An Axolotl as Pet ?
Native of Mexico, of the two lakes Xochimilco and Chalco, the Axolotl is a kind of Salamander which seems to remain all its life in larval mode even after it reaches its adult size 30/40 cm, and does not metamorphose to leave one day its aquatic environment, but it keeps its gills (external, 3 on each side in addition to the webbed fingers) and it continues to live in water.
A Pet Axolotl is a very robust pet and easy to maintain, it has beautiful colors such as white (red-eyed albino), gold and black, nice to look at in his aquarium, you can touch it but they do not like to be manipulated.
Be prepared to take care of it for a long time because an Axolotl lives on average between 15 and 20 years if no illness or accident shortens its life.
Is it legal to have an Axolotl at home as a pet?
It is necessary to check the specific laws of your state concerning this animal (The Exotic Pet Laws ), because the Axolotl is sometimes considered as an endangered animal, especially the colored species, in California for example it is forbidden to have them at home, the same in Virginia, Maine, Jersey …
In which environment does an Axolotl live ?
In its natural environment and this is what you must try to reproduce if you want to acquire and take care of an axolotl, this occasionally active animal ( usually at night ) loves calm waters and rather cold temperatures that vary between (6 °C / 42,8 °F) and (20 °C / 68 °F )
The axolotl moves by walking on the bottom of the water more than it swims and to conclude, it is rather shy because it is an animal that is seen especially early in the morning or just at dusk).
They can also be observed when they come up to the surface to breathe and take in the air, Yes because the Axolotl breathes not only through its gills, but also through its lungs and its skin.
What does an Axolotl eat?
Axolotls feed on just about any other small animal that lives in their natural environment in fresh water such as daphnia, guppies, danios, cardinalis, tanichthys albonube, fry, insect larvae, tadpoles, small shrimp and other small freshwater crustaceans; they even eat small fish in the wild, mud worms even frozen as well.
Once put in an aquarium, you can add to this menu pellets and meal worms (crush their head first) but they are usually conditioned to eat only pellets specially designed for Axolotls and mud Earth worms (try to get worms from land far away from pesticides).
You can also feed your Axolotl with small pieces of freshwater fish of course, pieces of beef heart cut in such a way that it will be able to swallow them (especially in case of convalescence).
How often should you feed your Axolotl?
A young Axolotl of less than 10 cm must be fed every day, but once over 11 cm you can feed him once every two or even three days, you will notice that he moves too much in the aquarium when he is hungry, he is actually looking for something to eat at the bottom…
An adult Axolotl, over 15 years old, can eat only once a week, but you must give him food until he refuses to eat.
In fact it is also true that the Axolotls eat a little more when the water in their aquarium is rather warm, so if this is the case at home, you should feed your adult pet maybe twice a week, you can send him to and fro in the aquarium when he is hungry, don’t make him obese, you have to get to know the character of your Axolotl.
Can the Axolotl become a salamander like the others ?
Yes, under certain conditions, if the water temperature becomes a little warmer when there is a drop in the water level and especially if you interfere and inject a hormone called thyroxine which will in fact according to the specialists interact with the growth hormones until it is dormant and wake them up in a way, which will push the Axolotl to continue its development like the other members of its species and become a salamander and finally leave the aquatic environment.
Is it true that Axolotl can regenerate itself?
Yes, and this is what makes it an exciting subject of study for biologists.
Axolotls can actually replace their tail, gill, lips and even parts of their brain! they only need a few weeks for an individual say “adult” and less time when the axolotl is still young …
What are the different varieties and colors of Axolotls ?
To tell the truth, each one has its way of classifying these adorable axolotls, but one can agree on quoting the various colors (as far as possible) and some characteristics of each variety of axolotl, here and there.
There are generally 5 main ( melanoid ( Melanistic ) , leucistic , wild , the Golden and The Albino ) types of Axolotls, for the colors it is a little difficult to list them all but we can classify them according to these categories:
- Axolotls Albino : White with red eyes
- Wild Axolotls: Various spotted colors with golden circles in the eye
- Leucistic Axolotls color: White or pink with Black eyes
- Melanistic Axolotls : Black , Grey or white with completely black eyes.
- Axolotl Copper : Orange yellowish and Mottled Beige color without Black
- Melanistic axolotl Cooper : Brown spotted color
- Enigma axolotl (bred from wild type .rare)
Other Axolotl Morphs & Colors
Having almost no more natural habitat in Mexico , the Axolotls behave rather well and proliferate and thrive quickly as pets thanks to the love of enthusiasts on the one hand and their status as protected animals on the other.
