Frequently Asked Questions
Since I first published this web site in October of 1999 I have received a number of emails asking some questions not directly covered by the web site. The Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center has a short F.A.Q. page. All of these are questions that people have asked me.
Here are the questions. Please read through them until you find the one that meets your question, then scroll down to the answers section and look at the corresponding answer. If you can't find the answer to your question here, or on the site, then why not ask it in the Caudata.org Forum?
- "I'm having difficulty keeping the water clear. It's very cloudy. I keep my axolotls in large tanks with filters and airstones."
- "Are black eggs fertilised?"
- "Can axolotls survive in a pond?"
- "Is a waterdog the same thing as an axolotl?"
- "How do you get your axolotls to eat sinking pellets? Mine just ignore them."
- "I have some axolotls that are about a year old but with no breeding success yet. Any advice?"
- "I'm starting up a new aquarium (250 l) and I would like to know if I can put Axolotls together with non-agressive fish. Will they eat the fish or just ignore them?"
- "I have a small tank (37 litres - 10 gallons). Will it be large enough for 1 or 2 of them?"
"A 15 gallon tank is plenty big enough for two, isn't it?"
- "Is the Axolotl an endangered species?"
- "You say on your site that axolotls shouldn't be kept with other salamanders. Does this mean they shouldn't be kept with other axolotls? I was thinking of getting my axolotl a friend :), or is this a bad idea?"
- "My axolotl doesn't move much. When it does move, it does laps up and down the tank and crashes into the glass at each end. Is this normal?"
- "Are there any mailing lists that deal with axolotls?"
- "Can you help me acquire or sell me axolotls?"
"I am looking for xyz type of axolotl, can you help me?"
- "I just caught him yawning!! I have never seen them do this.... is that normal?? it looked really weird."
- "You say that you have melanoid and white melanoid albinos. What are the differences between the different kinds of albinos?"
- "I have 2 axolotls (brother and sister) and I would like to breed them. Is this bad?"
- "I have just received an albino axolotl. Well, I think it is albino! It it white with regular eyes (brown) and pink gills. I would be so very happy if you could give a little bit of info."
- "I am very interested in getting another Axolotl. I had one sometime back and I remember that I had a hard time trying to find them at my local pet store. Is there a specific time of the year that the pet stores should have them in?"
- "When I got home last night my axolotl (he is about 6-7 inches, not sure on the age but I've had him about 5 months) was looking paler than usual, I didn't see any radical color change, he just stayed a paler shade of him."
- "Do axolotls breed only in freezing cold water?"
- "Is it possible that axolotls are not carnivorous and that they are just blind and eat anything that moves in front of their face?"
- "Are -colour type- really rare?"
- "I am thinking about getting an axolotl. Is it possible to keep one in a 5 gallon hexifun aquarium?"
- "What is the smallest tank you can keep axolotls in?"
- "Can you put plants in it?"
- "Would a standard fish tank box foam filter/airline do for filtration and aeration?"
- "Which lighting can I use?"
- "Which gravel do I use?"
- "My axolotl has swallowed some gravel - what do I do?"
- "My axolotl has stopped eating or it has very curled forward gills... I am using a power filter."
- "I was just wondering if is is o.k. to freeze beef heart to give to axolotls and also If I did this would I have to leave it to thaw out before feeding it?"
- "I would like to breed my tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum/Ambystoma mavortium spp. (the terrestrial salamander), but I don't know the differences between their mating/reproduction and the Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). Can you help me, please?"
- "Is it very common for an axolotl to metamorphose or does this rarely ever happen?"
- "I've been hearing so much about this Daphnia stuff. What is it and where can I get some to feed to my newt larvae?"
- "I'm looking for information about regeneration. Can you help me?"
- "Is it a good idea to have snails in the tank with axolotls? Right now I have two of them for cleaning purposes."
- "My axolotls have laid eggs! Help! What do I do?!"
- "Do I just hatch the brine shrimp and throw them in with the axolotl eggs, or do I wait until I see hatching of axolotls and then hatch the brine shrimp? Also, do I just put the brine shrimp in, or do I need to do anything special to make sure the larvae eat them?"
- "I would like to know why my white axolotl formed dark spots around its eyes. It's about 1 year old and in the past two months it has developed a pattern on its face. Is this normal?"
- "How do I tell the difference between an axolotl and a larval tiger salamander?"
- "At what temperature should I keep my axolotl?"
