New ‘lotl owner and I need an opinion!

YakuThe’Lotl

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So as you know im a new owner, having had my lotl for a week or so now and I wanted to know if all looked good in my tank, and things I should improve as some sites I research on don’t seem so trustworthy and the people I bought my lotl from are telling me different info than this site. Can anyone look at these photos and tell me if all is well?
 

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AMurry24537

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Okay, so a few things that I'm noticing:

1. The lighting. It appears that you may have some kind of black light? I would recommend using that rarely to never, as axolotls don't really like having a direct light (they don't have any eyelids to block it out) and black light especially can hurt their eyes if used for more than a few minutes here and there. Ambient light in whatever room you have him in should be fine.

2. The substrate. It looks like you have some fairly large rocks, which is good, but you should DEFINITELY (cannot stress this enough) remove any rocks that are smaller than his head. Axolotls aren't the brightest bulbs and can and will try to eat anything smaller than their heads, and of course, they can't digest rocks, so they get stuck and can require surgery to remove.

3. Regarding your bloodworm question, it's not ideal, no. First of all, he isn't getting all of his food and second, if you leave it there, it will rot and foul the water, causing an ammonia spike. What are your water parameters by the way? (Temperature, ph, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates)? These are really important to your axolotl's health. One thing you could try is to add a small, shallow dish of some kind that you can train your axolotl to eat from.

4. How big/how old is your axolotl? This isn't necessarily an immediate issue, but the sooner you can switch over to earthworms over the less nutritional bloodworms, the better. Also, if I'm not mistaken, you are using a 10 gallon, correct? This is okay for a juvenile, but once they reach around 7 inches or so, you will need to upgrade to a 20 long at minimum. A 10 just isn't enough for a fully grown axolotl--trust me, I made that mistake myself when I was new to this.

5. I noticed that your water level seems to have receded significantly, presumably due to evaporation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would recommend keeping your tank full to avoid calcium marks and overly mineralized water. As water evaporates, it just takes the hydrogen and oxygen molecules and leaves behind all of the minerals in the remaining water. This, of course, means that you will need to refill it using distilled water, which does not have any minerals. This replaces the water without adding even more minerals, which like many other things, are only good in moderation.


The main issues you will run into will likely run into in axolotl are related to water flow, quality, and temperature as well as finding the right food/feeding schedule for your new friend. Watch for signs of stress such as overly-curled-forward gills, a hooked tail, out of the ordinary behaviors. Most of all, don't be afraid to ask questions on here. Various people have different levels of experience in different areas, so I'm not going to lie, you will find contradictions no matter where you go. My best advice is to always error on the side of caution when it regards the life, health, and well-being of this creature who now relies on you.
 

YakuThe’Lotl

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Okay, so a few things that I'm noticing:

1. The lighting. It appears that you may have some kind of black light? I would recommend using that rarely to never, as axolotls don't really like having a direct light (they don't have any eyelids to block it out) and black light especially can hurt their eyes if used for more than a few minutes here and there. Ambient light in whatever room you have him in should be fine.

2. The substrate. It looks like you have some fairly large rocks, which is good, but you should DEFINITELY (cannot stress this enough) remove any rocks that are smaller than his head. Axolotls aren't the brightest bulbs and can and will try to eat anything smaller than their heads, and of course, they can't digest rocks, so they get stuck and can require surgery to remove.

3. Regarding your bloodworm question, it's not ideal, no. First of all, he isn't getting all of his food and second, if you leave it there, it will rot and foul the water, causing an ammonia spike. What are your water parameters by the way? (Temperature, ph, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates)? These are really important to your axolotl's health. One thing you could try is to add a small, shallow dish of some kind that you can train your axolotl to eat from.

4. How big/how old is your axolotl? This isn't necessarily an immediate issue, but the sooner you can switch over to earthworms over the less nutritional bloodworms, the better. Also, if I'm not mistaken, you are using a 10 gallon, correct? This is okay for a juvenile, but once they reach around 7 inches or so, you will need to upgrade to a 20 long at minimum. A 10 just isn't enough for a fully grown axolotl--trust me, I made that mistake myself when I was new to this.

5. I noticed that your water level seems to have receded significantly, presumably due to evaporation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would recommend keeping your tank full to avoid calcium marks and overly mineralized water. As water evaporates, it just takes the hydrogen and oxygen molecules and leaves behind all of the minerals in the remaining water. This, of course, means that you will need to refill it using distilled water, which does not have any minerals. This replaces the water without adding even more minerals, which like many other things, are only good in moderation.


