Axolotl‌ ‌Care:‌ ‌Feeding,‌ ‌Breeding,‌ ‌Tank‌ ‌ Setup‌ ‌&‌ ‌Requirements‌

Passion for aquariums and aquatics is growing day by day. When we go to a natural body of water, such as a stream or lake, we hope to find an attractive fish on which we can search. 

We can find many creatures and reptiles such as snakes, frogs, herons, and many others while looking for the fish. Then whichever fish we like, we start studying that fish. There is an axolotl among these creatures, also known as the water monsters. In this article, we have brought complete information about axolotl from its appearance to breeding. 

Axolotl Overview 

Axolotl is quite a popular fish and is known by many names. Some of them include Mexican Salamander and Mexican walking fish. The scientific name of the axolotl is Ambystoma mexicanum. 

Axolotl

They live in freshwater and prefer living alone. So it is not a difficult task to care for them. But you would require to provide your axolotl good water conditions and nutritional diet for its long and healthy life.

Appearance And Size 

An axolotl appears from another world, like a cartoon dragon without wings. Instead, it has six feathery external gills that form a crown around the head. Its broad mouth and tiny lidless eyes give this fish a Mexican appearance. It has a plump body shape ending with a tail. Fins are present along its back, stretching from the back of the head to the tail. 

Their eyes are round, and yellow-colored irises are present inside their eyes. As far as its size is concerned, generally, an axolotl attains the size of 10 inches. However, if these fish get good care, their size can reach 7-18 inches.

Behavior

Axolotl has quite an aggressive nature. They do not like to be in groups. If you keep your axolotl with other fish, there could be some possibility that your fish starts biting other fish. Therefore, choosing good tank mates for your axolotl is extremely crucial.

Tank Mate

Axolotl does well on their own and prefers isolation even when forced to share a tank. You should be very careful while choosing the tank mates for your axolotl. It is because it directly affects their living conditions. Remember that Axolotls are carnivores who prefer to hunt for food. It implies that they will sneak up on other fish and eat them quickly. 

White cloud minnows, adult apple snails, and zebra shrimp are all good tankmates for axolotls. You can also palace small snails with your axolotl, but these need to be very careful to survive as your axolotl could eat them up. 

The fish you introduce into the tank must be smaller than your axolotl (minimum 4 inches). Because the thing you need to worry about is that if axolotl eats the fish, it must pass from its mouth easily. The fish introduced must be nutritious also. 

So what would be the precautions you should take before introducing these fish into the tank along with your axolotl includes the following:

  • The first one is, of course, the size; it must be smaller than 4 inches.
  • Be careful about the hygiene of these small fish; they must not be carrying parasites or fungus.
  • If all goes well, you will find some bones in the tank, which indicates that axolotl has nicely digested the fish.

Axolotl Care Sheet And Tank Set-Up

Keeping your axolotl with good tank mates is not enough. You are also required to be cautious about their health and the setup of the tank. 

Tank Set Up And Requirements 

Axolotls live in the water at a cool temperature. They don’t want much bright light; they can live happily in low lighting. No special equipment is required for axolotls, but a good tank pump would be one requirement. However, they require regular maintenance cycles because they are sensitive to water conditions. 

If you’re planning to keep a fish, you’ll need a water testing kit. There are no exceptions. You would require a liquid test kit that includes tests for ammonia/ammonium/ammonia/ (NH43/NH34), nitrate (NO3) nitrite (NO2), nitrate (NO3), and pH strip. The pH strip allows you to monitor the quality of your water. 

You should not decide in a hurry regarding the lights your fish want. Many aquarists use harsh lighting to promote plant growth, but this can be harmful to this species. In addition, axolotls dislike bright light, and even low-wattage lamps can stress them out. Instead, find something that allows you to go about your daily routine without frightening them with bright lights all day. 

You can fill the tank with water and switch on equipment just like the filter. You can also add a few decorative plants to your axolotl tank. But only those plants which would not harm your axolotl.

