Acquired: Pet store
Posted Dec 06, 2014
I first learned about axolotls when I saw them in a zoo in South Africa. One look at their appealing faces and feathery gills and I was in love! When I came home, I did some research and discovered these quirkily attractive creatures were reasonably simple to care for.
If you have kept fish, you will have little difficulty keeping an axolotl's habitat comfortable. You can scoop the axolotl into a plastic box along with some of the existing water and leave it there while you clean the tank, then let it back into its tank once it's nice and clean.
Gravel is a common substrate for fish, but axolotls have an unhealthy tendency to eat their gravel. To avoid this risk, sand makes a safer substrate for your axolotl tank.
Axolotls are cold water dwellers--so they really don't need or want a heater. The tank needs to be kept well aerated, but it is important to strike a balance between providing enough air and keeping the water reasonably still as an axolotl won't appreciate being buffeted around its tank by strong currents. A sponge filter is a good solution as it helps to slow down the flow of water.
Axolotls like live food--the movement seems to get their attention. If you're uncomfortable with providing them with living shrimp to prey on, that could be a big strike against the axolotl as a pet. You can also hand feed them--or put the food on a stick for them to take, if you don't like the thought of an axolotl biting your fingers (it doesn't hurt though!)
Sadly my two axolotls only lived for a little over a year. Later I found out that others from the same store had had similar lifespans, so perhaps they had carried an infection. They were charming pets and endlessly fascinating to watch. I would love to keep axolotls again when I am travelling less frequently.