Just the Basics. We didn't write a book...
Axolotls in the wild have all but disappeared. They were originally found in a few lakes near Mexico City, Mexico. They only remaining lake they are found in as of 2013 was Lake Xochimilco, as the other lakes have been drained as the city grows.
It is likely Axolotl in the wild will disappear all together in the near future. Luckily, they have proven relatively easy to grow and breed in captivity, so the species should live on this way.
Two Axolotls or Not?
Axolotl are not known for living peacefully together, though it does happen. Many people keep 2 or 3 together long term quite well, yet other find them biting and hurting each other. There are many factors that contribute to this, so no one clear answer. It is perfectly fine to house them singly though, so you can avoid the "what ifs" that way.
Aren't they illegal?
They were. In Virginia, they were illegal to own until July, 2021. They may still be illegal in other states.
This was primarily due to their Critically Endangered status. To protect wild populations. Since the wild populations have all but dissappeared, and they are all bred in captivity, amongst other things, the law was reversed.
Care in Captivity
Please keep in mind there are many, many ways to keep your pet We encourage you to research and learn more all the time. Please feel free to look at how we keep our animals in the shop and ask questions.
Axolotl are not difficult to care for, but do have some basic requirements to stay healthy and safe.
Axolotl prefer quiet, cool water, in dark habitats. Nothing fancy. Generally speaking a 20 gallon long aquarium is a good place to start, though a larger aquarium works well. No heater is necessary; they actually prefer water temps of 70F or lower. The cooler the better. if practical leave the tank open air, as this allows excess heat to rise out. Cooling the tank can be done easily, with a low tech approach : Ice Bottles. Simply take a few empty clear bottles and fill them with aquarium water. Freeze them and rotate a fresh frozen one on a daily basis. More often if your home is very warm. Be sure to use aquarium water, so if they leak the water is safe.
Speaking of water, be sure to treat your water for chlorine / chloramine. We use and recommend Prime , from Seachem . Works every time. Water should be kept clean, with a slow moving filter. They don't care for fast flowing water, and can get injured by filters with strong suction. Over the back, hang on filters work great, or internal sponge filters with air pumps.
Tank decor. The bottom of your tank can be bare, if that is your preference. Or you can use large pebbles, or sand. Stay away from the common size aquarium gravel, as it could be accidentally swallowed and block them up. This is very rare, but why take a chance? Other decor can include just about anything. They do seem to enjoy hanging out in plants, either plastic or live. Make sure nothing has sharp edges, and any caves can be easily gotten out of. Keep in mind they will grow so keep that in mind for hiding areas.
Adult Axolotl can reach just over 12 inches in length. Yup, that big. Plan accordingly.
Axolotl have a hardy appetite, and prefer meaty foods. Most commonly they are fed frozen bloodworms when small, and earthworms, or meaty type sinking fish food pellets, as they grow. We have been experimenting with several sinking pellet fish foods and have had pretty good success with a few. So far, their favorites are Hikari Sinking Wafers, and Northing Jumbo Fish sinking pellets. The Northfin is primarily meat, so a good option, though they seem to like the way the Hikari wafers rock back forth as they sink, and will gulp them before they hit the bottom if you get them in front of them. There are almost no commercial Axolotl diets on the market, so mix it up a bit, and give them a little variety. Uneaten food should be vacuumed out regularly as it will pollute the water.