There are 5 basic breeds but several variations of colors and morphs, here are their pictures, names and physical characteristics.
Some of them are really rare
- Golden Albino
- Wild Type axolotls
- Piebald axolotl – rare color
- Mosaic axolotls -rare morph
- Copper axolotl
- Lavender or Silver Dalmatian axolotls – rare ones too
- Black Melanoid
- White Albino
- Speckled Leucistic
- Rare -Chimera axolotl
- Heavily-Marked Melanoid
- GFP Axolotls or Green Fluorescent Protein
- Firefly axies , from Indiana but rare ones too
- Enigma Axolotl – very rare axolotls
You can of course meet other varieties but it is only the colors that generally change and all Axolotls are surely part of one of the 5 basic breeds.
Precautions to take when choosing an Axolotl :
When you want to choose an Axolotl,or a couple of axolotls to have them reproduced without too many risks, only buy individuals who are a little more than 9 or 10 cm tall, and they should preferably be used to eating pellets, or at least a mixture of pellets and earth worms, as this will make it easier for you to feed them.
To make sure that they are in excellent health, make sure to avoid buying Axolotls with gills that seem to be in bad shape, melted toes and especially if they are also thinner!!
How much does an Axolotl cost and where to buy it?
It is necessary to count at least $20 to $35 and sometimes match more !! for a young Axolotl of common race, that is to say not rare.
Rare axolotls like Enigma for example can be very expensive, up to $10.000 ( you can’t find one for sale !! that’s the truth ) .
To buy an axolotl , you have to go to an Exotic Pet Store, and if the store in your city doesn’t have one , ask them if they can find one for you or order one.
If not, you have to look for a facebook group on the axolotls in your state and get it yourself if you need it.
Don’t forget to check if they are allowed in your state or if you need a permit as well. I’m talking about here, in the United States , for example , you can’t have one in California but in Texas , you can !!! … if you are in the United Kingdom or Australia, Axolotls are allowed as pets in the whole country
Can I buy an axolotls on the internet, out of town and how do I get it back?
If you have to buy and bring your axolotls from out of town or from a neighboring state, you have to bring them back in a special box and not in a plastic bag.
Never buy your axolotls over the internet , never let them shipping it for you !!
Here is the box I’m talking about, Tan Live Bait Drybox/Cooler with 2 Speed Aerator Pump available on Amazon, you’d better buy it because you’ll need it to buy them small fish and live shrimp from time to time, remove your axolotls from their tank and clean it, bring them back in this box at the Vet … etc…
It is useful when you have axolotls.
What are the common diseases in Axolotls ?
Injuries and atrophies :
If you put several young individuals in the same aquarium, you will quickly notice that some of them start missing limbs, By the way , here how to set up the axolotl’s Tank
So … these limbs will grow back of course but it is due to cannibalism, Axolotls may actually attack each other if they are hungry, especially when they are still young and in a period of rapid growth, that’s why it is advisable to feed them every day at that age.
The Axolotls can contract fungus, it looks like cotton on the skin of the animal and they can also suffer from an infection that will be characterized by areas or parts that will begin to become blackish.
They are also frequent in these animals, it makes them lazy and remain almost motionless except to go to the surface and get some air, they will also tend not to eat as much as usual.
This is generally due to stress because of the noise that the devices make in the aquarium, another fish that disturbs him, he can stress because he does not find enough hiding place in the aquarium, not enough plants, too much food, the water in the aquarium becomes dirty …etc.
Your Axolotl will in fact remain floating on the water despite all its attempts to dive and return to the bottom of the aquarium.
If you want to know more about the different health problems that your axolotl could have, I invite you to read this article where I talk about all the axolotl diseases, their symptoms and the adequate care for each of them.
How much does it cost to have an Axolotl in your home?
Cheaper than having a dog or cat as a pet, , Axolotls are rather economical pets, they are not expensive to buy (from $30 to $100, or a little more for rare colors), their food is also available and inexpensive, you will just have to buy them a good and large aquarium, (Amazon link ) 160l ( more than 40 Gallon ) minimum for a couple of Axolotls and the appropriate filter, a pump generally with a power of 600 liters / hour to keep the water always clear and well oxygenated.
Ad for that a Fish tank decor tree (Amazon link)
What do Axolotls need in their tank?
