what you need if you are buying a Axolotl!
At Windsor fish hatchery we had been buying adult axolotls since the 80s, we had a lot of trouble with keeping them healthy and well fed, as they seemed not to like much of a variety of foods and it was always a challenge to find something they would eat.
In 2012 we had some adult axis in a tank that bred, so we decided to see if we could raise the babies, well we did, and we had hundreds, we fed them a large variety of foods from the start, we sold many of them and kept a few, they are now part of our breeding program.
Over the last three years we have had some great successes, this blog is to share what works with you, so when you decide to buy an axie you have the setup right for him.
1.you need an area in the house that doesnt get to warm in summer, they prefer cool water. Temperature's under 20 degrees all year round is best. You could do this with a chiller if you had one, or a ceiling fan over the tank in summer will keep the water cool, Or float frozen water bottles on the top of the water, for very hot days in summer.
Ours are kept in a well insulted room with ceiling fans over the 1000ltr free standing ponds, all the boys are kept in one and the girls in the other, and babies in the third.
2. Don't put any type of substrate in the tank or pond. In nature axies push their noses through the debris covered bottom of the rivers they lived in and eat any worms, fish etc that they find, in doing this they do swallow a lot of debris, I have found in captivity if their is a substrate they get sick from doing this.
I think maybe in a river the vast area they have to swim in allows them to process the debris they swallow and pass it, however in an enclosed environment this doesnt happen. It also could be a totally different type of dirt or sand, than we have available. All our ponds and tanks are substrate free.
3. You may have noticed that the axies never close their eyes. Thats because they don't have eyelids and for this reason they become very stressed if they are in a high light situation. The best light is that of a window facing north so that the light is never on the tank but lights up the room.
Overhead lights so you can see your axies should be low light or blue light LED and only on when you are looking in. Anubis plant will grow under these conditions and are great for shrimp kept with the axies for live food. see food for baby axies.
Axolotl habitat plastic plants, caves, reef rock to buffer pH,caves, filter, light current, low light, live food shrimp.
4. pH is very important, Axolotls don't do well in closed environments in anything less than neutral pH 7.2 is the lowest to 7.8, we keep ours at around 7.4 to 7.6.
A low pH can burn the Axolotls skin, if this happens it will appear your axie is shedding, Axie's don't shed, so if you see what appears to be flaking skin , check the pH.
As tap water is always around 7.4 or higher. I would use it with a water ager. Water ager takes out all the chlorines and chemicals put in that make it safe for us to drink, but deadly to the axie.
The one we sell works straight away, dose according to the amount of water you are putting in, correct amount for the first time you fill their habitat, then dose for top ups of evaporated water or water changes. Don't be tempted not to use water ager, it essential for the life of your axie.
If you only have tank water, check the pH normally low, but could be fine if its in a concrete tank.
5. Axolotls need filters on their pond or aquarium, their waste is very high in ammonia, which will kill not only the axies but any live food you have in the tank or pond. you don't need a big filter, I have found the internal filters work best so you can have the water at any level, our filters sit in the tanks or can suction to the inside of the tank wall, just above the water line, this fountain effect puts more oxygen into the water and creates a small flow in the tank, perfect for axies. They don't like turbid water.
6. You will need to clean the filter on a regular basis, depending on the size of the setup. 1000ltrs requires cleaning once a month, smaller ponds or tanks may be weekly.
Remember to clean the filter media, in a bucket of the water from the tank or pond. Do a water change once a week 20% of the tank water out and fresh in. Use this water to clean your filter.
Food for baby to adult Axolotls
We sell the live shrimp that we breed for the axies as food, The idea being that you keep them in a separate tank 10ltrs or larger , the bigger the tank the more food you will be able to breed.
Fill the tank with plants and use aquarium medium plant grow light over head, use a pebble or aquatic dirt substrate, the shrimp will feed on the plants and algae, and blanched vegie, this aquarium could be put near a window for natural light. Feed also on algae sinkers or wafers or shrimp food to the shrimp. Shrimp like soft low pH water.
live black worm can be fed to both tiny baby axolotls and adults. We sell the black worm, cultivating is difficult as you need to keep the worms cold, Keep any bought worms for later use in the fridge door in a container full of the water, they will last about 2-5 days.
you could try to dig up earth worms, these are very high in protein and great food for the axolotls, you will see we sell containers of them at different times in the year, I have some going online late January 2017.
Frozen blood worms can be given from 6cm up to full adult, for the adult I give them a whole cube with a pellet in the centre, defrost the worms and place the pellet in the centre and refreeze, I use our algae sinkers or wafers or spectrum wafers for this.
I feed the larger Axolotls algae wafers 12mm by hand, the sinkers are to small, I find they will eat one a day or less. Don't over feed or throw them into the water, they wont eat them.
For small axis from 6cms give them about a 1/4 of frozen blood worm at a time. We hand feed, You cant just throw them in the water, they will dissolve and pollute the water. Buy axolotls mix
The same with pellets, I hand feed, I don't find throwing food in works, you either hand feed or provide live food.
Axolotls don't have a bite that can hurt, they grind the food, the teeth are not sharp.