Modern aquarism is distinguished by its love for the exotic. One of the brightest representatives is the axolotl. It is difficult for an ignorant person to determine whether it is a fish, a newt or a large tadpole, however, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to simply walk past it, because this is a very cute creature.
Axolotl – description
This animal is an amphibious amphibian, which is listed in the Red Book. Regardless of the species, the water dragon is different from other freshwater inhabitants. He can fully live not only in water, but also on land. In representatives living on land, the gills are less developed. The axolotl is a small animal with thin translucent skin.
On the head there are small growths that resemble curly ears or horns. These animals are predators. Many people are interested in how long an axolotl lives if placed in a suitable aquarium. The average indicator fluctuates within 10 years, however, some representatives, with full maintenance and care, reach the mark of 20 years.
What does an axolotl look like?
This amphibian looks like a fantastic dragon or even an unusual toy. Axolotl is a neotenic larva, which is endowed with the following external characteristics:
- Body length – 15-30 cm.
- Weight – approximately 300 g.
- The head is large in size with gills that stick out in the form of three pubescent branches.
- The eyes are small and black.
- The mouth is wide and flat.
- The teeth are small but sharp.
- The body is narrowed and slightly flattened. A fin runs along the entire back of the axolotl.
- The skin is smooth and tender.
- The paws are small, 4 toes on the front, 5 on the back.
- The tail is long and wide. Has high mobility.
- The color of the wild representatives is dark, the domestic ones are golden, light or peach.
Unpretentiousness in care and exotic appearance have made them popular pets. Anyone who is interested in how much an axolotl costs needs to know that the price depends on the color of the pet. The average cost varies within $16. Representatives with a more exotic appearance will cost more.
Where does the axolotl live?
In the natural environment, this type of amphibian is common in the mountain lakes of Mexico (Xochimilco and Chalco) and some water bodies of the American states (southern California, Florida). The animal axolotl loves these places due to the fact that they are endowed with isthmuses of the earth and connecting channels, in which there are many fish, various insects, worms and an extensive content of various vegetation. In addition, these lakes have a cold undercurrent, because neotenic larvae do not tolerate high temperatures. They live mainly at the bottom, rising to the surface during the day.
Axolotl – how to determine the sex?
These amphibians are acquired at the age of 3-4 months. Their length at this time is about 8 cm and sexual dimorphism is not yet developed in them. You can learn about reaching the age of puberty (8-9 months) by changing the color of the fingers. A black axolotl gets a light shade and vice versa. At this time, you can distinguish the male:
- his tail is longer;
- in the area of the cloaca, a swelling appears in the form of a tube;
- the body is longer and does not increase in volume.
Axolotl – colors
The coloring of these cute creatures depends on the artificially derived line and living conditions. Water dragon axolotl can be in the following colors:
- Naturalists. Color – black or any dark shade (brown, brown or gray) with spots. Patterns can be different (small or large spots, mesh).
- White (not albinos). Light shade, which is later complemented by a patterned pattern on the back. Gill filaments are dark pink.
- Albs. Completely white with red gills and eyes. Sometimes albinos can have a golden color.
Axolotl – species
The family of these amphibians is small and has only 28 varieties. Aquarium dragon axolotl is represented by the following species:
- Tiger. Species listed in the Red Book. The color is dark brown with transverse bright yellow stripes. Body length about 25 cm.
- Mexican. The most popular representative among aquarists. The color is dark gray, brown-green with a purple tint. Based on this species, several artificial ones have been bred.
- aquarium. Axolotls vary in skin tones and body size. Under natural conditions, the color is dark, brown, green with a purple tint. They live on the bottom, are nocturnal.
Axolotl – keeping at home
These cute animals have been bred since the mid-19th century. The maintenance of axolotl is simple, they are unpretentious to conditions and food, they breed well and do not cause concern with their behavior. For a fulfilling life, it is important to observe the following simple rules:
- a spacious aquarium – about 50 liters per individual;
- water temperature +9…18ºС;
- Every day you need to change 1/8 of the water.
