Axolotls are strange and unique salamanders that make good pets for beginners and experienced individuals alike. They are commonly seen in the pet trade and come in several morphs. Unfortunately, axolotls are nearly extinct in the wild due to alien species and being considered a Mexican delicacy. They now only exist in Lake Xochimilico and Lake Chalco.
Axalotls are completely aquatic and therefore require an aquarium. The aquarium should be a minimum of 15 gallons, but more is always better. A good substrate is coarse gravel, but make sure the gravel is too large for an axolotl to ingest. A bare bottom can be used, but is not recommended as stress may build up over the lack of footing. A hide away is required for your axalotl to escape the light, and a flower pot or other kind of cave should be provided. Aquarium plants can be used for decoration as well as large smooth stones or driftwood chunks. Water temperature should remain low, between 57 and 68 F, and should never reach above 75 F. No lighting is required. When filtering, use a low output filter and perform a 20% water change every week. If a filter is not present, a 20% water change is required every other day. Use water that has all chlorine and chloramines removed.
Axolotls diet consists of many things, so be sure to add variety for nutrition. Axolotls will eat brine shrimp, peices of beef or liver, earthworms, blood worms, tubifex worms and commercial pellets. Feeding Tongs are useful to get the food into the water. Be sure to clean up any un-eaten food.
Never handle axolotls unless you are transporting them. To do so, have a large plastic bin of water ready and de-chlorinated, and using two hands, make a firm but gentle grip around the body. Quickly but carefully release the axolotl into the bin.
Female axolotls are of a heavier build than males, and become swollen with eggs during mating season. A drop in temperature will stimulate breeding, so a good choice is to move the tank to the floor of a basement. Axolotl eggs will be attached to water plants or substrate, and should immediantly removed, as the adults will happily eat these. At temperatures of 55-60 F, the eggs will begin to hatch in two to three weeks. Slight aeration should be used in incubation. The larvae should be given lots of room and much shelter, or cannibalism will follow. They can be fed chopped black worms and baby brine shrimp.