Axolotls are unusual pets who are fast becoming more popular. Before you bring your axolotl home, make sure you have the right tank set up for them to be happy and healthy.
Get The Right Size Tank
Axolotls start off very small, but quickly grow so it is best to get the largest tank you can afford to save you upgrading at a later date. Axolotls walk along the bottom of their tank, as well as swimming so with that in mind, they need a tank that is long, rather than tall. An adult axolotl will grow to between 7-14 inches, and if you have more than one, you will obviously need more room for each animal. A 2ft tank is the minimum size for one adult axolotl, but as with any pet, the more space you can give the better.
They Need Good Water Quality
Chlorine in the water can hurt your axolotl, so never use water straight from the tap. You can either leave the water sitting in a bucket overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate, or you can buy water treatment which will remove the chlorine, making it safe for your pet. You will also need a filter to improve the water quality, however as axolotls are sensitive creatures, you need to put the filter on a low setting so it doesn’t disrupt the water too much. I like the Fluval as you can change the speed the water comes out to make it quiet and it’s an efficient filter. Just make sure you get the right size for your tank.
It is a good idea to put plants in front of the filter to lessen the flow. Like fish, the water will need changing every week, but you should only take out around 25% a week and change it – don’t forget to treat the water before putting it back in! It is also a good idea to get a siphon to pick up uneaten food and poop in the tank.
They Need Places To Hide
Axolotls are shy creatures who like to hide. They have very sensitive eyes and need to avoid the light, so it is important to give them lots of places to hide in their tanks and keep the tank away from direct sunlight. Their skin is very delicate, so anything you put in the tank needs to be smooth so they don’t injure themselves. There are lots of hides you can buy for fish tanks, or you can even use a terracotta flower pot on its side.
They Need A Suitable Substrate
Gravel is not a suitable substrate as Axolotls will eat anything that fits in their mouth, the same goes for small decorative stones. You can use sand (I use this brand) as this is small enough to pass through their digestive system should they accidentally get a bite, you can even keep them bottom bare if you prefer.
Some keepers use large pebbles, and whilst this works for some, it can be hard to keep the tank clean, as dirt and uneaten food can get caught underneath the stones.
They Need A Varied Diet
Like all animals, varied diets are best to keep them healthy. You can buy pellets as a staple, but you can offer extras such as bloodworm, tubifex, brine shrimp and earthworms.
You Need To Be Committed
Axolotls can live up to 15 years, so you need to make sure you can commit to them for that long. Make sure you have thought about how they will fit in your life in the future and who can look after them for you when you are away.