View Full Version : What do I need for an axolotl?

8th October 2009, 08:48
So I have wanted an axolotl for my entire life and am finally in a position where I can have one. I'm a bit short on money and I was going to wait for christmas but now I've gotten really excited about it and been looking into it and realised it might not actually cost that much (and it's become apparent my step-mum is terrified of axolotls, so a christmas present is unlikely).

So I just had some questions to make sure I've got everything covered.

I have a tank (a score from hard rubbish collection :D), it's 60cm long, 35cm tall and 30cm wide, which I think I remember calculating to be about 10 or 11 gallons, which is apparently enough for one axolotl? It doesn't have a lid, will I need one? I read some stuff about axolotls jumping out of their tanks, but is there a certain amount of space I can keep between the top of the water and the top of the tank to avoid that?

This is a picture of the tank, with a small dog (she wont be in there with the axolotl):

The gravel is obviously too small for an axolotl. I have been reading about it and I really don't like the idea of a bare bottom or sand, or having to buy pebbles, however - there is some kind of pointless pit of pebbles in the entrance way of my house, and they appear to be exactly the same as the ones in this picture:
Can I just use those? Would an axolotl like those? Would my landlord freak out when she notices my axolotl has the same pebbles (or "river rock") as the entrance way?
I read about putting a layer of sand below river rock like that, should I do that? And where do I get this "play sand" from?
Can I leave those plastic plants in there for the axolotl?

I live in Australia (Perth), do I need a heater? Or should I get a thermometer incase it gets too hot?

What do I need to test for water quality? How much does that cost?

There's a pet shop that has a whole range of filters in a whole range of prices. I have no idea what the different kinds of filters are, which ones are appropriate for an axolotl and which aren't? I can only remember that the "under gravel" filter was the cheapest (like $15 for my size tank), would that one be okay for an axolotl/my gravel-thing?

I saw a little aquarium cave at kmart for $6, is there like a minimum measurement for the entrance/inside of a cave for an axolotl?

What's the youngest/smallest you can/should get axolotls?
Is it better (or possible) to find a breeder or are petshop axolotls basically the same?
Do all axolotls grow to 30cm long? I met one that was 8 years old and only like 15-20cm. If they can be different sizes, can you tell how big they'll grow when they are babies?

What can I do with my axolotl when I have him? :D

Is this all I'll need for an axolotl? I've never had any kind of aquatic creature before. :happy:

8th October 2009, 09:59
Sorry, I don't have answers but I hope you don't mind me tagging myself on this post as I'd be interested in hearing a few of the same answers.

According to an aquarium calculator your tank is 17 US gallons, and 14 Imperial Gallons (UK I think).

8th October 2009, 10:55
Your tank size is definitely enough for an axolotl :happy:

No lid is necessary...though if you choose to not have a lid, you'll want to keep the water level at least 3" from the top rim just in case your axolotl gets a little frisky. Most people actually prefer an open or screen top to allow for more evaporation (which helps keep the tank cooler).

A heater is definitely not advisable. In fact, most people have difficulty with keeping their tanks cool enough. Anything higher than 20 degrees Celcius is too warm and will stress your axie. Many people resort to chillers, frozen water bottles, and/or over head fans to help keep their tanks at a suitable temperature.

As far as filters go, undergravel filters are not a very good choice for keeping axolotls. They invariably get clogged from uneaten food and detrius and will need constant cleaning (far more trouble than they are worth). For your size tank, a simple overhead or submersible filter is adequate.

I would be very wary of the pebbles you mentioned. Many materials can alter water chemistry, which is very bad news for axolotls. Sometimes when I am unsure of putting something in my axie tank, I put the item(s) in a seperate tank and monitor the water conditions (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, hardness, alkalinity, and pH) over a 3-4 week period.

Play sand can be purchased at most hardware/construction/general retail stores. Just make sure it's labeled as "Play" sand and not "Construction" sand.

30cm is on the large end of the continuum as far as axolotl size goes. I think the average is somewhere around 23cm so keep this in mind when looking to buy hidey holes for your axie.

I think this answers a good portion of your questions. If you've never cared for an aquatic pet, you'll need to learn about cycling your tank. http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/cyclingEDK.shtml will give you the information you need for this.

Also The Caudata Culture pages are definitely a great resource and can probably answer your questions in greater detail so be sure to check those out.