The main issues you will run into will likely run into in axolotl are related to water flow, quality, and temperature as well as finding the right food/feeding schedule for your new friend. Watch for signs of stress such as overly-curled-forward gills, a hooked tail, out of the ordinary behaviors. Most of all, don't be afraid to ask questions on here. Various people have different levels of experience in different areas, so I'm not going to lie, you will find contradictions no matter where you go. My best advice is to always error on the side of caution when it regards the life, health, and well-being of this creature who now relies on you.
Well thank you for the advice. About the light, I turned off the black light but is it okay for me to turn off my overhead light at night? Will he be able to see?
about the substrate, I will be changing it soon, but what kind of substrate to you recommend I change to?
about the food situation I asked the people about his age abs they said about 4 months based on size, and I don’t know when to start feeding him other worms .
The nitrate and other levels seem okay for now but I don’t know how to check them and my family isn’t the most fortunate so idk if the way to test them is expensive or not . We only got the lotl cause we heard they were relatively cheap overall as decently easy to care for.
One last thing would be that he has started going to the top of the water a lot more recently , and it keeps leading me to think he had died because I heard they float when dead. Is there a reason for this? Also, there are lots of bubbles at the top of my tank I can’t seem to get rid of. What is this and is it okay? Thanks in advance
 

axolotle42

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I am also new to keeping axolotl and just wanted to advise you on a substrate.
I use sand however you need to make sure it is small enough it can be digested if they eat some but not like a powder because it can damage their gills. Usually most sand for aquariums is fine. you can also just have no substrate.
Also I have not got this however I think APIs freshwater master kit is good for testing and although it can be kind of expensive initially it will last 3-4 years. (however I cannot talk from experience as I have diffrent kits)
Also with the water parameters it is very important you test them as sometimes there are no visible signs that something has spiked.
Hope this helps :) again I am only new so anyone feel free to correct me :)
 

AMurry24537

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Well thank you for the advice. About the light, I turned off the black light but is it okay for me to turn off my overhead light at night? Will he be able to see?
about the substrate, I will be changing it soon, but what kind of substrate to you recommend I change to?
about the food situation I asked the people about his age abs they said about 4 months based on size, and I don’t know when to start feeding him other worms .
The nitrate and other levels seem okay for now but I don’t know how to check them and my family isn’t the most fortunate so idk if the way to test them is expensive or not . We only got the lotl cause we heard they were relatively cheap overall as decently easy to care for.
One last thing would be that he has started going to the top of the water a lot more recently , and it keeps leading me to think he had died because I heard they float when dead. Is there a reason for this? Also, there are lots of bubbles at the top of my tank I can’t seem to get rid of. What is this and is it okay? Thanks in advance
Absolutely, glad I could be of some help! 😁 On to the new questions!

Turning off your overhead at night is actually preferable; in fact, doing so will help them keep a better circadian rhythm. Axolotls are nocturnal creatures (most active at night) and if they were still in their original natural habitat, there wouldn't be any light at all other than some trace amounts from stars or the moon (when out). If you're really worried about it, I've found that my axolotl does really well when I have a nightlight in the room, but with no light directly hitting his aquarium.

For substrate, as recommended above, you can use really fine sand, though be careful to rinse it first. Basically, you want it fine enough that it won't cause digestive problems, but not do fine that it clouds the water. The easiest way to rinse sand is to put it in a bucket, grab a hose (preferably one that allows you to change the setting, you know, like "mist, shower, cone, stream," etc.--use whichever one is strongest) and agitate the sand until the water runs over the edge of the bucket clean. Once in the tank, you would have to do some routine maintenance, such as sifting through it to be sure there are no air or ammonia pockets.

I personally, however, find it easier to keep my tanks bare bottom. Some people don't like it, but I've found through some trial and error that, as long as the water flow is sufficiently low, axolotls have no problem with it and it's a LOT easier to clean.

As for food, you could probably start feeding him chunks of earthworms that are about an inch or maybe two long at that age. It might take him some getting used to, so don't give up if he doesn't take them right away, just try again the next day.