It is necessary to prepare the aquarium at least one month and a half before the arrival of the axolotls, in order to respect the cycle of nitrogen inside.
To fill the Fish Tank , you can use rainwater after having let it rest and insert a limestone stone to regulate the PH of this water if it is acid , try to keep it around 7.
If not, you can use tap water and let it rest for at least 48 hours without covering it so that the chlorine can escape and preserve the microcosm of the aquarium necessary for the plants and your axolotls.
Prefer an aquarium of at least 40 Gallons for a couple of Axolotls. Lighting is not really necessary because it could stress the axolotls even if they have normally adapted to it at the Breeder.
If not you can leave the aquarium lighting on and add surface plants to cover the aquarium and dim the lighting, so your plants, necessary to supply the water with oxygen, will not die.
The axolotls like the calm; the filter must be as quiet as possible (like the one I recommended), the bubblers also are not necessary, it is the plants that will oxygenate the water, but if your axolotl is used to bubblers, you can put some.
The temperature of the aquarium of the axolotls should never fall below 10°C and rise above 25°C, the ideal temperature on the other hand is between 16°C and 18°C . ( 60-66) °F
Concerning the cohabitation with other species of fish, axolotls can cohabit with freshwater fish as long as they are of small size like guppies and platys, and especially do not “introduce these fish only after a quarantine period of at least 10 days to ensure that they are not sick and carrying parasites.
Frequently asked questions about axolotls
Here are short and precise answers to the most frequently asked questions that are generally asked when you have an axolotl
Are axolotls good pets for beginners?
Yes, the axolotls, once you have prepared a tank well adapted to them, you have almost nothing left to do, except feed them, and a little cleaning from time to time, no particular knowledge to adopt them, but do some research on these adorable animals, this will prevent you from making mistakes that could harm them.
Do axolotls have teeth ?
Yes, but the teeth of an axolotl are very small, it just uses them to catch small fish and especially slippery earthworms, so don’t be afraid that it will bite you, it doesn’t melt and even if your Axie bites you, nothing will happen to you lol you will even love it.
Do this Mexican Walking Fish Play Dead ?
Yes, the axolotls play dead when they put themselves in hunting mode, if you introduce some small fishes in the Tank of a hungry Axie, you will not delay to see it coming out of its hiding place, landing on the bottom without moving, and when a small fish is going to approach him, he is going to swallow it with the speed of a lightning.
Does Axolotl Sleep ?
Yes, of course the Axolotls sleep with their eyes open, because they don’t have eyelids, but they take a nap in their shelter when it’s a bit dark and when they are not hungry anymore.
Do Axolotls Recognize their Owners ?
Your axolotl will recognize you and will associate you especially with the food, your reward in fact it is to be able to admire it in the Tank, it can also react to your hand if you slide it on the window of the tank but it is very rare.
Can axolotls be Kept Together ?
Yes, you can put two or even more axolotls in the same aquarium as long as they are of the same size, do not mix wild species and those born in captivity and above all ensure them the space they need and a good water filtering system.
Why is my Axolotl floating upside down?
This situation generally happens for the young axolotls, the reason which makes them float the head downwards, it is the gases which accumulate in their intestines because their colon did not yet develop all the intestinal flora necessary to digest the meals too rich in proteins, like the pellets, do not worry, that will pass quickly.
Do Axolotls like to be touched?
No, not really, the axolotls do not like to be too much manipulated and taken in the hand, you can of course do it, when you want to clean the tank or to administer a drug to them but it is necessary to wash your hands and especially to take them with delicacy, because the axolotls are very fragile and especially have the sensitive skin and especially, avoid touching them in the eyes, they do not have eyelids.
How long does an axolotl live ?
Axes are animals that become mature from the age of six months, they can live very long, even more than 15 years ( some of them 20 years ; There are exceptions, we have seen for example in France an axolotl that lived 25 years in captivity, but those who transform and become salamanders, rarely live more than 6 years. ) in captivity if they are well fed, if they have enough space and especially if they are not stressed and especially if the water is of good quality, an ideal temperature (around 18 ° C) and especially well filtered.
Is it illegal to have an Axolotl in the USA?
In some states, it is illegal to have an Axolotl as a pet, the labs are looking for them, they have the right to do so !
In California for example, the reason why Axies are illegal is that they are a threat to local species !!! “detrimental animals”.
You must therefore inquire about the current regulation on exotic pets, each state has in fact its own laws on this matter.
what can stress an axolotl?
