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The Basics of an Axolotl

This page consists of just the 'essential' information about caring for Axolotls.
Although you will find under each heading the important details, if you are planning on keeping Axolotls I would recommend reading all the information in the 'caring' section of the site.

>> Read comments and views from Axolotl keepers - click here.

Keeping Axolotls

Keeping an Axolotl is surprisingly easy, and no special equipment is needed. Keeping tropical fish would require more equipment and hassle than keeping an Axolotl!

Providing the aquarium is of a good size, is cleaned on a regular basis and has the correct bed, then an Axolotl will live happily and hopefully for a long time.



The 'necessities' for keeping an Axolotl are:

- Good size tank, a 1 foot X 3 foot tank could happily house upto 5 Axolotls.
- Correct bed of the tank, sand or large gravel is best, very small gravel should be avoided.
- Somewhere to hide, positioning of rocks for example can make a good hiding place.
- Use of a filter, not only keeps tank clean but provided a good air flow.
- Normal room temperature is fine, don't allow the tank to get to cold or too hot.

For more about 'keeping' and why the above is important, click here.

Feeding Axolotls

Axolotls are carnivores and survive on a meat based diet. In the wild they will eat many different insects, including worms, insects and even small fish.

When kept as a pet, it is best to vary the Axolotls diet as much as possible, but this is not always available. Frozen blood worm or beef heart is available to buy at many pet stores and is reasonably priced.

Axolotls should be fed two or three times a week, but this will depend on the of size, maturity and water temperature. Frozen food should be thawed out before giving an Axolotl, it can be placed into the tank or ideally placed near the Axolotls mouth. Another food easy available and given as a 'treat' is an earthworm, held near the mouth by tweezers (or fingers!) the Axolotl will take the earthworm, and not let it go!

Digestion of the food usually takes between 2-3 days on average, water temperature should not fall below 10C as regurgitation will occur and as Axolotls are known to be more active in dim light, it may be best to feed in the evening/night.

Breeding Axolotls

Before considering breeding Axolotls, you firstly need to be able to tell the difference between a male and female. The best way to compare and the features to look for are: 

      1) A male Axolotl has more swollen margins and the cloaca is larger.
2) A male is also more slender with a longer tail.
3) The head of a male is longer and narrower than that of a female.

Sexual maturity is reached in Axolotls at approx 12 months, this can be seen by an increase in the size of the cloacal glands (slight in female but not as noticeable as in male), producing swelling of the margins of the cloaca. It is more ideal to leave Axolotls until two years old before breeding, at this age they will have reached a more suitable size and condition


Health and Biology

Axolotls typically have about 50 vertebrae. The tail region accounts for 70% of them. Here is a diagram of an axolotl skeleton, side view. The lower and upper jaw of the axolotl contain fine teeth. However these teeth are used for gripping, as opposed to chewing. Digestion usually takes two to three days to occur and, on occasions, the axolotl passes undigested.

One thing to note is that although they retain larval morphology, they do develop rudimentary lungs, and axolotls can be seen to occasionally rise to the surface, take a quick gulp of air to fill these lungs, and then quickly descend to the bottom once more. From my observations, I believe that the lungs develop shortly after the rear legs reach their full length.


Recent comments and views received through from real Axolotl keepers!

Felicity Martyn: i find it very hard to clean out the blood worms from the bottom of the tank because i have white sand and they just get everywhere. so i prefer cleaner food i still feed him bloodworms just easier feeding him other sources of food ! but i love my axolotl he has his own personality and everytime i lift the lid he knwos its feeding time he comes to the surface!

David Burns: we have slate tile siliconed at the bottom of are tank it's a lot easier to clean.

Mike Newman: i clean the sand when it gets messy, i have a siphon tube that i use for water changes, and this seems to be good for hoovering the bottom , granted it will take up a bit of sand with the dirt but if you have a nice thick sand bed it shouldnt be a problem.

Lauren Dutfield: I use large stones at the bottom of my tank and a siphon tube cleans the water really well and gets all the bloodworms from inbetween the stones. In his tank he has a couple of hides and some artificial plants which he likes to swim between.


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