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  • What is the best food for my axolotl?
    For Axolotls Over 7.5 cm (3 inches) Long: Earthworms provide the most nutritionally complete diet for an axolotl. Earthworms contain over 60% protein with a Ca:P ratio greater than 1. You may feed as much as the axolotl will consume within a few minutes. Earthworms must be cut into smaller pieces for juvenile axolotls. For example, you may feed a juvenile axolotl one nightcrawler per serving, cut into thirds, if it is a larger worm. It is more difficult to overfeed juveniles than adults, but axolotls can still be overfed, causing internal issues over time. Axolotl pellets, such as Rangen salmon pellets, Invert Aquatics axolotl pellets, or Hikari Sinking Carnivore Pellets can be used to supplement the main diet of earthworms. These pellets typically have over 45% protein, which makes them healthier than bloodworms, but still not adequate enough to make up the majority of an axolotl's diet. One serving of pellets can consist of at least 1 pellet per inch of axolotl per day. Bloodworms can be used only as occasional treats, due to their low nutritional value. They contain around 40% protein, but severely lack in calcium/phosphorus. Please see our Axolotl Nutrition article for more occasional treat options and specific nutritional values! For Axolotls Under 7.5 cm (3 inches) Long: For axolotls that have just hatched, live foods like baby brine shrimp, baby daphnia, and microworms work best until they begin to grow their legs in. Blackworms (Lumbriculus variegatus) are the most nutritionally complete diet for axolotl hatchlings once they have just started to grow their legs in, if the axolotls are still smaller than 7.5 cm (3 inches) long. Axolotls can start eating more nutritious cut up earthworms and pellets at about 7.5 cm (3 inches) long, but be sure to cut the worms into small enough pieces for small axolotls.
  • How much should I feed my axolotl?
    It depends on the age of your axolotl! New hatchlings have extremely fast metabolisms, and must eat multiple times per day to be satisfied. On the other hand, normal juveniles can eat 1-3 times per day, depending on how old they are. Fully grown adults can eat once every 2-3 days. Your axolotl should be fed daily until it is around one year old, since growing axolotls have faster metabolisms. It is typically recommended to feed 2-3 times per day until the axolotl is around 12.7 cm (5 inches) long. Appetites may vary slightly between axolotls. If your axolotl is at least 15 cm (6 inches long) and is satisfied with eating once every day or two and still has a healthy size, then that is fine. When it comes to determining if your axolotl is eating enough, please note that a healthy size is when the abdomen is about the same width as the head. One serving of food for a juvenile may be as much as it will eat within a few minutes. For fully grown adults, 1-2 medium sized earthworms per serving once every 2-3 days may suffice. Sometimes the axolotl may throw up its food if it has eaten too much. If your axolotl throws up, test all of your water parameters to ensure that overeating was the only cause! (Reminder: Water parameters should be 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, <20 nitrate, 6.5-8.0 pH at all times)
  • What supplies do I need before getting an axolotl?
    Check out our Axolotl Supply List!
  • How can I keep my tank temperature down?
    In order to not induce stress, an axolotl tank must stay between 15-20˚C (60-68˚F) at all times. Most owners need clip-on fan(s) or an aquarium chiller for the tank to keep it below room temperature. Make sure the fans are blowing across the water, and that the water level is high enough to be affected by the fans. The effectiveness of clip-on fans heavily depends on the humidity where you live, as water will not evaporate if the air is too humid. For short term, emergency cooling, you may add frozen dechlorinated water bottles or dechlorinated ice cubes to the tank. Making ice cubes out of the tank water is also an option. The most reliable option is to purchase an aquarium water chiller to keep the water cool, but they are relatively expensive. However, this may be the only option for those who live in very hot or humid climates. Please see our How to Lower the Temperature in an Axolotl Tank article for more information!
  • What do I do if my axolotl has fungus?
