Axolotl are commonly mistaken as a fish due to some common overlapping attributes; however, they are in fact amphibians.
They lack some of the common characteristics of amphibians due to some genetic factors which will be explained in more depth in this article.
It is crucial to be knowledgeable about the key information about these wonderful creatures as caring one can be a challenge. They make fantastic pets, however, they also require attentive care, and one should know the basics before buying one.
You might find the following axolotl articles interesting:
- How to sex an axolotl?
- How to Keep Axolotl Tank Cool?
- How Long Do Axolotl Live? Keys To A Long Life
- Perfectly Happy Pets” (Edit)”>What Size Tank For Axolotl? For Perfectly Happy Pets
- Where To Buy Axolotl? Getting A Great Deal And Healthy Pet
- What Kind Of Substrate For Axolotl? What Works And What To Avoid
- How Often to Feed Axolotl? Avoid Overfeeding & Dangerous Foods
They grow in length as they mature. Also, it is important to be aware of how they get in with potential tankmates as this ensures the safety of all your tank-life. Their adaptability to new conditions makes them a perfect pet.
In this article, we will review all of the important factors that one should be aware of in regards to the Axolotl. We will discuss their location in the wild, their general cost, the maintenances responsibilities involved, and finally the tank mates that they are compatible with.
One key detail that you should already know is that they need to be kept submerged at all times since any air exposure can be deadly. By reading the following guide, you should be ready to properly care for your new pet Axolotl.
What Are Axolotl?
The Axolotl is an interesting creature in terms of classification. They look somewhat like a fish; however, they are actually salamanders even though they lack many of the common physical aspects.
In many countries, they are referred to the Mexican walking fish because they only come from Mexico and they have legs. This is an ironic nickname, given that they can’t walk on land.
They are actually related to tiger salamander which is a mole salamander species located in North America. Their larvae are completely aquatic similar to Axolotl.
Their interesting characteristics and physical makeup can be explained by their genetics and the way in which they grow. They have a trait known as Neoteny. This means they are able to hold on to some key traits and features that are picked up from the larvae stage.
It is widely accepted that neoteny is a regressive step in evolution because the Axolotl are considered descended from what were once terrestrial salamanders like the tiger salamanders.
Through some quirk of nature, a neotenous form developed and, probably due to environmental conditions, prospered. Neoteny is sometimes found in other amphibians but tends to be caused by low levels of iodine or some kind of random genetic mutation.
Their stimulating thyroid hormone doesn’t work in the usual manner, and therefore it does not produce thyroxine. Research has also shown that very low temperatures can suppress the production of these hormones, thus also inducing neoteny. This allows them to transform into a salamander after their initial growth process.
However, during this process, they are unable to develop lungs. This is due to a lack of metamorphosis. This explains why they have trouble walking on land when other amphibians are able to.
They have the ability of regeneration which works well. An injury to the creature does not result in a scar. It remains open, and the cells multiply to begin the regeneration process. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the Axolotl.
The lack of metamorphosis also means that they do not undergo any significant changes as they grow. Most of the time the only apparent changes will be in size. However, in rare cases, they can mature into an adult form, which has similar characteristics to an adult salamander.
While they cannot metamorphose under natural conditions, metamorphosis can be induced on them resulting in a form similar to tiger salamanders. However, since this is not their natural state, they have a very low lifespan, and most of the time they will not be able to reach adulthood.
Their physical traits do not affect their ability to breed. Axolotl is oviparous animals, and their mating process involves the female laying eggs. Just like fish, their physical appearance has certain variations.
Their most striking feature is a lack of eyelids which is the same as fish, and this is the reason why these comparisons are made. Also, their limbs are fairly small in relative terms when compared to their overall appearance. This is due to neoteny which means they keep these larvae traits into adulthood.
However, Axolotl should not be confused with the larvae stage of closely related tiger salamanders or mudpuppies which are fully aquatic salamanders that resemble Axolotl but not closely related to them.
There are four main types of Axolotl.
This type is pale pink with black eyes
This type is golden with gold eyes.
This type is grey with black eyes.
This type is all black without any gold speckling or olive tone.