3rd November 2009, 16:09
Thanks so much! (Sorry I didn't reply for ages)
I've been to a whole lot of different pet shops/aquariums and everyone tells me something different. So then I looked on Ebay and their filters are just all MUCH cheaper, so maybe I can get the advice from someone here. What flow rate will my tank need?
There is just sooo many filter submersible, Home, Pumps, Aquariums items at low prices on eBay.com.au (http://shop.ebay.com.au/i.html?_nkw=filter+submersible&_sacat=0&_trksid=p3286.m270.l1313&_dmpt=AU_Pet_Supplies&_odkw=filter+aquarium&_osacat=0)
I guess I'll just get the cheapest, best-brand-looking one with the right flow rate..

I still haven't decided about the substrate, whether I'll go buy some river rocks or play sand. Two different aquariums that were actually selling axolotls that were kept on SMALL gravel told me the whole gravel-choking thing is a myth, but I don't really believe them... And thus I don't believe anything they told me about filters either.

But they explained the biologlical filter thing to me, I think ... am I right to understand that, basically, what I do is set up the tank and have the filter running for 2-3 weeks, then I take a sample of the water in to an aquarium or something to be tested and if it's good then I can get an axolotl? Is there something I need to put into the water first? Something for chlorine, right? :confused:

3rd November 2009, 22:01
You would need a good water dechlorinator during your initial tank set up. To allow the tank to cycle, an ammonia source is necessary. You can easily test the parameters with a test kit.

3rd November 2009, 22:19
You would need a good water dechlorinator during your initial tank set up. To allow the tank to cycle, an ammonia source is necessary. You can easily test the parameters with a test kit.

i jsut read the water cycling on caudata culture. i understand about adding the ammonia source (brine shrimp) when the ammonies levels drop and nitrate levels rise.

it says to do this around 3 times. what level should it be by the end of this stage?

would i also need a dechlorinator whe i set up my tank?

3rd November 2009, 23:34
I've kept fish tanks, though I've never had an axolotl. You can buy a bottle of water conditioning drops that take out chlorine at any pet store. Personally I think it's always better to be save and just put the drop in. The ones I currently have are made by Terra and it's 1 drop per gallon of water. So the bottle will last me a VERY long time.

4th November 2009, 03:59
Yes, you need to use the dechlorinator immediately upon initial set up. It removes chlorine and chloramines from tap water which otherwise would harm the inhabitants and also prevent beneficial bacteria from establishing.

In order to monitor ammonia source, you would need to get a solution test kit for ammonia first. There is no magic number that determines how many times you got to add brine shrimp. It is multifactorial. It depends on the size of your tank, presence of filters, live plants etc. These all affect the rate of ammonia being utilised. The best way is to monitor daily and record down the reading in a notebook so you can see the trend and act accordingly.

4th November 2009, 04:51
oka thank you.

but wat level should the ammonia be? what is safe?

4th November 2009, 06:08
So I need to get some dehlorinator and a test kit. what am i looking for in the test kit? there are a whole bunch of different ones?
Do I have to use sea monkeys? Are they going to die? Is there something else you can use?

4th November 2009, 06:38
So apparently my aquarium is 63 litres, so ... looking online i find some places telling me the turnover should be 4, 5 or 6 times per hour, so 5 x 60 is 300, so I should be getting a filter that has a 300L/h turnover, right?

4th November 2009, 07:43
but wat level should the ammonia be? what is safe?

Ideally you want it at "0". Anything more than that and it starts to become toxic.

So I need to get some dehlorinator and a test kit. what am i looking for in the test kit? there are a whole bunch of different ones?

You'll want a test kit that tests for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Also one that tests for Ph wouldn't hurt either. Oh, make sure you get the test tube kind and NOT the test strips. The test strips are notoriously inaccurate.

4th November 2009, 09:22
thanks for clearing that up =) is that the same for the nitrite and nitrate?

are they both toxic aswell?

4th November 2009, 10:11
Biance - A 300L/hr filter turnover is fine for a standard 4 by 2 ft tank. You need to ensure the flow rate is minimised though. Its best to use a spray bar, otherwise you can always direct the outtake against the glass surface to buffer the flow. If your outtake is a flexible tube, it is better to position it near the water surface rather than submerged. Outtake at the water surface minimises flow rate and yet at the same time create some water movement on the water surface that can help prevent a water 'skin' or dust from accumulating. It keeps the water a bit fresher too, increasing evaporation (cooling effect) and dissolved gases (fresher water).

Kaylalouise - Best to get solution based test kit. There are master kits that contain all the relevant tests - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph. You may also choose to buy them individually. If you do so start with ammonia and nitrite first and then nitrate. Anything else is good but not as immediately vital.

Do not get confused with levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate when you are trying to cycle an empty tank versus a tank with axies.