    If your axolotl is having any issues at all, the first thing to do is check your current water parameters to determine if anything is amiss. The most effective way to treat fungus is to fix the stressor that caused it. Fungal infections on the gills will typically resolve themselves within a couple days once the stressor has been eliminated. In a fully cycled aquarium, your ammonia concentration should be at 0 ppm, nitrite at 0 ppm, and nitrate somewhere between 5 and 20 ppm, and pH between 6.5-8.0 in order to not induce stress in your aquatic pets. For axolotls, the temperature must remain between 15-20˚C (60-68˚F) at all times. Once the aquarium has returned to optimal water parameters, the fungus should fall off. If there is any ammonia or nitrite present in your tank, the axolotl should be Tubbed until you can correct the water parameters by Cycling Your Tank. If the fungal infection is very progressed (covering parts of the body and not just the gills), the axolotl would likely require Methylene Blue (half doses). Methylene Blue must be administered in a tub container, as it will both stain your tank and kill the beneficial bacteria in your filter. If you are not already keeping your axolotl in a tub, it is strongly encouraged that you do when using Methylene Blue, as it stains everything blue, and can possibly crash your cycle. ឵឵ We recommend that you never use salt baths to treat any illnesses in axolotls, as there is a plethora of safer, less stressful alternatives. Salt baths are harsh on the axolotl, and will easily damage its gills and slime coat. They often cause more harm than good, and end up stressing the axolotl further. In lieu of salt baths, tea baths are an optional form of treatment without any known negative side effects. Tea baths are soothing to the axolotl, and can help treat early stage fungal infections, though they are optional.
  • How do I tub my axolotl?
    Tubbing an axolotl is keeping it in a plastic container and performing at least one 100% water change per day. You may either use spring water, or tap water that has been treated with water conditioner. You must always remember to temperature match whenever you move your axolotl to a new body of water, so as not to shock them! You can use containers that have enough space for the axolotl to move around comfortably and hold at least 14 liters (3 gallons). Tip: Since 100% water changes are required, it is easier to keep a second tub sitting out in the same room to transfer the axolotl over to when the time comes for a water change. This keeps both tubs at the same temperature, so no extra temperature matching is required, and the axolotl can be simply scooped up and transferred to the next tub. Do not fill the tub close to the top unless you are covering it with a lid or towel. Axolotls can easily jump out of your tub or tank if the water level is too high. Tubbing is a great way to monitor sick axolotls, as well as a way to temporarily house axolotls if your tank is not fully cycled yet. It is also beneficial to add a hide and an air stone to the tub to make the axolotl more comfortable. The extra oxygen from the air stone will be appreciated by your axolotl, and the surface agitation will prevent a protein film from potentially forming on the surface of the water.
  • How do I give my axolotl a tea bath?
    In order to administer a tea bath, caffeinated black tea where the only ingredient listed is black tea is required. The ratio of 1 part tea to 3 parts water can be used to create the bath. 1. Brew the cup of tea, then place it in the refrigerator to cool down to the temperature of the water of the tub where you will be placing your axolotl. 2. Once the tea has cooled to the temperature of the tub water, you may pour it into the appropriate volume of water to create the tea bath. 3. Always temperature match or acclimate whenever moving your axolotl to a different body of water to avoid temperature shock! 4. Place your axolotl in the tea bath tub for 10-15 minutes before removing them. This may be repeated this up to two times per day. Tea baths are not known to cause any negative side effects.
  • Is it normal for my axolotl to float at the surface of the water?
    Occasionally, axolotls may intentionally float at the surface of the water. However, if this is occurring frequently, it may indicate poor water quality or another issue. If your axolotl is floating, but is unable to sink and stay at the bottom of the tank, then this is a sign of either needing to poop or swallowing air. This can also present as the axolotl’s tail floating upwards more than the rest of its body. This will usually pass after a day or two, but you may move your axolotl into a tub with shallow water in the meantime so that it is not stressed about attempting to stay on the bottom of the tank. If the floating persists, you may be dealing with constipation. If you are sure that your axolotl has not pooped for at least 10 days in addition to floating, then you may need to treat for constipation. This can be done by fridging.
