Look at those lips.

The reason behind this blog

The reason behind this blog is to give a basic introduction to the wonderful entertaining and interactive hobby of keeping Axolotls as pets.To enlighten and inspire those whom are just at the consideration stage of obtaining an Axolotl.For more comprehensive information on Axolotl keeping and care,there are many sites available on Google.Many years ago when I was growing up I was delighted with my very first Axolotl,now,many years on,I am sharing the little known delights of these intriguing creatures with my own children.I hope this blog will inspire you,and increase your knowledge on these interesting,and enjoyable pets.Please do not forget to also check out the links I will have on my blog to more adorable and interesting Axolotls.I hope you enjoy your visit and bookmark us or pop back for any updates.Please feel welcome to mail me any questions you may have on these fabulous creatures (or also on tropical fish).My E-Mail contact is candykingdom@watchdog.net.nz my address is also located at the bottom of this page.

Meet "Dragon"

Dragon is an eyeless wild type Axolotl (Ambystoma Mexicanum).There are some problems that can arise even if you take excellent care of your pet. These are inherited traits; problems that were passed on from earlier generations. They are most commonly found in Axolotl colonies where there has been excessive inbreeding.When Dragon first arrived we did not even noticed he didn't have any eyes.A few weeks on when he began to have a growth spurt it became apparent to us.We contacted the person whom breed Dragon,whom went onto discover Dragon was not the only one to suffer thsi anormality.We still adore Dragon to bits though!! .Despite his lack of beady eyes.Dragon also has some companions that we hope to introduce to you later on.

Dragon-A close up look

Dragon-A close up look
Dragon really does have no eyes at all.

A quick Axolotl history lesson

The Axolotl is a salamander unique to some areas of Mexico, specifically from lakes in Xochimilco and Chaloc areas to the Southeast of Mexico City,Of these two high altitude freshwater lakes, only the remnants of Xochimilco as canals can be seen today. The Axolotl is currently now on the endangered species list.Their natural habitat consists of spring-fed, clear lakes that have floating peat islands, plenty of reeds and vegetation, and abundant aquatic life forms.Unlike most salamanders, the Axolotl never leaves the water... As long as he has gills (genetically it is now bred in that Axolotls seldom undergo metamorphosis and lose their gills unless treated artificially with injected hormones.Extremely rarely though this can still occur spontaneously). Axolotls are said to be neotenous; they can live and breed in what is really a larval, more or less undeveloped form. Many other salamanders have gills when they are very young, but as they mature and develop lungs, their gills shrink and eventually disappear. Axolotls are thought to have evolved from Ambystoma tigrinum, the tiger salamander.Axolotls usually maintain their gills remaining in their larval form.

Housing,Filtration,Lighting,Floor Substrate and Temperature.

Dragon's home is an AR-620,90 Litres Aqua One Aquarium,which comes with built in hood lighting and filtration.However currently I am not using the factory supplied overhead gutter filtration unit as the power heads suction is too powerful for an Axolotl,as is the current produced from the release of the filtered water back into the tank.So currently filtration is via an Aqua One brand internal mini filter (302F-LV) 450 litres an hour.These filters have an internal carbon sponge,and a Venturi for increased aeration if required.I prefer to use the included spray bar,this disperses the water gently with a slow consistent current, Axolotls can be stressed and more subsceptable to diseases if too much current is present in it's tank.Water conditions and quality are an important consideration when keeping axolotls. Remember to regularly replace 20% of the water each week. Depending on the size of the aquarium or container, and whether or not it is filtered,and method of filtration, these changes may need to be more or less frequent..I am using the factory supplied lighting which conveniently is provided instead of the typical front and back fluro tubes,it has a left and right,fluro lamps,enabling one side of the tank to remain dimly lit if required.Dragon's substrate consists of Aquarium sand and polished river stones.As Axolotls have "cup mouths"that vacuum up their food from ground surfaces,substrate must be either small enough to pass through,or larger than the Axolotls head so it cannot be in jested.I provide food bowls for ease of feeding-when I have no time to hand feed,they quickly get used to where the food may appear,and this lessens the chance of hovering up and eating floor substrate.However instinctively Axolotls will "snap"at sensed movement,so it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to what you place on the bottom of your tank.The optimum temperature for axolotls is between about 16 °C and 18 °C (60-64 °F).However fluctuation up to 20 °C is not cause for concern . Lower temperatures lead to sluggish behavior, slower metabolism, and decreased appetite.Prolonged higher temperatures leaves the Axolotl open to risk of diseases and in extreme cases even death.Always monitor the temperature of your Axolotls home with an approved aquarium thermometer.If you find during summer months,or winter with indoor heating,that your tank's temperature starts to get too high,do not panic.Either a small or large (depending on the size of your tank)plastic drink bottle of water,pre-frozen in your refrigerator,then floated in the top of the tank,will help stabilise the temperture.IMPORTANT-water temperture changes must take place gradually,so as to not shock or stress your Axolotl,so do not try to lower the temperture by doing a large water change,or using an over-sized frozen water bottle,for the size of your aquarium.Water height in your Axolotl home technically needs to only be two and a half times (in height)the length of your Axolotl,most modern aquariums are built overkill in height for Axolotls.However if your's is a display tank filling it up more will not do any harm,just ensure you have enough oxygen saturation in your water.I usually ahve mind 60-70% full and have recently increased this to 90% to allow for the swimming room to access the hanging tunnel.

