Axolotl Dilemmas

  • #1
HI everyone,

I have quite a few questions and dilemmas about axolotls. Its a little bit of a story really, basically I am wondering if I should rescue a friends axolotyl or not! Apologies for the incoming wall of text, its all of the questions that have been rattling around in my brain for a while.

1. I have been researching these strange but cool little creatures for a while now and get nothing but conflicting information for the most basic of questions! I would just like to know if a 60l / 15.8g tank would be ok too house one axolotl or not! Alot of people insist a 10 gallon is fine and on the other hand a lot of people strongly defend the fact that they need even more than a 20g. I am getting confused on who to listen too, so I thought I would ask you all! What do you think?

2. I am pretty sure the axie in question is stunted, he is currently in what I believe to be a 7.5g or 10 gallon tank, he is at least 3 years old and is just over a third of the size of the tank, maybe a little more. I have looked up dwarf axolotls and he doesn't look like them, just small. If this is the case would a 15 gallon tank be suitable for him seeing as hes is rather small? I only have a 15.8g tank available.

3. I am new to the hobby and don't understand some things or how stunting works, if he moved into my 15 gallon tank and was cared for with the right water conditions would he grow more, even though he is an adult now? This is probably a very nooby silly question!

4. He is such a tough little guy, I am pretty sure he cycled his own tank. The owners were very badly informed by the LFS. The store just told them to put him in some tap water in the little tank and feed him bloodworms and that's it! The owners didnt know about cycling, dechlorinating the water, water changes, filters(!), tank size, hides, test strips or substrate type. But I am concerned if there is much risk involved when transporting an axolotl to a new home? I would hate to rescue him and he gets too stressed with the journey or water parameter changes, he has never been moved after all.

5. When I saw him he seemed semi-active, he comes up to say hello and check if its feeding time but then he goes back to spending the rest of his time floating at the top. I am guessing his oxygen supply isn't so great? Or maybe because he doesn't have any caves he hides up by the lid? Or maybe it could just be normal behaviour?

The owner is a very caring person, just very misinformed. I could attempt to teach them everything, even though I am new myself, but the owner, as nice as they are, is a complete scatterbrain so I will have to see how it goes! I have never even kept anything aquatic since I was a child, so all I have to teach is what I have learned from research these last 4 months. I may have to rescue. I would only like to approach the owner with the correct information though so any knowledge or opinions are welcomed and appreciated.

I have been a bit stressed out by this dilemma and it has been weighing on my mind. I never planned to own an axolotl before all of this came about. Hopefully the owner will be able to afford all the extras that is needed and has the space etc. If not, I'm sure the idea will grow on me, or maybe I could even find him another home. So many options! I shouldnt need to buy a cooler as I live in a cold part of the uk, barely any sunshine all year round so a fan should do just fine.

Sorry for rambling on and thank you for your patience if you have got this far!

Thanks again in advance

  • #2
Let me start off by saying I have never owned an axolotl but I love them and have always wanted one and have researched them a lot.

1 + 2. I think a 20 gallon tank is really the minimum but since he's small 15 gallons should be alright though it would be better if you could upgrade him in the future.

3. He might grow a little but he will never be a normal size if he is stunted. Stunted fish are unhealthy and don't live as long.

4. If you can take as much water from his previous tank as you can the do about 10% water changes every day for about a week or two so he isn't shocked by having clean water.

It would be best if you could give him a filter but make sure the flow is very low as current can stress them and they will curl their gills forward.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Hey BottomDweller ,

Thanks for your reply. Just to clarify if that's ok for number 4. Do you mean I would cycle my tank, add him with as much of his tank water as I can, then 10% daily water changes thereafter.
Sorry, am a bit new to all of this!

Its sad to hear he isn't going to live as long and is unhealthy He seems so tough, I have heard they can be very sensitive to water quality etc but hes still going. I think he is no older than four years old so maybe he still has some good years left in him yet!
I will do my best for him in one way or another anyways.
I wonder what kind of health problems stunting brings, I will go look it up

Thanks again for the info
  • #4
You're welcome

Hopefully someone with more experience with axolotls can chime in.

That's what I would do with number 4. Since he's been living in dirty water for so long it probably wouldn't be good for him to go straight in to completely clean water even though he needs clean water.

As for stunting I have no idea how it affects axolotls but what I've said is based on stunted fish.

I know what it's like to try to inform friends and help their animals, I found out today that a friend of mine keeps tiger barbs, mollies, a bala shark and a common pleco in a 20 gallon! I really wish I could save them but "It's just a fish" he says Anyway your friend's axolotl is very lucky that he's going to someone who will do their research and look after him properly

Also what colour is it? (Not that it matters I just love axolotls) and I hope you'll post pictures when you have him!
  • #5
blusshed was a great help to me when I had axxies.

A 15 Gallon should be fine, but be prepared to upgrade if necessary.
Care Sheet For Axolotl
Here's a care sheet that should answer some of your questions
  • Thread Starter
  • #6

Thanks for the advice with the water changes, that is the point I am most worried about when he gets his new water. Couldnt find much on stunting with axolotls apart from they still continue to grow throughout all of their lives, but a tiny amount and very slowly.

Sad to hear about your friends fish, but sometimes there is just nothing we can do! Maybe he will start to change his mind when they start growing alot!

The axxie is white Leucistic, he is cute and small but tough! I will be sure to post pictures when the time comes .

Now I have to do the dreaded approach and talk with my friend and see what's going to happen. Then if I keep him I better start cycling my first tank. Maybe I will start cycling anyway and put something else in there if my friend wants to put the hard work in

Thanks v much flowingfins for the reply and the mention, its good to hear the 15 gallon will be ok for him, at least for now.

