Jess has been obsessed with axolotls since childhood and has been caring for her own for years.
Now that you have your axolotls and a tank setup you may be wondering, "What do axolotls do?" Axolotls spend most of their time walking around the bottom of their aquarium and hiding under plants, but they can be playful and love to interact with their surroundings. This article will provide six ideas of things you can add to an axolotl tank to make their lives a little more interesting.
Hides are something that you need to have in an axolotl tank. Axolotls do not like a lot of light, and they can get a little nervous if they feel like they are out in the open. They are indigenous to Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico and the canals and waterways of Mexico City. These areas are dark with cold water and plenty of places to hide.
There are a number of different things you can use as hides. You can use PVC pipes, terra cotta pots, custom rock hides, or storebought aquarium hides. A few rules of thumb when picking an axolotl hide are: make sure there are no sharp edges, make sure there are no toxic chemicals or chipping paint, and make sure they can't get stuck. As long as you stick to these recommendations, you can safely use all sorts of creative items.
2. An Airstone
It is no secret that axolotls prefer slow-moving water, but having an air stone can offer a lot of benefits. The first benefit is that axolotls will actually play in the bubbles. Many axolotl keepers (myself included) have witnessed their axolotls swim over to the air stone and then ride the bubbles up to the top. They will purposefully go over to the air stone to hang out in the bubbles, and they seem to really enjoy it.
Another benefit to using an airstone is that the extra oxygen in the water helps their gills. I have noticed that after getting an air stone my axolotl's gills were longer, fluffier, and more vibrant.
3. Reptile Hammock
If your tank is large enough a mesh reptile hammock can give your axolotls extra room to lounge. The hammock can sit anywhere you would like, but I find that my axolotls like it best at about halfway between the bottom and the top. It is almost like adding another floor to your tank.
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I have one axolotl that likes to lounge on top of the hammock and one that hides out underneath it, but they both seem to enjoy it. They are very easy to install and they usually are in the ten dollar range, so this is another way to add inexpensive enrichment to your axolotl's habitat.
4. Silk or Live Plants
Axolotls love having plants in their aquarium. They love to hide in them, move them, and even sit on top of them. It is best to use silk or live plants because they are soft, plastic aquarium plants can have rough edges that could tear your axolotl's fins. There are so many different types, designs, and colors of silk plants that you can really make their environment suit your style while still giving them something that they really enjoy.
Live plants can be a little tricker because axolotls live in cold, dark environments but it can still be done. Java ferns, java moss, and duckweed are all known to work. Duckweed is a floating plant that multiplies very quickly, and it can even provide a little extra coverage from the light. Something to be prepared for is that axolotls can tear up aquarium plants, so it might be easiest to start with a few plants and see how they do.
5. Moss Balls
These are technically also aquarium plants, but they are a little different. Marimo moss balls are a type of algae. They grow really slowly and they live for hundreds of years. They are very easy to care for and they tolerate the cold water well. They also can help filter nitrates in the water, which is a bonus. Axolotls will push them around and hide behind them, they seem to really enjoy them.
However, this part is really important: The moss ball has to be larger than the axolotl's head! They could try and eat a smaller moss ball and it could get stuck, which would be very dangerous for your axolotl.
6. Driftwood or Big Rocks
Driftwood and big rocks can both be nice natural elements in an aquarium. Axolotls will enjoy climbing on the rocks and hiding in and behind the driftwood. Axolotls like to explore their surroundings, and driftwood and rocks can be aesthetically pleasing for the keepers as well.
Make sure to keep an eye on any sharp edges or spots they can get stuck. Things found in nature are often not as smooth as things we can buy at the store. Rocks smaller than their heads are also not safe. Large pieces of slate are usually perfect and very pretty.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jess H