Axolotl Care Guide
The Axolotl is a type of amphibian that is widely confused as a fish due to its name, Mexican walking fish. Unlike many of the amphibian family including this species' relatives such as the tiger salamander, adult axolotls stay fully aquatic despite developed lungs. Wild axolotls, found in numerous lakes near Mexico City, are threatened to be nearing extinction from many factors such as water pollution. However, axolotls are thriving in captivity and are now considered a popular exotic pet. Their popularity comes from relatively easy care.
What Kind of Tank?
- Since the Axolotl is a fully aquatic species of amphibians, an aquarium is the way to go. If you are going to have only one Axolotl, 20 gallons is a must with every 10 gallons per additional Axolotl (For example, 2 axolotls in 30 gal). Since this species does have lungs and will come up for air frequently, a low tank with wide space works best.
What Kind of Substrate?
- 𝗡𝗢 𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗩𝗘𝗟!! When eating, your Axolotl will suck up loose substrate such as gravel and sand which would cause an impaction and an urgent visit to an exotic vet. Fine sand may be used if the Axolotl is 6 in and longer.
Some of the options are:
- ︎︎ Bare bottom
- ︎︎ Aquarium safe silicone covered tile
- ︎︎ Slate
- ︎︎ Ceramic
- ︎︎ Large, smooth rock such as river rocks (larger than axolotls head)
- Pre-wash all of your substrate and rocks before putting them into an aquarium. For best results, boil for several minutes to kill off any unwanted bacteria. Rinse with cold water or let it stand and cool.
How much Lighting and What degree of Temperature?
𝗧𝗘𝗠𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗨𝗥𝗘 𝗠𝗨𝗦𝗧 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗬 𝗕𝗘𝗟𝗢𝗪 𝟳𝟬 𝗗𝗘𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗘𝗦 𝗙𝗔𝗥𝗘𝗡𝗛𝗘𝗜𝗧!! Many things can help to keep your aquarium water cool such as:
- ︎︎ fans (would drop the temperature down by couple degrees)
- ︎︎ close to the floor (cool air is heavier than warmer air)
- ︎︎ placed under conditioner vents
- ︎︎ float frozen water bottles in the aquarium.
- ︎︎ chillers
No bright lights as it can hurt their eyes. Putting the black light or UV light on for too long for reasons such as to see your Green Fluorescent Protein Axolotls (the glowing ones) will cause pain to their eyes.
Decor and Water?
- One hide per Axolotl is highly recommended, nothing in the tank can be sharp! Some Axie’s love to lay around on top of something, so lizard hammocks and plastic plants work well with them. They love marimo moss balls and it has many benefits, such as providing small doses of oxygen and working similarly to a tiny filter.
- A cycled fish tank is a MUST!! If you are waiting for your tank to cycle, you may tub your Axolotl for a temporary period of time with 100% daily water changes with dechlorinated or spring water. During tubbing, the water temperature in that container must still be cold and if using tap water a few drops of dechlorinator called Prime would make it safe for your axolotl. Distilled water is NOT recommended as it does not have the minerals to support your axolotls health. Freshwater API liquid water testing should be done regularly to see how your tank is cycling.
*Tap water should NOT have any chlorine or chloramines as it is harmful and will kill your axolotls. They can be removed with solutions not containing aloe. We prefer the brand Prime and it is available at most pet stores.
What do they eat ?
Axolotls are carnivores and tend to eat soft food such as worms. 𝗗𝗢 𝗡𝗢𝗧 feed crickets and bugs with hard exoskeleton as it will cause an impaction. Uneaten food should be cleaned out to avoid ammonia bursts.
- Babies (smaller or are 3 in)- baby brine shrimp, microworms, daphnia and live black worms.
- Juvenile (3 in to 9 in)- live blackworms, pellets, chopped earthworm, frozen blood worms, and Rapashy
- Adults (larger than 9 in)- Earthworms, red wigglers and Canadian nightcrawlers are at WalMart in the bait section, axolotl pellets, parasite free guppies, Rapashy, ghost shrimp.
Even though Axolotls can gulp air with their lungs, they still require air stones for better gill growth.
Axolotls HATE strong currents! Low flow filters such as sponge filters are highly recommended.
Axolotls tank has to be a species only tank, feeder food such as guppies can be paired but will get eaten after some time. Goldfish and other types of fish may eat your axolotls gills thinking that it’s worms.
Same gender is recommended since the male will over breed female to death. Gender can be identified after 18 months of age. Males will have a large, long bump underneath their tale while the females will have small, short or no bump underneath the tail.
Cleaning of the tank and tub is done differently. Cleaning of the aquarium must be done every week with 20-50% water changes by using an aquarium syphon and vacuuming the gravel. Any slime build up (brown in color) found on aquarium walls and container sides must be washed out and cleaned off.