If your tank has axies in it, you want to aim for 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite and less than 80 nitrate.

If your tank is empty and you are intending to cycle your tank before putting your axies in using the shrimp pieces method, you need to have some ammonia. Your aim in this case is to achieve the trend that upon addition of some ammonia, you get a reduction of this level over a few days and subsequently see an increase in nitrites and then after a short interval, an increase in nitrates. If you see Ammonia -> nitrites -> nitrates, that means your tank is on the way to being cycled. These stages indicate that beneficial bacteria have colonised the tank surfaces and are doing their job converting ammonia to nitrites and then nitrites to nitrates. These are two separate group of bacteria. You want both populations to be present.

It is best to monitor all three parameters daily during the intial cycling stage to be able to see the trend.

4th November 2009, 18:16

I went to Bunnings today and ended up getting play sand because my housemate wanted it for her crazy crabs anyway so now we're sharing the bag.

So I just thought I'd double check before buying, is there any of these filters would you recommend or recommend against?

http://i.ebayimg.com/01/!BWNNNQgCGk~$(KGrHgoOKj8EjlLmUE61BKWZbdRlMw~~_35.J PG
BOYU Waterfall Style Aquarium Bio-Filter 300L/H WF-2025 - eBay Filtration Heating, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home Garden. (end time 06-Nov-09 19:23:05 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/BOYU-Waterfall-Style-Aquarium-Bio-Filter-300L-H-WF-2025_W0QQitemZ180394702191QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Pe t_Supplies_Fish?hash=item2a005cb56f)

Biological FILTER & PUMP Aquarium fish tank 300L/H NEW - eBay Filters, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home. (end time 06-Nov-09 19:47:57 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Biological-FILTER-PUMP-Aquarium-fish-tank-300L-H-NEW_W0QQitemZ140357080128QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_Pet _Supplies?hash=item20adef1440)

New Aquarium Fish Tank Internal Power Bio Filter 300L/H - eBay Filters, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home. (end time 06-Nov-09 21:26:26 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/New-Aquarium-Fish-Tank-Internal-Power-Bio-Filter-300L-H_W0QQitemZ270477693247QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_Pet_S upplies?hash=item3ef9ba113f)

Aquarium Fish Internal Filter - 300L/h NEW - eBay Other Supplies, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home. (end time 14-Nov-09 21:30:46 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Aquarium-Fish-Internal-Filter-300L-h-NEW_W0QQitemZ120436067306QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_Pet _Supplies?hash=item1c0a8c8bea)

If it's all the same I kind of think the waterfall one looks the prettiest, but would that be worse for the axolotl in any way?

And would you buy this test kit? Sure it's got dodgy looking packaging, but surely it'll work just the same?
Salt Fresh Saltwater Aquarium NH3 NH4 Ammonia Test Kit - eBay Other Supplies, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home. (end time 08-Nov-09 15:56:05 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Salt-Fresh-Saltwater-Aquarium-NH3-NH4-Ammonia-Test-Kit_W0QQitemZ350273921898QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_Pet _Supplies?hash=item518df3e36a)

And this is okay for dealing with the chlorine?
Fish/Aquarium Supplies - Chlorine Neutraliser 150mL - eBay Other Supplies, Fish, Pet Supplies, Home. (end time 04-Dec-09 14:35:08 AEDST) (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Fish-Aquarium-Supplies-Chlorine-Neutraliser-150mL_W0QQitemZ260501363009QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_P et_Supplies?hash=item3ca7175941)

4th November 2009, 18:29
Maverick, your signature keeps making me think there is an insect on my screen :errr:

4th November 2009, 18:37
I just found this about fish-less cycling using actual ammonia from the shops, is that a good idea? I think I'd prefer that option.
Tropical Fish Centre - Fishless Cycling (http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Fishlesscycle.htm)

5th November 2009, 02:46
With filters, i prefer external canister filters (or mini external canister filters) for smaller tanks. My second choice would be waterfall style filter. I don't really like internal filters.

The test kit looks fine although i have never used it before. I currently use API.

With dechlorinators aim for those that states that it removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. Avoid those with any other fancy compounds.

Fishless cycling works fine. That site actually gives really good information. Its your personal choice which to use. I find the prawn method easier to manage.

5th November 2009, 11:41
Okay thanks!
How much does the API one cost and where do you get it?

5th November 2009, 13:04
Most aquarium shops stock them. Prices vary depending on whether you get an individual test or the entire kit. I think it comes in several sizes too. Best to just enquire.