Axolotls, also known as Mexican walking fish, are fascinating aquatic creatures that have become increasingly popular as aquarium pets in recent years. With their fringed-like gills and their ability to regenerate limbs, they are truly a sight to behold. But how do you properly care for this unique salamander at home? In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the requirements and tips for the proper care of Axolotls.
1. The Right Aquarium
Axolotls require a sufficiently large aquarium. For a single individual, the tank should be at least 80 cm in length and 40 cm in depth and width. The size should be adjusted accordingly for each additional animal. It’s essential that the aquarium is equipped with a robust filter to keep the water clean at all times, but without creating strong currents, as Axolotls are not fans of flowing water.
2. Water Quality
Axolotls are sensitive to water impurities. The water should be changed regularly, and its parameters should be checked consistently. Depending on the size of the aquarium and the number of inhabitants, a partial water change of about 20-25% of the tank volume should be carried out every one to two weeks. This helps to keep the nitrate level low and minimize potential pollutants. It’s crucial to ensure that the fresh water matches the temperature and pH value of the existing aquarium water to avoid stressing the Axolotl.
In addition to the weekly partial water change, it’s advisable to conduct a more thorough exchange of up to 50% of the water every few months and clean the aquarium. However, never remove all the bacteria in the filter, as they are crucial for maintaining the water’s biological balance. Ideally, the water should be slightly acidic to neutral (pH value between 6.5 and 7.5). The water temperature should consistently be between 16 and 18°C. A complete water change is usually not necessary and could even be stressful for the animal.
3. Setting and Hiding Spots
The aquarium floor should be covered with fine, rounded gravel or sand to minimize the risk of ingesting coarse gravel. Axolotls like to hide, so caves, plants, and rocks should be placed in the aquarium.
Axolotls are carnivorous. Their diet mainly consists of small fish, worms, and insects. There’s specialized Axolotl food available for purchase, but live or frozen foods like mosquito larvae, earthworms, or small shrimps are also suitable. For optimal health and development, Axolotls should be fed regularly, with feeding frequency depending on their age:
- Young Axolotls: These growing animals have a higher food requirement. It’s recommended to feed young Axolotls daily.
- Adult Axolotls: Once mature, the feeding frequency can be reduced to 2-3 times per week, depending on the amount and type of food, as well as the activity and metabolism of the individual Axolotl.
It’s essential to adjust the amount and kind of food accordingly and ensure that Axolotls are not overfed. Also, make sure no food remnants remain in the aquarium, as these can pollute the water.
By observing your Axolotl’s behavior and body condition, you can determine the optimal feeding amount and frequency for your pet. If unsure, it’s best to consult a vet specialized in amphibians.
5. Reproduction and Offspring
At a water temperature of around 18°C, Axolotls can be stimulated for reproduction. After laying eggs, it’s advisable to move the eggs to a separate breeding tank to protect them from potential predators.
6. Avoid Common Mistakes
It is generally not advisable to keep fish together with Axolotls in an aquarium. The reasons for this are manifold: Axolotls are predators and might be tempted to hunt and eat smaller fish. On the other hand, larger or aggressive fish could harm the delicate gills or other body parts of the Axolotl. Moreover, Axolotls prefer cooler water (between 16-18°C) with a weak current. Many fish species, however, require warmer water or specific water conditions that are not compatible with the needs of Axolotls. Additionally, combining Axolotls and fish can increase the risk of transmitting diseases that could be harmful to one of the species. If you decide to house animals in the same aquarium as an Axolotl, snails or sometimes shrimp are often better options, although even here caution is advised. However, it’s always best to keep Axolotls in a specialized habitat without fish to ensure they remain healthy and safe.
Keeping Axolotls can be a rewarding experience, provided you are willing to meet the unique requirements of these animals. With the right preparation and care, you can ensure that your Axolotl enjoys a long, healthy, and happy life in your aquarium.