Diet

These little monsters are carnivores. They feed on worms, small fish, aquatic insects and larvae. Pet species don’t seem to be picky eaters and can eat the following: 

  • Mysis Shrimp
  • Bloodworms 
  • Small Bits of Raw
  • Frozen Brine
  • Live Nightcrawlers
  • Red Wigglers
  • Lean Beef Heart

The amount you feed to your axolotl will vary from species to species. It would depend on the age and individual too. Axolotls will stop eating once they’re full. You should remember to always remove any uneaten food out of the tank.

You would be required to feed larvae and junior axolotls twice a day. For an adult axolotl, you’ll have to feed them once every 2-3 days. A healthy adult axolotl would normally live up to 14 days without having any food. The food for axolotl must contain around 30-60 percent protein. 

Red wigglers and worms are a good source of protein for them. There are also a lot of pellet choices for axolotl. You should keep the protein content in mind while choosing a brand of pellets for your fish. Another good option of food for baby axolotl would be daphnia.

Handling

An axolotl is a creature that can be roughly 8-12 inches long. It has a delicate soft body with permeable skin. Most of the axolotl’s body is made of cartilage rather than bone. Therefore, it would not be a good idea to hold them in your hands as they are very delicate. We would suggest you not handle them in your naked hands unless necessary.

Sometimes we think of doing some fun like taking axolotl out of the water on our hands. But, before doing this, you should think twice as it’s not a nice idea at all. Nothing can be worse than this.  

Lifespan & Common Health Problems 

The lifespan of an axolotl is around 10-15 years if kept nicely. Therefore, it could be a relatively long time within the realm of home aquariums. Also, they can regrow their gills and limbs due to their special regeneration capabilities. They can also regenerate their organ parts and even their spinal cords with the help of their regeneration capability.

Axolotls can catch stress diseases quickly. Improper keeping conditions and infections can cause several other illnesses. The quality of water is crucial as it involves your axolotl’s health. 

They are vulnerable to ammonia. But, you have to examine the water changes and monitor toxin levels regularly. Bacterial infections will be prevented by antibiotic therapy. However, reducing the temperature within the tank is simply as crucial.

Stress

Stress is a common disease that an axolotl has. Stress is caused due to bad tank mates, intestinal occlusion, water temperature, and poor digestion of food. You can treat this disease by working on all the above causes. You should change tankmates or keep your fish alone. You should provide good water conditions to your fish.

Injury

Your axolotl could get injured in a fight with its tankmate. There could be other reasons, too, if your fish is injured. The hard substrate could also be one of the reasons. Do you know that these beautiful monster fish have great regenerative power? 

They are capable of regenerating any body part cell. When your axolotl gets injured, you should ensure that your fish don’t get infected. You can add antibiotic solution to the tank’s water and change it timely. By doing this, you can solve this problem. 

Impaction

This disease is generally caused when axolotl accidentally swallows hard substances like pebble or gravel. If your fish is not showing interest in eating or constantly vomiting, this means your fish could be suffering from impaction. For its solution, you should take your fish to the veterinarian. The vet would remove the hard substance from the stomach of your axolotl. 

Floating Axolotls

This problem is incredibly common in axolotls. It is caused due to the build-up of gas within the intestines. This disease arises due to various factors. Some of them include stress, poor water conditions, and indigestion of food. 

You should first transfer your fish to a separate tank in such a case. Make sure the tank does not have a high level of water. It would help your axolotl to put its leg on the surface. By doing so, your fish would be quite relaxed. It is advised to leave your fish in a separate tank with a low water level until your fish don’t get normal.

Bacterial/Fungal Infections

Bacterial infection is quite common, which you would find in almost all axolotls. There could be two reasons for bacterial infection: poor water conditions or contaminated food. If you notice your fish’s appetite is reduced, this could indicate bacterial infection. You can provide antibiotics to your axolotl after consulting with the expert. 

Fungal infection is generally caused due to bad water conditions in which your fish is living. The second reason could be the high temperature. If you notice some white spots all over the body of your axolotl, this could be an indication of fungal infection. The first thing you should do is to quarantine your fish. You would have to provide your infected axolotl with a salt bath daily. It is also advised to change the water of the tank every day. 

