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When axolotls begin growing their front and hind legs, they are known as juveniles. While their limbs are developing, they go through a cannibalistic phase, where they will bite off the gills or developing limbs of their siblings. If an axolotl does have a limb of gill bitten off, it will be able to grow a new one within a few days. But this will take up energy that the axolotl would otherwise use to grow larger and stronger. To avoid any casualties or other problems related to cannibalism, it is best to move each axolotl into its own separate container as soon as they grow their front feet. At this stage, you can begin feeding thawed frozen bloodworm to your axolotls. Switching them from live baby brine shrimp to frozen bloodworm is one of the most difficult aspects of raising juveniles. The bloodworms are too large to feed whole at first, so you will need to chop up the cube of bloodworm until the pieces are small enough to be swallowed by the juveniles whole. You should feed each juvenile individually using a pipette. Gently wiggle the worm piece at the end of the pipette until the axolotl is enticed to bite it. It may take several attempts before the axolotl recognizes the bloodworm as something that’s edible and is willing to swallow it. Persistence and patience are key. Do not leave uneaten bloodworm in the tank with the axolotl. You will need to feed juveniles 2 times a day. You will also need to do a full water change on each container every day due to the waste that they produce. Once the axolotls are about 2-3 inches long, they will have fully developed their front and hind legs and will have largely outgrown their cannibalistic phase and can be reintroduced to the same tank.
Setting Up Your Axolotl’s Habitat.
Baby axolotls need to be in a small container until they are about 4 to 5 inches long. Tupperware works well. the small container makes it so they can find their food. Axolotls can get up to 18 inches, so they need a lot of room to live happily and healthily. An individual axolotl should have no less than 10 gallons of water in its habitat. And bigger is always better! Two axolotls would require 20 gallons, three would need 30, and so on and so forth (you get the drift). Giving your Axolotls plenty of room to move around will reduce the risk of them nipping each other.
What kind of Substrate Should I use?
Substrates can be very bad for axolotls because axolotls feed by sucking water into their mouths. This means that your axolotl could ingest particles from your substrate gravel. If that happens, there could be some serious gut problems, like impaction. Substrates aren’t necessary for an axolotl. The bottom of your tank can be left bare, which means totally avoiding the above problem. A bare-bottom tank can sometimes cause axolotls distress if they’re unable to grip the tank’s surface and walk properly. Sand is the safest choice; particles of sand are very small and won’t cause any serious problems if your axolotl ingests them. Axolotls love to dig and play around in the sand. Although sand can make cleaning the tank difficult. Personally, we keep our tanks bare bottom.
What kind of Filtration will I Need?
Axolotls are sensitive to poor water conditions (like, really sensitive). Experts recommend a weekly water change of at least 20% and a high-quality filtration system. Axolotls are adapted to survive in still waters, which means it’s insanely important that the filter you choose doesn’t disturb your tank’s water flow. If you find that your filter is too powerful, try putting in a couple of plants. They can help to block excess movement and soften strong currents.
What kind of Lighting is Best?
And like the majority of amphibians, axolotls don’t need any special lighting. Bright lights can actually be quite distressing to them since they don’t have eyelids. Even so, a lot of aquatic hobbyists still choose to install decorative lights to enhance their own viewing pleasure. What will happen if you do? Well, it could cause some initial distress, but axolotls will be able to get used to artificial lighting over time. Adding decorations and hiding spots to your tank will help ease this process.
How to Provide the Correct Temperature and Cooling.
Their tank needs to be kept at a stable temperature of 60-64 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Your tank’s temperature shouldn’t exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Ever. If it gets too hot, your axolotls could become very distressed, which can cause reactions like fungal infections, loss of appetite, and even death. High water temperatures can also increase the toxicity of ammonia in your water, which is seriously harmful to axolotls. If they’re too cold, your axolotl’s metabolism will begin to slow down, which will make it sluggish and unwell.
How to get your Water Flow Right.
Axolotls are accustomed to stable water conditions. Unlike most fish, axolotls don’t tolerate distinct water flow. If they’re exposed to it, they’ll quickly lose their appetite and potentially develop stress-related illnesses. Filtration systems can sometimes disturb water flow. Flow-spreading outlets like spray bars can minimize this. Lack of appetite or forward-turned gills on your axolotl is both stress-related signs that the aquarium’s water flow is too high and should be changed.
Getting your pH: Acidity & Basicity/Alkalinity Levels Correct.
Though a pH of 6.5-8.0 is acceptable for axolotls, you should aim for a pH of 7.40-7.60 to keep them healthy. A stable pH is vital. It can affect the toxicity of ammonia in your water, which can potentially give rise to ammonia poisoning. If your water is particularly acidic or basic, you can adjust its pH using salts and pH-changing kits (which most aquatic retailers sell).
A Word on Chlorine and Chloramines.
Chlorine is a highly-toxic green gas that can seriously harm amphibians, fish, and humans. Commonly used to kill bacteria in municipal water supplies before the water is distributed for public use. And when you combine it with chlorine, it can form products called chloramines. It’s therefore essential to use a dechlorinator whenever you add water to your aquarium. Dechlorinators remove chlorine, chloramines and many other trace metals (such as mercury and lead) from water, which makes it safe for your axolotl. You should always use a dechlorinator when changing water. If you’re unsure whether these harmful substances have been successfully removed, chlorine testing kits can measure their quantities.
Understanding Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.
Ammonia is a waste product produced by axolotls and many other aquatic animals. Ammonia is very toxic in its unionized form. High pH levels keep ammonia in this form, and at a pH of 8 or more, ammonia can kill axolotls very quickly. Water temperature can also increase the toxicity of ammonia. You should definitely conduct routine ammonia tests (which are easy to buy from most aquatic retailers) on your water to ensure that it’s safe. Nitrite is a product of ammonia and, though it is less toxic than ammonia, you should always test for it with an appropriate test kit. Less toxic still, nitrate is formed from nitrite. Although not toxic at low levels, nitrate can become dangerous if you let it build-up, which might lead to algae blooms. Regular water changes will keep nitrate contents in check, though it’s wise to test your water’s nitrate contents periodically.
In-Tank Behavior and Tank Mates.
Due to the tendency of nipping, fish should not be kept with axolotls. In fact, an axolotl aquarium should contain only axolotls! Younger axolotls (around 8-16 cm in size) shouldn’t be housed together for this same reason: they’ll nip each other’s gills and feet and could cause serious damage. Fully-grown adult axolotls, on the other hand, may live together safely and will rarely attack one another.
What do Axolotls Eat?
Organic nightcrawlers (large earthworms) are the most nutritional food source for axolotls. Blackworms and bloodworms are also healthy choices. As a treat, axolotls enjoy eating frozen shrimp, prawns, mealworms, tuna, and lean chicken or beef. Like most salamanders, axolotls don’t need any vitamin/mineral supplementation.
How Often Should Axolotls be Fed? Axolotls will eat until they are full. Adult axolotls tend to eat around two earthworms every 2-3 days, and it’s pretty normal for them to pass up on food if they’re still full from previous feeding sessions. Growing axolotls will feed daily.