What do Axolotls Need , Tank Decor & Set up ?
Axolotl is a pet that is very easy to maintain but first, you ‘ll need a Fish Tank that is as close as possible to its natural environment, a rather large aquarium, clear, calm, without too much, swirling water and well oxygenated with a PH around 7, not too much light, some plants and a maximum of shelters, without forgetting a tank that has completed its nitrogen cycle, basically a tank that now houses the fauna (bacteria) and flora necessary to help keep the water clean at the microscopic level) Let’s now take a closer look …
Which Tank size for Axolotls ?
When choosing a Fish Tank for this Salamander tadpole , the axolotl , you should rather think surface on the ground.
The wider your aquarium is at its base, the better, the height of the aquarium can measure 35 com regardless of the number of axolotls you will put in it but the length and width of the Tank must be adapted to the number and size of axolotls, here are the measures recommended by the specialists of “Axies”:
|The Number of Axolotls||Recommended Tank Size|
|1 ou 2 ( a couple)||80 cm X 35 cm ( more than 2feet long and a half ft wide ) .40Gal|
|4 ( 2 couples )||100 cm X 40 cm Or 55 Gal|
|6 axolotls||120 cm X 50 cm Or 75 Gal|
|More than 8 axolotls (breeders)||150 cm X 35 cm X 45 cm|
For the equivalent on the market I advise you to start with an aquarium of at least 40 Gallon for a single Axolotl or perhaps a young couple of less than 15 cm.
A Substrate for an Axie’s Tank ?
If you are ready to make the effort to clean the habitat of your axolotls, you can use any substrate, fine sand, Big gravel , a mixture to reproduce the soil of its natural environment … etc…
But for more convenience and easier cleaning, I advise you to use just a bare bottom tank, you will spend less time cleaning your aquarium and this during the possible 14 long years that your axolotl will live in your home …
The substrate is also useful to preserve even better the bacteria that stabilize the nitrogen cycle in the tank even if you change the water.
For juvenile axolotls , it’s better to not use substrate .
Which substrate & Decorative rocks to choose for my axolotl tank ?
Axolotls suck their food, they do not grab it!! this exposes them to the risk of gut impactions because they can suck and swallow small gravels, in fact everything that could pass in their mouth!
That’s why it is recommended to use a fine substrate, for axolotls tank because this sand can easily pass through the digestive system of the axolotl without creating obstructions or intestinal blockages.
I recommend using Aqua Terra’s Aquarium & Terrarium Sand, (leave it 24 hours in a container filled with fresh water and wash the substrate well before putting it in the tank) without dye of course (the white bag . You can use Stoney River as well ), and if you want to add stones and pebbles, they should be at least twice the size of the axolotl’s mouth.
For these decorative rocks , you can use Large Decorative Polished Gravel River Pebbles Rocks for Fresh Water.
The substrate makes the tank look nicer, but it also helps by creating a habitat for good bacteria, keeping the water parameters of the tank in balance, i.e. ensuring the stability of the nitrogen cycle in the tank and it’s more comfortable for your axolotl’s paws.
How to clean the axolotl’s tank substrate?
To avoid overwatering, it will be necessary to clean the substrate of food remains and any other organic debris that will settle on the bottom of the tank.
You will need Tank Sand Cleaner Kit Aquarium Siphon Vacuum, so that you don’t have to remove all the substrate, wash it and put it back.
Which Filter should I use for my axolotl Tank?
Do not skimp on this filter, it is essential to keep the water in your tank clean and get all the waste that they produce out of water, as axolotls can get very dirty.
Of course axolotls need a good powerful filter, but it should not produce a strong current and a lot of backwash in the aquarium ( no strong hang on back filter !! )
I advise you, a Sponge Filter, it is very effective to keep your tank clean without creating too many currents in the water that can stress your axolotls.
For a 40 Gallon Fish Tank, use a filter that is originally used for 75 gallon aquariums when breeding other fish species.
So , Axies are big polluters, they are creatures that can really produce a lot of waste compared to other simple fish.
Their droppings are a scale model of dog droppings and you really need to filter the water and why not use a pipette or a large syringe (or even Turkey Basters) to suck their waste out to keep the water clear and not change it as often.
Get into the habit of doing a little cleaning after each feeding of your axolotls.
Even if you use an excellent filter to keep your axolotl aquarium clean, it is still recommended to change the water in your tank at least once a week.
Axolotls Tank and the light ?
Axolotls, exactly like their close land cousins, the Tiger Salamanders, are not really fans of light, they are rather nocturnal animals, who love dark and shady corners and who are rather active at dusk in their natural environment.
They have no eyelids as you know, and the only way for them to rest their eyes and get in a dark place, so do not deprive them of that and reduce the lighting of the tank to maximum even if you use a lot of great axolotl shelters.
A small lighting, can a soft blue light will suffice, just to be able to contemplate and enjoy your axolotl. A simple Itty-Bitty Led strip would do very well to light your tank.
The brighter the room where you expose your Tank is, the more shelters you must put in the Tank, so that your axolotls must hide easily when they want to rest and avoid stressing them.
If you use live plants as decoration for your Tank, I recommend natural light, do not move your aquarium too far from the window, but never expose it to the sun, you risk heating the water and harming your axolotls, or even killing them, because they love cold water, which you will have to keep around 18 ° C and that’s what we will see now.
A Chiller for my Axolotl Tank ?