  • How do I fridge my axolotl?
    When fridging an axolotl, it is important that they are kept at temperatures no lower than 5°C (40°F). It should also be noted that at this warmer temperature, food in your fridge may begin to spoil. It is recommended to use a secondary refrigerator if you have one available. It is important that fridging is used only when absolutely necessary! Fridging should only be used to treat severe constipation and in life or death situations, such as extremely advanced fungal infections that cover parts of the body. Fridging is done by placing your axolotl in a small tub of water into the refrigerator, which should be no colder than 5°C (40°F). Even though your axolotl is fridged, you will still need to do daily, temperature matched water changes. You should have a supply of water in the refrigerator that you will use for these water changes. This allows you to do water changes with water that is the same temperature as your axolotl's tub water. Once you are done fridging, it is important to slowly bring your axolotl back up to the temperature of its tank. Adding your axolotl directly into warmer water will put it through a tremendous amount of stress. Floating the axolotl in a container on top of the water in its tank will let your axolotl slowly warm up to the tank's temperature.
  • Is it normal for my axolotl to be really active? Or really lazy?
    Sometimes axolotls may just become more active, especially at night when it is darker. If you have checked your water parameters and everything is optimal as described in our Care Guide, and the axolotl is not swimming erratically, then it should be fine. However, if your axolotl is swimming around at the surface a lot, this may be a problem. If they appear to be trying to swim downward only to float back up, they have either swallowed an air bubble or may be constipated. See "Is it normal for my axolotl to float at the surface of the water?” for instructions on how to deal with this. It is also normal for axolotls to lay around all day and not move very much, since they are opportunistic hunters. Axolotls will often stay on the bottom of the tank or rest on any plants or decorations.
  • My axolotl keeps refusing to eat worms?
    The first thing to do whenever there is any sign of abnormal behavior in your axolotl is to check your water parameters to make sure there is no ammonia or nitrite present in the tank. Toxic compounds in the water will cause loss of appetite in your axolotl. Red wiggler earthworms (Eisenia fetida) secrete a bitter tasting slime as a defense mechanism which your axolotl may not like. Even if your axolotl has been eating red wigglers for a long time, it may suddenly start refusing them because of this. To get rid of the slime, you can soak the worms in any dechlorinated water for a few hours before feeding. Another way to remove the bitter taste is to freeze the worms then wash off the slime before feeding. You can also blanch the worms before feeding. If you are unable to get your axolotl to eat red wigglers, you can also try feeding Canadian nightcrawlers or European nightcrawlers instead.
  • Why is my water cloudy?
    If you have just begun cycling your tank (without the axolotl in it), it is normal to get a cloudy bacterial bloom, and it will most likely go away after a few days. If your tank is cycled, be sure to check your parameters to make sure everything is optimal as stated in our Care Guide. Make sure you are doing the necessary weekly water change(s) and spot cleaning with a turkey baster to keep your tank clean. If you have recently added gravel or sand to your tank without rinsing it, this can also cause your water to become cloudy. You can avoid this by thoroughly rinsing your gravel or sand. If you added your substrate without rinsing, the cloudiness will slowly disappear over the next few days. Another reason your water may be cloudy is from dissolved constituents like phosphates, heavy metals, and silicates.
  • What substrate do I use?
    There is always a risk of impaction when using loose substrate with axolotls because axolotls will always consume their substrate, even if you do not feed the axolotl on the sand or never witness the axolotl eating it. A very soft, fine sand with grain size less than 1 mm diameter can be used as a substrate if your axolotl is over 15 cm (6 inches) long because there is a much better change of it passing through the digestive system safely when it is swallowed. If your axolotl is smaller, you can either set up a bare bottom tank, or place tiles on the bottom. Make sure bare bottom tanks have lots of decorations or large rocks for the axolotl to grip onto. Do not use any gravel, small rocks, or small decorations because axolotls can eat anything that is the size of their head or smaller. If your axolotl eats gravel or smaller decorations, they may become impacted or choke on them.