- "My axolotl's water is quite warm (over 25oC / 77 F). How do I cool it down?"
- "My axolotl has stringy/whispy white things on it - what's wrong?"
"My axolotl has a fungal (or fungus-like bacterial problem) - what do I do?"
- "My axolotl has stopped eating - what's wrong??"
- "My axolotl is floating and cannot seem to get back to the bottom of the tank. What can I do?"
- "I enjoyed your axolotl website. Where are you from?"
And here are the answers to the questions listed above.
- Axolotls produce a lot of waste. They're carnivorous, and both waste food and fecal matter are the perfect food for large numbers of nasty bacteria. Even with a large filter, a few axolotls can produce too much solid waste for the filter to deal with so it is a good idea to siphon off any excess food or waste with an aquarium cleaner. In my large tank, I do this the day following feeding, and in so doing I replace about an eight of the tank water each time.
- If the mother axolotl is albino, the eggs will be white. If the mother axolotl is not albino (leucistic isn't albino) the eggs will be dark brown/black in colour. Eggs that turn grey or white in a dark spawn are infertile and should be removed. Infertile albino eggs only become apparent after about 3 or 4 days. They are noticeable because they don't change shape in the same way as the fertile ones.
- That really depends on the climate of your country. As long as the temperature during the spring, summer and autumn doesn't go below 10-12 °C or above 24 °C and the pond doesn't freeze solid in the winter, it should be fine. Unless you have an abundant source of food in the pond, you'll still have to feed your axolotl(s).
- Larval tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum/Ambystoma mavortium spp.) are very similar in appearance to axolotls. The term "waterdog" is used, erroneously, to describe both, by many laymen. It is sometimes used to describe the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus), but the only salamander that is correctly called a water dog is the Alabama Waterdog, Necturus alabamensis, a relative of the mudpuppy. So make sure you know the scientific name so you don't get the wrong animal. Question 40 deals with distinguishing these animals from one another.
- Most axolotls will eat sinking pellets (I've yet to find one that won't). It takes a little training though. If you get a forceps and hold a pellet in front of the axolotl's nose, letting it smell the pellet, it should try to eat it. You can also try moving the pellet around in front of its head. After a few goes at this you should just be able to drop the pellet into the water so that it sinks near the axolotl's head. This is usually sufficient. If it doesn't go for it the first time, take the pellet out of the water and drop it in front of the axolotl again. Axolotls are usually more inclined to try new foods once they've had nothing to eat for a few days.
- Have you looked at the Breeding Page? You may find it helpful if your water is hard or if you use Holtfreter's solution.
- Read my opinion on tank mates.
- You could keep 2 adults in a 10 US gallon / 37 litre aquarium with no problems.
- Axolotls are listed under Appendix 2 of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.). As such, if you want to import or export an axolotl from one signatory country to another, or out of a signatory country, you will need a permit. The axolotl is an endangered species in the wild, but vast numbers are bred in captivity each year for scientific research and the pet trade. As long as you acquired your axolotl in your own country from a dealer who has followed the required procedures, you don't have to worry about the treaty. Some countries have further legislation dealing with amphibians. For example, as far as I'm aware, the Axolotl is the only species of foreign salamander or newt that it is legal to keep as a pet in Australia.
- You can happily keep adult axolotls together. Axolotls under 10 cm (4 inches) in length are more inclined to nip each other, so give them more space if kept together. Adults will happily coexist, just make sure the axolotls can't swallow one of their tank mates. As I found out the hard way, don't be surprised if you end up with eggs one day though. You can keep larval ambystomatids with axolotls of similar size. That includes larval tiger salamanders, spotted salamanders, etc. I wouldn't keep other species with them though because some species secrete toxins that can poison other salamanders.
- No, it's not normal. It is true that adult axolotls don't move much. They spend most of their time on the bottom of their tanks. Young ones tend to swim around a lot more. However, an axolotl that swims around very rapidly and crashes into the glass like you describe has usually just been badly frightened. If they see a sudden movement that they think is a predator, or a light goes on in a dark room, they sometimes take off around the tank, swimming straight into the side of the tank. So try not to startle the animal. You might want to put some hiding places like an old piece of plastic pipe or a half-flower pot in the tank so it can hide. After a while I've found axolotls tend to relax and become used to activity in the room with them. Another cause can be skin irritation. A good sign of this is if the animal thrashes around as if trying to shake something off. I've even seen axolotls chase their tails in a circle due to irritation. One possible cause of skin irritation is parasites.