The head of the Axolotl does not contain antennae or a decoration. They are actually gills on each side of the head that serve as a utensil to distribute oxygen throughout the body.
However, in order to do so, they use filaments called “fimbriae” that improve the surface to volume ratio. Below those external gills, there are four-gill rakers, which unlike their name, do not serve an oxygen-related purpose. The reason behind their name is that they are attached to the gills. Once food and water pass through the oral cavity, they encounter the gill rakers.
The head of the Axolotl does not have antennae or any interesting decorative aspect. This is due to functional reasons. There are gills on the side of the head which allow the Axolotl to distribute oxygen around the body efficiently.
However, their body proportions can make it a difficult job to transport oxygen throughout the entire surface. They use filaments which are known as “fimbriae” in order to improve their surface to volume ratio.
Below, these external gills they have four ‘gill rakers.’ However, these rakers do not play a direct role in oxygen transportation. They are directly attached to the gills and are involved in the process of taking water and food after it goes down the oral cavity.
As they lack teeth, the Axolotl mostly rely on suction in order to attract small prey. By enlarging their oral cavity, a pressure difference is created.
Just like osmosis in animal cells, the water flows into the mouth along with any creature trapped within. The fluid then passes through the gill rakers, which traps the prey and lets the water flow through. It also serves as a protection mechanism for the gills.
This allows the Axolotl to feed, without the concern of retaining fluids that could potentially harm it. The water is then excreted through natural processes. This entire process is efficient and allows the Axolotl to thrive in the wild. However, in recent years they have been suffering from major population decreases in the wild.
Due to their wild habitat shrinking in size, they are now classified by the IUCN Red List as a Critically Endangered species. This means that over generations and time, the population has decreased and the following statistics reveal the extent of this.
- The overall population has decreased by around 90%
- The wild habitat has been shrinking and amounts for less than 100 cubic kilometers of land
- A significant chance (at least 50% of going Extinct in the Wild)
As they are getting closer to extinction, it’s important to take care of them to avoid contributing negatively to their declining population. You have a responsibility to properly care for the Axolotl and maintain the best conditions for them to thrive.
As we said earlier, Axolotls generally do not metamorphose naturally, but occasionally one will break the rules. Most often, this is due to a genetic quirk or a scientific experiment.
It is important to note that most axolotls are unable to metamorphose without the administration of hormones, and the casual hobbyist should not attempt this. The common myth of lowering the water level to force axolotls to metamorphose is invariably fatal because most axolotls simply are not capable of metamorphosis in this way.
Some sources mention iodine may be used to induce metamorphosis. However, since iodine is so poisonous, that most people end up killing their axolotls because it is very difficult to change the ppm (parts per million) of iodine in the water by only a point or two unless you really know what you are doing. Iodine solution available at the pharmacy contains alcohol too. This might also cause problems for your Axolotl.
An axolotl that metamorphoses prior to when it begins to reach sexual maturity will usually lead a somewhat normal life. It will eat the same food and behave in a similar manner to the Tiger Salamander, but it will not live as long.
Axolotls that change after they have reached sexual maturity tend to be very weak animals, and usually, they do not live more than a year after metamorphosis. They frequently become disinterested in food and it may be difficult to get them to feed at all. Such animals have a grim outlook on life, and sometimes require regular hormone injections just to stay alive.
The color of an Axolotl variation is dependent upon pigment cells called chromatophores. These cells are melanophores (containing eumelanin, a black-brown pigment), xanthophores (containing carotenoids and pteridines, yellow and reddish pigments) and iridophores (containing crystallized purines, which impart a shiny iridescence).
Most times people will refer to colors as morphs. To explain it further, we will break them down into simple categories and names that are more common. Basic morphs of Axolotl are mainly:
- Wild: A wild type axolotl is a mix of greens, browns, blacks, and just about any other color with speckles of shiny gold iridophore pigments. This Axolotl usually has dark eyes with a shiny gold ring around the pupil and purple/gray gills.
- Leucistic: This Axolotl has a white/pink body color, dark navy/black eyes, bright red gills, may or may not develop freckles depending on the environment and genetics.
