How to take care of Axolotl Fish?

We will talk about axolotl fish care in this blog post.We will also discuss important factors such as their habitat, types,lifespan,tank set-up, water parameters and healthcare, etc.Everything you need to know about axolotl fish care will be briefly discussed.

Overview

In this blog 

  • Key specifications of axolotl fish
  • Why is axolotl fish care important?
  • How many axolotl fish should you start with as a newcomer?
  • Habitat of axolotl fish
  • Types of axolotl fish
  • Different strains or colors of axolotl fish
  • General and physical attributes of axolotl fish
  • Axolotl fish lifespan
  • Axolotl fish tank set-up
  • Axolotl fish diet and feeding requirements
  • Axolotl fish healthcare and health conditions
  • Axolotl fish daily care and Bi-weekly care tips
  • Summary

How to take care of Axolotl Fish?

Daily care tips for axolotl

  • Water conditions should be monitored regularly 
  • Juveniles should be fed everyday but adults every 2-3 days.
  • Feed mature axolotls, bloodworms and live nightcrawlers everyday. 
  • Juvenile axolotl should be given a daily dose of worms in small amounts in their diets.
  • Juvenile axolotl should be fed twice a day and an adult axolotl should be fed once every 2 days.
  • Remove uneaten food and algae everyday using a gravel siphon to avoid ammonia pollution.
  • For axolotls to thrive in the tank,reduce feeding and run the filter 24/7.

Bi-weekly care tips for axolotl

  • 25-30% water changes should be done weekly.
  • Mysis shrimp and beef heart should be fed once a week.
  • If you are adding new axolotls in a community tank then make sure to quarantine them for 1-2 weeks to avoid parasitic infections.
  • Clean the whole tank once a week.
  • If you are cleaning their tanks then use soft aquarium nets to separate them from other tanks,because they are too delicate to handle as they lack true bones.

Key specifications of Axolotl fish

Scientific name Ambystoma mexicanum
FamilyAmbystomatidae
HabitatConservation statusMexico Critically endangered
Lifespan10-15 years
DietCarnivorous 
Body sizeBody shapeColorSpecial traitSexual dimorphism9-12 inchesCylindrical bodyGold,black,white,gray and greenRegenerationYes 
Another namesMexican walking fishWater dogWater monster
Optimum temperatureOptimum pHWater hardness60F-68F6.5-8.07-14 dGH
TemperamentBeginner or experienced Aggressive Intermediate level
Care levelModerate 
Tank size and set-upTank type (Prefered)15-20 gallonsFreshwater type
Preferred plants/decorationsLive plants
CompatibilityVery few 
Number of axolotl fish species found Different variants and morphs are there 
BreedingCourtship rituals Captive breedingDancing 

Why is axolotl fish care important?

Axolotls are not your normal aquarium fish,they are amphibians who have fully adapted to aquatic life.Like any other aquarium fish they also need proper care and maintenance.

Their care is important because they are sensitive to poor water conditions,have different tank requirements and different diets.

How many axolotl fish should you start with as a newcomer?

As a newcomer you are advised to start with 1 axolotl fish because they are hard to understand as a new hobbyist, sometimes they are active sometimes they are not.

Their colouration keeps changing, sometimes bright and sometimes faded.Proper tank cycling knowledge is must to keep them.

Whenever you are buying them, kindly ask the pet owner on what  pH he has been keeping them and then you prepare your aquarium at the same pH  too.

Habitat of axolotl fish

  • Original habitat-Freshwater Lake Xochimilco,Mexico (only native)
  • Axolotls come from Mountain water regions i.e high altitudes of water bodies.

Types of axolotl fish

  • Wild axolotl
  • White albino axolotl
  • Golden albino axolotl
  • Leucistic axolotl
  • Morphs- Axanthic, copper and GFP axolotls
  • Melanoid axolotls

Different strains or colors of axolotl fish

  • Most common types are wild type dark earth coloured axolotl.
  • Albino axolotl- white body with red or pink eyes
  • Leucistic axolotl- white body black eyes
  • Melanoid axolotl – gray or black in color

General and physical attributes of axolotl fish

  • Slow growth rate and they grow to their actual size in 2 years.
  • Female axolotls are bulkier than males.
  • Axolotls have feathery external gills ,as they age their gills get bigger.
  • Axolotls don’t have fully developed teeth,so they swallow their food instead of chewing
  • Body shape- Cylindrical in shape

 Axolotl fish lifespan

Axolotls can live up to 15 years in clean water conditions,cooler temperature,variety of good food,low water flow and proper tank cycling.

If you are doing proper tank maintenance then surely they will have a longer life in aquarium settings.

Axolotl fish tank set-up

Tank sizeLight intensitySubstrate/decorationWater parametersTemperatureTank plantsTank mates

Tank size for axolotl 

  • Tank size – 20 gallons for your very first axolotl and 10 or 20 gallons for each additional axolotls.
  • Their tanks should have more floor space than height.
  • Lots of hiding space to feel safe when they are under stress.
  • Tank hoods are required to cover the top since they can leap out when threatened.

