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The one thing I love about Paludariums is that they can accommodate terrestrial, aquatic, and semi-aquatic species, so you no longer must decide between your favorite terrarium or aquarium animals. Paludariums are a recent discovery of mine, so I was excited to go and do a lot of research to try and find the best animals that are suited for a Paludarium environment.
Below you will find a range of semi-aquatic, aquatic, and terrestrial animals that would all make great pets within your Paludarium. For each of the animals listed, I have included some key information that you will want to think about if considering any of these interesting creatures.
Always use caution when introducing multiple species within the same environment as some species do not coexist well with others. It is important to understand the diet and maintenance requirements of your animals so that your Paludarium is a safe environment, and your animals can live in harmony.
One of the best ways to ensure a safe environment for your paludarium pets is to use plants that are suited for a paludarium environment. Check out this article I have written which contains a variety of aquatic, semi-aquatic, and terrestrial plants that are perfect for any paludarium.
1. Fire-Bellied Toad
Fire-bellied toads are a great choice for any Paludarium. They are great to look at and often coexist well with other animals and fish. Fire-bellied toads are easy to care for and can easily be bred in captivity. I just love the strange croaking noise they make which sounds like a clinking bell.
|Size||2-3 inches long|
|Diet||Insects, Crickets, and Wax worms 3-4 times weekly|
Springtails are small, wingless insects which often are perceived as pests. However, they are a great fit for a Paludarium, due to their adaptability and low maintenance requirements. They can go without food for years at a time by recycling their own waste and can also be used as food for larger animals within your habitat. Springtails can jump up to 100 times their body height so be sure to have a covering on your Paludarium.
|Lifespan||1 week to 3 years|
|Diet||Leaf litter, fine roots, mold/mildew, fungi|
3. Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle
Yellow-Bellied Sliders love to bask in the warmth, so be sure to incorporate some floating logs for them to relax on. These colorful turtles start out primarily as carnivores when they are young, eating water insects and small fish, however, as adults, their diet is predominantly vegetarian. If you are looking for fish that can coexist with your turtle instead of becoming lunch, then smaller, agile fish are your best bet, like guppies or minnows.
|Size||Male (5-9 inches) Female (8-13 inches)|
|Lifespan||up to 30-40 years|
|Diet||Leaves, roots, algae, water insects, small slower fish, Commercial turtle pellets|
4. Vampire Crab
Vampire Crabs are really unique and can add some great color to your Paludarium. They are known for their bright purple pincers and yellow eyes. You can keep up to 6 crabs in a 10 gallon tank and they can often coexist with other animals quite well. Just be sure to find non-aggressive animals and fish of a similar size to your crabs to avoid any confrontations.
|Size||up to 2.5 inches wide|
|Diet||Brine shrimp, bloodworms, crickets, green vegetables, algae wafers|
5. Fire-Bellied Newt
Fire-Bellied Newts love to spend most of their time in the water. Be careful of adding guppies to your Paludarium as larger Fire-Bellied Newts will often use them as a snack. A 10 gallon tank would be suitable if your newt is on the smaller side, but a larger tank size (min 20 gallon) is usually recommended if housing more than one. Fire-Bellied Newts are quite active, so are great if you are looking for a more entertaining environment.
|Size||3-6 inches long|
|Diet||Bloodworms (frozen or live), earthworms, brine shrimp|
Mudskippers are a strange species of amphibious fish that have googly eyes and enjoy being in the water and on land. Also known as “The Walking Fish”, this animal can be a great addition to your Paludarium. They will thrive in a swamp-like environment consisting of brackish water and mangrove roots and can also be trained to eat food directly out of your hand!