- White Albino: The Albino Axolotl has a white/pink body, has clear/red eyes, and bright red gills. This Axolotl will not develop any type of freckles or other pigmentation on the body. However, the tips of the finger will become dark and appear as if the axolotl has dirty fingertips when the Albino Axolotl is on its way to sexual maturity. The white albino comes in two forms, known only as white and axanthic; for simplicity, we will just call them White Albinos.
- Golden Albino: This Axolotl has a golden yellow body with shiny patches, clear eyes, with peachy colored gills. The golden albino lacks melanophores, which is what gives it the gold appearance. Like albinos, Golden Albinos cannot have black eyes, as they are a form of albinism.
- Melanoid: Melanoids look very similar to dark Wild Types. However, this Axolotl has an increased amount of melanophores, or dark pigment, and lack shiny pigments. This lack of shine means they do not have golden flecks or other colors throughout their bodies like a wild type. They are one solid black color.
Where Do Axolotl Come From?
The name Axolotl comes from the language of Aztec, Nahuatl. One of the most popular translations of the name connects the Axolotl to the god of deformations and death Xolotl; however, the most commonly accepted translation is waterdog coming from atl for water and xolotl, which means dog.
In the past, they were found in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco prior to the building of Mexico City in the basin of Mexico. Of these two high altitude freshwater lakes, their only remaining natural habitat is canals of Lake Xochimilco, which is found in the capital of Mexico, Mexico City.
It is composed mostly of fresh water which is the ideal condition for the Axolotl. One of the contributing factors of their population decline is that of Lake Xochimilco, along with four other lakes that are found in the Valley of Mexico, has been drained. This reduces the water volume to the species that are found there, which can lead to premature death and other health issues.
The Xochimilco canals are what’s left of the former lake, and that represents the habitat of this salamander. This habitat is also becoming smaller, which increases the risk of the species going extinct. Steps have been taken to ensure it does not come to this stage. As aforementioned, they are now in the list of Critically Endangered Species.
The temperature of the lake is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it decreases to 42 degrees throughout the winter. Stable temperature and an appropriate water volume will ensure that they will properly thrive in captivity.
Another factor that has been contributing to their decline is the human introduction of predatory species such as the African tilapia and Asian carp. Although they don’t attack mature Axolotl, they do threaten the safety of their young, and they are challengers to the main source of food.
These species have dramatically affected the way in which Axolotl are able to maintain stable population levels through breeding.
The species used to live on Lake Chalco. Unfortunately, it was drained artificially in order to avoid the potential risk of flooding on residential areas. However, this also meant that the animal populations on that lake most likely perished.
When a study was completed in 2013, it was revealed a year later that scientists had failed to find any living specimens in the wild. There has been much research conducted into the Axolotl, and the creatures remain classified as a Critically Endangered Species. As mentioned above, it means that there is a high risk of them going extinct within a few generations.
The environment contributes to their rapid decline in the wild, prompting people to breed in captivity. They hope that the conditions in captivity can allow the Axolotl to thrive.
How Much Do Axolotl Cost?
The cost of an Axolotl can depend on the location and where a buyer is found. However, it is usually straightforward to find one at a relatively affordable price. Other factors that will affect cost are the maturity of the Axolotl and the rarity of the colors.
You should have all this information in mind when considering a purchase. Also, you will need to consider the cost of shipping fees, especially if the creature is being shipped overnight. Below, we list the general price rates for Axolotl.
- Juvenile; $20 – $35
- Adult; $65 – $70
There are websites online that sell Axolotls. It is important to find reputable sellers that breed in captivity. Not only will this simple step save you from treating potential diseases, but it will also help the wild population.
Some breeders do care for the overall population of the species, and some breeders do not. For most of the cases, direct contact has to be made with the seller, not with an actual company. The reason behind this is that they are privately owned.
You should ask the seller any questions that you have, and their responses will lead to a better purchasing decision. Check out our guide on where to buy axolotl here.
