What Do Axolotls Eat? Do They Actually Eat Each Other? | Kidadl


What Do Axolotls Eat? Do They Actually Eat Each Other?

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Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander that is closely related to the tiger salamander.

Despite being amphibians, axolotls live underwater for the most part. The axolotl is exclusively found in the Valley of Mexico's freshwater lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco.

Adult axolotls are 6-18 in (15-45 cm) long. They have external gills. One of the features that distinguish the axolotl from other salamander larvae is the caudal fin that runs behind the head and connects to the vent. Axolotls have large skulls and lidless eyes. They have underdeveloped limbs with slender digits. When axolotls are in their natural habitats, they can breed up to six times a year. As pets, under suitable conditions and with natural light, they breed once or twice a year. According to the IUCN Red List, wild axolotls are classified as Critically Endangered. Their population is rapidly declining due to human development, wastewater discharge, and habitat loss. The axolotl possesses the world's largest fully sequenced genome. This has grabbed the attention of several scientists from all over the world. Their cute appearance has also made them popular in the pet industry. In this article, we focus on what do axolotls eat, what is the best food for axolotls, and other interesting facts about axolotls. Do not miss out on them!

How often do axolotls eat?

Age is a factor that influences how much and how often axolotls eat.

The interval between each food intake will be different between the hatchling, baby, juvenile, subadult, and adult. To boost the growth and development of axolotls, understanding this difference and feeding them accordingly is crucial. You can feed adult axolotls once every two or three days depending on the portion of the meal. Pay close attention to the feeding behavior to predict when axolotls should be fed again. Contrary to this, you should feed young axolotls quite often, that is, one to two times a day. Overfeeding can lead to wastage of food in the tank. If the tank is not clean enough, baby axolotls will stop eating.

How long can axolotls go without eating? If you are planning a quick trip and are worried about leaving your axolotl unattended, don't worry! Axolotls can go without food for as long as three weeks, given that they are fed properly at regular intervals before that. Young or baby axolotls can only go up to a week or two without eating. This is because they are in the growing stage and require more food than adults to fully mature.

Tip: Axolotls are not always in the mood to eat. So when they lose interest, it is best to feed them in the late evenings. This will restore their appetite, as they are more active at night.

What do baby axolotls eat?

Baby axolotls and adult axolotls have different diet requirements. This is due to the variation in size.

Axolotls are carnivores. Hatchlings will not take any food after they hatch, as they are too small and motionless. They swallow the remaining egg yolk in the larval stage. Baby axolotls will start eating in the next one to six days. They can be quite picky at this stage. It is best to offer live food, as the sense of smell of baby axolotls is yet to develop. They have a strong sense of vision which allows them to spot live food. Here are some of the foods that baby axolotls love.

Live Daphnia is a staple food for young axolotls. Daphnias are small planktonic crustaceans. There are over 200 species of Daphnia. It is easily available and is a significant source of nutrition for baby axolotls. It is better to source Daphnia and other live food like brine shrimp and bloodworms from your own culture as they might pass on diseases and parasites to the baby axolotls.

Baby brine shrimp is also one of the favorite items of baby axolotls. It is much easier to cultivate baby brine shrimp. As brine shrimp are messy, you must change the water and clean the tank often. Just like Daphnia, baby brine shrimp is also a nutrition-rich food for axolotls as it contains fatty acids, lipids, and vitamins. Before you feed brine shrimp to your pets, mix them in water.

Both live blackworms and white worms are suitable for axolotls. While feeding juvenile axolotls, make sure to chop the blackworms and white worms into pieces that will fit in their mouths.

axolotls can also eat live fish

What can you feed your pet axolotls?

As axolotls grow up, they start consuming a wide variety of foods, including crustaceans, raw beef, worms, and pellets.

You can broadly classify their food under three categories, namely live food, frozen food, and pellets.

