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Housing

The aquarium

  • Provide
    • a glass tank (not a round, Perspex bowl) as an aquarium with a water-filtering system to keep the water clean
    • gravel with rocks for the axolotls to stand on
    • plants to provide them with hiding places
    • a cover to protect them from predators and to prevent them escaping.
  • Keep aquarium conditions clean and at a relatively constant temperature.
  • Axolotls are mainly nocturnal, and they are more active in dim light. They have no eyelids to protect their eyes from harsh lights, so it is important to position the tank out of direct sunlight and to provide them with some shelter, usually in the form of plants.
  • Anchor all plants well. Plastic plants are best because they will withstand rough treatment from the axolotls. Plastic is also easy to clean.

Setting up the aquarium

  • The minimum size for two axolotls is 60 centimetres × 40 centimetres × 40 centimetres high. If they are overcrowded, axolotls will become less active and may even eat each other.
  • Prepare the tank by washing it out with salt and water and rinsing it thoroughly.
  • Place the empty tank on a flat, solid surface out of direct sunlight. As 1 litre of water weighs 1 kilogram, when the tank is filled with water and gravel, it may be very heavy. Consider what may happen in the event of an earthquake.
  • Before using it, rinse the gravel under a stream of water until the water runs clear.
  • Follow the instructions to install the filter.
  • Fill the tank to a depth of 25–30 centimetres and secure the plants. Turn on the pump and check that all systems are working.
  • Leave the water to stand for one day. This allows the chlorine to evaporate. Alternatively, there are chemical products available to achieve this more quickly.
  • Axolotls are poikilothermic, that is, their body temperature is determined by the temperature of the environment. Ensure that they maintain a temperature range of 10–25 degrees Celsius (°C). The optimum temperature is 14–18°C.

Filtration

  • Filtration maintains good water quality by removing waste.
  • There are several types of filtration systems, including:
    • under-gravel filters, which draw water and waste down through the gravel but leave large solid wastes behind
    • reverse-flow external filtration systems, which take water from over the gravel, pass it through an external filter, and then return it to the tank.
  • The filter medium needs to be cleaned and/or replaced regularly. With either system, vacuum the bottom of the tank to remove large particles of debris.

Maintaining the aquarium

  • Remove faecal material each day, usually with a tank vacuum cleaner.
  • How often the water needs changing will depend on the number of axolotls and the type of filtration system used. As a rule, remove and replace one-third of the water each week, remembering to let the replacement water stand in a bucket for twenty-four hours to dissipate the chlorine before adding it to the tank.
  • With under-gravel filters, rake the gravel through and remove debris before changing the water.
  • With an external filtration system, the filter will need cleaning out and the filter medium may need replacing, usually every two to four weeks.
  • Plastic plants will develop an algal growth. Most plastic plants can be washed in warm water and left to soak in a weak bleach solution (10–20 millilitres of bleach per litre of water) for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse them thoroughly before returning them to the tank.
  • Depending on the method of water filtration, thoroughly clean the tank at least every three months.

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