So you wanna pet Axolotl?
The “Mexican Walking Fish” is becoming a popular pet but it does need some specific care.
Let’s discover the ins-and-outs of keeping an axolotl as a pet.
The Axolotl Home
Since this salamander can grow up to 18 inches long, it will need a large aquarium (at least 15 to 20 gallons).
You will also need these additional items to make your Axolotl feel at home.
- A slow-flow aquarium filter (filters with a strong pull can suck in the Axolotl’s gill branches).
- Coarse aquarium gravel (small gravel can pose a choking hazard)
- Aquarium heater on low setting to maintain a temperature between 57 to 68 degrees F or 14 and 20 degrees C)
- Aquarium lid with low lights – Axolotl’s do not light bright lights.
- Plenty of aquarium plants, foliage, and hiding spots
- Axolotl food
- Aquarium vacuum
- Chlorine remover
- pH test kit and additives
- New bucket
How to Set Up the Axolotl Home
Before you bring home your Axolotl, you have to get their home ready. Here’s how to set up an aquarium.
Step #1 – Rinse the aquarium to rid it of any dust or residue.
Step #2 – Pour the gravel into a clean bowl and rinse it thoroughly. Pour it into the bottom of the aquarium.
Step #3 – Rinse your decorations and add to the aquarium. Add live plants and foliage.
Step #4 – Place the aquarium on the stand or table – be sure it is where you want it as it is very heavy and will be difficult to move after it is full of water. Do NOT place in direct sunlight as this will harm your Axolotl.
Step #5 – Fill the aquarium with water. Use an aquarium thermometer to get the temperature right.
Step #6 – Add the water condition. (Note: after your aquarium is set up be sure to check the pH of the water and use the pH adjusters accordingly).
Step #7 – Set up the filter (according to directions).
Step #8 – Place the aquarium heater in the tank and turn the knob until the heat-indicator light comes on. (Note: you will want to monitor the temperature to ensure it does not exceed the limits for this pet).
Step #9 – Place the cover on the aquarium and either turn the light on or leave it off..
You will notice lots of debris floating around, but this will clear up as the filter does its job.
You’re now ready to add your Axolotl!
Adding an Axolotl to Your Tank
Never place more than one juvenile axolotl in a single tank as they tend to be cannibalistic towards one another. Adults of this species may also attack each other, so keeping a single axolotl is best.
Always adopt your Axolotl from a reputable breeder. NEVER take an Axolotl from its wild habitat as this will stress it out and could lead to death.
Allow your newly set up aquarium to run for at least two days before adding an Axolotl. This allows the tank to filter away dust particles and debris and to adjust itself to the right temperature and pH levels (ph level is maintained between 6.5 and 7.5 (neutral) – use a test kit).
When you have your Axolotl, allow it to slowly adjust to its new environment by floating the bag on top of the water. After about 15 minutes, open the bag and allow water to slowly seep inside – this mixes the bag water and your tank’s water together.
Allow your Axolotl to leave the carrying bag and explore its new home.
Feeding Your Pet Axolotl
In the wild, the axolotl is a carnivore and will dine on a variety of meat such as small fish, worms, crustaceans, snails, and small amphibians.
The captive Axolotl may be fed;
- Tubifex worms
- Brine shrimp
- Small strips of beef or liver
- Frozen fish food
- Salmon and trout pellets
Note: Remove any uneaten food to help keep the tank clean.
Simply drop the food into the tank as close to your Axolotl as possible. Some Axolotls prefer to eat in the evening, so if your pet is uninterested in the food in the morning, switch times. Adult Axolotls generally eat only a few times a week.
Cleaning Your Axolotl Habitat
You will need to clean your pet’s tank once a week. However, cleaning the aquarium doesn’t mean taking out all the water. You only have to do a partial water change (this is about 20%).
Using a new bucket and the aquarium vacuum cleaner, suction through the gravel – this pulls out all the waste and debris. Throw the dirty water away (or use it for the houseplants – they love it), then replace with clean water.
Be sure the tap water is the same temperature as the water in the aquarium and use your water conditioner to remove the chemicals.
Slowly pour the new water into the tank. Careful, not too fast or your Axolotl might get scared.
Once a month you will have to change the carbon filter in the aquarium filter – rinse these well before you add them to the unit.
More About the Pet Axolotl
The Axolotl is a hardy pet and relatively tame. However, they are not social creatures and will not benefit from having an aquatic companion. In fact, they like to spend most of their time hiding/lounging amongst the plants and rocks as far below the surface of the water as possible.
Only handle your Axolotl when absolutely necessary and then only with a fish net. These creatures have very delicate bodies and are prone to injury when being handled.
Now that you know what it takes to have a pet Axolotl, perhaps you will want to embark on keeping one as a pet?
These are fun and fascinating creatures! If you want to learn more about the Axolotl, click here.