- There is one, the Axolotl Mailing List. You can join at that link. There are quite a number of enthusiasts on it and it is quite active. Anyone is welcome and the subscribers are a nice bunch. Well I would say that, I'm one of them.
- So you want to buy axolotls. You've come to the right place. This is the best advice you'll find on the subject so take note. I personally don't often have axolotls for sale but the best place, no matter where in the world you are, to find axolotls for sale or trade is the For Sale Section of Caudata.org. From about November to June each year there are usually many advertisements there for axolotls for sale from breeders who are hobbyists like you. As I write this, there are leucistic, melanoid, wildtype, albino and green fluorescent protein axolotls available in the for sale section of caudata.org. Some are in the US, there are UK adverts and many in Australia and New Zealand. One of the big advantages of buying axolotls this way instead of from a company or commercial breeder is that you can look at the breeder's history on caudata.org and get advice directly from them. It's also the cheapest way of acquiring axolotls or axolotl eggs because most hobbyists just want to find a good home for their axolotl offspring rather than trying to make money off you like some companies I hear about. Finally, if you are thinking of buying axolotls from a company on the Internet, I advise you to contact me through the contact link on this page and ask me what I know about them, or you can ask on the forum at caudata.org.
- Perfectly healthy animals do this from time to time. I call it the "tunnel of doom" because it looks like you can see right to their stomach.
I have seen very sick animals yawn repeatedly, say once every second to five seconds, for about 20 seconds. It's very distressing to watch, but an animal in this state is usually recognised as being ill weeks before this happens.
- I recommend you look at the Genetics Page but I will give an explanation here. Melanoid axolotls that aren't albinos have no reflective colour cells (iridophores), very few yellow colour cells (xanthophores) and a lot of extra dark colour cells (melanophores), so they look black or very dark brown. The easiest way of telling a melanoid animal from a normal animal is the eyes - because there are no reflective colour cells there is no reflective ring around the eye like that found in normal axolotls. In albinos though, there are no dark cells at all. If you combine this with the melanoid trait, this gives a melanoid albino. Such an animal has no dark colour, no reflective cells (no ring around the eye as a result) and very little yellow, making it appear white but with the odd yellow blotch on its side, back and head if you look closely. A white melanoid albino has the white trait. The white trait basically stops pigment from spreading from the back and top of the head of the animal to the rest of the body, so white melanoid albinos are like melanoid albinos with no yellow on the sides and perhaps only a tiny amount on the back or head. The ordinary albino is golden with a reflective ring around the eye and a white albino is white but it also has the reflective ring around the eye.
- Well, it's generally not a good idea to breed brother with sister, son with mother, daughter with father because there is no new genetic material and this can lead to genetic problems over the generations. Most axolotl stock in the world is related to some extent and has been interbred quite a lot. This means that unless you have a trait that you are trying to fix into a breeding line, then inbreeding is not a good idea. Having said that, it probably would be ok as a once off, but a lot of the axolotls that are sold by pet shops are themselves inbred because their parents were brother and sister.
- Your axolotl is not an albino. It is a white axolotl (otherwise known as leucistic). The difference between a leucistic axolotl and a wild type (the brown or grey kind) is that the leucistic has a genetic trait that prevents pigment cells moving from the top of the body to the rest of the body, so at best they have a few dark spots on their back and head (some only have a smudge on the head or no dark pigment at all). Real albinos have pinkish eyes and no dark spots at all.
- Axolotls tend to breed between December and June, with perhaps the best time being around March, although they can breed at any time of the year. You probably won't see many in winter or spring, but late spring to autumn would correspond with the time that those born at the beginning of the year would be reaching a saleable size. However, the best way of acquiring them is to find a shop that sells reptiles and amphibians and ask them to order some in for you.
- Sounds like "temporary anemia" (not anemia in the sense of lack of red blood cells but rather low levels of oxygenated blood which gives the red colour to the gills), since it normally disappears after at most a few hours. There can be any number of causes of this. It seems to be more common in water that is not hard, so try using a little Holtfreter's solution. Common causes of temporary anemia are stress caused by flowing water, bacterial disease, or sometimes becoming sexually mature. Sometimes this seems to happen if the animal stays still for very long periods of time, although this could just be coincidence.
