Would Axolotls Make Great Pets?

Also known as the Mexican walking fish, the axolotl is a unique creature that has seen a huge surge in popularity as a pet recently. Their ever-smiling expression makes many people fall in love with these water salamanders, although that is far from the only unique feature of this species. They come in a variety of colors, including white, red, green, brown, and blue, making them colorful inhabitants of any aquarium. But these amphibians are not great swimmers. Instead, they tend to walk around the aquarium floor, so they need ample space.

Many pets catapulted into popularity at some point, even if they weren’t the easiest of pets to care for or the fun of. But what about axolotls? Are they great pets, or is this another fad of the pet industry?

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Space Requirements

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Axolotls start life quite small, and if you buy a sapling, you don’t need a very large aquarium to start with. Ten gallons should do it. However, these salamanders did not last long. By the time your axolotl is fully grown, it can be 12 inches long! Naturally, such a large specimen will be cramped in a 10 gallon tank, which is why 20 gallons is the minimum recommended tank size for an adult axolotl.

Tank Setting

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Your axolotl will need a large tank with plenty of walking space at the bottom and sufficient filtration. Usually, filtering the water in an aquarium is easy, but the axolotl prefers calm water, so you will need a special filter to avoid currents in the tank. But axolotls are known to produce large amounts of waste, so you should also change 20% of the water every week to keep things clean.

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Since axolotls spend their time on the tank floor and rarely venture to the upper levels, the substrate you choose will have a big impact. Sand is generally considered the best substrate. Avoid aquarium gravel as it can be easily swallowed and cause compaction.

In addition to the substrate, you should provide plenty of hiding places for your axolotl. You can use plants, logs, rocks, and more. Make sure you leave plenty of area for your axolotl to feel hidden and safe.

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Caring for Axolotls

Water Condition

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Caring for an axolotl is not that difficult. Water conditions are a major concern. In addition to weekly water changes and adequate filtration, you should also consider the water’s hardness, temperature, and even pH level. If your condition is inactive, your axolotl will suffer.

The temperature should stay between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit because this is a cold water species. The acidity should remain between a pH level of 6.5 and 7.5. The water hardness should stay between 7-8 dKH, which can be easily monitored using several water hardness test strips.

Food

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If you are used to pets requiring daily food, then feeding axolotls will seem simple in comparison as they only need to eat two or three times each week. In the wild, these amphibians feed on a diverse carnivorous diet consisting of fish, snails, insects and other amphibians. For axolotls in captivity, brine shrimp, earthworms, and bloodworms tend to be the best feeders because they are high in protein, readily available, and the axolotl will eat them without hesitation.

While there are other feed options available such as feeder fish or even small mammals such as mice, these are generally avoided for pet axolotls. They can introduce parasites into your pet’s aquarium, which can cause health problems. Your axolotl will definitely eat this food, but the risk may be greater than the value.

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To feed your axolotl, simply use a pair of long pliers and place the food near your pet. After seeing the food, your axolotl should take care of the rest.

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Temperament and Personality

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One of the reasons for the axolotl’s explosive popularity as pets is that they are so much fun to watch. These amphibians tend to pay attention when they are being watched, and they like to put on a show, suddenly becoming more active for the audience.

It is considered a rather docile pet. Your axolotl will rarely show aggression when left alone. However, they are not suited to living together with anyone or anything. Even another axolotl in the same tank can have dire consequences. They tend to fight, with possible loss of limb or life. Luckily, the axolotl can regrow its limbs, but that’s still not a situation you should be in. Fish or other aquatic creatures are likely to be attacked, eaten, or killed as well. So, the axolotl should always be kept in its own aquarium, away from other creatures.

Handling

Even though they are amphibians, you should never remove the axolotl from the water. In fact, you should never handle it at all. Instead of bone, the axolotl structure is made of cartilage, so they are not the most durable of creatures. Handling one can easily cause damage. If you must remove the axolotl from its tank, then you should use a netting net and immediately place it in another water tank.

Lifetime

Getting an axolotl is not like buying a goldfish. Your axolotl will be around for some time. On average, they tend to live to about 10 years in captivity. That said, some specimens managed to survive for 20 years or better. While this is rare, there is a chance that you should be prepared if you are buying a pet axolotl.

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Would Axolotls Make Great Pets?

We’ve covered a lot of information about axolotls, but the question remains: are they good pets? As long as you understand that the axolotl is more of a watching and observing type of pet than one you can interact with and play with, they make excellent pets. They are fun to watch, adorable, and easy to care for. If you can get the water conditions right then there’s not much to worry about. Feeding axolotls is easy and inexpensive, and these pets live very long lives in captivity.

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Featured Image Credit: Poring Studio, Shutterstock