Article - Axolotl
Fancy keeping something completely different? How about an Axolotl?
Axolotls ( ax-oh-lot-uls), Ambystoma Mexicanum, often to referred to as Mexican Walking Fish, though they are not fish but an amphibian, an aquatic Salamander.
Although theses creatures are an endangered species they are not at risk of extinction and are never taken from the wild, because of their massive scientific interest, they are the only known creature with the ability to regenerate limbs, and so are bred in captivity in great numbers.
One characteristic of the Axolotyl is the fact that it progresses from egg to larva stage ( such as a tadpole) but fails to make the final step to adulthood ( although they sexually mature). This process, or failure of process is called Neoteny, and is considered a backwards step in evolution as Axoltotls would have descended or perhaps I should say regressed from Salamanders.
Captive Axolotls occur in a variety of colours, grey, shades of brown, leucistic ( white with black eyes) , golden albino, white albino, pink albino and Melanoid ( near black, which is also the usual colour of wild axolotl)
An adult Axo can reach anything from 7 to 14 inches but are not demanding when it comes to accomodation, the accepted minimum tank size is 18 inces long, and many people keep two or three quite adequately in a three foot tank.
The water should ideally be cycled in the same way as with fish, all the principles are the same, although it is not totally necessary to have filtration it is desirable, but Axos do not like current and too strong a current is the number one cause of stress.....basically think Betta/Siamese requirements.
It is not recommended to use gravel as your substrate, Axos will swallow the gravel, which will then cause obstructions and probably death! Instead use sand or larger pebbles etc. ALthough you can use no substrate at all, the Axos find it difficult to grip the glass floor and may stress.
The water temperature should be kept between 57-68 / 14-20 degrees, below 14 and the axos become sluggish and their metabolism slows down, above 24 and and the Axolotls will become stressed and if the temp remains high for several days, disease will set in. An ordinary aquarium heater, set at 18 degrees is ideal. Lighting is not a must for Axos and they can be startled by sudden light changes, however normal hooded lights, such as on a normal aquarium are fine because you will obviously want to see them!!
The tank can be decorated in the same way as a fish aquarium, and this will add to your axos sense of security, but don't add any valued live plants as they will probably get wrecked!! Axos love exploring and playing, try to rotate the objects you put in the tank so the axos always have something new to play with. One popular toy is a ping pong ball, put a pin prick in it then squeeze under and fill with tank water.
Axolotls are carnivores, but have very rudimentary teeth meant for holding not biting, so will tend to swallow their food whole. They will thrive on Daphnia, as nutritionally balanced as brine shrimp but less messy.
When they become familiar with you they may occasionaly latch onto your finger which is curious but not painful experience ( their teeth are like rubber) and if you are careful you can tow them around the tank.
Axolotls should not be kept with anything other than it's own kind, if it will fit in it's mouth it will eat it and bigger fish will nibble on it's gills. Axos under 3 inches ( sometime upto 6 inches) should not be kept together, juveniles are much more aggressive and have cannabilistic tendencies!
If anyone wants any further information I will do a follow up article on disease and care. In the meantime, go search you tube for axolotl, there are some cool videos there that will give you a good insight into thses fascinating animals.
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