a base of organic potting soil or coconut coir that retains sufficient moisture during the early stages. Always offer large leaves for shade.

As a baby or as an adult, you can have a bare or gravel bottom in your tank.


During their terrestrial phase, newts need a safe place to hide in the enclosure. They prefer to be invisible and safe. You can get logs, ceramic pots, and plants to keep them protected.


Eastern newts are cold-resistant, so they thrive in room temperature water conditions without the need for heating. They can withstand water temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


Eastern newts need lighting that mimics the natural day/night cycle. If they are near a window, this will be enough to encourage sufficient sunlight during the day.

However, beware of windy areas during the colder months which can lower the water temperature too much.

eastern lizard red spot

Are Eastern Newts Friendly to Other Pets?

The newt does well with most tankmates of its kind. They are docile and pleasant to each other.

However, they are poisonous to other amphibians, so they should not live together. Some fish get along well with newts, but they need to be cold-resistant and shouldn’t be voracious eaters.

Newts eat slowly, so if there’s competition for food—they may not be getting enough of the nutrients they need.

Some good pairs in an aquarium with newts include:

  • small fish

  • Rainwater killer fish

  • Snail

  • guppies

Avoid other amphibians at all costs.


What Feeds Your Eastern Newt?

Diet is one of the key elements to ensure growth and development. Adult newts are carnivorous and eat mainly insects, but occasionally they will eat fish eggs.

In captivity, you can feed your newt:

  • earthworms

  • Commercial food

  • saltwater prawns

  • red worm

Note: Never feed ewild-caught lizard insects on the back, as they can harbor disease and bacteria.

eastern newt

Keeping Your Eastern Lizard Healthy

Before you have an eastern newt, it is best to find an aquarist or professional who can help you with anything related. If your newt is sick or something worrying develops, you’ll need an extra layer of protection to keep them safe. But in general, these are powerful creatures, as we mentioned.


Eastern newts breed and lay eggs in water. The process of reproduction occurs in adulthood when the eft stage has passed. They breed during late winter to early spring.

Fertilized eggs hatch within 3-5 weeks.

In late summer months, newts begin to absorb gills and develop lungs for the first stage. If you are breeding newts, you will need a separate enclosure at this time to allow them to live on land.

new gecko divider

Is the Eastern Lizard Right For You?

If you think eastern newts sound like a prize-winning choice for your aquarium, you can find them at local aquarists near you. Keep in mind that newts can be toxic to other amphibians, so make sure you keep them with a suitable mate.

Remember not to handle your newt unless necessary. These little people get very stressed and may release toxins through their porous skin, so treat them to a minimum.

Featured Image Credit: Merlin Halteman, Shutterstock