The Axolotl is a unique type of salamander that lives in water and never undergoes metamorphosis to become a land-dwelling adult.
It’s related to the Tiger Salamander and has special features like external gills and a fin on its tail.
The Axolotl is native to Mexico and was originally found in lakes around Mexico City.
What Do Axolotls Look Like?
Axolotls have a wide range of sizes and can grow from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) long.
They have wide heads, lidless eyes, and underdeveloped limbs with long, thin digits.
Males have swollen cloacae, while females have wider bodies full of eggs.
Axolotls have external gills and a fin on their tail, which are features usually found only in salamander larvae.
What Colors Can Axolotls Be?
Axolotls can have different colors because of mutations in their pigmentation genes.
The normal wild-type axolotl is brown or tan with gold speckles and an olive undertone.
Some common mutant colors include leucistic (pale pink with black eyes), golden albino (golden with gold eyes), xanthic (grey with black eyes), albino (pale pink or white with red eyes), and melanoid (all black or dark blue with no gold speckling or olive tone).
Where Do Axolotls Live in The Wild?
Axolotls are native to the freshwater of Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico.
Lake Chalco no longer exists, and Lake Xochimilco is now mostly canals.
The water temperature in Xochimilco usually stays between 43°F to 68°F (6°C to 20°C).
What Do Axolotls Eat in The Wild?
Axolotls are carnivorous and eat small prey like mollusks, worms, insects, other arthropods, and small fish.
They locate food by smell and use suction to pull the food into their stomachs.
Axolotls have vestigial teeth that develop during metamorphosis, but they mainly rely on suction for feeding.
How to Take Care of Axolotls in Aquariums?
Taking proper care of Axolotls in aquariums is crucial because this species is endangered.
Here are some pointers to take care of Axolotls.
What Are the Best Temperature Conditions for Axolotls?
Axolotls are sensitive to temperature changes and need specific conditions to stay healthy.
Temperatures should be between 61°F (16°C) and 64°F (18°C) in their tank. If the temperature drops too low, they might not eat enough and get sick.
If it gets too high, their metabolism can speed up, causing stress and even death.
How Should the Water in An Axolotl’s Tank Be Treated?
Chlorine, which is often added to tap water, is harmful to Axolotls. To keep your Axolotl safe, make sure to remove chlorine from the water before adding it to the tank.
Also, adding salts like Holtfreter’s solution can help prevent infections.
What Is the Ideal Tank Size for An Axolotl?
An Axolotl needs enough space to move around and stay comfortable. A single Axolotl typically needs a 150-liter (40 US-gallon) tank.
They usually spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, so make sure there is enough space for them to rest and explore.
What Should You Feed Axolotls in Aquariums?
In captivity, Axolotls can eat a variety of foods that are easy to find, such as:
- Trout and salmon pellets,
- Frozen or live bloodworms,
- Earthworms, and
Feeder fish is also a food option, but make sure they are free of parasites to keep your Axolotl healthy.
What Kind of Substrate Should Be Used in An Axolotl’s Tank?
Avoid using gravel, as it can cause health issues for Axolotls. Instead, use sand with smooth particles and a grain size of under 1 mm.
It’s important to choose the right substrate because Axolotls can accidentally eat it while eating their food. This can cause problems, like blockages in their intestines.
Also, make sure that any objects in the tank, like decorations or toys, are larger than the width of your Axolotl’s head (about 3 cm) to prevent them from swallowing anything dangerous.
Why Are Axolotls Endangered?
As of 2020, the Axolotl is close to extinction because of urbanization in Mexico City, water pollution, and the introduction of invasive species like Tilapia and Perch.
These factors have destroyed much of the Axolotl’s natural habitat.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists the Axolotl as critically endangered, with a decreasing population of around 50 to 1000 adult individuals.
How Are Axolotls Used in Research?
Axolotls are very important in scientific research because they can regenerate their limbs, gills, and parts of their eyes and brains.
Scientists study Axolotls to learn more about their heart as a model of a human single ventricle and excessive trabeculation.
They also study Axolotl regeneration to understand how to apply this knowledge to human medicine.
What Did Axolotls Mean to The Aztecs?
Axolotls were a staple in the Aztec diet and were sold as food in Mexican markets.
They were an important part of the culture and history of the Aztec people.
What Other Animals Look Like Axolotls?
It’s important not to confuse Axolotls with the larval stage of the closely related Tiger Salamander, which can also become paedomorphic.
Axolotls also look similar to Mudpuppies, which are fully aquatic salamanders from a different family.
However, Mudpuppies are not closely related to axolotls.