I will post any updates on situation in here, and any more advice is also welcomed.

Thanks all!
  • #7
I have kept axolotls for many years and keep learning new things about them. You would be surprised how tough these little guys are!

1. I too used to be extremely confused about the range of recommendations for these guys until this summer... A lady was needing to break down her tank, and I bought her axolotls. They are HUGE. Huge. My other axolotls are half the size of hers (well, mine now ), and I have been very good about maintaining water quality and feeding high quality food over the years for mine. Not one of hers would be ok in a 15g. 1-2 of mine would be.

2. IMHO due to this being a smaller axolotl, a 15 gallon would be fine as long as you are very good about maintaining water quality.

3. IME, I would be surprised if he/she grew more. Like I mentioned though, I keep learning more and more about these guys.

4. As long as your tank is cycled, I would not be too worried about transporting the little guy unless you are talking transport taking over 2 hours. ETA if it is a longer trip, you could use a battery powered air pump to oxygenate the water while the axolotl is in the bucket during transport.

Make sure to acclimate well to match PH/temperature.

5. This is not normal behavior. From time to time mine will swallow some air and float at the top until they burp up the air, but the rest of the time they are at the bottom. Low oxygenation can definitely be a cause, as can too low of flow, or high ammonia levels... I forgot to plug my canister filter back in after a water change for an hour or so, and they reminded me by floating at the top. They went right to the bottom and stayed there after I plugged it in.

My oldest one is a leucistic, and she will be 12 years old in March. You should still have many years left with your little guy! What are you planning on feeding?
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
HI SecretiveFish ,

Thanks so much for the very detailed reply. You have clarified a lot for me. Am relieved to hear my 15 gallon will be ok as I haven't got much income right now but I have a 15 gallon and stand empty in the house!

The tank was planned for other things, but sometimes animals choose you instead of the other way around!
And anyway axolotls seem to be nocturnal (like me! :yawn so it will be nice to have to some company in the nightime lol.

The journey is only half an hour away so it sounds like it should be smooth, which is good to know so thank you

I was worried that him staying at the top of his tank meant something like that, so I better get a move on with this process now I know all the facts. I have actually not owned an aquatic animal since I was very young so I will have to cycle my first tank.
Its a little overwhelming without any practice but I'm sure everyone feels like that at first. I hope I do right by him!

There is still a chance that the owner will want to put in the hard work so if that I the case I will use all the knowledge I have gained here and help set him up properly. So he will be a happy axxie either way soon enough

-I think he has been fed frozen bloodworms all his life so I thought I would start off with that. I heard they love earthworms too, I can get hold of some of them for him too? I heard you mention you fed yours high quality food?

-I was wondering if you have any planted tanks with your axolotls? I heard they don't like the tank lights being on at all really so I was just thinking about a Marimo moss ball and that's it for the plants maybe.

-I was also wondering if an internal filter might be too much flow for him? Internals seem to be the mainstream here in the UK and are pretty cheap. Maybe I could just direct it to the side of the tank?

Thanks again for your time, sorry for the barrage of extra questions lol!
  • #9
1) Earthworms are a great food source. I will feed bloodworm chunks to ones that are getting thin, but the main staple I feed them is the large pellets from the University of Kentucky axoltol colony. The lady I got the axolotls from this summer was feeding them the HikarI Carnivore Sinking pellets and HikarI Massivore Delight. I am using what she had left now too to see what I think.

2) I do not. Not many hobbyist available plant appreciate the cold water and low light situation axolotls prefer... Also axolotl tend to knock plants out of substrate leading to stress and death of the plants. I manage water quality with lots of big water changes and the big canister filter...

3) I used an internal filter for quite awhile in my 50g, but it kept getting clogged with sand so I switched to a HOB filter for quite awhile. I started using a large canister filter a couple years ago for more filtration. Internal filters can be fine, directing at the side is a great idea, and you can use aquarium decorations to make a low flow area for the little guy to hang out in.
ETA: They like having a cave or heavy plant cover to hang out in if you did not know that.

No problem with the questions! Feel free to ask more if you run into other axolotl questions. Best of luck to you and the little axolotl!
  • #10
Axolotls are awesome little creatures As said earthworms should be the main staple of an axies diet. Bloodworms are not nutritionally sufficient for adults. I've also heard that some people encounter liver problems in their axolotls that are fed solely pellets, but this shouldn't be a problem if you are also feeding earthworms.

A 15 gallon might be ok since he's small, but these guys can be pretty messy. Their poops can be big, lol! An internal filter could work, see if maybe you can fine one with a little spray bar.

And yea, floating at the top all the time isn't normal. He needs to get into clean water as soon as possible. Curled gills and a curled tail tip are clear signs of stress, so that's something to watch out for.

Axolotl is probably the best care sheet you can find, imo. a must read for any lotl owner. Good luck with this little guy!
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Hey SecretiveFish and felixtacat ,

Thanks v much for both of your advice, its great to have people I can talk too about this! Apologies for such a late reply to you both, have been having a lot of health and sleep problems lately, so all of my plans have been going slower than they should have been!
I appreciate your advice as I have made a "care sheet" of my own for my friend after communicating with you all and reading up on some stuff. I also made up a price list for my friend to take care of it all if they choose to do so. They took it all fine and are having a think about whether they can do it or pass him on to me. So we will wait and see!

Thanks to all that have helped, you have ensured an axolotl to have a happier life . I will post any updates on here, and get a pic when hes in his new tank wherever that may be!

  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Hey all
So a quick update, my friend is going to keep the axolotl as they were just unaware of the situation. We got water changes and filter all sorted and new tank and sand is on the way. I will prob use the tank for a quarantine now, as I have another tank on the way!

Thanks again for all the comments, they have been a great help

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