Live Food: Daphnia, baby brine shrimp, and live worms are not only good for juveniles but also for adult axolotls. Pet axolotls can also eat live fish. Live fish can be a staple food in your pet axolotl's diet. Fish are packed with proteins which will make sure that your axolotls are healthy. Most of the owners refrain from feeding fish to axolotls, as fish can introduce life-threatening parasites. Fish like the goldfish carry a lot of parasites. So they should be vetted before feeding them to your axolotls. Guppies and mollies are some of the other small fish you can include in your axolotl's diet. Tatros, danios, and other fast-moving fish must be avoided as axolotls will find it difficult to hunt them.

Frozen Food: Bloodworms are available in two shapes, sheets, and cubes. They are either the larvae of midgets or a type of aquatic worm. Bloodworms are available as both live and frozen food. They are one of the most preferred foods for pet axolotls. Bloodworms are protein-rich foods and are easily available in pet stores and online stores. Place the bloodworms in warm water to defrost them. Use tweezers or tongs to feed them to your pets. While feeding bloodworms, keep an eye on your pet axolotls as these worms leave behind certain microorganisms, which often get caught in an axolotl's gills. Next in line, we have earthworms. Earthworms are not widely accepted and are mostly avoided by axolotl owners because of their cold and mushy state. However, earthworms provide various health benefits. Nightcrawlers are some of the biggest worms in an adult axolotl's diet. They must be cut into pieces. There are several types of Nightcrawlers. Canadian, European, and African Nightcrawlers are generally preferred by axolotl owners. Red wigglers are smaller than Nightcrawlers. They are fed as a whole to adult axolotls. Some axolotls might not prefer red wrigglers as they secrete a bitter substance. Black worms are perfect for juvenile axolotls. The nutritional value of black worms is similar to that of earthworms.

Pellets: When compared to all other foods, pellets are the easiest to find. You can get them in any pet store. One thing you have to keep in mind while choosing pellets is the ingredient list. Always choose pellets that are low in fat and high in protein. Choose pellets that contain at least 40% of protein. While there are several types of pellets, the two main types are soft sinking pellets and small pellets. Sinking pellets are also known as hard pellets. These pellets start sinking after an hour and settle at the bottom of the aquarium. Since axolotls prefer to stay at the bottom of the aquarium, sinking pellets are a great option. If you have large axolotls, slow sinking salmon pellets are the best. Smaller or small pellets are suitable for juvenile axolotls, as regular pellets might not fit in their mouths. Small pellets do not sink quickly. Just like an adult axolotl, a juvenile axolotl will also stay at the bottom of the aquarium most of the time. Here is a trick you can use! Wet the pellets before adding them to the aquarium. You can also use a turkey baster filled with wet pellets and squeeze it. This way, the pellets will reach the bottom of the tank sooner. In the wild, their diet can be different. Small beef pieces can be given as treats. Wild axolotls eat anything they see. Their diet mainly includes insects, mosquito larvae, earthworms, snails, other salamanders, tadpoles, and small fish.

What are the foods you should avoid? Feeding vegetables or algae to your axolotl is a big NO! Adults axolotls will generally suck on everything you give them. However, feeding vegetables can have a negative impact on their health. The digestive system of axolotls is simply not cut for processing vegetables. So it is best to avoid them. You should also avoid feeding them fatty foods.

How much do axolotls eat?

How much an axolotl eats depends on a variety of factors like size, maturity, and water temperature.

Your axolotl might not always eat the same amount. You have to pay close attention to your axolotl's feeding behavior to know whether you are giving it enough food and not over or underfeeding it. As a rule of thumb, the right amount of food is how much ever your axolotls can eat in the first one to two minutes. This is also called the two-minute rule. The amount can vary depending on the size and age too. For juvenile axolotls, you can give a small bloodworm once or twice each day. When it comes to adult axolotls, you can give them two fish or shrimps twice a week. Their metabolic rate in summer is high. So they tend to eat more and vice versa in winter.

How to know if you are overfeeding your axolotl? Axolotls are voracious eaters, so they are likely to consume everything in the tank. Overfeeding can be dangerous. To avoid overfeeding, make sure that the head and belly region of your axolotl is of the same size. If your axolotl's belly becomes larger, it shows that you are overfeeding. Another method is to notice whether your axolotl is floating or swimming. If it is floating, it means you have overfed your axolotl. How to tell if your axolotl is underfed? You have to use the same trick! Compare the head and belly. If the belly looks smaller, your axolotl is not getting enough food.