How to Care for Axolotl
Axolotls have virtually no true bones in their bodies, particularly when they are not adults yet. As they lack hard bone, most of their body is made out of cartilage. This allows for extra flexibility in the mouth cavity and the abdomen. However, there’s a downside. This makes them prone to trauma injuries.
Although they can heal, doing it unnecessarily and repeatedly can shorten its lifespan. Their regeneration abilities do not excuse you from giving them the best conditions to avoid any injuries.
Axolotls are delicate and soft-bodied amphibians with permeable skin. Thus, axolotls should not be handled unless absolutely necessary. Love is a must. It is important to set up everything appropriately in order to avoid unnecessary stress.
When dealing with Axolotls, it is important to treat them delicately when handling, as they do not have a hard bone at that stage of their lives. Unless it is absolutely necessary, they should not be handled by hand in order to avoid crushing vital parts of their body.
They are also very hard to catch with a net. If you use a net to move an axolotl, avoid nets with mesh that would let an axolotl’s fingers get damaged. Use a soft, very fine-mesh net.
Tap water is fine for axolotls, provided it is pretreated with an aquarium water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines. Axolotls are far more forgiving than aquarium fish when it comes to water quality, but a good filter and regular water changes should be employed nonetheless.
Basically, they should be kept in a similar routine as aquarium fish.
Ideally, a new aquarium and filter should be allowed to cycle for several weeks prior to the introduction of axolotls to let the water conditions settle and filter bacteria develop.
Be sure to keep an eye for water quality parameters using water test kits:
- Ammonia should always be 0
- Nitrite should also be at 0.
- Nitrate should be below 50 ppm (parts per million)
API Freshwater Test Kit: Here
Their water temperature should always be kept chill. This makes it incompatible with tropical freshwater fish, as they require warmer temperatures. You should, therefore, avoid mixing this type of fish in an aquarium with Axolotl.
This is not the only reason you should keep Axolotls with only themselves. Young axolotls have a tendency to nip at or bite off the legs and gills of their tankmates, so you should be careful when keeping Axolotls with other fish.
Youngsters should only be kept in the same tank if they are well fed, and they have plenty of space. Axolotls larger than 5 inches tend to be safer tankmates, and adults will rarely have any altercations.
Contrary to the advice of some sources, researches show that axolotls are not social animals and do not benefit from having a companion axolotl. Therefore, keeping multiple axolotls is purely for the keeper’s benefit. It does not benefit Axolotls one way or another.
Setting up a Tank for Axolotl
If you want to get into Axolotl keeping, you may think that running out to the aquarium store and buying one would be simple enough. However, you must be a patient a little longer. You need a handful of things before actually getting an Axolotl. You need everything set up properly to make your Axolotl happy and healthy.
Here is your checklist before deciding to keep an Axolotl. First, you need an Aquarium. For a single Axolotl, a 20-gallon sized aquarium would work. Remember, a long tank is better than a tall one as these are bottom dwellers that have no use for vertical space.
Every aquarium needs a filter. When choosing a filter for your Axolotl set-up, keep in mind that they do not enjoy very strong water flow. Since Axolotl are cold-water species that are actually very intolerant of high temperatures, you are not going to need a powerful heater if you are interested in keeping them.
We do always recommend using some type of heater just to prevent temperature swings between day and night, especially if the aquarium is in a room that often has open windows or doors and may be prone to changing temperatures.
One of the most important aspects to setting up your is of course, a water test kit. If you are going to use an aquarium, you are going to need a water test kit. A liquid (not strip) test kit that at least contains tests for ammonia/ammonium (NH3/NH4), nitrite (NO2), nitrate (NO3) and pH allows you to monitor your water quality and make sure it’s suitable for your Axolotl.
Lastly, take some time to select proper lighting for your Axolotl tank. Many aquarists are used to using strong lighting for optimal plant growth, but this is not the way to go with this species.
Axolotls do not appreciate bright light at all and powerful lamps can stress them out. In place of this, find something that allows you to see your Axolotl without scaring them into hiding all day. Assuming you have got everything ready to go, you can now start setting up your Axolotl tank.
Find a room in your home that stays cool year-round to avoid stressful times and overheating Axolotl during the summer months. Fill up your aquarium and turn on equipment like the filter and heater. If you want, you can also put decorations as you like.
