Caring for an axolotl can be a rewarding experience, but it does require some effort to ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy. Here are some key points to keep in mind when caring for an axolotl:
Housing: Axolotls should be kept in a tank with a minimum of 80 liters. Footprint however is more important, with a bare minimum of 60cm length being required. I recommend having a tight-fitting lid on the tank to prevent escape. It is essential that you cycle your aquarium to keep the water safe. This is building the bacteria colonies to process the waste of your axolotl. Feel free to reach out if you would like help in this space. The most important part of axolotl housing that is often overlooked is the substrate. Axolotls should never be kept on a gravel substrate. They will swallow the gravel which cannot be digested and eventually leads to death. The best substrate options are fine white silica sand, tiles, fake grass or a bare bottom aquarium.
Water Quality: Axolotls are sensitive to changes in water quality, so it's important to keep the water clean and healthy. You should test the water regularly to keep on top of any issues BEFORE they become a problem for your axolotl. You should conduct regular water changes to keep the nitrates and phosphates, amongst other things in a healthy range. A good rule of thumb to use is to do a 50% water change once per week, using prime or a similar dechlorinator to make water safe.
Diet: Axolotls are carnivores and should be fed a variety of foods. The best options are the JBL NovoLotl pellets, Repashy Grub Pie and live earthworms.
Lighting: Axolotls don't need special lighting. It is best to keep their tank dim as they are sensitive to light.
Temperature: Axolotls prefer water temperatures 12 to 18 degrees celcius. If the water gets too hot or too cold, it can cause stress to the axolotl. If thye water gets too warm, the best option is to set up a desk fan to blow across the waters surface, or to invest in a chiller.
Handling: Axolotls are delicate creatures and should be handled with care. It's best to avoid handling them whenever possible, but if you do need to handle them, make sure to wash your hands. using your hands to move axolotls is preferable to using fish nets.
Health: Axolotls are hardy creatures, but they can still get sick. Signs of illness include loss of appetite, lethargy, and abnormal swimming behavior. If you suspect that your axolotl is sick, it's important to seek advice from a vet or other animal care profesional. The facebook group 'Axoltols NZ' is a good resource in this space. Otherwise there are some vets that will see Axolotls and can prescribe strong medications than we could otherwise get.
In conclusion, axolotls are fascinating pets that require a bit of care to keep them healthy and happy. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your axolotl will be a wonderful and low-maintenance companion for many years to come.