Dragon's Home (Tank)

Dragon's Home (Tank)
We decided to personalise it which makes it quite a conversation starter in our home.

Tank Hood View and Side

Tank Hood View and Side
We added Paua mosaic embellishments are we are located in New Zealand.Paua in it's natural form can only be found in New Zealand and Australia.

Axolotyl Feeding

I feed my axolotls frozen brine shrimp,frozen blood worms,freeze-dried tubifex worm cubes (tightly squeeze the air out of these first so they sink not float). The shrimp has most if not all of the nutrients that the Axolotl needs, and the tubifex worms provide substance and protein.They thrive on a varied diet,as we all do.Imagine having the same meal day in day out.I also feed commercial Axolotl pellets,fat free beef strips or lamb or beef heart, beef heart, feeder guppies (to help stimulate and develop the natural instincts they would utilize in their natural habitat) ,and earthworms.Do not forget to purge the earthworms in some aquarium water for at least 20 minutes first before feeding to your Axolotl. Methods of feeding- How you feed your Axolotl often depends on the food. Pellet foods can be just dropped into the water (make sure to collect any uneaten pellets as soon as you can,after they have left the feeding area). You can use tweezers, tongs, or your fingers to offer meat strips to your Axolotl. I prefer hand-feeding for a few reasons: It's a great experience.It trains the Axolotl to look up for food rather than down, where it may accidentally gulp up some tank substrate or gravel. By placing the food directly in the Axolotl's mouth, you know exactly what the animal's consuming, and minimize the amount of waste left in the tank.However there are times when I am unable to hand feed,so I also have food bowls,and a platter,which I highly recomend the use of. When I feed them the tubifex worm cubes, I first immerse the cube in some aquarium tank water and squeeze most of the air out. This makes the cube smaller and softer, and also helps it float downwards rather than on the surface of the water. How often should I feed my Axolotl? .There is no perfect answer. It depends on your pet's natural appetite, the temperature of the water, the kind and amount of food you administer, and so on. Feed your pet as often as it will eat, but without contaminating the water with excess food.Adults can go for two-three days without being fed if need be,but they prefer not to.Dragon is roughly 6 months old at this point in time and is fed 2-3 times a day.

Foodbowls

Foodbowls
Dragon loves both using a foodbowl and the teracotta platter

*~*Home-made Axolotl Food Mix *~*(also suitable for tropical fish, discus,parrot fish,angels etc)

I also make my own meat mix which my Axolotyls adore- This recipe can be halved before making if you like,as this makes quite a lot. The Ingredients :2 lbs. of beef heart trimmed of fat and tissues(or use extremely lean mince at least 98% fat free). 1 lb. of fish (white flesh,bone-less,poach gently first)5 - 7 cloves of well minced peeled garlic (for it's anti-bacterial properties). 2 Tablespoons of lecithin (this helps absorb any traces of fat left behind in the meat,aiding it's digestion). 1 Tablespoon of spirulina powder (Spirulina improves the intestinal flora by the breakdown of otherwise indigestible feed components, thereby extracting more nutrition from the feed and aids in resisting infections). Use paper towels to dry the meat of their juices, dice finely, add the dry ingredients, mix well.I use my hands. Spoon into plastic snap-lock freezer bags and flatten out the mix until it is thinner than a 1/4 inch thick.This means you can break pieces off easily when frozen,or cut if you prefer. Press out all the air you can and freeze. There are as many ways to feed the beefheart as there are ways to make a mix. Experiment and go with what works best for you and your Axolotyl-you will soon find out what they like (I use it for my tropical fish as well,Discus,Parrot Fish,Angels etc).I feed this one of their meals a day,they must be able to smell the garlic in the water because they always quickly come swimming in.

Dragons food platter

Dragons food platter
Dragon also has a teracotta food platter in his tank,he often gives me hints by running around in circles on it,or pressing his face up against the glass.."Feed Me....Feed Me"...like cats and dogs they hang arounf their food bowls looking cute just in case...