  • Why do I need to cycle my tank?
    Cycling your tank establishes the necessary colonies of beneficial bacteria that will filter out the toxic waste (ammonia and nitrite) generated from your axolotl’s waste. If left in an un-cycled tank, the animal will become sick or die as the ammonia and nitrite continue to build up to lethal levels. After you cycle a tank, the beneficial bacteria will convert this ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate, which is a safe compound as long as it is kept under 20 ppm while the axolotl is in the tank. Please see our Cycling Guide for more information.
  • Is it okay to have a light for my tank?
    Axolotls prefer darker environments, as they are sensitive to light and have no eyelids. The only lights that should be used with axolotls are low light aquarium lights. If you do decide to get a tank light, make sure your axolotl has places where it can hide from the light. It is also important that you do not keep the light on constantly. Keeping your light on for around 8 hours will give you a chance to appreciate your axolotl under the light and supply any plants that you may have with enough light to thrive.
  • What live plants work with axolotls?
    Since axolotl tanks require low light, you will only be able to have low light plants in your aquarium. Aquarium plants can be separated into three categories: rhizome, rooted and other. Rhizome The rhizome is a thick horizontal stem that grows on the bottom of plants, where the roots grow out of. Some low light plants with rhizomes include anubias, java fern, and aquatic mosses. Anubias is a great choice for beginners because it is hardy and difficult to kill. In addition to this, there are several different types of anubias that all have a unique and different look. Java ferns come in a few different varieties as well. Additionally, java ferns will create smaller plants that will grow from their leaves. This is a rhizome plant that you can propagate easily. Aquatic mosses come in several varieties as well. They are relatively easy to grow but need to be trimmed occasionally. All of these rhizome plants do not need to be planted in substrate. It is important to not that you do not bury the rhizome. This will cause the rhizome to rot and will kill the plant. To plant rhizome plants all you need to do is glue the rhizome to a rock or piece of decor, tie the rhizome down with fishing line, or wedge the rhizome in between gaps in rocks or decor. Rooted Rooted plants are plants that you have to plant in the substrate. Some great rooted plants that can be used with axolotls are amazon swords, elodea, vallisneria, cryptocorynes, guppy grass, ludwigia, and water wisteria just to name a few. Amazon swords are a rosette plant that will grow long slender leaves and over time become a fairly large plant. Valisneria grows very long and thin leaves that will most likely reach the top of your tank. Cryptocorynes are slow growing narrow leaf plants. Cryptocorynes come in several different colors and in many different sizes. Guppy grass, ludwigia, and water wisteria are all stem plants that will slowly branch out from one stem into a forked stem. These can be easily propagated by cutting a few inches of the stem tip off and planting it in the substrate. Other In addition to rhizome and rooted plants, there are other plants that can be used as well. One of which is marimo 'moss' balls. These are balls of green algae that will not spread through your tank like other algaes. These will house some beneficial bacteria and your axolotl may even enjoy rolling them around. Make sure that if you do get any marimo balls that they are larger than your axolotls head so they cannot choke on them. Some other plants that you can use are floating plants like salvinia and dwarf water lettuce. These will float on the surface of your tank and can help to dim the light for your axolotl.
  • Can I use fertilizer for my plants?
    There is not much known about fertilizers being safe with axolotls, but it is better to add as little chemicals as possible to an amphibian tank because their semi-permeable skin absorb more of it than fish would. The plants that you would be using with an axolotl would be low maintenance plants with low light requirements, and most of them draw from the water column and not the substrate, so they would not require fertilizer or other supplementation, such as plant substrate.
  • What are these red dots on my axolotl?