Mudskippers are territorial animals and can become quite aggressive if sharing a living space with other animals. Mudskippers can be kept with similar sized fish, but they will eat anything smaller. Guppies and Archer fish are two great options that will make suitable Paludarium roommates.
|Animal Class||Amphibious Fish|
|Size||up to 12 inches|
|Diet||Crickets, flies, worms, meal worms, beetles, small fish, small crabs|
7. Spring Salamander
Spring Salamanders are primarily nocturnal creatures and will be most active at night. They require clean, well-oxygenated water, so its important to keep up on your Paludarium maintenance and water changes. Spring salamanders are protected in some states in the USA, so be sure to research any restrictions in your state before buying this pet.
|Size||5-7.5 inches long|
|Diet||Insects, crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, snails, small spiders|
8. African Bullfrog
Also known as the “Pixie” frog, African Bullfrogs are one of only 3 frogs species that have teeth, so be careful when feeding or handling. Male African Bullfrogs are larger than females, so if your looking for a smaller pet for your Paludarium, then a female might be your best choice. A medium-sized bullfrog requires at least a 10 gallon tank but the bigger the better.
|Size||6-10 inches long|
|Diet||Crickets, mealworms, insects, mice, baby rats, other small amphibians|
9. Ribbon Snake
These nonvenomous snakes are perfect for first time snake owners and can be a great addition to your Paludarium. Ribbon Snakes require little maintenance, and are easy to handle. They contain 3 distinct stripes that run the length of their body which they use to camouflage themselves into their surroundings to avoid predators.
|Size||16-28 inches on average|
|Diet||Small frogs, tadpoles, small fish, spiders, earthworms, eggs, terrestrial vertebrates, and small newts|
10. Northern Water Snake
The northern water snake is the one of the more common species that you will find in a Paludarium. Although they are nonvenomous, they can be quite aggressive. So handle with care and try to keep tank mates to a minimum. The northern water snake likes live prey and will overlook its food if it is deceased. They can often be mistaken for the venomous water Moccasin, which you definitely don’t want within your Paludarium. So when looking to add this exciting pet to your enclosure, be sure you have the right type!
|Name||Northern Water Snake|
|Lifespan||up to 9 years|
|Diet||Fish, amphibians, small reptiles, worms, leeches, small crayfish, small birds, salamanders|
11. Caiman Lizard
Caiman Lizards are great for a Paludarium as they can coexist with nearly any fish and mainly eat snails instead. So if you want to keep snails as well, then be sure to have adequate foliage and plants so your snails can remain hidden. Caiman lizards derived their name due to their large, heavy scales that resemble the Caiman Crocodile. As they can weigh up to 10 pounds, be sure that your Paludarium has plenty of space.
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|Diet||Snails, crayfish, shrimp, crickets, chopped fruit|
Guppies are also called “Rainbow Fish” as they can come in a multitude of colors. They are a great choice of fish to have in your Paludarium and are extremely easy to care for.
An interesting thing about guppies, is that they don’t lay eggs. They give birth to live young, which can be fun to watch. If you are hoping to breed guppies or keep the offspring, then make sure to add some extra plants for the baby guppies to hide as the parents tend to eat their young. It is not recommended to remove the baby guppies as it can cause stress to the parents and lead to premature death.
If you want to know some other freshwater fish that would be perfect for a Paludarium, then your in luck! See my article on fish that can live in a freshwater Paludarium, which I encourage you to read.
|Size||Male (0.6-1.4 inches) Female (1.2-2.4 inches)|
|Diet||Brine shrimp, algae, microorganisms, flakes, pellets|
13. Thai Micro Crab
Thai Micro Crabs are great for nano tanks or small habitats. As they only get up to 0.5 inches in size, the minimum tank requires is only 5 gallons. The unique thing about these fascinating crabs is that the only place in the wild they exist is one specific river, the Tha Chin River, Nakhon Chai Si District, of the Nakhon Pathom Province, in Thailand.
|Name||Thai Micro Crab|
|Size||up to 0.5 inches|
|Lifespan||up to 1.5 years|
|Diet||Shrimp food, sinking pellets, algae|
14. Mystery Snails
Mystery snails are a type of Apple Snail and are one of the larger snail species you can find for your Paludarium. They are great tank cleaners and would love nothing more then to eat away all the algae they can find. If you are looking for good tank mates that can coexist with your snails without any issues, cherry shrimp, corydoras catfish, and the African Butterfly fish are all great options.
An interesting fact about snails is that all snails are either right or left handed. This may seem odd considering they don’t actually have hands, but all snails tend to favor one side over the other. Apple snails in particular tend to be right handed.
|Lifespan||up to 1 year|
|Diet||Algae, dead/rotting plants, fish/invertebrate pellets, blanched vegetables|
Tadpoles, also know as Polliwogs, are generally used to universally describe babies from both frogs and toads. However, babies from toads have also been called as “toadpoles”.
