Axolotl setup questions!

Discussion in 'Amphibians' started by Viriam Karo, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. Viriam KaroWell Known MemberMember

    Hi everyone! My boyfriend is planning on getting an axolotl soon and I had a few questions regarding setup and equipment, for anyone that has experience with them:

    For reference, we live in a region that in the last year has gone from -15 (F) at the lowest and about 95 at the highest.

    1. Is a chiller necessary? His apartment is a partially sunk basement, so it shouldn't get too hot in summer, but room temp could potentially rise up to probably 75 or so on really hot days? There is no central air, only a one-room AC box.

    2. Is a heater recommended? Again, the room temp should be pretty stable, but I don't know if he's planning to have fluctuations in the winter to save on heating costs. For example, I keep my house at 66 during the day and 62 at night. Would that kind of temperature fluctuation be stressful for an axolotl?

    3. Is any aquarium-safe sand appropriate? Color recommendations?

    4. The tap water around here is about pH 7.9. How sensitive are axolotls regarding their "ideal" pH range? Only one site even mentioned ideal pH so my guess is that they're not terribly sensitive to it.

    5. What kind of bioload do they have and do they require a well-established cycle/tank?

    6. Regarding light, since we do want to LOOK at them once in a while (and I might convince him to have plants): are LEDs the best choice? They'd be cooler and possibly easier to keep dim.

    7. Plant recommendations? Only one site mentioned this too :p obviously, low-light plants, but do axolotls dig things up? Do they chomp on leaves? Maybe some floaters or taller plants so the light can be filtered through a couple of layers of green?

    Thanks in advance!

    ETA blusshed Imma tag you in this... :)

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  2. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    Okay :)

    I'm perfectly fine with helping out! Yay!

    1) They really SHOULD NOT be at a temp higher than 70. Long exposure to higher temps leave them vulnerable to skin infection/fungus etc... If you choose NOT to buy a chiller (I wouldn't - they are ridiculously expensive) you could do a screened lid, and a fan blowing to cool the tank. I just use a normal floor fan right infront of the tank, with an aquarium hood, and it keeps it at 68-69. :) So that is also another option.

    2) Nope, the colder the better as long as you aren't under... 45 degrees F? They like the cold!
    But if he/you feel like it will be colder than that at any given time, you could add a heater, just to keep the temp from sudden drops in winter, I suppose. I really don't see it necessary, though.

    3) I have aquarium sand, I've seen many people suggest black, or another dark color, I have white. I really think it's personal preference. Just make sure it's soft, not rough to the touch. I have a brand I've never even heard of, and it's a bit bigger than people suggest for axxies, but mine are young and don't eat any as far as I've been able to tell. So, really its up to you.

    I'll add... if you decide to add river rocks of any type, make sure that they are larger than an adult axxies head, just to already take care of any future issues of your axxie thinking that a giant river rock is a good snack. :p

    4) My tap is 7.8ph, if my axxies are fine with it, yours will be.

    5) They have a rather high bioload I would say, they can be extremely messy (mine literally pooped 6 times today and decided to wreck the little sacs and her entire 20gal is a mess). They are much more sensitive to water parameters than fish, so yes, they require a well established tank. I cycled my 20gal with them in it, using TSS. Worked like a charm, and they showed no signs of stress. I am currently cycling the 10gal with one of the axxies in it with TSS, he seems completely fine... So, that would work if you don't have the established media.

    6) I have an aquarium hood, and I only turn it on when I'm feeding them. The light is pretty bright... I guess LED would be the best choice but they /really/ don't need, or like light, at all. And as mine get older, I can tell they try to go to their hides and get out of the light. :(

    7) Axolotls will uproot plants. Mine are young, and don't bother their fake plant, but I've read COUNTLESS people say as soon as they plant a live plant, even in a pot in the tank, the axxies dig them up over night. They will eat floating plants, some people say it's not a good idea? I'm not 100%, but that's what I've seen. I'd do fake.

    I don't think I missed anything? Let me know if I did or if you have more questions, I can definitely help you find answers!

    EDIT: I did forget something so important! Water flow... They basically need NONE or they become stressed, so you'll need to majorly baffle your filter. :)

    i went with a turtle shelf under the outflow. It's probably still not enough but mine play where the water splashes off, so they can't dislike it too much.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  3. Viriam KaroWell Known MemberMember

  4. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    I think I've seen people use sponge filters with success.
    I have a penguin 150, just because I figured if I was gonna spend the money, I'll just have the filter if I ever got a different fish/animal I could re-use. Plus they were on sale so I got it lol.

    you'll need a turkey Baster for easy clean ups for droppings, too. No filter will pick those up I don't think LOL.

    ive also seen many times that axolotls stop using their gills as much if there is a lot of oxygen in the water, so while it's good to disturb the water, you don't want too much or their gills can shrink.
  5. Viriam KaroWell Known MemberMember

    Okay, sounds good. Do the Penguin filters come with spray bars? Are those only on canisters? lol I've only ever had to baffle for my betta and just stuck a bunch of plants in the way...

    Are plants like anubias or java moss suitable? I really don't like fake plants for creatures that could rip themselves up on them. Even my silk ones have a couple of plastic "ribs" to keep them from flopping completely over and I never liked them in my betta tank. Or guppy grass? Nothing that actually needs to be rooted, just either free-floating or attached to something.
  6. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    no, the penguin has the water fall effect, that's why I have the turtle dock under mine.