- No, they will breed at almost any water temperature. In the wild they are seasonal breeders, with most spawning taking place in the late autumn and early spring, which corresponds to the coldest part of the year in Mexico (8 °C or 9 °C). I have recently heard of axolotls breeding in water as cold as 6 °C. My first mating took place at 22 °C and the Indiana University Axolotlo Colony normally breeds them at about 18 °C. Numerous books mention that a "cold shock" to the water, such as that caused by adding ice, will cause mating to take place, but at best this seems to only stimulate the male. In temperate regions, one strategy is to leave the male and female together all year round, but letting the water temperature and light vary with the seasons. This seems to result in regular early spring breeding. However, another strategy is to keep the temperature and lighting constant year round but to keep the sexes separate, only introducing them to each other when mating is required.
- Axolotls are carnivorous. They have been known to eat plants, but since they don't have a digestive system that's built for digesting plants as well as meat, they probably don't get much benefit from the plants. Axolotls are not blind. They seem to have quite good eyesight actually. Mine will "beg" at me by swimming up to the water surface and hanging their at the front of the glass when I walk into the room, long before I get to the tank. They do have a very well developed lateral line and sensory system. They can detect electrical fields and vibrations in the water, in the same way that fish do. For example, this means they can sense something sinking through the water near them, even if they can't see it.
- Well in certain parts of the world they seem to be hard to acquire, but I find more albinos than non-albinos where I live, and this is often the case in other places too.
- I would keep one in a rectangular tank (one that is longer than it is high). I don't think hexifun tanks are a good idea because they don't let as much air into and out of the water.
- Well, if you want to be good to the animal, I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than a 45x30x35 cm aquarium for one axolotl. you could keep two in that aquarium, but things would be a bit cramped.
- Yes, though I recommend plastic plants because when axolotls decide to swim violently around a tank (and they do every now and then), real plants could be uprooted and damaged. Tough plants like amazon sword are a good choice if you want real plants.
- It would be adequate, but only for a small tank with one axolotl. You should look at undergravel filtration or gentle-flow power filters for more axolotls and larger tanks. Have a look at my Housing Page.
- Any aquarium lighting can be used, just be sure that the water isn't overheated by the light (a common problem with halogen bulbs) and that the axolotl can hide somewhere from the light if it chooses. If your axolotl shows obvious signs of having problems with the light after it has had a period to adjust to it, you would be advised to try a different type of bulb or a less bright bulb.
- I recommend you use larger sized gravel that an adult axolotl can't fit in its mouth (pebbles are probably a better description). It's better to be safe rather than sorry. Look at my Housing Page for more information.
- Usually axolotls will pass gravel without problems. To be sure of this, put the axolotl on its own in a bare bottomed tank for a week or two. However, occasionally gravel can get lodged in the gut and the animal doesn't pass it as soon as it should. In this case, there's not a lot you can do. Isolate it as before in a bare bottomed tank. It may be a good idea to keep it in water that is in the early teens Celsius / late 50s early 60s F. This will help reduce bacterial activity so there will be minimal gas build up beyond the blockage (otherwise the axolotl will float and they tend not to like that - it just stresses them further). To reduce the stress from floating, it's helpful to reduce the level of water so that the axolotl, although floating, can touch the bottom, so it won't struggle and stress itself unnecessarily. Usually the blockage will clear itself after a week or two. If it doesn't start to pass the gravel after 2 weeks, the only other idea I have heard of is in Peter W. Scott's book "Axolotls". He suggests that one attempts to force-feed the axolotl with the blockage some mineral oil (I think by that he means castor oil, the kind they give to people). In my own opinion though, that could do a lot more harm than good because axolotls are very soft bodied animals and you could easily crush its jaw or other parts of its body by trying to force feed it. Well fed axolotls can usually go without eating for up to 3 weeks and suffer no long term effects, provided the water temperature isn't over 60F.
Is the axolotl still trying to eat? If it is, that's a good sign. It may do some good to feed it a little to see if this helps clear the blockage.
- If your problem has something like these words in it, then your problem is almost certainly the power filter. Axolotls are stressed by strong flowing water. Unless you cut down the output/input from most power filters, they are usually unsuitable for axolotl aquaria. Have a look at the filtration section of my Housing Page.
- Yes, it's fine to freeze it. I recommend you defrost it before feeding it. Best to feed it in small strips (like small earthworms). I'm not a great fan of beef heart though.
- Mating is identical but in order to achieve mating with tiger salamanders, many sub-species would need to hibernate in order to prepare them for breeding. Otherwise, mating and reproduction is in the water, and the two species will not hesitate to mate with each other if both are prepared.