If you happen to have a Poison Dart Frog, Poison Dart Frog tadpoles have been known to ride on their mothers back during the early stages of their life cycle. If you are looking for something a little bigger, Bullfrog tadpoles can get as big as a banana, so make sure you do your research so you can be sure your tank can accommodate your specific species of tadpole.
|Size||Differs based on species. (1.3-8 inches)|
|Lifespan||Lifecycle from tadpole to frog between 12-16 weeks.|
|Diet||Algae, leaves/roots of aquatic plants, dead insects. As they grow legs they will start to be more carnivorous.|
The Axolotl, also known as the “Mexican Walking Fish”, got its name after the Ancient Aztec deity, “Xolotl”, which translates to “water Dog”. In the wild, these unique creatures can only be found in Mexico and have the ability to regenerate lost limbs or body organs.
The Axolotl’s feathery headdress isn’t just for show, its actually gills that allow the creature to breath underwater. These fascinating animals are critically endangered so be sure to acquire them through proper means and take good care of them!
|Lifespan||Up to 15 years|
|Diet||Mollusks, worms, insect larvae, small fish, brine shrimp|
17. Nerite Snail
Nerite Snails are a must have for any Paludarium or aquarium. They are great cleaners and can happily live in a tank of any size. Nerite snails are extremely versatile and can coexist with any other animal in your Paludarium. That is, except ones that specifically hunt and eat snails. Nerite snails are easy to find and can be purchased at most local pet stores or through online retailers.
|Size||up to 1 inch|
|Diet||Algae, blanched vegetables|
18. Aquatic Isopods
Aquatic Isopods, also known as Aquatic Pillbugs or Sowbugs, are often used to gauge the quality of water. They can be a great addition to your Paludarium and help you to keep an eye on your water health.
Biologists will conduct censuses of organisms living in streams and depending on the relative number of different species that they find, this can help them gain a better understanding if pollutants, siltation, and other factors are affecting water health.
Another interesting fact about these unique creatures is that there is also a species of Giant aquatic isopods that have been known to reach 2.5ft long that are found deep in the ocean.
|Diet||Decaying plant material, algae, sinking pellets|
19. Electric Blue Crayfish
These freshwater crayfish can live in almost any Paludarium or Aquarium and are relatively slow moving so will not harm your fish or shrimp. Electric Blue Crayfish are very active and love to explore. So you shouldn’t have any issues with them disappearing for most of the day while they hide under rocks or logs.
These fascinating crayfish are great tank cleaners and can keep your tank waste to a minimum. Due to their maximum potential size, they are best kept in tanks larger than 20 gallons. Crayfish can adapt to almost any environment, however, they are at their most vulnerable when they are shedding their exoskeleton. So be sure to have plenty of live plants, logs, rocks, or other hiding places, where they can safely remain until a new one is grown.
|Name||Electric Blue Crayfish|
|Diet||Invertebrate pellets, blanched vegetables (carrots, zucchini, spinach), algae wafers|
20. Orange Mexican Dwarf Crayfish
The Mexican Dwarf Crayfish, also known as “CPO” crayfish, is a great cleaning crew member and will help to keep your tank spotless. As they are relatively small in size, they can be housed in a 10 gallon or greater tank.
Dwarf crayfish have not been known to kill fish and so they can be kept in most community tanks without any issues. A filter is a must when keeping dwarf orange crayfish. Without it, the water in the tank won’t cycle through and your crayfish will be at risk.
|Name||Orange Mexican Dwarf Crayfish|
|Size||up to 1.6 inches|
|Diet||Worms, brine shrimp, plants, vegetables, algae wafers, pellets|
21. Blue Dream Shrimp
When it comes to shrimp, it is important to be careful when deciding your tank mates and to make sure you look for fish that are more timid and will leave your shrimp alone. Shrimp are often easy food for fish and most species of fish will try and feed off them. Blue Dream Shrimp are really simple to maintain and are also easy to breed if desired. When feeding your shrimp, be careful not to overfeed them as this is one of their leading causes of death .