The addition of plants, caves, pipes, etc., gives axolotls an added sense of security, as well as being attractive to the human eye. Live plants are a challenge, as axolotls will tend to uproot them. However, floating plants do well, and some plants can be rooted in small pots or in places where the Axolotls are less likely to disturb them.
After this, it is time to start the cycle! When you cycle your aquarium, you give it time to accumulate beneficial bacteria in the filter and substrate. These bacteria are the only thing making the tank safe for your future Axolotls, so it pays to put some effort into this.
To cycle an aquarium, you kick-start the process by adding ammonia. We prefer using unscented household ammonia as it is easy to dose and does not make a mess. Then, while adding more ammonia at the appropriate times, it basically is a matter of waiting and testing.
Suitable Tank-Mates for Axolotl
When having additional tank mates, there is always a risk of increased bacterial infections. Some species may look docile, but they each carry their individual risks. The characteristics of a tank mate can sometimes be misleading. In the case of Axolotl’s, it is always better to remain precautious when considering the addition of tank-mates.
- Betta Fish; They look nice, and they wouldn’t mess around with the Axolotl, right? Due to their increased agility, they may bite the gills or the fins of your pet. Although they would regenerate, the appearance wouldn’t be the same. The aggression can be a serious threat to the livelihood of the Axolotl.
- Goldfish; They look docile, but they are omnivorous. Once they start growing, their energy consumption will be greater. They also have an exoskeleton, which can cause extensive injury or even death in case of ingestion.
- Catfish; It’s a bottom feeder, right? There’s really nothing to worry about, at least that hows it seems. However, there’s a risk. In their pectoral fins, they have these defensive spines. When swallowing, it would cause death if left untreated.
When small fish are present, there’s a risk that they will get ingested due to their size. It can also get injured by fin nippers. Aside from that, they are not social animals, and therefore they should not be placed with other fish.
However, in case an aquarium is maintained solely for axolotls, it is important for the tank to be sufficiently big in order to allow each one to maintain their territory. They are creatures that need their space in order to thrive.
What Size of Aquarium for Axolotl
The minimum tank size should be at least 20 gallons. Although some recommend having a 10-gallon tank for a single Axolotl, the lack of space can negatively affect growth. Axolotls create a significant amount of waste. This can harm the development and general wellbeing of the Axolotl.
A filter will allow for the water to remain biologically stable as there are three important factors that were mentioned earlier, such as Ammonia, Nitrates, and Nitrite. There are starter kits available online which can simplify the process of setting up an aquarium. A heater is generally not needed, as it can cause hyperthermia.
Starting the nitrogen cycle ensures that the water parameters will remain stable. This is known as “cycling.” It is also important to buy a Tap Water conditioner, in order to remove any harmful chlorine that may be present on tap water. If you have a filter, ammonia could be introduced directly into the fish tank. However, there are products online which already contain this supplement, and can reduce the complications that may arise as a result.
A tap water conditioner does not only remove chlorine. It can also neutralize heavy metals. When cycling the tank, adding the recommended dose will ensure that the water is safe. Don’t rush it, as the process of cycling and conditioning can take up to a month.
The gravel should be of moderate size in order to avoid accidental ingestion. As a rule of thumb, it should be larger than the mouth of your pet. A sand layer can be placed below it to act as a breeding ground for the beneficial bacteria.
Lack of substrate can cause unnecessary stress, as it doesn’t create a surface for the Axolotl to grip on. Check out our guide to Axolotl substrates for more information.
Axolotls do not emerge from the water, so a land area would go unused. Fill the aquarium to the depth of your choice, but it will be easier to maintain good water parameters when the aquarium is filled, as you would for aquarium fish.
A lid or aquarium hood should be kept in place at all times because axolotls have been known to jump out of their aquariums.
Axolotl: Eating Habits
In the wild, they eat anything that they can fit in their mouth. These include worms and insects. Cannibalism may also occur if one of the parties is small enough to fit in a mature Axolotl. However, when kept in captivity, it’s important for them to have a varied diet.
