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Considering an axolotl

Discussion in 'Amphibians & Aquatic Reptiles' started by IHaveADogToo, May 10, 2018.

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  1. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Fish Crazy
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    I've been mulling over the idea of getting one or two axolotl for a while now. It's an idea I keep coming back to. So I think I'm going to give it a go. I know I need to cycle a tank for them first, and that's fine, affordable 10 gallon tanks are everywhere these days. But I have some questions before I go and start buying stuff.

    1: Is it better to get one or two axolotls? Are they very social with their own kind? I know it's best to keep them separated as juveniles, to prevent the development of cannibalistic tendencies, but once they reach adulthood, are they best kept alone or in pairs? I don't intend to breed them. In regards to tank size, I'd rather have a 10 gallon than a 20 gallon, so keep that in mind. I have read mixed opinions on if 10 gallons is okay for 2 axolotl, but people seem to overwhelmingly say 10 gallons is perfectly fine for 1.

    2: I know it's best to keep axolotls in a species-only tank. And that's fine, these guys deserve their own tank. But what about keeping live prey in the tank, like pond snails or ghost shrimp? I know that larger snails, like apple snails, can be too big and choke an axolot, but pond snails have softer shells and can stay smaller, and from what I've read, make an excellent prey tank-mate for axies. I'm just wondering if anyone here has tried this and if they would advise for or against it.

    3: Barebottom vs tile vs sand: Gravel is a no-no for axie tanks from what I understand, as they can and will swallow it, but apparently sand is small enough to pass through an axie when ingested. These fellas vaccu-suck their food, so no matter what substrate you use, they will ingest it, which is why people opt for barebottom tanks, which apparently can stress an axolotl out as they can't get good footing. Some people use tile, which to me, looks like it helps them with their footing a little.

    4: Temperature: Axolotls like cooler temps, low 70's (F) at the highest, preferable in the low to mid 60's. I keep my house between 72 and 76 degrees year round, depending on the outside temperature... just cool enough to where I need heaters for my tropical tanks, but not cool enough to where I need to wear sleeves indoors. But I don't want to buy a water chiller. Those things are super expensive, and generally rated for much larger tanks than 10 gallons. Many of them require the use of a sump. So, I'll need a way to cool my axie tank by about ten degrees F lower than room temp. Would I be able to accomplish this with fans? Some people occasionally add ice to their axolotl tanks. Is this a risky practice? Some people say they use fans year round, and add ice only on especially hot days.

    5: Any other advice from experienced axolotl keepers? I have done a good amount of research so far and I know some of the basics, like keeping the tank covered with a tight-fitting mesh lid, but I don't profess to know anything I don't know. Any and all advice from experience is welcome.

     
  2. NickAu

    NickAu Member
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    10 gallon? An adult axolotl can reach 30cm (11.8 inches). For one adult axolotl, a 2ft tank is the minimum size.

    Temperatures above 24 °C (75 °F) are very stressful to axolotls.
     
    #2 NickAu, May 10, 2018
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  3. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You can keep 1, 2 or a group. They don't normally eat each other unless hungry. Sometimes they bite each others legs off but that happens when they are feeding next to each other and one engulfs food and also sucks in another axo's (axolotl) foot. They can regenerate limbs tho so if one does lose a foot, it will grow back.

    Bigger tanks are always better so go as big as you can afford and have room for. Full grown axos can reach 14-16 inches long so a 2ft long tank is ok for a few little axos but probably a bit small for more than 1 adult. Plus they eat a lot of meat based foods, so the more water volume, the cleaner the water stays.

    Have good filtration. If you use power filters, put sponges over the intake tubes to stop them being sucked up.

    Sand, sand, sand, sand and sand. No gravel. The other option is to spread a thin layer of glass silicon glue over the base of the tank and sprinkle sand over that. You do this before setting the tank up and leave it to dry for a week. Then turn the tank upside down to remove any loose sand, leaving you with a thin layer of sand stuck to the bottom so they can get traction, but they don't swallow it when eating.
    *NB* do not stick you head in the tank when using silicon because the fumes will make you pass out. Make sure there is plenty of air flowing around you when working with silicon.

    Do not have pond snails in with them. The snails have a pointy end and can damage the axo if swallowed. Shrimp make a good food for them so use cheap glass shrimp, not the more exotic varieties. You can also feed them earthworms (have a worm farm), and bits of prawn, fish, squid, etc.

    You don't need to cool their tanks. We kept them in tropical fish rooms and in tropical tanks in the shops and they were fine. They need a cool period if you want to breed them but they are fine in water with a temperature around 20-24 (68-75F).

    Don't waste your money on a chiller unit. If you are concerned, put their tank low down, close to the ground and it will be a few degrees cooler. And if you are really concerned, put them outdoors in a pond for a few months during spring and autumn when it starts to get cool. Then bring them back indoors so they don't freeze over winter.
     