Will axolotls eat each other?

Axolotls in the wild exhibited mild cannibalistic behavior. However, there is not much evidence to prove this. Axolotls are said to be cannibalistic by opportunity and not by choice.

In an experiment conducted by James Monaghan, an associate professor of biology at Northeastern University, it was revealed that most of the wild axolotls were born in areas with food scarcity. In order to survive and make up for the nutrition loss, wild axolotls bite the limbs and other parts of their younger siblings without killing them entirely. In a few months, the bitten axolotls regenerate the limbs and other organs that were damaged. This does not mean you cannot grow one axolotl with another. You just have to make sure that they are well fed so they don't find the need to attack their siblings. As previously said, they are cannibalistic by opportunity. So as long as they are well-fed, they will deter from harming one another. According to the advice of experts, it is better to keep axolotls of the same size together in a tank rather than clubbing axolotls of different sizes. This way, even if they are underfed, they will not fight each other. Avoid overcrowding the tank. A 10-gallon tank should hold no more than three Axolotls.

In certain cases, an axolotl that has undergone this cannibalistic transformation will not be able to reverse it. Axolotls can develop into cannibal morphs. This means they will exhibit physiological alterations as a result of consuming their siblings. The cannibal morphs might differ from the regular axolotls. They might acquire a new skull shape and even have larger jaws with a square visage. Cannibal morphs must be kept alone at all times for the rest of their lives to prevent them from harming other axolotls.

How do axolotls eat?

When compared to other salamanders, axolotls have a unique way of eating because these animals do not have the same type of teeth. Their teeth are not as strong so these animals have developed a different way to eat.

Axolotls do not have well-developed teeth. They only have rudimentary teeth, which restrict their ability to chew. Hence, they swallow their food entirely. They eat their food by using the suction method. Make sure that the food you provide fits their mouths easily. If the food is too big for them to swallow, they will avoid eating it. This does not mean that the food has to be too small. If the food is too small, it will get stuck in their gills once they swallow it. Your axolotl might also consume a certain amount of sand as it enhances digestion and controls buoyancy.

Did You Know...

Axolotls are able to regenerate almost any damaged part of their body due to the presence of a molecule called neuregulin-1. In the absence of this molecule, axolotls lost their regenerative ability. Red meat helps axolotls recover quickly. If your axolotl has lost a limb or is recovering from a disease, feed pieces of beef or poultry heart, even muscle meat or river mussels to quicken the recovery process. Scientists of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies aim to completely comprehend the regeneration in axolotls and replicate it in humans.

Axolotls come in a variety of colors. The color and patterns depend on four distinct genes. Wild axolotls are mostly dark with gold or green spots. In order to blend with the natural environment, axolotls change their hues just like other salamanders. Pink and albino axolotls are the most common pet axolotls.

The name of the animal is connected to the Aztec God Xolotl. He is the deity of fire and lightning, according to legend. Xolotl was frequently represented as a dog-headed creature with reversed feet. To keep the sun alive and traveling across the sky, all the Aztec gods sacrificed themselves. According to legend, Xolotl was terrified of sacrificing himself. So he disguised himself as a maguey plant before reverting to his true Axolotl form.

Trichodina and Ichthyobodo are the most common ectoparasitic diseases in axolotls. They can also develop tumors. Saprolegnia, hyperthermia, new tank syndrome, and old tank syndrome are some of the other health issues in axolotls.

Axolotls push out the waste in their body as urine and through their gills. They produce ammonia as a waste product just like most of the other aquatic species. When ammonia is in a unionized state, it is extremely poisonous to axolotls. Ammonia tends to remain in its unionized state when the pH level exceeds eight. Ammonia toxicity also increases when the water temperature increases. You can maintain the ammonia levels in the tank by using a decent filter and regularly making water changes. Clearing out the uneaten food and using live plants will also help to control ammonia spikes.

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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