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Axolotl Care

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West Florida Axolotls & Exotics Basic Axolotl Care Sheet and Policy:

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Some basic knowledge about your new Axolotl please read this First!!

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The Axolotl is also known as a Mexican salamander (Ambystoma Mexicanum) or a Mexican walking fish. Although the axolotl is known as a "walking fish", it is not a fish, but an amphibian. The species originates from numerous lakes underlying Mexico City. Axolotls are unusual among amphibians in that they reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. The axolotl remains in larvae state their entire life. Though it develops functional lungs, it uses its fancy, feathery gills to breathe underwater. Like young salamanders, they retain external gills, tail, a body fin, and lack moveable eyelids their entire life. Axolotls becoming a terrestrial animal is very rare and is due to either poor water quality and or genetics. 
As of 2010, wild axolotls were near extinction due to urbanization in Mexico City and consequent water pollution.

Basic requirements and directions: PLEASE READ THIS FIRST!!!🐉🐲🦎

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🐉🐲🦎Axolotls can get quite large for a salamander, 20 gallons minimum per Axolotl and an additional 10 gal per axolotl added is recommended (Low/Long tanks work best; they must come up for air quite a bit, axolotls have three ways of breathing 1.lungs 2.Gills 3.Skin. You can have higher tanks, just create levels for them, they love plastic Dragon hammocks that suction cup to the side. 

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Axolotls do like company with other axolotls, but are also fine alone. I often find them piled up together in an axie stack, however, (this is very important) when they are able to sex (this can take up to 18 months), and they turn out to be the opposite sex, they must be separated immediately.

 

To reiterate: Having the same sex together is no issue; Producing eggs too early is damaging and incredibly unhealthy for the female. Axolotls will relentlessly breed until the female passes away.

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The gene pool is incredibly small on these critters so please make sure they are not related if you plan on raising eggs on your own. Lineage is very important. 

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🐉🐲🦎Substrate:

NO GRAVEL or SAND! THIS IS A MAIN KILLER, especially for babies. Fine gravel might be ingested during feeding and cause an obstruction. Some owners opt to simply leave the bottom of the tank bare, although others believe this may stress the axolotls a bit since they can't get a foothold on the bottom of the tank without sand. I never recommend sand, but if you chose to use sand, please make sure your axolotl is a minimum of 5 to 6 inches and very fine sand. (Crayola-colored play sand is beautiful, and supposedly non-toxic since it's made for children. Many aquariums have this sand.

Options: (Bare bottom, aquarium safe silicone covered tile, Slate works also and is beautiful, Ceramic, Silicone bath mat (make sure it doesn’t say mildew-free). There are many other options besides gravel or sand, but again if using sand, make sure your axolotl is big enough to be placed on the sand. They use suction to eat, so they do ingest some sand. 

Please listen, I get very disappointed when I see my babies on sand or gravel it will hurt the babies.

 

🐉🐲🦎Temperature and lighting:

The tank should be kept in a cool room away from bright sunlight. The water temperature should be kept cool, between 57 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and never allowed to get above 70 F.

TEMPERATURE MUST NOT GO HIGHER THAN 70 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, THIS IS A MAIN KILLER. (Fans help, close to the floor helps, placed under air conditioner vent, in extreme cases floating frozen water bottles and rotating them works)

Do not fluctuate the temperature too fast, this will shock your axolotl. Keep in mind that colder is always better than hot though.

No special lighting is required for axolotls, and in fact, a place to get out of the light may be appreciated, such as a flower pot laid on its side or an aquarium castle. No bright lights, they do not have eyelids and it hurts their eyes.

Do not put the black-light/ blue light on for too long if you are showing off your Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Axolotls, this is painful to their eyes, and you can visibly see them get stressed. Blue lights are preferred if you're going to be showing them off often, it's not as damaging or as stressful to the axolotl. 

 

🐉🐲🦎Decor, filtration, and water:

Axolotls require regular maintenance they can live in “tubs” for temporary periods of time with 100% daily water changes with dechlorinated or spring water. The "TUB" can be anything that is food safe, any Tupperware container or sterilte tub works.  Often times axolotls are kept in tubs until their tank is completely cycled, they are fine in the tubs as long as the water is cool, clean, and dechlorinated.  The water in your tank MUST BE CYCLED BEFORE ADDING THE AXOLOTL. IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT, TUB THE AXOLOTL! 

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Axolotls are very delicate and can be injured easily by decorations or by other axolotls and fish, so they are only to be kept with other axolotls (This is not an animal for a community tank). One hide per axolotl, nothing sharp! Axolotls are very lazy and love to hang out on things. Lizard hammocks work well for this, suction cup soap dishes, plastic plants, or turtle ramps submerged.

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Powerful filters that create strong currents should be avoided, the filtration rate should be fairly low; there are many videos on YouTube on how to diminish the flow rate of a HOB filter, some owners use water bottles, loofas, or plants, I use large sponges on my intake HOB filters. 