  4. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Fish Crazy
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    I understand bigger is better @Colin_T and @NickAu. That is the case no matter what kind of animal. My dilemma is the price difference between a 10 gallon and 20 gallon tank. I can get a 5 gallon tank for $25. I can get a 10 gallon tank for $30. But the next step up, 20 gallons, is closer to $75. That huge price jump between 10 and 20 gallons is why I was hoping for a 10. And those are Walmart prices. The actual pet stores are even worse, with 10 gallons being the same $30 but 20 gallons costing over $100. I trust the people on this forum, as nobody has led me wrong yet. So if I have to bite the bullet and go with a 20 long, I will, it'll just delay my plans a bit. Is 10 gallons even too small for a single axolotl? Is 20 gallons appropriate for 2 axolotls?

    As for food, snails, shrimp, etc.... Good to know about the pointy shells. I certainly don't want anything in the tank that could harm an axie. More-or-less, I was just curious about, not necessarily tank mates, but live food that I could let "live" in the cage (as prey). I understand I'll probably have to restock the prey once a week or so, and I'll have to pay extra close attention to make sure the axie isn't being too gluttonous. What about feeder guppies, or minnows, or something like that? I don't want anything that will nip at the axie's gills. Of course worms are always good, and earthworms are the best food for axies, and I plan on using those for feedings as well. I like to give my pets varied diets. People say tankmates don't work for axolotls, and that anything you put in the tank will end up being food... so really my question is, is it safe to just be at peace with that, and put "tank mates" (feeders) in with the full understanding that my axolotl will hunt and eat it?

    Sand, eh? I do still have some sand left over from when I set up the 30 gallon... I think I'm just looking for an excuse to use slate/tile. I've been itching for a good DIY project lately...

    I do seem to be more worried about the temperature than you are, Colin. You saying I don't need to cool their tank seems to contradict the entirety of the internet. I know they can live in mid 70's temperature, but I hear that stresses them, and they really need mid 60's. None-the-less, I keep my house in the mid 70's already. My question is not if I need to cool the tank, my question is how can I cool the tank by 10 degrees lower than room temp without a water chiller? Yes, I have read about keeping the tank lower to the ground... I have a dog, so no. This is why I was asking about fans. I've seen these aquarium fans and was wondering if they are effective at cooling the water 10 degrees cooler than room temp all on their own? They claim to be. upload_2018-5-11_15-42-44.png upload_2018-5-11_15-42-53.png
     
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  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    I don't know how big 20 gallon tanks are. If you can give me the dimension (length x width x height) that is easier.

    10 gallon tank is about 2 foot long x 12 inches wide x 12 inches high, and is suitable for 4 young axos up to about 6 inches long. One adult could live in that but if you want 2 adult axos then a nice sized tank about 3ft long x 18inches wide would be great. Height isn't that important (12-18inches is fine).

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    Don't feed them live food all the time and vary their diet. If they get fed live food only they often become fussy and go on hunger strikes if their meal is not what they want. Live foods should be a special treat once a week, with frozen (but defrosted) foods offered as the main diet. You can use raw prawn, fish, squid or any other marine based food.

    Feeder guppies are fine but breed your own. Guppies/ platies from shops are putrid and covered in diseases. If you give the axos guppies from a shop you could give them worms, gill flukes or any other number of diseases.

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    Why don't you want the tank low down? The dog is not going to cause any problems to axos. If you are concerned about the dog sticking its nose in the tank, put covers on the tank. I had tanks on the floor and my dogs use to watch the fish but never tried to jump in.

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    Fans blowing over the glass will remove some heat but small fans on top are not going to do much except increase evaporation.

    I live in Western Australia and it gets hot here 40C+ (104F) in summer. For most of summer the tanks are in the high 20s (79F+) and then it comes down a bit in autumn and spring. We don't have any problems with them living in those temperature for 3 or 4 months at a time. When the seasons change the temp drops to mid 20s (75F) and they sit on that for the rest of the year.

    We do have locally bred axos here and maybe they have evolved a bit so they can tolerate more heat, but as long as they aren't sitting in 30C water all year round, they will be fine.

    If you want to lower the temp a few degrees you can fill 2 litre plastic drink bottles with water and put them in the freezer. Each day you put a bottle of frozen water into the tank and leave it until it defrosts, then swap it for another frozen one. The lid stays on the bottle at all times. A lot of marine aquarists do this when it is really hot in summer.

    Keeping lights well above the tank will reduce heat getting into the water and LED lights are cooler than fluorescent so might be a better option. A way to test if the lights are going to warm the water is to put your hand just above the water surface. If the light warms the back of your hand, then it will warm the water. Raising the lights up 6 or 8 inches above the tank will significantly reduce the heat they add to the tank.
     

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