- It is very rare. It can be brought about artificially, but you would have to see an awful lot of axolotls before you find a naturally metamorphosed one. If you do, its care requirements are the same as those of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum/Ambystoma mavortium spp..
- Daphnia are very small crustaceans that live in freshwater (they have marine relatives too). They are a truly amazing family of animals. Look at my Daphnia Page and all of your questions should be answered.
- I don't go into it here, apart from mentioning their amazing capabilities. I recommend you look at "Developmental Biology of the Axolotl", edited by George M. Malacinski and John B. Armstrong. It goes into great detail about the mechanism of limb regeneration. The book is described in more detail on the Books and Links Page. I recommend Professor Paul Pietsch's Web Site too, and not just to scientists (also located on the I.U. Bloomington servers).
- Snails are only useful for eating algae (if you don't like algae). Apart from that, in my opinion they're often more trouble than they're worth in my opinion. For one thing, algae remove nitrate from the water (nitrate is the end product of the biological aspect of filtration in an aquarium). So by removing the algae you're allowing more nitrate to build up than is necessary, and although not strictly toxic, in high concentrations it can greatly affect water chemistry (perhaps most importantly, oxygen content). Some snails will readily try to nibble on the mucus produced by axolotl skin, and this usually irritates the axolotl in question. There are other reasons too - they can act as parasite vectors (they can carry one stage of a parasite).
- Firstly, don't panic. If you remove the eggs (still attached to whatever they're attached to) and keep them at 10 °C/50 °F you will have four or more weeks to sort out the food for them. It is probably too late to start a Daphnia culture, particularly if you have more than a few eggs (over 200). You could use frozen brineshrimp (newly hatched, not adults), but if you
can, hatch your own brine shrimp from eggs. Axolotls are only tricky to feed for the first 2 weeks of their life (that's 2 weeks if kept between 20 ° and 24 °C / 68-75 °F and fed twice daily as much as they will eat in 15 mins). After the 2 weeks they can take larger food like frozen bloodworms (the food I use). I've never used them so early, but if you pulverised frozen bloodworm, they may be small enough for the axolotls to eat in the first few days after hatching, but you'd want to really cut them up (you'll see what I mean). I think possibly a more viable alternative would be cut up blackworm, though I haven't tried this either.
I can tell you though that, in my experience, the first two weeks are the most important in terms of growth and nutrition for an axolotl. A good start is important if you want good specimens. That's why live food is best for this initial period. So do try to use newly hatched brine shrimp, preferably live. All frozen foods lose a lot of nutritional value after dying, and that's why live is always best. However, daphnia seem to lose this value faster and to a greater extent than worms for example, so go for the live option when you can, or use frozen newly-hatched brine shrimp if you can. You could also try mashed earthworm. Look at the Rearing Page.
- Have a look at the Rearing Page. You don't start feeding the axolotls until a few hours after they hatch. You can get an idea of how long it takes for them to hatch from my Rearing Page. You are right that aeration helps because this aids gaseous exchange and moves waste products away from the eggs. The usual time is 12 to 18 days to hatch.
When hatching brine shrimp eggs, make sure you leave the egg shells behind because these are almost impossible for axolotl larvae to digest. The brine shrimp larvae will die in freshwater after a few hours because they are salt water animals, so be careful not to feed too many at one time, otherwise the water will foul very quickly.
Do follow the links on this web site - you will learn a lot more than I can summarise in emails and just the FAQ. You will probably find it very informative to join the Axolotl Mailing list because a lot of newcomers there breed axolotls (usually one or more per month) and have similar questions to yourself, so you should find answers to most of your questions there or in the archives. You can also ask questions of the people there too, because a lot of hobbyists and experts subscribe to the list (not to say that hobbyists aren't experts too!).
- Assuming your axolotl isn't albino as well as white (if it has pink eyes it's also albino), then it is quite normal for a white axolotl to have a few spots on the top of its body. Look at the Cover Page of my web site and scroll down to the white axolotl on the right to see an example. This is because the "white" mutation prevents pigment cells moving over the body when the animal begins to develop. Pigment cells form along the back and the top/middle of the head, but since the mutation stops them spreading over the body, they just stay where, or near where, they form, and most white animals have only a few spots or "smudges".
