Axolotl Care: A Guide
An axolotl makes for a rare and unusual pet. That rarity is because axolotl are native only to Mexico, where they have sadly become threatened by the growth of urban areas. This means that taking care of axolotl is especially important, as breeding in captivity can give this beautiful species a chance to recover. Axolotl are an unusual pet because there are few animals quite like them. This species is widely called the 'walking fish', a result of the small legs that an axolotl uses to move.
However, these are not axolotl fish - they are amphibians that are part of the salamander family. Following our axolotl care sheet will help to keep your amphibian happy and healthy.
How Big Do Axolotl Get?
A fully-grown axolotl is usually around 10-12 inches in length, although adults may range from 6 inches to 18 inches. This means that axolotl are among the larger members of the salamander family.
How Long Do Axolotl Live?
Axolotls generally live for around 10 years, although you may able to extend the lifespan by a few years through effective axolotl care.
It is advisable to look into pet insurance for exotic animals so that you are covered throughout the life of your axolotl companion.
If your axolotl pet care provides the right conditions, an axolotl will be a charming and placid animal that will enjoy exploring its habitat.
- Allow an axolotl to enjoy its own tank, as other axolotls may attack one another.
- Don't let other aquatic animals share the axolotl habitat.
- Don't handle your pet unless it's an emergency.
- If you need to move your axolotl, use a net with very fine mesh to protect its tiny feet from getting trapped.
Setting up the perfect habitat is an essential part of axolotl care. This rare animal has evolved to handle the conditions of lakes and canals in Mexico, so it will take a bit of work to ensure that your tank has the ideal conditions for your axolotl to thrive. You'll need a tank of around 20 gallons to give your axolotl enough space to live in peace.
Water and lighting are two of the most important things to consider when setting up your axolotl housing. You'll also have to do a spot of decorating, as axolotl enjoy hiding among mosses and other greenery.
A hiding place is important, as your axolotl will need somewhere to retreat to when it wants to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A plant pot or an aquarium ornament could be ideal as a type of cave for your axolotl.
Before you think about water, you will want to consider the substrate for your axolotl housing. Gravel is a common substrate for aquatic pets, but axolotls are liable to ingest gravel and damage their health.
If you have your heart set on a rocky substrate, then use gravel or pebbles that are bigger than the head (and therefore mouth!) of your axolotl. Otherwise, a form of aquarium-safe sand will be the ideal substrate for your axolotl habitat.
You can use tap water to fill your aquarium, ensuring that you remove any chlorine from the water using some sort of aquarium conditioning solution - these are readily available from pet stores. If you've kept other aquatic animals before, you'll notice that axolotl care shares a lot of the same practices.
A filtered aquarium is naturally easier to maintain, although a low filtration rate is advised for the axolotl's safety. A weekly change of 20% of the water in the tank should be enough to keep the axolotl happy. If you use an unfiltered aquarium, this 20% water change should happen at least every other day.
The ideal axolotl temperature is around 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit (around 16-20 degrees Celsius). If your axolotl temperature is too hot or cold, its health will suffer. If you're unable to keep your aquarium at this temperature all year round, then axolotl care will not be an option for you.
There aren't too many specific requirements when it comes to axolotl lighting. Keeping your aquarium away from direct sunlight is advised, but otherwise, you can choose an optimal location that allows you to appreciate your axolotl in all its glory.
Too much lighting will affect your axolotl temperature, so take that into account when setting up your aquarium for display. If the axolotl lighting does overwhelm your pets, particularly as they adjust to their new axolotl habitat, then this is where a cave or a similar feature comes in handy.
What You Need to Make Your Axolotl Feel At Home
- 20-gallon tank
- tap water treated for chlorine
- water test kits
- aquarium substrate
What Do Axolotl Eat?
Axolotl food is easy enough to acquire at a pet store, as these creatures eat a lot of similar things to fish and other salamanders. Here are a few options that you might try out as part of your axolotl care:
- earthworms/nightcrawlers - make sure you acquire these from a trusted supplier, as wild worms may bring disease
- frozen fish cubes, like bloodworms - these can be used as a staple of an axolotl's diet
- salmon pellets - these should be available in your local store that caters for aquatic animals
- cooked frozen shrimp - this can be an occasional treat for your axolotl
- small pieces of beef - another treat food that your axolotl may enjoy once a week
Earthworms or fish cubes are the best staple axolotl food, although your axolotl may appreciate a bit of variety. Don't worry about vitamin supplements for your axolotl, as they'll get all the nutrition they need from their main food. However, do worry about cleaning out uneaten food from the bottom of your aquarium to ensure it remains a hygienic axolotl habitat.