    Turtle dock under the outflow :)

    From what I've read/heard basically no plant will last lol.

    I have a plastic mandarin plant that is suction cupped to the wall of the aquarium, my axxies are small enough and actually go inside of it, and a large silk plant, they LOVE it.

    I attached a pic :)

    Most at people don't use plants at all, just rocks and slate and such. Especially since they don't need/really shouldn't have light, they are sensitive to light since they don't have eyelids, and light can cause blindness, so plants really wouldn't survive.

    Ultimately it's up to you to try, you may get a mellow axxie that leaves your plants alone, or a terror who destroys them. Lol.

    im fairly certain that axxies will randomly try to eat plants that are free floating, so it would have to be real, but also, I don't think that is necessarily "good" for them either, as they eat earthworms are a staple diet... I'm not sure how their digestive system fairs plants.

    Attached Files:

  7. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Thanks for all the info i am currently getting set up for my axolotl just debating on what to feed him when i get him home. The pet store hand feeds them criickets and i bought newt pellets they recomended. Frozen blood worms? I am new to it all but have followed all your steps and i think i am ready to bring him home today.

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  8. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Also they told me i dont need the tank cycled to add them.? So if i use our version up here of TSS which is special blend i think its the same basically use to cycle a tank for bacteria growth or whatever lol. Like i said still learning all this fun stuff.

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  9. blusshedWell Known MemberMember


    How big is the axolotl? Cut up earthworms are the best diet, they shouldn't eat insects,I was told to basically ex the pellets, and only use in emergenices..The bloodworms are good for young axxies, but they grow fairly quickly (unless you got a little tiny runt like I did), and cut up worms are really what they should eat, then eventually half worms, then whole worms.

    And no, you can use TSS with them, it's safe to use. I've done it twice :)
    Just monitor the lotls behavior and watch for signs of stress.
  10. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Thank you for your help. Yes i took the runt because he was being used as a chew toy from the other bigger guys in the tank. He has been on a cricket only diet and i brought some home for him yesterday and day one he gobbled down the regular 4 that they fed him or tried to feed him. The lady at the shop has one at home and feeds hers wax worms? So i will grab some today i asked and i dont think they had regular earth worms but my back yard is full of them will they work? I dont like crickets and i had to hold the cricket in front of his mouth and he would snap it away. Im also not sure if hand feeding is necessary i just seen them doing it at the pet store and it seems to be what they do there lol. Anyway. Thanks for all your help i will prolly have alot more questions lol.

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  11. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    No crickets are bad for them, and waxworks are too. Probably why he's so small, he isn't getting what he needs. How did they feed that poor little guy 4 crickets?! I'd imagine that he could be being impacted from that depending on how small he is.

    Earthworms are their staple diet, and really all they need, as long as your yard isn't treated I would say that's fine.

    I hand and feed mine, but you can train them to eat on their own as they get bigger. It's also just easier when they're young to hand feed them because you know exactly why they're eating, ya know?

    im here if you need help!
  12. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Ok right on i will see if they sell earthworms it sounded like they didnt when i asked so i dont know where i will get some. I will go out to my garden tonight and dig some up until i find a supplier maybe. Thanks again!!

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  13. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Stupid pet shop lol

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  14. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Ok i got some earth worms from the garden. But i think he ate too many crickets yesterday. I will stop the cricket diet now! Its strange they feed them this in the pet store and they all eat them but i will listen as i didnt think it was right either lol. Also i was wondering about bait shops that sell nightcrawlers worms that ive used for fishing? They are very thick and healthy looking and kept in coolers with dirt n such in there box now would those work as good food for him? Sorry if that is a stupid question i am just trying to rhink of alternative places to get my food for this guy.

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  15. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    Bait shops are fine as long as you ask if they've been treated or not :)
  16. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Ok i need help haha. All seems good. Water after getting him home is a bit cloudy but is slowly clearing up he seems fine in there. Now what do i do to change his diet?? I am guessing he has been fed crickets his entire life along with all his other tank mates and so on but i got fresh earth worms and he will not even attempt to try one. The last two days i didny give in and tried over and over to hand feed him the earth worms ( i use tweezers because im still jumpy when he snaps) he wont have anything to do with them. So tonight just now i gave in and grabbed a cricket with my tweezers and he snatched it so fast it made me jump. I know i shouldnt be feeding him these but it seems to be all he will eat??? Do i let him go a few more days without and keep at him with the worms? Do i try frozen blood worms? If so how do u feed them to him? Just drop a cube in and he will eat them? Any ideas would be great. Water temp is good xonditions seem right he swims around a bit and seems great other then the diet he is on

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  17. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    Axolotls can go a long time without eating. Like up to 2 months, but 2 weeks of no food is the longest suggested.

    Id wait 3-5 days, then start offering earthworms. If he doesn't take it, try again later or the next day.

    I would stop stop feeding the crickets, and the bloodworms don't have enough nutrition :(

    just offer a worm every day, at least once a day, it might take some time but don't give in, I assure you your axxie won't starve :)
  18. terrynachosValued MemberMember

    Thats good to know!! I felt bad and gave him his crickets lol. But i will hold out a few days forsure! Thanks.

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  19. blusshedWell Known MemberMember

    Don't feel bad lol. He will benefit from you holding out for at least a couple days before trying the worms again, I promise! Stay persistent!
  20. Viriam KaroWell Known MemberMember

    Just saw all this. This is helpful too XD thanks!

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