Hidey Holes,Climbing Things and Toys

Making things for your Axolotl's home is not only fun,but provides them with places to hide and things to explore,and provides more viewing entertainment for you too.It is not neccesary to purchase expensive shop sold toys and decorative elemenst for your tank,there is a huge sense of satisfaction and delight to create something yourself,especially when you wittness the enjoyment they derive from them.However PLEASE ensure you use aquarium silicone in your creations,and wait the approved curing time,and not normal glue.If you are located in New Zealand the most afforable place to purchase the silicone is Mitre 10 or Placemakers,just make sure the silicone is labeled alright for immersion in water.A little goes a long way !!.I have made all my creations and still have over half a $10 container left (mine is used in a caulking gun,so is large sized).

My first Hanging Hidey

My first Hanging Hidey
My first hanging hidey was construsted from an old plastic colender-on the left you see it bare-on the right,with a silk plant entwined over it so the Axolotls could rest on top of it.Open holed front and back so they could swim through,or stay and rest on the plastic plants inside.

Rock Cave

Rock Cave
Rock Caves are wonderful,all my Axies love them.Easily contruscted of clean river stones and aquarium safe silicone.Leave to "cure"for at least 72 hours then immerse in a bucket of water for 4 or more hours to remove any smell.Affordable and more homely than commercial poly-resin brought from petstores.Side view shows different surface levels to enable climbing opportunities.

Polished Stone Rock Wall

Polished Stone Rock Wall
Plenty of climbing opportunities here with plastic plants for foot holds,and pebbles turned flat to allow foot places.Built on an old under gravel filter plate and attached via suction clips to rear wall of tank.

Tunnel Fun

Axolotls love tunnels,this idea provided a space that Axolotls could feel secure and hidden,but can be viewed easily.Built from a floured mineral water plastic bottle.I went on to build a simplified and larger one that I have mounted floating at the rear of my tank (cable tied onto some bark),with the theory of removing this one and gaining some floor space,but have found they use it so much that I am yet to remove it,as I feel mean taking it out.

Tunnels are welcomed as a place to hide and play

Tunnels are welcomed as a place to hide and play
Dragon also likes to sleep in the silk leaves on top of this tunnel

Larger Tunnel Hanging

Larger Tunnel Hanging
A 1.25 litre bottle makes a wonderful clear hanging maxi tunnel at the rear of my tank.You will see pictures later on on how successful this turned out to be,with pictures I shall post further on.

Java Moss Hidey

Java Moss Hidey
My second hidey hole,mounted under a floating piece of bark,and is covered in Java Moss.Look closely in the right picture-Can you spot "Dragon"?.

Ping-Pong Ball Fun

This fabulous idea came from a blog devoted to a wonderful Axolotl named "Spyyk"you can access his blog via the bottom of this page under my recomended websites to visit or by simply clicking his name.A ping-pong ball with a pin hole top and bottom,then immersed until almost all the air is removed,makes an easy to push around toy.

Dragon,ball fun.

Dragon,ball fun.
First,you sneak up on it...then a head butt scoop tactic works well

Then you make sure you hang onto it,so no-one else steals your ball

*~*~*Meet Kumiko*~*~*

Meet "Kumiko"-Pronounced "Kume-me-ko".The name is Japanese in orgin and means "Long lived beauty". Kumiko is a Golden Axolotl,and is roughly the same size as Dragon 13-14cm in length.

Kumiko

Kumiko
What a cutie!!

Here is a picture of her first meeting with Dragon

Here is a picture of her first meeting with Dragon
Now in Dragon's tank,we have "double trouble".

Look how Kumiko's eyes glow at night with the camera flash.

Look how Kumiko's eyes glow at night with the camera flash.
They seem to be saying "We're not up to anything honest"...uh huh yeah right.... ;-)

Kumiko checks out the hanging tunnel

Kumiko checks out the hanging tunnel
Ssshh she thinks you can't see her (notice Dragon on the right coming out from hiding in the java moss hut)

Close-up

Close-up
I'm invisable...I am..I am!!!

Kumiko likes ping-pong balls too

Kumiko likes ping-pong balls too
Now how do I get this thing moving....?

10/06/07

Photo Fun





Dragon Adores the floor water bottle tunnel,not just to swim through,but it's a great place to sleep on too.






Just look at this close up below,it seems water immersed levitation is an extremely comfortable way to sleep,anchored barely by a couple of toes on one back foot.




This picture shows how capable Axolotls mouths are of swallowing a sideways turned goldfish whole.

Dragon was actually yawning at the time,long photography sessions can be so boring to an Axolotl.