Therefore, a combination of brine shrimp and live / frozen worms can help supply them with the necessary nutrients. They can also be fed small pellets. They do not thrive when given the same food for a prolonged period of time. They are creatures that are used to varied diets in the wild. Check out our article on how often to feed axolotl for more information.
Brine shrimp is usually grown on massive ponds. There are multiple types;
- Brine Shrimp Nauplii (brine shrimp that has been incubating for the past 24 hours)
- Instar I (Brine shrimp that has hatched; contains yolk which is filled with nutrients)
- Instar II (Contains digestive tracts; doesn’t contain much yolk)
Instar I and II are the most widely used and are commonly found at pet stores. They are rich in nutrients and are small in size. They usually cost less than $15 USD.
Blackworms can also compliment Brine Shrimp. You may buy them frozen, or you can contain your own colony. Keep in mind that when feeding live food, only feed the appropriate amount that your juvenile / adult pet can eat. It is crucial not to overfeed the Axolotl as this can cause issues. Additionally, any leftover blackworm can pollute the water in your tank, which is not going to be aesthetically pleasing.
They must eat every day when they have just recently hatched. Four times a week when they are juveniles. A feeding schedule can look something like the following.
After reaching adult size, they can be fed three times a week. It’s important not to overfeed, as it can have negative effects on the amphibian. It is key to maintain a regular feeding schedule.
How Big Do Axolotl Get?
Depending on the care they are given and their genetics, they will reach an average size of 12 inches. However, there has been a rumored case of one growing up to 17 inches. It is therefore important to have a moderate size aquarium to accommodate for the length. Overcrowded aquariums can result in a lack of space and greater susceptibility to disease.
- 5 Inches; 10 gallons
- 10 Inches; 20 gallons
- 20 Inches; 30 to 40 gallons
Common Diseases for Axolotl
It will be inevitable that your pet will become sick. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the diseases that may affect them and how to prevent them. Axolotl can be prone to the below diseases; however, they can also be avoided by taking some simple precautions.
New Tank Syndrome
When handling aquatic life, it’s important to cycle the tank. Otherwise, there won’t be sufficient bacteria to neutralize ammonia and nitrate. This will cause unnecessary stress and will weaken the immune system. The result is decreased activity and susceptibility to serious diseases.
This has nothing to do with cold water as is commonly believed. In contrast, it has to do when the water increases above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Emergency treatment is required in order to avoid serious injury or death. Symptoms will be easily noticeable and will consist of lack of appetite and erratic swimming. When spotted, an aquarium chiller (not a heater) is the best option to maintain the water at a safe temperature.
Hydrofarm Active Aqua Chiller: https://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-Active-Aqua-Chiller-10/dp/B0048IVBT4
Meanwhile, while the chiller arrives, there are two options available.
- Complete a partial water change; use cool water on the aquarium (recommended)
- Transfer your pet into a dish containing cool water. (can cause stress)
It is important to do this process gradually and to not throw your pet on the freezer as it would have negative consequences.
Aeromonas spp. and Pseudomonas spp. are common bacteria that can affect aquatic life in general. It’s important to catch this disease in the earlier stages, as prognosis is poor once it reaches the advanced stage. Once the disease is detected, antibiotics can be used such as enrofloxacin and amikacin.
However, as these are also sold in a version designed especially for mammals such as dogs and cats, it is important to buy them in a version designed for freshwater animals. You can also seek the advice of a specialist to manage the condition in the best way. As mentioned above, the quicker you can provide treatment that greater the chance is for a normal recovery.
The risk of parasitic infection will be increased if feeder fish are used. As these are not sterilized or cooked, it may carry pathogens that cannot be detectable until the advanced stage. Symptoms include visible injuries and worms protruding from the skin. Formalin and metronidazole are both helpful in treating parasitic infections.
Also known as cotton moulds. They will appear as cotton coming out of the skin. They are most common in lower temperatures, therefore increasing the probability of your pet getting infected with it. It is an opportunistic infection, meaning that other factors come in place before general infection occurs.