The axolotls are forbidden in California, but if you live in a state which knows temperature increases, especially during the summer season, you will surely need a Chiller, I know they are a little expensive, but they are really effective to keep the temperature of your Tank constant, between 16°C and 18°C. (60° F to 64° F), it is better that the water is a little colder than hot !
This Chiller, you are going to install it outside the aquarium and will actually suck the water from the tank, cool it to the ideal and desired temperature and then return it to the tank, here is the one I recommend on Amazon
The water temperature must not exceed 70° F .
The Evaporative Cooling method :
But during spring or autumn, it might be enough to just try to expose the Tank, the closest to the ground and use an Aquarium Fan ( I recommend at least the three Fans version for a 20 Gal tank, you can see it on Amazon here ). just put it on the Mesh Lid that will covers the Tank and let the magic happens !
Be careful because this method will only lower the water temperature by about 10 degrees, so you must use a cooler if the temperature difference is greater than 10 degrees (more than 28° or 30 °C in the room !!).
Avoid using ice bottles, it doesn’t work !!!
How to start a good nitrogen cycle in the tank?
First of all, what water should I use for my axolotl’s tank? .
You can use tap water to fill your axolotl’s tank as long as you treat it with aquarium freshwater conditioner for axolotl tank to neutralize any chemical pollution and remove chlorine and chloramine.
Fluival biological enhancer to start the nitrogen cycle ( see how on this post – copy & past the link in an other tab : https://modestfish.com/how-to-cycle-your-aquarium ) in the water and prepare it to host your axolotls after you have tested the water of course with the Freshwater Tank test Kit ( User guides and measurements come with the products ).
The ideal is to prepare the tank of your axolotl at least one month before bringing your pet to give time to the nitrogen cycle and the good bacteria to settle in the substrate and on the decor which will guarantee the stability of the water parameters of the tank.
It’s better to get a bottle of stress Guard and toxic ammonia reducer , it could help some day !!
Living plants as decoration for the Axolotl Tank
A Planted Tank ? It is a good choice if you have finally controlled the natural lighting that reaches the Tank, and especially if you intend to mate your axolotls because it is on and around the leaves of these plants that the female axolotl will deposit and stick the eggs.
You will need robust and solid plants because the axolotls use them sometimes to rest on, this is why I advise you a mixture of living and synthetic plants.
Here are those that I recommend you:
- Anubia Isabelle and the Java Fern, strong and resistant if the axolotl rests on it.
- Amazon Frogbits and Water Lettuce Floating plants To create shade in the water
- Elodea (Water Weeds), this plant is excellent to accommodate the eggs when the female axolotl is ready to reproduce.
- Marimo moss ball : This plant will help the natural filtration of the tank water, it absorbs pollutants like phosphates, nitrates and ammonia
Axolotl Decor , the hiding spots :
The axolotl needs one or two dark corners where it will retreat during the day to escape the daylight so it can sleep and rest or simply hide when it feels threatened and afraid.
The hideout must have an entrance and an exit, axolotls do not swim backwards! Also make sure there are no sharp edges that could hurt the axolotl’s fragile skin.
Avoid decorations made for saltwater aquariums !!
You can use cichlid rocks, Terracotta pots or simply PVA Pipes.
Set up at least two hiding places for your axolotl so that it has a choice, you won’t know which corners it will love
Driftwood and Rocks as decoration for axolotl’s tank
Driftwood is an excellent element to decorate the tank of your axolotl, this decoration gives a natural look for the aquarium and will make your axolotl very curious and he will surely love it and often land on it and go under it to explore it.
I recommend you to buy it instead of collecting it in the nature to avoid parasites …etc
You also have many choices for Rocks and Stones to decorate your axolotl’s tank.
It’s not just for looks, some axolotls like to rest on stones more than on sand or other substrates.
Choose natural rocks, which do not release minerals and calcium into the water, which could disrupt the nitrogen cycle or the water’s ph.
Avoid sharp rocks as well to avoid hurting your axolotls and small stones that he can swallow by accident while sucking his pellets.
The main point when choosing decorations for your axolotl tank is to ensure the safety of your axolotl by avoiding sharp edges and objects that it can swallow.
Also avoid decorations intended for saltwater aquariums as they can release substances into the water that can alter the water and the Nitrogen cycle and the PH and make your axolotl sick or agitated
Food for the axolotls:
You will need a glass jar, without a lid, clean and wide enough to put the worms and any other food like their pellets in before introducing it into the tank.
So the axolotls can access it to eat, and then you can just lift the jar up to get the rest of the food and keep the tank clean.
Axolotls will of course have to eat and their favorite food is of course worms, they can also eat pellets, small freshwater fish, crustaceans … I recommend this other blogpost for more information on how to feed your axolotls.
Some Tank mates for my Axolotls ?
The axolotls can eat each other if they are hungry, make sure never to put together two axolotls that have a difference in size of more than 2 inches (5 cm).
If you want to introduce other small freshwater fish in the Tank ( Shrimp , white cloud minnows… ) , it is good to put them before in quarantine to get rid of possible parasites , and you must also know that these fish will surely be used as food for your axolotls , so be ready.
So let’s be very kind with these cute creatures, which have almost disappeared from their natural environment, they are almost all in captivity now, their last natural lair is a lake that Mexico City dries a little bit more each day ! It’s sad No ? well go thank you and take good care of your axolotls
Any Questions? Please send them by Email …
See ya guys …