In this article we will go over all the care you need for keeping the axolotl from arrival to basic tank maintenance.
Axolotl are an amphibian and are technically a salamander, but unlike salamanders they remain totally aquatic and never need to go on land. These interesting creatures make beautiful and fascinating pets that are relatively low maintenance compared to other pets.
Choosing aN Axolotle aquarium
Picking a suitable tank is important, we recommend they should have a minimum of 38 liters. As with every creature the bigger the better. Keep in mind axolotle live around 10 years and do grow over time reaching a size of around 10 inches.
When choosing our Petsville team are available in store to help you with any questions.
Putting some thought into the location of the aquarium may help with choice of the aquarium, as the aquarium should have access to a PowerPoint for the light, bubbler and filter. Knowing this may limit the size of the tank if it’s an area with minimal space. The axolotl tank should never be placed in a busy thorough fair, as tanks can be bumped and stress out the axolotl out or worse.
If you have measured out the area you want your tropical fish aquarium to go, come in to see our team we will likely have a tank for you.
If you are considering one of our larger glass aquariums for your axolotl A foam underlay for larger glass tanks is important for the base of the tank as it becomes quite heavy when water is added. Click the link the foam booth in Surry Hills Sydney, these guys will cut foam to suit any tropical fish tank size.
Getting Axolotl aquarium ready
Firstly, rinse and clean every non-living item that enters the axolotl aquarium with tap water. This includes but not limited to our full checklist below.
First item that should be rinsed is the inside of the tank itself, aquatic creatures are very sensitive, and you want to make sure nothing has been handled with anything toxic or oils. Once the tank is rinsed and all the essentials rinsed also then, it’s time to set up the tank prior to introducing the axolotl. Place in gravel, bubblers, filters, heaters, plants, ornaments, rocks and anything else in the tank before you fill the tank up with water. Making sure everything is properly rinsed first.
Add the water conditioner in when tank is filled with water.
Add biostart . Do not add biostart in until water conditioner has been mixed through as the chlorine from tap water can kill the bacteria in bio start.
It is possible to buy everything in one day and set the tank up and place the Axolotl straight in but only if you start if you have a decent sized aquarium. The best way is to set the tank up and cycle the tank for at least a week or two before adding the axolotl.
Suitable sized tank: Think into the future in terms of a growing axolotl in the future, max growth and leaving space for ornaments/hides/plants
Substrate: Special axolotl pebbles is available at Petsville, You can use either fine sand or large pebbles bigger than the axolotles head. Gravel pebbles used for aquarium fish can cause health issues as axolotl are known to swollow the small stones. The other option is the use of no gravel at all and leave a clear glass or acrylic bottom.
Filtration: Many varieties and brands at Petsville, some of our aquariums for axolotl come with them already. Insure you get a filter suitable for a larger tank than the one you are using as they axolotl produce a lot of waste.
Lighting: Axolotl do not need lighting although Lights will make the colors pop, add life to the décor. If you have plenty of plants and hiding spaces the loights are perfectly fine
Aeration/bubbler: Adding an airline system to your tank will help oxygenate your ecosystem. oxygenation will result in a cleaner water and healthy axolotl. Bubblers can also be used as an aquarium back drops or cool features.
Gravel vacuum. A must have, this Reduces cleaning time whilst increasing water quality. Easily suctions debris and waste out of gravel out of tank into a bucket.
Fish net: Fish nets always come in handy with every tropical fish aquarium. Nets are used to move items around or catch fish out for cleaning etc.
Food: Essential ask our Petsville team on what good quality options you have from axolotl pellets, frozen feed or earthworms. Ask our team about these items, we do a weekly order and can always place any items you want us to carry on our order. Only feed 3 times a week or every second day.
Feeding tongs or forceps: Use this apparatus to place food in front of the axolotl and they should have no problem seeing the food and eating it.
Water conditioner: This product removes/neutralizes chlorine and metals from the water supply. Any water change will need water conditioner added to keep them and healthy. Axolotl in straight tap water as it will burn their gills and they will asphyxiate.