Light intensity for axolotl  

  • Axolotls don’t need extraordinary aquarium lighting in their aquarium because they are very sensitive to bright lights.They tend to shy away in bright environments.
  • Ideally ,the axolotl should be kept in indirect sunlight for 10-12 hours, as it is nocturnal and has no eyelids to protect it from bright light.
  • Low lighting is fine, and If possible keep the lights off.
  • Plant friendly aquarium lights can be used for maintaining tank plants.
  • Axolotls turn green under black or blue light due to fluorescence

Substrate/decoration for axolotl 

  • Bare bottom tanks with fine sand and slate tiles are best because it is easier to maintain.
  • There are some divided opinions on gravels and rock works used in aquariums,As per some hobbyists they swallow it and get impaction and some say it is done on purpose by them to help with buoyancy.
  • It’s totally up to you, but avoid using coloured gravels,as it could be toxic to them.
  • Decor-Fake decors like caves,clay pots etc as hiding spots for them.
  • They have the habit of rearranging the aquarium decors,so make sure there are no sharp and edgy decors in the tank because it can hurt them.

Water parameters for axolotl 

  • Water conditions are quite similar to freshwater fish.
  • Cycle the tanks completely prior 2-3 weeks before introducing axolotls in them.
  • Cycled tank with chlorinated water will keep axolotl healthy for the long run.
  • Axolotl’s are sensitive to poor water conditions especially  nitrates, ammonia and nitrites concentrations, so nitrogen cycling is a must in their tanks.
  • Low flow efficient filtration system – sponge filter, spray bar or a baffle.
  • Aquarium water pump is required to maintain the proper aeration in the aquarium.
  • Young axolotls need more oxygen so airstone can be installed to oxygenate the tank.
  • If you are not adding tank plants then kindly install air bubblers in their tank.
  • Freshwater pH testing kits are required to monitor the pH levels in the tank.
  • Changing the water weekly,will help prevent the accumulation of ammonia,nitrite and nitrates levels in the tank. 

Organic pollutants level:

  • Ammonia- zero
  • Nitrate-zero
  • Nitrites- zero
  • Chlorine -zero
  • Chloramine- zero

 Temperature for axolotl 

  • Cold or room temperature
  • Ideal temperature- 60F-68F,can even go lower if required.
  • Colder is better for them,since they come from mountainous regions.
  • Thermometer can be used to set and maintain the temperatures.

Tank plants for axolotl 

It’s very important to have live plants in axolotl tanks because they are very sensitive to poor water conditions.

By keeping java fern,anubias,duckweed,anacharis and other live plants you can keep the levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrates in check by naturally filtrering the tanks.choose plants that need dim light and low temperatures.Artificial or fake plants can also be used in their tanks.

Tank mates for axolotl 

Tank mate selection for axolotls is quite tricky because fish nibbles on their gills thinking it to be a worm and in turn axolotls eat those fish as their snack.

Young axolotls should not be kept together because they have the habit of nipping each other’s gills and legs.

If your axolotl are above 4.5 inches in length then they can be kept together.Here are some of the tank mates which can coexist with axolotls :

  • Zebra danio and orange finned danios,make sure the tank is well aerated and covered with a top screen when keeping orange danios in axolotls tanks.
  • Golden skiffia
  • White cloud mountain minnows

Axolotl fish diet and feeding requirements

Axolotls are not fussy eaters, they can be trained to accept a variety of food in aquarium settings.

They are carnivorous fish so it’s very important to include a lot of live meaty food and protein enriched diets for their growth and development.

Good thing about axolotl is, they are not greedy eaters and you don’t have to worry about overfeeding and underfeeding.

These guys automatically stop eating once saturated.Only thing which needs to be monitored is the leftovers,don’t let them settle in their tanks, because ammonia pollution is one of the major reasons for poor water conditions.

  • Bloodworms are their favorites.
  • Live food like nightcrawlers (earthworms)
  • Frozen brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimps
  • Small pieces of beef heart
  • Red wigglers 
  • Pellets for axolotl available commercially

Axolotl fish healthcare and health conditions

  • Fungus on the gills- Salt bath, 2-3 tablespoon of salt per quarter water,1-2 times a day for 10 mins.Recover within 7 days.
  • Impaction-A digestive system disorder,due to gravel ingestion and overfeeding.
  • Axolotl bloating -They start floating on the surface of the water after swallowing air bubbles.This is majorly due to poor water conditions.Maintain pristine water conditions to avoid such issues.
  • Skin infections due to rise in temperatures
  • Physical damages and discolored skin
  • External and internal parasitic infection

Summary

  • Most of the axolotls are bottom dwellers but some even rest on surfaces too.
  • Hardiness is high due to their regenerative ability.
  • Very sensitive to poor water conditions.
  • Tank cycling knowledge is very important to keep them.
  • Axolotls  need cool temperature,dim lighting, proper aeration and oxygenation in their tank to thrive in aquarium conditions.
  • Recommended for experienced aquarists.

Frequently asked questions on axolotl fish care

Are axolotls easily available,since they come under the critically endangered category?

Axolotls are illegal in certain states due to their critically endangered status. You can find them in exotic pet stores and facebook groups for axolotls.You will get a list of some reputable axolotls breeders there.They are costlier than your average freshwater fish.

Are gravel substrates important in axolotls tanks?

It’s totally up to the aquarists,axolotls have a habit of digging and investigating their substrates so, If you are planning to add substrate in their tank then choose a smooth and easy to maintain substrate. Gravel substrates are home to beneficial bacteria which keeps the tank water parameters stable and healthy.

Reference

https://www.thesprucepets.com/axolotls-as-pets-1236714
https://www.everythingreptiles.com/axolotl-care/

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