A veterinarian should be consulted in order to address the primary cause. In severe cases, limbs affected will have to be amputated. However, as it was discussed earlier in the article, they will regrow back. Also, it is important to take into account that regeneration can drastically affect the appearance of an Axolotl. The regeneration property does not mean you can be complacent in treating injuries.
Similar to cancer in humans. Although it may be associated with a tumor, it can instead involve abnormal cell growth. Fortunately, they are mostly benign and won’t cause extensive injury to the host in any significant way. However, this should be analyzed on a case by case basis with a certified veterinarian. Some cases can be more complex than others, and therefore any signs should be checked with a professional.
Axolotl Breeding Guide
Axolotls can reach sexual maturity anywhere between 5 months and several years, depending on frequency and quality of their care, including but not limited to food, and the water temperature and conditions in which the animals are kept. Axolotls generally begin to mature once they have reached about 18 cm (7 inch) in total length.
Females tend to take a little longer to mature than males, which is about one or two months of difference. It is advisable not to attempt to breed Axolotls until they reach at least 18 months of age. This gives them time to reach their full size which is greater than 30 cm (12 inches) in many cases and condition. A female ready to breed will be very round towards the end of the body when viewed from above.
It is safer to breed males at an earlier stage than females, because they have much less physical output during the mating process than females, and therefore there is less strain put on their bodies. However, females should be prevented from breeding until they reach their full size.
A female axolotl can lay in excess of 1000 eggs. Producing so many eggs is a strain on the animal’s metabolism, and the body prioritizes production of eggs over body growth while the animal is in conditions suitable for breeding.
Since females may breed several times each year, as soon as the first batch of eggs are laid, the body attempts to produce new eggs to replace those that have been laid. Female axolotls may fall ill at this point unless due care is taken, and for a female that is still growing in length, the strain is increased.
For the same reason, females that have recently bred should be kept away from males for at least a month, preferably two or three, in order for them to recover.
In order to breed, two species will be needed. One male, and one female. Multiple tanks will be needed to maintain the community. From the batch of eggs that’s laid, around 20 to 40 manage to hatch. Therefore, around three 20 gallon aquariums will be needed to appropriately maintain them. In the wild, they usually breed between December and March. Therefore, the temperature change will have to be simulated. There are two ways of achieving this;
- Do a water change; use slightly cooler water in order to decrease water temperature (recommended)
- Add some ice to the aquarium
They will have to be placed in the same tank. Be sure to have live plants easily accessible around the tank, as it will be used by the female to lay her eggs. In case the male displays interest and the female accepts it, mating will occur. Failure of those two factors will not result in mating. The exact process of mating in the Axolotl will occur as below.
- The male will position itself in front of the female
- They will walk across the tank. The male would drop packets of sperm called “spermatophore.”
- The female would accommodate herself until her cloaca is in top of the packet of sperm.
This process will repeat multiple times. After mating occurs, the female will lay eggs. The time period between mating and egg-laying can be between 12 hours and 3 days. After the eggs are laid, it is essential to remove the Axolotl’s, as they will not hesitate to satisfy their appetite. Any other further mating is not needed after this stage.
The eggs will hatch around 15 days later. After hatching, it is important to feed small live-food every day. Brine shrimp and worms will serve this purpose. Lack of food will result in cannibalism occurring, which can result in injuries and deaths. It’s important to note that as they grow, they will need more space. You should plan your aquarium will the growth kept in mind.
Owning an Axolotl can be a fun and rewarding experience.
However, it is important to know about the responsibilities that come with it. As they are Critically Endangered, they should be taken care of in order to avoid contributing negatively to their dwindling population. Buy from reputable breeders, and avoid buying the ones caught from the wild. Those bred in captivity will have less stress when living in an appropriate tank and are usually most adapted to living in confined spaces.
Show love to your pet, allow plenty of space and use appropriate water parameters. When symptoms of disease show up, treat it immediately. This will allow your pet to have a long and healthy life. They are one of the most interesting creatures, and their unique characteristics make them an animal that we should try our best to preserve.
By reading this article, you will have an understanding of the essentials, and you will be ready to consider bringing giving one of these special creatures a place in your home.