Since you haven't had your axolotl for very long, I need to ask if your tank was cycled beforehand. If you're not sure, the answer is no, and if it's not, you should be doing 50% water changes every 12 hours until it is fully cycled (aka, ammonia and nitrites need to be 0 ppm and nitrates need to be less than 40 ppm consistently). Some kind of imbalance here is the most likely reason you may be having health problems with your axolotl, but some axolotls do just really like floating around.

A water test kit is basically your most important tool (other than the aquarium) to keeping your axolotl healthy. As mentioned above, API's Masterclass Freshwater Kit is the most accurate, helpful, and cost effective kit currently on the market. It is kind of expensive up front, but it will last you about 3 or 4 years. Some pet stores do also offer free water testing, but it REALLY would be worth it to get a test kit, especially right now when you're new to everything and don't necessarily know what behaviors in your particular axolotl are unusual.

To address the bubble issue, what kind of dechlorinator are you using? Also, is there any chance a soap product may have contaminated anything in your tank?
 

YakuThe’Lotl

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Absolutely, glad I could be of some help! 😁 On to the new questions!

Turning off your overhead at night is actually preferable; in fact, doing so will help them keep a better circadian rhythm. Axolotls are nocturnal creatures (most active at night) and if they were still in their original natural habitat, there wouldn't be any light at all other than some trace amounts from stars or the moon (when out). If you're really worried about it, I've found that my axolotl does really well when I have a nightlight in the room, but with no light directly hitting his aquarium.

For substrate, as recommended above, you can use really fine sand, though be careful to rinse it first. Basically, you want it fine enough that it won't cause digestive problems, but not do fine that it clouds the water. The easiest way to rinse sand is to put it in a bucket, grab a hose (preferably one that allows you to change the setting, you know, like "mist, shower, cone, stream," etc.--use whichever one is strongest) and agitate the sand until the water runs over the edge of the bucket clean. Once in the tank, you would have to do some routine maintenance, such as sifting through it to be sure there are no air or ammonia pockets.

I personally, however, find it easier to keep my tanks bare bottom. Some people don't like it, but I've found through some trial and error that, as long as the water flow is sufficiently low, axolotls have no problem with it and it's a LOT easier to clean.

As for food, you could probably start feeding him chunks of earthworms that are about an inch or maybe two long at that age. It might take him some getting used to, so don't give up if he doesn't take them right away, just try again the next day.

Since you haven't had your axolotl for very long, I need to ask if your tank was cycled beforehand. If you're not sure, the answer is no, and if it's not, you should be doing 50% water changes every 12 hours until it is fully cycled (aka, ammonia and nitrites need to be 0 ppm and nitrates need to be less than 40 ppm consistently). Some kind of imbalance here is the most likely reason you may be having health problems with your axolotl, but some axolotls do just really like floating around.

A water test kit is basically your most important tool (other than the aquarium) to keeping your axolotl healthy. As mentioned above, API's Masterclass Freshwater Kit is the most accurate, helpful, and cost effective kit currently on the market. It is kind of expensive up front, but it will last you about 3 or 4 years. Some pet stores do also offer free water testing, but it REALLY would be worth it to get a test kit, especially right now when you're new to everything and don't necessarily know what behaviors in your particular axolotl are unusual.

To address the bubble issue, what kind of dechlorinator are you using? Also, is there any chance a soap product may have contaminated anything in your tank?
thanks for the advice! I think I’ll change my substrate sometime soon and I will get a water test kit at some time in the next week. About what’re changes, how would I do 50% water changes? While my lotl is in there? Or should I change it while I move him out of the tank? About earthworm chunks as food, where can I buy these as good for the axlotol to eat? A trustworthy site please. About the dechlorinator, I’ll attach a file. It’s the dechlorinating water conditioner the sellers gave me. Or is this not the correct thing? Correct me on anything please!
 

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axolotle42

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thanks for the advice! I think I’ll change my substrate sometime soon and I will get a water test kit at some time in the next week. About what’re changes, how would I do 50% water changes? While my lotl is in there? Or should I change it while I move him out of the tank? About earthworm chunks as food, where can I buy these as good for the axlotol to eat? A trustworthy site please. About the dechlorinator, I’ll attach a file. It’s the dechlorinating water conditioner the sellers gave me. Or is this not the correct thing? Correct me on anything please!
Hi I will try answer some of your questions :)
for doing a water change you can leave your axolotl in the tank and use the water sucker (idk the proper name lol) to take 50% of water out, just make sure you do it as far from the axolotl as possible as they do not like water flow. then add the same amount of water back in making sure you put your water conditioner in the new water before you put it back in. As for the conditioner I would recommend seachems prime water conditioner as it is a good trustworthy brand. I cant say whether the one you have is ok as one never heard of it before. Hope this helped :) feel free to ask any questions!
 