Bio starter: Axolotl aquariums must have beneficial bacteria to function inside the filter media. Bacteria species added by this, and similar product are critical parts of the nitrogen cycle mentioned above.
Waste controller. This additive will convert waste such as food & feces into positive bacteria. This minimizes cleaning and increases tank health.
Algae cleaners: Any healthy aquarium is going to have algae growth, and algae grows faster in warm water. These cleaners need to be made of the right material that doesn’t scratch the glass. We have many options including floating magnetic glass cleaners, and various scrub and cleans, these will also remove stubborn algae, calcium and lime as well. You can also add ramshorn snails into the axolotl aquarium to help keep the algae at bay. Petsville always have snails in stock.
pH test Kit: One of the major factors that determine good quality water is pH, which is the measure of acidity and alkalinity. Sydney tap water fluctuates quite a lot in different areas. pH testing has never been easier. axolotl requires a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Handling your axolotl
Firstly make sure your aquarium is all set up with the items below and has water filled up and everything is running. A cycled tank that has been running for at least 2 weeks will have the best success. Check water parameters such as PH and the temperature is between 16 – 21 degrees Celsius. This is the normal range of indoor water temperatures in Sydney. You do not need a heater for axolotl.
Before releasing the fish make sure to let the bag sit in the tank for 10 to 15 minutes to acclimate the axolotl. This will ensure the axolotl doesn’t get a shock from a quick temperature change. Use a net to scoop the axolotl out to place in the aquarium. Discard bag and water in bag and do not place in the aquarium.
Do not handle your axolotl, they are prone to stress when being handled, only handle when necessary such as moving to a new aquarium or during a deep clean. Its best to handle or move axolotl using a fine net as their ody is made of cartilage and are prone to injury.
Newly arrived Axolotl will be stressed from the transmission to a new environment, Do not feed for the first 24 hours.
Maintaining your Axolotl aquarium
There are a number of products that you should have mentioned above for normal axolotl aquarium maintenance.
A large part of keeping axolotl healthy is regular maintenance, and knowing what maintenance you need to do will make your aquarium journey a lot more enjoyable and the inhabitance happy.
Regular maintenance doesn’t mean a lot of maintenance as too much cleaning can kill off the beneficial bacteria and eventually kill the inhabitance. So, you need the right balance of maintenance. Cleaning needs to be done in stages as too much cleaning can kill of the beneficial bacteria and cause an increase in ammonia.
Every 48 hours do a quick check and health check count and eyeball axolotl checking their condition, The best time to do this is when they are having their feed. Check everything is running and operating properly, filter have good flow and bubbler running.
Every 2 weeks check the glass if you need to scrub algae cleaning. Gently shave ornaments, plants and fake plants to dislodge any Debree. After this has been done, you will need to do a water change with the gravel vacuum. This process will clean/remove the waste from the gravel and also help get rid of the nitrates from the water. A 50% water change using a gravel vacuum should be sufficient and make sure you place water conditioner in the tank just before replacing with tap water. This process takes 10 minutes.
Once a month before doing water changes test the waters pH, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels.
During your every 2-week clean use the discarded water for the use of filter maintenance. Use this water to rinse the filter media and cartridges. This water will keep your beneficial bacteria alive during the cleaning process. Replace old and clogged filter media, avoiding replacing it all at the same time and keep part of the media to retain as much of the beneficial bacteria colony as possible. In about 4 weeks replace the remaining filter media.
Axolotl Tank Mates
Axolotls should only be kept with similar sized axolotl. Axolotl will eat smaller sized axolotl and they regularly will eat off each other’s limbs. Thankfully those limbs will grow back.
Axolotl Aquarium decorations at petsville
Driftwood is very popular and can come already submerged or dry, the already submerged, which is our most popular often come with a slow growing plant called Anubius attached which add wow factor to your aquarium, dry driftwood needs to be soaked for at least 2 weeks until it releases its tannins and sinks before it is added to the tropical fish aquarium.
We Have a range of rocks and aquarium decorations available, be sure to check our aquarium display area downstairs and our reptile area upstairs as we have many different options available for a really cool set up.