Axolotls: all you need to know on these quirky creatures.
The axolotl, or "Ambystoma mexicanum" is part of the salamander family. They are originally native to Mexico, but are now kept as pets all over the world. Selective breeding through this domestication has created an array of new colours; from "melanoid" which are almost fully black, to "leucistic" (ours at Wayside in the photos), to albino (red eyes), to "copper" a reddish tone and of course the "wild" type which have a lovely mottled pattern running through their dark grey-brown bodies. Whichever you choose, make sure you are clued up on how best to care for them.
Random fact: these fascinating creatures have the most unusual ability to regrow their limbs. Should they lose a leg in a fight in the wild, they grow a new one!
Axolotls can happily live their entire life underwater. In the wild, if the pond dries up they can "evolve" into their land based form by making changes such as discarding their gill filaments and activating their lungs which otherwise stay dormant. This is a permanent change, in which they would only revisit the water to lay eggs. In captivity, they do not require access to air/land, so are perfectly happy in a large aquarium providing it has enough "floor space" for them to roam about submerged. Adding live plants and regularly changing/rearranging ornaments keeps their environment interesting.
Size: 30cm approx. when fully grown
Lifespan: 8-12 Years
Aquarium size: 50L when young, 100L+ for fully grown axolotl
Diet: frozen bloodworm, live earthworms, sinking axolotl pellets
Can I keep more than one axolotl in an aquarium?
No. Axolotls are attracted to movement. Their predatory instinct often causes them to attack and eat anything that moves, including other axolotl's legs and tails. It is recommended to keep just one per aquarium.
Can you keep axolotl with fish?
No. These are predatory creatures and will eat fish if kept in the same aquarium.
Does my aquarium need a filter?
Yes. Axolotls create more waste than fish of the same size due to their high protein diet. They require filters which can remove this waste to keep the water safe and healthy. An over-sized aquarium filter is a worthwhile purchase as it will go longer between cleans and cope with the additional waste better as the axolotl grows.
Can I put live plants in the aquarium?
Yes. Live plants provide great enrichment to the axolotls. Java fern, elodea and moss balls suit their water temperature.
Do I need a heater?
An aquarium heater is not required when the house has central heating. Axolotls are "temperate" creatures, therefore need water between 16-18'c. This mild temperature range is easily achievable from the ambient warmth of the house.
What substrate should I use?
We recommend either keeping the bottom of the aquarium bare (like in our photos) or using sand. Axolotls feed by sucking up their food whole, sometimes taking the substrate in too! If they ingest sand, it will pass through them without complication. However, if they ingest gravel, it may cause a internal blockage in the digestive track.
How frequently do I feed them?
Once a day. Although with an established oversize filter (that can cope with the additional produced waste), feeding twice a day will increase the rate they grow at.