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Axolotl or Mexican Walking Fish

By : Mr. Tristan B. Duggan
Common Name: Axolotl or Mexican Walking Fish
Latin Name: Ambystoma Mexicanum
Origin: Lake Xochimilco, Mexico
Temperature: 14 - 20 Degrees Celcius
pH - 7.4 - 8.2
Ease Of Keeping: Medium - Hard
Aggressivness: Fairly Aggressive
Lighting: No Specific Requirements dark 'cave' must be provided
Adult Size: 18 - 30 Centimeters
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon - but the bigger the better
Feeding: Beef heart, beef liver, (only use meat that is lean / low fat) axolotl pellets, live food (if small). Feeder guppies or 'mosquito' fish often used.
Comments: The Axolotl spends much of its time motionless, especially during the day. But from early evening to early morning they are very active.
Axolotls may be kept alone - they aren't specifically social. But groups do well too, assuming you provide plenty of room because if they have no means of keeping to themselves when they want to, they may show aggression.
Also, if kept in pairs or groups, they must be fed adequately - a starving axolotl will eat a limb of a tank-mate. Interestingly, they can re-generate lings, tail and even parts of the head and some organs. But this is no excuse to over-crowd, as they take some time and may suffer from disease due to the wound. Axolotls must be fed every 2 - 3 nights, never more as digestion is slow. Sinking pellets designed for them are usualy taken, and should be their staple. But this must also be supplemented with beef heart or perhaps even live food (but beware of internal parasites, etc) The occasional earth worm can be hand fed occasionaly too, just beware of pesticides in the ground where you found it.
Axolotls tend to swallow gravel when feeding from the bottom. To avoid this, use larger 'river stones'. But many find that the larger substrate won't let natural, healthy bacteria grow, so they go back to gravel. This is fine, but it must be overcome by either dropping the food directly infront of each axolotl's mouth until it catches it. Or, a less time-consuming method, use gravel, but place a terra-cotta dish on the bottom and dropn food onto this.
Axolotls must not be kept with other animals. Small fish will be eaten, and those too large to be swallowed tend to 'nip' at an axolotl's fluffy gill crest, causting respitory problems or death. Even aquatic snails have been known to damage an axolotl's skin while 'sucking'.
Axolotls should not be kept in a dark room, but neither should they be in direct, full sunlight. If you wish to use an aquarium lamp (for the benefit of aquarium plants) be sure it is a flurescent globe. Also you MUST have plenty of places for the axolotls to get their heads or even whole bodies away from light as they stress if their is no dark refuge.
Driftwood or plastic decorative 'caves' do fine. Axolotls tend to uproot most plants while swimming, so be sure to use simple, hardy plants like elodea, which must be wedged underneath a heavy object (terra-cotta pot, stone, etc). It is often said that axolotls don't need water to be any deeper than they are long. This is true, as they spend most of their time 'walking' low to the ground and even stall in the lower half of a tank while swimming. However, they do swim to the top and back now and then, which provides good exersise.
An Axolotl must NEVER be removed from the water and forced to 'walk' on land. Their limbs cannot support them fully and they cannot breath when out of water. If you have cats, remember they can easily pull an axolotl out of its tank.

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