If you want to know some other freshwater shrimp that would be perfect for a Paludarium, then your in luck! See my article on fish that can live in a freshwater Paludarium, which I encourage you to read.
|Name||Blue Dream Shrimp|
|Diet||Algae or algae wafers, decaying organic matter (dead plants, deceased fish/shrimp)|
22. Chinese Water Dragon
As Chinese Water Dragons are Arboreal creatures (tree dwelling), be sure to have plenty of branches for them to climb. Water dragons also love the water and can remain submerged for up to 90 minutes! When housing water dragons, multiple females or a male and female can be housed together without any issues. However, avoid having two males in the same enclosure as they will become territorial and fight each other.
|Name||Chinese Water Dragon|
|Size||up to 3.3 ft|
|Diet||Crickets, mealworms, vegetables, live food (grasshoppers, roaches etc.)|
23. Red-eyed Crocodile Skink
Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks are a very secretive species and prefer to be on their own. The are willing to make an exception though for mothers and their offspring or during mating season. The Red-eyed crocodile skink is one of the few species of skinks that vocalize when in distress. When startled, they often vomit, lose their tail, then freeze and play dead.
|Name||Red-eyed Crocodile Skink|
|Diet||Insects (fruit flies, small crickets), mealworms, calcium supplement|
24. Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamanders are colorful amphibians that typically have vertical yellow stripes that run along their body. Their colors can vary however, as they have also been known to have a green or olive tinge or contain yellow blotches instead of stripes.
Unlike other salamander species, tiger salamanders like to dig burrows, so be sure to have some areas of your Paludarium that allows them to burrow on occasion. If you notice that your salamander may be missing its tail, there is no need to fret. Tiger Salamanders are able to regenerate entire limbs.
|Lifespan||up to 25 years|
|Diet||Worms, snails, insects, slugs|
25. Poison Dart Frog
Poison Dart Frogs are great for Paludariums as they come in a variety of vibrant colors and are easy to maintain. They are awake and active during the day so will provide great entertainment for your guests. Here’s a random fact, a group of poison dart frogs is known as an “army”!
If bred in captivity, these poison dart frogs are not harmful at all. If they are obtained from the wild, then they will lose their poisonous potency overtime while in captivity. This is due to their toxicity being maintained through ingestion of certain chemicals found only in the food they eat in the wild.
|Name||Poison Dart Frog|
|Diet||Small insects, ants, termites, fruit flies, small crickets, tiny beetles|
26. Jackson Chameleon
Jackson Chameleons have also been called “3-Horned Chameleons” due to the three distinct horns found on males. Females do not have horns so its easy to tell if your Jackson Chameleon is male or female. Like most chameleons, Jackson Chameleons can change color to resemble their surroundings and be used to camouflage themselves from predators. Their tail is also super strong, and can support their whole body, so you may often see them dangling from branches.
They will probably avoid the water so make sure to have substantial terrestrial plants that provides for good climbing and coverage. This particular species of chameleon doesn’t make noises louder then a hiss and they don’t use vocal sounds to communicate. So if your wanting a quiet pet for your Paludarium, this could be the one for you!
Jackson Chameleons can see what’s in front of them and what’s behind them at the same time! This is thanks to their uncanny ability to see and process two separate images at the same time. Their eyes are able to swivel between 90 and 180 degrees and can move independently of each other.
|Diet||Live insects (crickets, silkworms, roaches, hornworms, butterworms). Avoid waxworms or mealworms as they are harder for the chameleons to digest.|
Animals That Can Live in a Paludarium Summary
Below is a summary table containing information for a variety of animals that can live in a Paludarium. No matter your preference, there are plenty of options to help you create the perfect Paludarium. I hope that this article has helped to make that decision easier and has provided useful information for any of the above pet options that you may be considering.