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Also, be sure that the filter intake is not in a position to trap the gills of your axolotl, this is another reason I use sponges at the end of the intake. Biochemical Stone Sponge Corner Filter can be purchased on Amazon, or sponge bio-filter (these need a simple air pump), but be wary of your levels, axolotls poop quite a bit, so your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates may not be reduced with just one bio-filter sponge. 

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Safe cleaning would consist of using a siphon to vacuum the bottom of the tank or a turkey baster, and at least a 20 percent water change should be done weekly. Freshwater API liquid water testing should be done regularly to make sure your water parameters are met assuring your tank is cycled properly. Please check with your API water test kit, or bring in a sample of your water to any local pet store and they can test it for you. (I strongly recommend purchasing an API freshwater test kit yourself.) Pothos plants work very well at keeping nitrates and ammonia down and are beautiful in the tank. The pH of the water should remain between 6.5 and 7.5 (neutral).

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Tap water should NOT have any chlorine or chloramines they can be removed using commercially available solutions. The most commonly used dechlorinator is called Prime and can be found at any local pet store, Amazon, eBay, etc. 

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Never use distilled water, this is the complete separation of minerals that an axolotl needs. Only spring water, or dechloriated tap water. 

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🐉🐲🦎DIET:

 Staple:

Canadian nightcrawlers

Axolotl pellets (we use Hikari carnivore pellets and sinking salmon pellets)

Blackworms (for babies and juveniles)

European nightcrawlers

Red wigglers (this is a controversy as to the red wigglers have a slime coat that some axolotls do not like, soaking the worms in garlic first sometimes releases the slime coat on the worms) if your axolotl likes them great; if not try Canadian or European nightcrawlers.

Keep in mind wild-caught worms from your yard can carry parasites.

 

For stimulation: (these should all be used in moderation due to the fact that they can pick on your axolotls' gills, one or 2 is fine, mine eat the fry, but a handful of fish is too much for the axolotl to handle.)

Guppies

Mollies

Platies

Swordtails

White Cloud minnow

Cherry shrimp

Ghost shrimp

(Fair warning, again these fish may nip at your axolotl's gills, so I cannot stress enough to use them in moderation; also some fish can carry parasites, so please quarantine first)

 

🐉🐲🦎Snacks:

Repashy grub pie, Repashy for salamanders 

Frozen bloodworms

Frozen brine shrimp cubes

RAW fish (salmon, tilapia)

RAW peeled shrimp

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Uneaten food should be cleaned from the tank daily to help keep the tank clean.

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Diet for newborn babies: baby brine shrimp, micro-worms, daphnia, and live black worms

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Common issues with Axolotls:

Bacterial and fungal problems make up the bulk of the diseases from which axolotls suffer in captivity. These are mainly opportunistic organisms and the real cause of the problem is usually poor husbandry or other stresses. A common symptom of stress is that animals will go off their food, or eat very little. They may also suffer from deterioration of the gills. The gills may also curl forward, tail curl, fuzzy skin, or red skin. This can be resolved by tubbing the axolotl and treating it with methylene blue or treating furan 2, when tubbed please use half of the dose of bottle instructions; the instructions on a bottle are for a fish. This is an amphibian that breathes through their skin. Indian almond leaves are an excellent antibacterial antifungal skin reliever that can be added to the aquarium and /or tub. If Indian almond leaves are unavailable pure black tea bags can be used as a bath for 20-minute intervals. (Don't forget to be doing 100% water changes daily if tubbed)

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🐉🐲🦎Items to have handy:

Water thermometer

Master API freshwater test kit

De-chlorinator with NO ALOE! (aloe is damaging to the skin of an axolotl. 

Water siphon for water changes

Turkey baster for spot cleaning (optional)

Indian Almond leaves (Optional but recommended antifungal, skin protectant, and antibacterial)

Black tea (emergency skin reliever)

Furan 2 (fungus and bacteria)

Methanyneblue (Fungus and bacteria)

Prazipro (Parasites)

General Cure (Parasites and appetite stimulant)

Fenbendazole (Parasites)

Nemotol (Parasites)

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🦎🐍🐲Axolotls are legal in most places in the U.S. except for California, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington D.C . In New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii, they are legal to own, but illegal to import from other states unless you have a valid permit. West Florida Axolotls & Exotics will not ship to you if you are in one of these states and do not have a valid permit.

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🦎🐍🐲WFA&E has a live arrival guarantee and accept PayPal, Venmo, FB pay, Zelle, or any credit card, if in the rare case an axolotl passes in shipping, a replacement or refund will be granted only if we are contacted within one hour of delivery with photo/video evidence of the deceased axolotl in the bag, before opening and after opening. This is very important to keep updated with tracking information that we will provide to you and PayPal. Shipping is Monday's through Wednesday's, however, we need at least 3 days' notice to send an axolotl due to the fact they need to have fasted.

Thank you for choosing West Florida Axolotls & Exotics, don't hesitate to contact us and ask any further questions.