YakuThe’Lotl

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Hi I will try answer some of your questions :)
for doing a water change you can leave your axolotl in the tank and use the water sucker (idk the proper name lol) to take 50% of water out, just make sure you do it as far from the axolotl as possible as they do not like water flow. then add the same amount of water back in making sure you put your water conditioner in the new water before you put it back in. As for the conditioner I would recommend seachems prime water conditioner as it is a good trustworthy brand. I cant say whether the one you have is ok as one never heard of it before. Hope this helped :) feel free to ask any questions!
How much conditioner should I put in the new water before adding it to the tank and how long should I wait?
 

AMurry24537

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How much conditioner should I put in the new water before adding it to the tank and how long should I wait?
There should be dosage information on the bottle. I generally wait about 1/2 an hour after adding the treatment and stirring it around before putting it in the tank. I personally prefer to tub my axolotl during water changes because then I can also scrub out the tank a bit, plus I find it makes it easier to put the new water in without washing him away, but you could leave it in. I wouldn't use Aqueon water conditioner; I don't remember for sure whether or not it's safe for sure, but I don't think it is. I also did a quick search on it and I know it's advertised as "helps fish restore their slime coat," which generally means some form of aloe, which is a big nono for axolotls. As mentioned above, SeaChem Prime is generally regarded as the ideal water treater. For earthworms, you can usually find them at bait shops--always make sure they're fresh and alive--or if you want to stick to online stuff, I've heard lots of good things about Uncle Jim's Worm Farm.
 
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  • lvlyvoa:
    hey thank you all so much for your help!! i shouldn't have been so careless, but I love my axie very much and her behaviour has improved as I have started a tank cycle and gotten some good food for her
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  • faebugz:
    @lvlyvoa, good to hear, np. They love nightcrawlers and worms if you have access to them, they're the healthiest thing they can eat since they're a complete prey
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    hey, does anyone have any brine shrimp eggs??
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  • Jaeger:
    My axolotls were doing fine until the cycle int heir tank crashed. I currently have them tubbed and they wont stop shedding their slime coat, and my golden albino looks a little red, and his gills dont look too good. Theyre both flaoting and im keeping the tub at 18 degrees celsius and doing 100% water changes everyday, any help on anythingelse? can anyone help?
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  • AkemiYousei:
    @Jaeger I would try to double up on Prime to combat the slime coat shed when doing the 100% water changes. Also, if it's bad, might want to consider a tea bath as a preventive measure.
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    I just wrote this on the post ^
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    Haha, great minds, right?
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    They sure do 😄!
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  • Jaeger:
    @AkemiYousei thanks so much. Will do. I have also given them a tea bath before, seems to work their gills are looking so much healthier, my golden albino is swimming around frantically trying to jump out, should i be worried? my wild type is fine
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  • AkemiYousei:
    Might be the stress, or the shedding bothering it
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  • AkemiYousei:
    Make sure s/he can't jump out, and maybe keep her in a undisturbed, darkened place for a bit. See if that calms the goldie.
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  • Jaeger:
    I woke up to my golden axolotl covered complete white. what do i do
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  • Jaeger:
    Just found out, hes dead. :(
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    :'(
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    @Jaeger, Oh no! Sorry to hear. :(
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  • AxelTheAxolotl123:
    my axolotl has white balls on its gills and the feathers have shrunk
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  • Jasper2021:
    We have an axolotl called Jasper who is approx 3 years old. He was being attacked by his companion so we separated them. He has healed his wounds now but has got very thin. his lips have turned black. he was just looking still and dead at times but ears moved so we knew he was still alive. Hold earthworms right in front of him which after some time he will take you think good he is eating but then it pops straight out again. At the moment he is in the fridge. Not sure what else to do if he can't or won't eat !!
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  • Wyn1993:
    Hi Jasper 2021,
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  • Wyn1993:
    I am new to axolotls myself and one thing I learnt was that earth worms when in distress give off an awful taste - have you tried live river shrimp? Mine really like these and are always happy to 'bite' - I also give them live crickets and pellets which are really pungeant in smell and they always take these - even wait at the glass for them! So sorry to hear he was being attacked by his companion!
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