Aquarium for axolotl
The size of the container depends on how many pets you are going to keep. It is important to know that it is forbidden to have animals of different ages in the same aquarium.
- Water. Cleanliness is important, but the filter must be internal and create little water movement. It is important to add water weekly. Complete replacement is carried out every 3 months.
- Priming. The ideal option is pebbles that the pet cannot swallow. Small specimens can enter the esophagus and lead to problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
- shelters. Houses and other decorations give the aquarium a decorative look and create a comfortable environment for the axolotl animal to live. It is important that all objects are free of sharp edges and edges.
- Accommodation. Too much light or noisy places should be avoided. A lamp is not needed, because the night dwellers love the dark.
Axolotl – what fish can be kept?
Most experts do not recommend keeping “water dragons” with other animals. Aquarium axolotl is a predator and small inhabitants will become prey, while large ones can attack. In addition, they have completely different nutrition and special conditions are required for a comfortable life. Initially, this concerns the temperature of the water. The only exception would be goldfish, which, due to their size, will not become food, besides that they are slow and not aggressive, and also they are fine with cool water.
Axolotl – care
With the initial creation of suitable conditions, further maintenance will not be difficult. Albino axolotl and other species needs:
- weekly cleaning of the aquarium from waste;
- water temperature monitoring;
- saturation of water with oxygen.
Axolotl – what to feed?
These animals are nocturnal predators. Under natural conditions, they eat insects and fry. Thanks to the wide mouth, the prey is swallowed whole. The basis of the aquarium diet of an adult and a small axolotl can be the following protein products:
- live fish;
- dry food for aquarium predators.
It is forbidden to feed the meat of mammalian species. The axolotl’s gastrointestinal system will not be able to fully digest such a protein. When feeding, it is important to interest the pet, because if the food does not move, it will be invisible. Give food from the hand or with special tweezers. Adults are fed to the full, do it once every 3 days. Animals are prone to overeating and the associated negative consequences.
Axolotl – breeding
Larvae that have reached the age of 6 months are considered sexually mature. In the natural environment, the mating season occurs in March or September. An adult axolotl breeds at a water temperature within + 20ºС. One male is able to fertilize about 4 females. The process looks like this:
- the male individual releases clots of spermatophores into the water;
- the female spawns and immediately collects it after fertilization;
- a day later, the female lays eggs on leaves or stones;
- for the safety of masonry, parents are deposited;
- eggs are examined, changing color is removed;
- fry begin to appear after 2-4 weeks;
- the first feeding is carried out after a week;
- a month later they have hind legs, and by 4 months. front.
The freshwater inhabitant is prone to the following diseases:
- Intestinal obstruction. The water dragon axolotl can get sick by accidentally swallowing grains of sand or particles of gravel. As a result, there is a denial of nutrition and, as a result, weight loss. You can’t do without the help of a doctor.
- cartilage pathology. Similar problems arise due to a lack of calcium and vitamin D. Symptoms are manifested in lethargy and inactivity. The animal needs light.
- Anorexia. The disease manifests itself as a result of infectious processes. The reason is parasites in the body. Sometimes anorexia appears due to a monotonous diet. The treatment is carried out by changing the feeding, give grated egg yolk.
- Ascites. It develops due to metabolic disorders. The cause of the pathology is bacteria that got out of the water. Treatment is prescribed by a doctor, often antibiotics and diuretics.
Axolotl – interesting facts
The ancient Aztecs considered these animals not only a delicacy, but also the basis for many medicines. In addition, there is a lot of interesting information about these creatures:
- The Mexican axolotl is almost blind.
- White representatives appeared from a mutant that was brought to Paris in 1863.
- The word “axolotl” has many interpretations – “water dog”, “water slave” or “servant of water”.
- During the season, the female can lay up to 1100 eggs.
- Axolotls through the life of a loner. The only exception is the mating period.
- In 2008, the wild population of these amphibians was registered as endangered.
- Axolotls do not have eyelids.
- These amphibians can regrow lost limbs and organs.
- There is a legend: in order not to die, the Aztec god Xolotl turned into an axolotl.
- In a Japanese restaurant in Osaka, these amphibians are served as a delicacy.