    Red spots on your axolotl are often a sign of poor water quality. If your ammonia and nitrite concentrations are not 0 ppm, then your axolotl may develop a rash because of irritation from the ammonia. Be sure to check your water parameters with a liquid test kit, and tub your axolotl until you can fix them if any ammonia or nitrite is present. See Cycling Guide for how to properly cycle your aquarium to achieve safe water quality. These red dots could also be a sign of a bacterial infection. If your axolotl has other symptoms of bacterial infection, such as deteriorating limbs, redness in the limbs, loss of appetite, etc. it may be best to see a vet who can prescribe medication to treat it. Medication prescribed by a vet is often the only option for treating bacterial infections.
  • Can axolotls have tank mates?
    The only tank mates that axolotls can have are other axolotls of the same sex and size, or small shrimp. Ghost or cherry shrimp can be kept with larger axolotls, but will likely get eaten. Snails of any size are a risk to have in axolotl tanks because your axolotl may try to eat them. This may result in your axolotl becoming impacted. Larger snails, like mystery snails, may have sharp trapdoors on their shells that can cut your axolotl if it tries to eat them.
  • What are the signs of stress in axolotls?
    • Curled forward gills • Small or diminishing gill stalks or filaments • Swimming erratically • Writhing • Difficulty maneuvering around; dragging back legs when walking (Common with constipation) • Loss of appetite • Floating frequently • Scratching at gills with back leg, like a dog (Usually indicates there is ammonia in the water) • Very tip of the tail folding or curling (Not the whole tail) If you notice any signs of stress, the first step is to check your water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, temperature) with a liquid test kit! If your axolotl's gills are shrinking, it means there is something wrong with the water.
  • How long can I leave food in my axolotl’s tank?
    It is beneficial to not leave food in your axolotl's tank for more than an hour or so. Uneaten food, such as pellets, can break down quickly and begin to release extra ammonia.
  • How can I alter the pH of my tank water?
    Natural ways to alter pH include the use of tannins (to lower pH) or crushed coral (to raise pH). To lower your pH, you can place driftwood, Indian almond leaves, or peat moss in the tank. These will leach tannins into the water, which will lower the pH and turn the water a darker yellow/brown color. To raise pH, crushed coral can be bought as an aquarium substrate. You may start by using 0.5 kg (1 lb) of crushed coral per 8 liters (10 gallons). It must be kept in a media bag in your tank or filter to avoid ingestion by the axolotl. A severely low tap water pH of 6.5 or lower may be corrected with GH and KH raising products in buckets BEFORE putting the water into the tank, however these products must be dosed very carefully and correctly, as too many chemicals or sudden swings in pH will both cause stress to the axolotl.
  • What do I do if my axolotl laid eggs?
    If your axolotl has lain eggs, the male and female axolotls must be separated in order to prevent overbreeding of the female. It is recommended to not breed female axolotls more than once every 6 months, in order to avoid stress and health issues. Axolotls of the opposite sex can either be separated into different aquariums of at least 132 liters (29 gallons) each or rehomed to someone else. Be sure to scour the tank in order to remove every egg, as they can get stuck in tank decor. It is very important that any axolotl eggs laid by parents with unknown genetics and untracked lineages be culled by freezing for 24-48 hours. The population of captive axolotls is currently extremely inbred and suffering from a great deal of genetic issues, which are perpetuated by bad breeding practices and accidental eggs being raised. Axolotls from pet stores should never be bred, due to harmful and/or unknown genetics that result in health issues. Only axolotls from reputable breeders with documented lineages and genetics (heterozygous morph alleles) should ever be bred, in order to avoid passing down unknown genes.
  • How do I change tanks/acclimate established filter media to my tank without crashing the cycle?
    If you are switching aquariums, keep the filter media (or whole filter) in old tank water the entire time, and use as much old water as possible to prevent completely changing the bacteria’s environment. Keep filter media submerged the entire time. Slowly add new water to prevent changing the environment too quickly for the bacteria. If you are acclimating established filter media, carefully acclimate the media by floating it in your tank inside a bag or tub of its old water and adding a small amount of your tank's water every 15 minutes for an hour or two. After this, you can place the filter or media into your tank.
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