Although the differences are slight, if you saw a larval North American larval tiger salamander (pictured here) together with an axolotl you would immediately see the differences - they are quite distinct. Here are a few guidelines:
a) Axolotls tend to have longer thinner toes, whereas tiger larvae tend to have much shorter toes. Remember though, that axolotls and tiger salamanders have the same number of toes on each foot, so don't be fooled (four on each front foot and five on each rear foot). Mudpuppies (Necturus) have four toes on every foot, but they are easily distinguished from tiger salamanders and axolotls in other ways too.
b) The chances are that an "axolotl/tiger" over 20 cm / 8 inches in length is definitely an axolotl because tigers usually metamorphose prior to that length (though not always).
c) Tiger salamanders are generally a sandy green in colour until they begin to metamorphose. The one pictured above is typical. wild type axolotls are brown, grey, or dark brown, and usually have smallish dark spots over their entire body. If tigers have spots, they tend to be pale yellow and barely noticeable.
- Axolotls do well at temperatures between 14 °C (57 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F). Temperatures over 25 °C (77 °F) are stressful and invariably stress the animal, leading to disease such as fungal and/or bacterial infection, then anorexia and death. Axolotls are cold water animals, not warm or tropical water animals. They shouldn't be kept at the same temperatures as tropical fish.
- If you can't move the tank to a cooler place or turn on air conditioning, then you could try using ice cubes. A better solution is the floating plastic coke bottle method - take a soft drink bottle, about 1 or 2 litres in volume (roughly 2 to 4 pints), fill it about three quarters full of water and freeze it. Then float this in the tank during the day to keep the temperature down. If you have a large tank use a large bottle, but if you have a small tank use a small bottle - you don't want to freeze the poor little axolotls, but instead, reach a happy medium. If necessary, experiment with different sizes or numbers of bottles. This great suggestion came from someone on the Axolotl Mailing List, but I can't remember who.
- This is often a result of keeping your axolotl at too high a temperature (see questions 42 and 44). Often the Axolotl will not eat during this time. Fungus is usually harmless unless the animal is in really bad condition or kept incorrectly (temperature/water quality, etc) and then it will probably spread. However, you don't need to treat it with special chemicals if you get to it in time: just give him a bath in some salty water for about 10 minutes once or twice a day (2-3 teaspoons per litre/two pints). That should kill the fungus within a few days. Don't leave the Axolotl in the salt bath for more than 10-15 minutes each time, because the salt will start to damage the Axolotl's skin and particularly its gills. Of course, this is all useless if the animal is still under stress (high water temperature, bad water quality, etc....).
- This is a common result of the axolotl being kept at too high a temperature (over 24 or 25 °C / 77 °F). Often it's caused by a bacterial problem. If you're really lucky, cooling it down to a more reasonable temperature (somewhere between 14 °C (57 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F), or at most, 25oC ( 77F) will let it recover and it should begin to eat again. If this doesn't work after a few days, it may be worth keeping the Axolotl at a temperature between 5 and 10 °C (41-50 °F) which can aid the Axolotl's recovery. Below about 12 °C, you won't need to feed the Axolotl. Keep it this way for a 10-14 days and then slowly warm it back to a more normal temperature (14 °C / 57 °F to 22 °C / 72 °F) and then try feeding it again. If this doesn't work, the axolotl may need antibiotic treatment (see the Health Page).
- Often, some stress will lead to a small bacterial infection in the gut. This would lead to a gas build up, and the floating. It is possible that the axolotl swallowed a large amount of air into its digestive system too. Warm temperatures (over 20 °C / 68 °F) don't help. Anything over 25 °C / 77 °F is far too warm for axolotls - just in case you didn't know.
As to how to solve the problem, axolotls find it stressful when they can't touch the bottom. I suggest you lower the water level so that the axolotl is touching the bottom, but still submerged. The fact that it can touch the bottom should help to relieve the stress and hence help it to recover. If you keep it at temperatures over 20 °C / 68 °F it will probably make it harder for the axolotl's gut to keep up with any bacterial activity, so try and keep it cooler. As long as it eats, that's a good sign. Sometimes it is possible to massage the animal's abdomen to help it pass the gas, but it's hard to do without hurting and/or stressing the animal. It's safer to do what I've suggested and let the animal pass the gas on its own.
The other possibility is that the axolotl swallowed some gravel. If that's the case, have a look at question 29.
- I get an email like this regularly and it is great to know people like the site and find it useful. I am from Dublin, Ireland.
I'll add more good questions as I get them.
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