Axolotl Fridging

Fridging is a kind of process which helps a sick axolotl come out from the disease. In this process, the infected axolotl is kept in the refrigerator for a particular period prescribed by the vet.

Axolotl Salt Bath 

If your axolotl is suffering from a fungal infection, the salt bath will help. You can deal with the disease easily by giving it a sweet salt bath.

The following are some steps for making a solution for a salt bath:

  • The first thing you would require for a salt bath is salt. But be careful! Don’t use ordinary table salt for salt bath solution; you would require sea salt. Fine salt is a must product as it mixes well. 
  • Now prepare a solution by filling a container with one or two-liter capacity with dechlorinated water. You should ensure that the water temperature is favorable to your axolotl.  
  • Mix 2-3 tablespoons of salt per liter in water. Keep mixing until it dissolves well in the water.
  • After dissolving the salt, slowly put the axolotl in solution. 
  • It should be noted that a salt bath should be approximately 10-15 minutes long. Ensure that your axolotl is not left in the solution for more than 15 minutes as it dries out the skin. It is advised to give your axolotl this salt bath twice a day.

The above process has proven useful if your axolotl has a fungal infection.

Breeding Axolotl

You would notice that axolotl prefer to breed from late winter (December) to late spring (June). Their breeding process is unique in comparison to other fish. 

The breeding process of axolotls starts like this:

Firstly, the male axolotl will show interest in the female axolotl by rubbing their nose against the female. Then, if a male finds a female receptive, it will follow her back and forth throughout the aquarium.

Then the walking male releases packets of sperm into the water. After doing so, it redirects the female axolotl towards the sperm. Now, females take up these sperms into their cloaca.

Then male axolotl releases more packets of sperm, and the female keeps collecting them one by one. This course continues for an hour or so.

After the course completes, female axolotl lay the eggs within about 15-75 hours. Then, all the eggs are laid on the aquarium base by moving female axolotl. It makes the eggs spread around in the aquarium. Now, you are required to be very careful. It’s because axolotls can eat their eggs. Therefore, it is suggested to keep the parents in a separate tank or remove the eggs.  

When the eggs start hatching, larvae come out from the eggs. If they are kept in favorable water temperatures, they will grow faster. Larvae would not be able to eat food directly after their birth. Therefore, you should feed the larvae to live small after 2 days. Once their frog legs grow, they can hunt for live food.

Are Axolotls Right For Your Aquarium?

If you have at least a 15-20 gallon aquarium, you are good to go. The aquarium must be covered with a lid as these fish try to jump outside the tank. 

How Much Does It Cost To Own An Axolotl? 

Axolotls are inexpensive pets. Normally, you would get an axolotl baby for $20, two, whereas the cost of an adult can reach up to $35. The real expense you will have to spend would be the tank and accessories. This expense could range from $85- $285.

What To Know Before Buying An Axolotl?

The very first thing which you should confirm is whether keeping an axolotl is legal in your country or not. As there exist many places where keeping an axolotl is illegal. Such places include New Jersey, California, Virginia, and Maine. 

You should also know that an axolotl prefers loneliness. Therefore, you would not keep other fish in the same tank. Another most important thing to know is the water temperature. Axolotl prefers to live in a cold temperature. If you keep your axolotl at a high temperature, it could stress your fish out. Therefore, you would require to buy equipment to ensure that the temperature remains cool.

FAQ’s

Are Axolotls Easy To Care For?

Axolotls are quite easy to care for. You would only require to feed them twice a day and provide a good environment to live in.  

What Size Tank Does An Axolotl Need?

For an axolotl, a 15-20 gallon tank is recommended. You should make sure that the upper section of the tank must be secured with a lid or has a low level of water. You can prevent your axolotl from jumping out of the water by doing so.

Can You Take An Axolotl Out Of Water?

The answer is a big NO. The axolotl is an amphibian, therefore, it possesses both lungs and gills for breathing. Therefore, an axolotl can’t live without water.

Wrapping Up

Don’t be late if you’re curious about owning a Mexican Walking Fish. This is because an axolotl is a very friendly pet. It would also provide you joy and happiness for many years. We hope the above article will. Therefore help you to know more about an axolotl. 

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