Axolotl are a unique type of amphibians that are commonly mistaken by fish due to their overlapping attributes. They differ from the other amphibians like frogs due to some characteristics that are caused by genetic factors. Getting crucial information about these animals is very important especially if you desire to keep one as a pet. They are very sensitive in diverse aspects hence one should have profound knowledge before getting to buy one.
They grow in length as they mature hence it is highly recommended to get a tank that will fit their size. You should also be knowledgeable as to how they relate with potential tank mates. If they can adapt to a new environment with ease then that will be very perfect.
So, what size tank for Axolotl? The most recommended size of tank for axolotl is a 20-gallon tank. A 10-gallon tank can also work perfectly well however keep in mind that negative space affects the growth of salamanders. They are known to create a significant amount of waste which can significantly affect their development and wellbeing. Never forget to acquire a filter for your water tank so as to regulate the levels of Ammonia, Nitrates, and Nitrite. Lastly, show love to your pet by providing ample space and the appropriate water parameters.
If you’d like to learn more read on.
What are axolotl?
Axolotl are known as tiger salamanders in some countries due to their resemblance. Their interesting character known as Neoteny makes them very unique. It is accepted widely that neoteny is a regressive step in evolution since axolotl are known to descend from terrestrial salamanders.
It is believed that their thyroid-stimulating hormone is not working properly thus the production of low levels of thyroxin. Research studies have proven that very low temperatures are able to hinder the production of thyroxin. Their lack of metamorphosis limits the development of lungs. This explains why they do not transform to land like other amphibians.
Types of axolotl
There are four distinct types of the axolotl. There is the Leucistic type that is characterized by pale pink with black eyes. There is the Albino that is golden in color with gold eyes, Xanthic that is grey in color with black eyes and Melanoid black in color without any gold speckling or olive tone.
On the head of the axolotl is the gills which they use to distribute oxygen through the entire body. However, the body proportion of axolotl makes it very hard for them to transport oxygen effectively throughout the body. This is why they have fimbriae which help to improve the surface to volume ratio.
Below the gills are gill rakers which play a passive role in the intake of oxygen. They are involved indirectly in the intake of water and food in the oral cavity. Axolotl do not have teeth hence they rely on a suction mechanism to attract small prey into their oral cavity. Once they enlarge their oral cavity a pressure difference is created that enables food to enter into their oral cavity. Water flows in through the cavity with any creature that is trapped within it.
Axolotls generally do not metamorphose unless under the administration of a hormone stimulant or genetic quirk. Some sources say that iodine can be used to induce metamorphose however in most cases it has proven to be poisonous hence killing the axolotl. Those that have been known to metamorphose successfully only live for a very short time before. They will eat similar food as the tiger salamander but will be short-lived.
Where do they come from?
The name axolotl is borrowed from the Aztec language, Nahuatl. They are believed to have transcended from the god of death. They were found in Lake Xochimilco where the high altitude freshwater lake formed their habitats.
The population of the species in the lake is on the decline due to draining of the lakes. Reduction in the volume of water causes a corresponding decline in water volume to species ratio which results in premature death and other health issues. As the lakes continue to reduce in size so is the extinction of the salamander.
What Size Tank for Axolotl
Axolotl are very fascinating and unusual creatures that have become very popular. Before acquire them to your home you will need to set up a tank. First of all, you will need the right size of the tank. They start very small hence you will need to get the largest tank that you can afford.
They love to swim around hence it will be wise to get a tank that is wider and long rather than tall. They grow to a length of between 7-14 inches which implies that in case you need to keep more than one then you will need enough space. A tank that is 2ft is the recommended size for one axolotl however the bigger space the better.
Axolotl prefer floor space over liter or gallons, but as a rule, you’ll be looking for at least a 10-gallon tank. For every additional axolotl, you’ll want to add roughly a foot to the tank length or at least another 10 gallons.
The quality of water is crucial for the survival of the salamanders. The best quality of water is one that is free of chemicals such as chlorine and other toxic substances. Chlorinated water can hurt and even kill your axolotl. It is recommended to either leave the water sitting in a bucket so as to allow the chlorine to evaporate or you can look for water that is free of chlorine. You will also need to use filters to improve the quality of the water. However, axolotls are very sensitive creatures hence you need to set the filters at a very low position. Putting plants in front of the filters is a great idea as it helps to lessen the flow. The water will need to be changed on a weekly basis, but make sure that that you change around 25% of the water. Pick up the uneaten food and poop from the tank as it may cause diseases.
Requirements for axolotl tank
In order to set up a perfect aquarium for your axolotl then you need a perfect size of the tank. Never use a tall tank with a short base as it will limit movement for the salamanders. A long tank is perfectly suitable even if it is short. You will need filters to keep the water in the tank fresh at all times. However, make sure that the filter you pick does not cause strong water flow as the salamanders do not enjoy a strong water flow. In case you have to install a heater just pick a simple one with low heat since these are cold-water species and are intolerant to high temperatures.
Places to hide
It is the nature of axolotls to hide whenever they want to escape from direct sunlight. Their eyes is very sensitive hence it is highly recommended for them to escape and find places to hide. Their skin is also very delicate hence anything you put in the tank needs to be sensitive smooth so that it doesn’t cause injuries. There are different kinds of substances you can put in the tank to provide hiding places for the salamanders.
When it comes to adding substrate to your water tank it is highly recommended that you use something large and suitable. Gravel is not a suitable substrate though can serve a very perfect decorative function. Axolotl are known to eat anything small that fits in their mouth hence gravel will not be suitable. Sand although small is suitable since its fine nature allows it to pass through the digestive system and can be excreted in case it is swallowed accidentally. Some people use pebble though it can prove to be a great challenge when cleaning the tank since dirt and uneaten food can hide under the pebbles.
There is always the risk of bacterial infection when dealing with more than one axolotl in a tank. Some types of axolotl look docile however each of them has its own risks. It is always recommended to take precautions when dealing tank-mates. For instance, Betta Fish look very nice however they have increased agility hence they may bite the fins or gills of the axolotl. Although they have the ability to regenerate it would reduce their lifespan.
Goldfish look very docile however, they are omnivorous once they start to grow their energy consumption increases. They also have an exoskeleton which can be very dangerous if ingested. Simply put, it is never recommended to keep axolotl with other pets like small fish. Axolotl are not social animals and aside from that there is the risk of ingestion.
How to care for axolotl
Axolotls do not have hard bones especially when they are young. They are only made up of cartilage which allows for extra flexibility. However, this has a downfall as it makes them prone to injuries. They are soft-bodied and delicate with a permeable skin. They should never be handled unless when necessary. In case you are using a net to catch them make sure that you avoid nets that have a mesh as it would damage the fingers.
If you’d like to learn more about caring for Axolotl, read our ultimate guide to Axolotl pet care.