If you’re a fan of pokemon, axolotls are probably the closest thing in the real world to actually owning one. The happy little amphibians make for interesting pets and are relatively easy to care for if you know what you are doing.
But what do they eat?
In this guide, we will explore what to feed your axolotl to keep them happy and healthy.
Types of Axolotl Food
In the wild axolotls are carnivores, therefore they require a meat-based diet made up of 30-60 percent protein. They have small simple teeth designed for gripping prey rather than ripping and tearing, so generally swallow their food whole.
It is important to remember that regardless of the type of feed you decide to use, axolotls need high-quality foods that contain low oil and fat content or they may develop liver problems.
They also need foods that are balanced in vitamins and proteins to make sure they are healthy and well-fed.
Axolotl food can be broken down into three main types:
- Live food
- Frozen food
When an axolotl first hatches it will spend the first day of its life consuming its egg sack. So you need to wait 24 hours before feeding them.
Infant axolotl's first instinct is to snap or move towards anything that is moving, so live food is a must to make sure your fledgling axolotl are well fed.
Worms are a popular choice for everyday feeding, as they have all the protein, nutrition, and vitamins that an axolotl needs.
When feeding worms to your axolotls make sure to wash all the dirt off them before placing them in the aquarium or you could make your pet ill.
It is also best to buy worms from specialist retailers, reputable online stores, or your local pet store to make sure you get the freshest worms possible.
The following kinds of worms are suitable for axolotls.
These are a great choice for feeding young axolotls. The aquatic relative to earthworms black worms are significantly smaller than their earthbound cousins and provide a similar balance of nutrition.
However, it would take a lot of black worms to satisfy an adult axolotl so you would be better off feeding them another larger variety of worm.
These are the larvae of midge flies which are often found in marine waters. These are similar in size to black worms and as such is a decent feed for juvenile axolotls.
However, blood worms tend not to be as nutritional as other worms, so it’s best to keep them as a treat or used as a supplementary food source when feeding adult axolotls.
Also known as the common earthworm, nightcrawlers are a popular food for axolotls and are easily available in most pet stores.
Due to their large size though you may need to cut them up before feeding them to your axolotl.
These are a smaller variety of earthworms that are easier for adult axolotls to eat and can be easily bred at home if you wish.
However, they can excrete a bitter substance and some axolotls don’t like the taste of them.
These small crustaceans are a good, nutritionally balanced staple for young axolotls.
Though wild-caught Daphnia can carry disease, homegrown daphnia are a cheap and reliable source of protein and minerals for growing axolotls. However, adult axolotls tend to ignore them.
Ghost Shrimp and Guppies
Axolotls can eat both ghost shrimp and guppies if they are introduced to the tank, though most keepers wouldn’t recommend it.
Both need to be quarantined in separate tanks for two weeks before you release them into the tank with your axolotl in to ensure they are not carrying any diseases or parasites which could make your axolotls seriously ill.
Though neither of these is the cheapest or safest food source, they can be beneficial as they allow your axolotls to hunt for their food like they would in the wild.
Ghost Shrimp can also be used to help clean your tank before the axolotls eventually eat them.
Frozen or freeze-dried axolotl foods are a great alternative for keepers that don’t have the time, or feel squeamish about feeding their axolotls live food.
Generally packed with a good balance of proteins and vitamins frozen feed is a fast and effective way of giving your axolotls the nutrients they need to remain fit and healthy.
It is worth bearing in mind though that some frozen foods do require you to clean the tank more regularly as they can foul the water.
As well as a great live feed for infant axolotls, frozen blood worms are a popular and inexpensive food source.
Available as either cubes or sheets, frozen blood worms are packed with protein, vitamins, and other nutrients ideal for growing axolotl.
When feeding axolotl frozen bloodworms it’s important to make sure they do not get stuck in their gills or they can suffocate and drown.
It is also worth bearing in mind that Bloodworms can leave behind small microscopic organisms in the water that can take over your tank if left unchecked.
Though not particularly harmful to Axolotl, they can get caught in their gills so it's important to regularly, and thoroughly clean the tank and its decor if you choose to use this kind of feed.
Another popular frozen axolotl feed is brine shrimp.
This flavorful freeze-dried feed comes in cubes that are packed full of fatty acids, lipids. and vitamins which help to keep your axolotl healthy and strong.
When feeding Axolotl frozen brine shrimp they can deteriorate very quickly, so it’s important to remove any waste from the tank afterward.
Alternatively, you can also hatch your own brine shrimp and rear them as a fairly inexpensive live food source.
It is worth noting though that newly-hatched brine shrimp larvae can die very quickly in freshwater, so you should keep an eye on them and make sure to remove any dead shrimp as soon as possible so they do not contaminate the tank.
This insect-based feed has become popular for feeding larger axolotls thanks to its high protein and fat content and is an easier alternative to feeding them earthworms.
Grub pie comes in a powder that you mix with boiling water put into a mold, which then sets in the fridge, and can be used for up to two weeks.
Pellets are a popular alternative to live or frozen food for axolotls, especially for pet owners who are squeamish about feeding their pets earthworms or don’t have the time to mess around with frozen foods like bloodworms and grub pie.
If you choose to feed your axolotl pellets make sure to give them a pellet that is high in protein and low in fat. Ideally, you want pellets that are made of at least 40 percent protein or higher.
You also want to make sure to feed them soft pellets as they need to be able to eat them in one go. Before putting pellets in the tank it’s best to put them in a little water first just to soften them up a little.
You should also make sure to retrieve any pellets that are left in the tank after you have finished feeding your axolotls to avoid fouling the water.
For larger Axolotls, Sinking pellets are preferred.
Unlike fish, axolotls don’t swim to the surface of the water to feed as soon as food becomes available. Instead, they are far happier sitting at the bottom of the tank and waiting for food to come to them.
Young axolotls need to be fed small soft pellets as regular sinking pellets are often too small and hard for them to swallow.
Small pellets tend to be more buoyant than the larger sinking pellets so it’s important to make sure you soak the pellets in some water before feeding them to your axolotls to make sure they will sink to the bottom where your pets will most likely be waiting to gobble them up.