|1||Fire-Bellied Toad||Amphibian||Semiaquatic||2-3 inches long||10-15 years||Insects, Crickets, and Wax worms 3-4 times weekly|
|2||Springtails||Invertebrate||Semiaquatic||0.2mm-10mm||1 week to 3 years||Leaf litter, fine roots, mold/mildew, fungi|
|3||Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle||Reptile||Semiaquatic||Male (5-9 inches) Female (8-13 inches)||up to 30-40 years||Leaves, roots, algae, water insects, small slower fish, Commercial turtle pellets|
|4||Vampire Crab||Invertebrate||Semi-terrestrial||up to 2.5 inches wide||2-3 years||Brine shrimp, bloodworms, crickets, green vegetables, algae wafers|
|5||Fire-Bellied Newt||Amphibian||Semiaquatic||3-6 inches long||10-25 years||Bloodworms (frozen or live), earthworms, brine shrimp|
|6||Mudskipper||Amphibious Fish||Semiaquatic||up to 12 inches||3-20 years||Crickets, flies, worms, meal worms, beetles, small fish, small crabs|
|7||Spring Salamander||Amphibian||Semiaquatic||5-7.5 inches long||18.5 years||Insects, crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, snails, small spiders|
|8||African Bullfrog||Amphibian||Semiaquatic||6-10 inches long||15-40 years||Crickets, mealworms, insects, mice, baby rats, other small amphibians|
|9||Ribbon Snake||Reptile||Semiaquatic||16-28 inches on average||12-20 years||Small frogs, tadpoles, small fish, spiders, earthworms, eggs, terrestrial vertebrates, and small newts|
|10||Northern Water Snake||Reptile||Semiaquatic||2-4.5 ft||up to 9 years||Fish, amphibians, small reptiles, worms, leeches, small crayfish, small birds, salamanders|
|11||Caiman Lizard||Reptile||Semiaquatic||2-4 ft||up to 10 years||Snails, crayfish, shrimp, crickets, chopped fruit|
|12||Guppies||Fish||Aquatic||Male (0.6-1.4 inches) Female (1.2-2.4 inches)||1-3 years||Brine shrimp, algae, microorganisms, flakes, pellets|
|13||Thai Micro Crab||Invertebrate||Aquatic||up to 0.5 inches||up to 1.5 years||Shrimp food, sinking pellets, algae|
|14||Mystery Snails||Invertebrate||Aquatic||1-2 inches||up to 1 year||Algae, dead/rotting plants, fish/invertebrate pellets, blanched vegetables|
|15||Tadpoles||Amphibian||Aquatic||Differs based on species. (1.3-8 inches)||Lifecycle from tadpole to frog between 12-16 weeks.||Algae, leaves/roots of aquatic plants, dead insects. As they grow legs they will start to be more carnivorous.|
|16||Axolotl||Amphibian||Aquatic||6-18 inches||Up to 15 years||Mollusks, worms, insect larvae, small fish, brine shrimp|
|17||Nerite Snail||Invertebrate||Aquatic||up to 1 inch||1-2 years||Algae, blanched vegetables|
|18||Aquatic Isopods||Invertebrate||Aquatic||0.3-0.5 inches||9-20 months||Decaying plant material, algae, sinking pellets|
|19||Electric Blue Crayfish||Invertebrate||Aquatic||4-6 inches||5-6 years||Invertebrate pellets, blanched vegetables (carrots, zucchini, spinach), algae wafers|
|20||Orange Mexican Dwarf Crayfish||Invertebrate||Aquatic||up to 1.6 inches||2-3 years||Worms, brine shrimp, plants, vegetables, algae wafers, pellets|
Blue Dream Shrimp
|Invertebrate||Aquatic||1-1.25 inches||1-2 years||Algae or algae wafers, decaying organic matter (dead plants, deceased fish/shrimp)|
|22||Chinese Water Dragon||Reptile||Semiaquatic||up to 3.3 ft||10-15 years||Crickets, mealworms, vegetables, live food (grasshoppers, roaches etc.)|
|23||Red-eyed Crocodile Skink||Reptile||Terrestrial||8-10 inches||6-12 years||Insects (fruit flies, small crickets), mealworms, calcium supplement|
|24||Tiger Salamander||Amphibian||Terrestrial||7-13 inches||up to 25 years||Worms, snails, insects, slugs|
|25||Poison Dart Frog||Amphibian||Terrestrial||1-1.5 inches||12-20 years||Small insects, ants, termites, fruit flies, small crickets, tiny beetles|
|26||Jackson Chameleon||Reptile||Terrestrial||9-13 inches||5-10 years||Live insects (crickets, silkworms, roaches, hornworms, butterworms). Avoid waxworms or mealworms as they are harder for the chameleons to digest.|
Meet Brad, the creator behind Vivarium Vibes, where his deep connection with nature and animals truly comes to life.