There are several possible reasons if your axolotl is stressed such as :
- If your Axolotl will choose a dark corner of the tank and spend most of the day there.
- If its gills are too curved forward and especially your axie is in a state of stress if its gills have become too red and remain so for several days while they are rather pink when it is calm.
- If he throws himself towards the walls of the tank and hits his muzzle on it…
- If it adopts a semicircle position
- Sometimes, a stressed axolotl has the tip of its tail a little curved as well.
- If the water in the Tank is too hot.
- If the tank is small enough
- If the tank is too bright
- If the water is too polluted
- If there is an axolotl larger than two inches in the same tank
- If there is another larger fish in the same tank or too many small fish attacking its gills
- If your axolotl has an infection
- You will in fact see it coming and going in the tank but above all you will recognize an axolotls in a situation of stress if it suddenly starts to float without being able to return to the bottom of the tank; especially outside the feeding time .
how do i know if my axolotls are ready to breed and mate?
You can actually expect your axolotls to start mating as early as seven months of age, which is the age at which axolotls become adults.
It is nevertheless advisable to wait until your Axies have reached at least 20 cm to let them reproduce in order to have axolotl eggs and babies that have all their chance to proliferate.
To prevent them from reproducing, the couples must be separated when temperatures drop, during the winter for example.
What is the ideal temperature for the water in the tank of an axolotl?
The axles remain in excellent health if the temperature of their water is between 16°C and 18°C. It is also not recommended to let the temperature drop below 10°C and especially above 23°C.
What is the ideal PH for the water in an axolotl tank?
The water should be neither too acidic, which could be the case of rain water, especially in cities, nor too basic ! the PH should be around 7, between 6.5 and 8.5
How does an axolotl breathe?
In fact an axolotl breathes from everywhere lol, it’s a good one …sorry…
Then, the axolotl can breathe using three methods:
- It can breathe with its gills by filtering oxygen from the water.
- It also breathes through the skin, like amphibians.
- It can also rise to the surface and suck water into its lungs like any of us.
What is the correct level of ammonia and nitrite in the water of my axolotl?
If you notice that your axolotl rises too often to breathe on the surface, be aware that the water in your tank is probably poorly filtered and begins to be saturated with nitrates, which should never exceed 60 PPM (parts per million), while ammonia should never exceed 1 PPM.
You will actually notice that the water in the tank of your axolotl is starting to turn green, which is a sign that algae are starting to grow there in .
What is water hardness ?
If the water has a high concentration of dissolved salts, We are not talking about table salt here, like the one in your kitchen !! don’t add this one to the tank water !! but about the other type of salts like Epsom salt (Magnesium sulphate)
Soft water has a low concentration.
Axolotls prefer slightly hard water, which means they prefer water that has a good concentration of dissolved salts.
These kinds of salts actually give your axolotl the minerals it needs, such as magnesium and calcium, especially if your axolotl doesn’t eat small fish from time to time.
What are the different signs that my axolotl may be sick?
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your axia, it’s time to take it to a Vet:
- Too frequent surface air intakes
- Very red and/or very angry animal (outside of meals and breeding)
- Atrophied gills
- Jumping out of the water
- Refusal to eat
- Skin that peels
- Huge belly
- Ball of ‘cotton’ in the gills
Why does my axolotl refuse to eat?
If your axolotl doesn’t want to eat anymore, know that it could be a constipation (intestinal occlusion), take it to see his Vet and he will normally prescribe 1 ml of kerosene oil per day and orally for 3 days, everything will be fine after that.
Can you Pet Your Axolotl ?
Axolotls can be petted but very gently and never squeezed because they have more cartilage than bone and especially because they have a very sensitive and delicate skin and do not have scales that protect them from external elements.
If you want to pet your axolotl, wash your hands before putting them in the tank, make sure that your hands are not too hot or too cold and that your nails are well trimmed and that you don’t risk hurting your axolotl if it moves suddenly when it is in your hand.
You may want to put on an oven mitt if you have rough hands.
Start by moving your hand gently towards the head of your axolotl and let it approach you out of curiosity. Avoid sudden movements and you can either caress your axolotl on the head, or grab it and put your hand under its belly and let it rest on the palm of your hand.
Rest it gently on the substrate of its tank.
Some axolotls like to be petted and some don’t, it will depend on the age of your axolotl and its character and whether it is used to you or not, so be patient and let your axolotl approach your hand before touching it so as not to scare it, you can use food as an approach.