Plants and Top-Coverage
I have kept
Aquariums, Terrariums and Vivariums on and off for over 30yrs. But like many
people--I have always avoided the LIVE plant situation. Thinking as many do
that they are just more hassle than they are worth. Not True at all!
With the acquisition of an Arafura Filesnake I am now deep into the whole
Aquatic/Pond plant thing and still cannot believe my loss in understanding over
all these years. Plants are in large part the final stage in nature's
filtering/water quality cycle. In addition to water quality: Live plants
provide natural contact security and top-coverage that many aquatic and
semi-aquatic animals need. Live Plants are not necessary to successfully keep
Enhydris, but I cannot emphasize the importance of live plants and
top-coverage enough--Generally--when keeping Aquatic watersnakes.
Initially, these Chinese Watersnakes are were
housed in a 10 gal. Aquarium with standard white aquarium gravel and a 50
watt Rena Cal submersible heater (a "Fish-Only type of setup). I made a Wood framed screen top that fits
inside the aquarium rim and is cut to allow the cords and airline tubing.
Currently, they are housed in a 20g Long aquarium with a 100 watt heater
with separate temp probe and external heater adjustment--Via Aqua Titanium Heater.
Initially, the 10g Aquarium was filtered with a
Fluval 3 Plus internal filter and an Undergravel Filter with 1 Penguin
powerhead with a Reverse-Flow Kit. The powerhead had a sponge intake filter
(Penguin Reverse-Flow Kit), for reduced flow and added mechanical and biological
filtration. The reverse-flow helps push the "dirt" up out of the gravel. Not
a perfect setup, but very functional.
Currently (20L), the filtration consists of a Rena Filstar xP1 Canister Filter.
Finally, that one item that brings the filtration system together is the
Can't say enough about those.
Keep in mind that plants are not necessary to keeping these
snakes. They do just fine in a Fish-only type of setup.
Water "Quality" covers many different things.
I keep the ph at about 7.8-8.0 (right out of the Tap). The water here is
very hard--300 and alkalinity is 80-120. With the plants, plant food and
fish--nitrites stay at zero and nitrates stay at about 10-20ppm.
I currently use
for a water conditioner and
Seachem Flourish Line and Rex Grigg's Ferts for the Plants, but I have also used Wardley's
Chlor-Out, Tetra's Aquasafe water conditioner, Kent's Black Water Expert,
and Hagen's Plant Gro-Iron enriched for the plants. Adding these
"fertilizers" for the plants doesn't seem to have any negative affects on
I do water changes every week at about 50%, but I have done them in the past
at about 2-4 wks and 75%. Basically, I run this tank (20L) like a "Planted Tank"
with snakes in it--not the other way around.
The water temperature stays between 80-87F
(26.6-30.5C). At about 86F (30C) the snakes generally start getting out of
the water and spending much more time on the cork bark under the "Cool Spot"
area. I currently provide a "Hot Spot" with temps that fluctuate between
88-92F (31.1-33.3C), but for months I did not provide a basking spot--once I
originally determined that they did not want/need/use it. They seem very
happy with temps in the 80-85F (26.6-29.4C) range. I have not seen any skin
problems-Blisters, fungus, etc. No sniffles, colds or respiratory problems
at all. They seem very content to stay in the water 80-90% of the time, and
when they do exit the water--it just seems to be to take a break and get
some rest. Usually, when they are on the cork bark--part of their body is
still in direct contact with the water. For the Record, I provide them with
a "Hot Spot" mainly to make Me feel better. I like to know
that its there just in case they ever want/need to use it.
In their natural environment the photoperiod
is 12 hrs of daylight and 12 hrs of darkness. I am currently giving these 2
Chinese Watersnakes 12hrs of light,/12 hrs of Darkness.
Unlike Acrochordus snakes, Enhydris don't seem to mind bright light at all,
so I am currently using a 65 watt
Coralife Aqualight with a
9325K GE Compact Fluorescent Bulb.
These snakes are almost 100% aquatic. They do
come out of the water periodically, so a "land" area must be provided. Since
these snakes enjoy the water so much and can tolerate extremely wet
conditions--I keep the tank full of water: 100%, as You can see in the pic
below. Notice that on the left side of the pic the light ends and the "top"
is raised. That is where the cork bark is for them to get out of the water.