Jess has been obsessed with axolotls since childhood and has been caring for her own for years.
What Is an Axolotl?
Axolotls are cute, lovable, aquatic salamanders that are becoming very popular as pets. They originate from the Xochimilco lake complex close to Mexico City, where the water they live in is dark and cool. This is the only place axolotls are found in the wild, so it is important to try to duplicate these conditions at home.
Like any aquatic animal, they have specific water requirements. One of these is that their water needs to stay under 70 degrees year-round. The easiest and most efficient way to keep their tank cold is by using an aquarium chiller. These are consistent and guaranteed to work, but they are expensive, with a price point starting at about 300 dollars.
If this is out of your budget, don't worry! There are budget-friendly ways to keep your axolotl's tank cool in the summer, it just takes a little creativity.
Best Ways to Keep Your Axolotl Cool
- Use a fan
- Frozen water bottles
- Keep your axolotl tank in a cool spot
- Use aquarium plants
- Turn up the AC
1. Use a Fan
Aquarium fans cost less than aquarium chillers by hundreds of dollars, and they are still very effective. Having air blow across the top of the water can lower the temperature by up to eight degrees through evaporation. Aquarium fans usually hang on the side of the tank like a HOB filter, and they are not too noisy.
You can also use desk fans or stroller fans to achieve the same result. For this method, you can either set the fan on top of a mesh fish tank lid, or you can remove the lid and have the fan blow across the top. Just be extra careful to keep the fan out of the water.
2. Frozen Water Bottles
This is not the most attractive option, but it works in a pinch. All you have to do is clean the bottles thoroughly with dechlorinated water, make sure there are no wrappers on the bottle, fill them up with water, and freeze them. Once they are all the way frozen you can float them in your axolotl tank and the temperature should drop by a few degrees.
If it is very hot in your area it is a good idea to have more bottles frozen than you need so you can rotate them out.
During the hot summer months, I have combined the fan method and water bottle method and it has kept my tank nice and cool. It definitely doesn't look the best, but it is worth it to keep the axolotls safe. It is important to be consistent with this method. Big changes in temperature can be stressful for axolotls, so you want the water to stay as close to the same temperature as possible.
3. Keep Your Axolotl Tank in a Cool Spot
If possible, you want to keep your axolotl tank in a cool area of your home. Avoid having it somewhere where the light will be beating down on it from a window, this will raise the temperature very quickly. Try to keep it somewhere away from the sun and away from rooms that heat up consistently (like the kitchen).
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A great place to keep an axolotl tank would be away from a window and near a ceiling fan or air conditioner. It is not recommended to put your axolotl tank right over an air vent, especially if it blows hot air during the winter. Aquariums can be extremely heavy so it is important to put them somewhere solid.
4. Use Aquarium Plants
Aquarium plants can help block some of the light. This will help keep the temperature down and it will make your axolotls happy because they love to be covered. There are several floating aquarium plants that look nice, provide cover, and can survive cold water. Some good options are:
- Water Cabbage
- Amazon Frogbit
5. Turn Up the AC
If it's possible for you, an easy way to keep your axolotl tank from being too hot is to keep your house from being too hot. Keeping your house at about 70 degrees can help a lot with your aquarium temperature. Of course, on 100-degree days, it may be hard to keep up, but any type of cooling in your house will help keep the water temperature from getting out of hand.
Ambient room temperature plays a huge role in the temperature of your aquarium. Without any type of intervention, the water temperature of a fish tank is usually 1-2 degrees cooler than the room. If it is very hot outside and you don't have air conditioning, you may have a hard time getting by without an aquarium chiller, or you will be using a lot of frozen bottles.
What Not to Do
It may be tempting, but it is not a good idea to replace a lot of your axolotl's water with cold water if it gets too hot. Yes, having their water too warm is not safe for an axolotl, but the sudden shock from a huge fluctuation in water temperature could be deadly. Try to lower the water temperature gradually, and when you do a water change use the same temperature of water.
Another reason not to replace a lot of water at once is that it can crash your nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle keeps too much bad bacteria from building up in your tank. If it crashes it can result in too much ammonia, which is very harmful to axolotls. It is usually advised to do 25% water changes when you clean your aquarium to keep the cycle from crashing.
Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Jess H